Behaviour in Children

Anger, Aggression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Concentration, Confusion, Fidgeting, Forgetfulness, Frustration, Hyperactivity, Impulsiveness, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), Self-Control, Vindictiveness

Frustration, aggression and anger are all useful emotions and behaviour. They can tell children that things are not fair or right.

School age children sometimes get frustrated, behave aggressively or get angry because they lack the ability to regulate their emotions. When they are angry they don’t know how to calm down and may lash out because they have no self-control.

Sometimes children behave aggressively because it actually works for them as they may get what they want! They disrupt lessons in school and hurt, intimidate and frighten other children. Some show spiteful or vindictive behaviour and others may be argumentative and verbally aggressive. Aggressive children may also have difficulty controlling their temper and are easily upset and annoyed by others. They are often defiant and may appear angry and resentful.


Some children exhibit aggressive behaviour that is less extreme or problematic but worrisome nonetheless. They may slap or poke other children or pinch them. Some children throw small objects or bang and break things when they are frustrated, angry and upset. Others have temper tantrums and kick or scream. Other children can be verbally aggressive. They call other children names, they threaten and tease them or they use emotional control to victimise and push other children around.

Similarly, teaching self-control is one of the most important things that parents can do for their children because these skills are some of the most vital for success in later life and for overall healthy development. Self-control means being able to express and cope with strong emotions in appropriate ways—for a toddler, this may mean saying “I’m mad at you” instead of biting. Self-control also involves thinking skills as we decide which of our impulses to act on. Developing self-control begins at birth and continues across our lives.

It enables children to cooperate with others, to cope with frustration and to resolve conflicts. Children learn these skills through interactions with others and guidance from parents and other caregivers.A number of these children have mild learning challenges and feel uncomfortable about their performance in class. Unbelievably, they lack confidence and self-esteem and prefer to avoid work where their deficits can be exposed, often over-reacting when asked.

It is also normal for children to occasionally forget their homework, daydream during class, act without thinking or get fidgety at the dinner table but inattention, confusion, impulsivity and hyperactivity are also possible signs of ADHD which can affect your child’s ability to learn and get along with others.

In a child, lack of concentration or focusing can be the result of many things. One of the mostfrequent issues is a simple and common variation in neurological development. As strange as it may seem to you, child development is a little different for everyone. Children grow at their own rate in their own time. Panicking over a child not concentrating at the age of six may be a little premature.

However, we all know of children who can’t sit still, who never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions no matter how clearly you present them or who blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Sometimes these children are ‘labelled’ as troublemakers or criticised for being lazy and undisciplined - they MAY have ADHD.

Some parents may be surprised to discover that ADHD is a psychiatric label rather than a medical/scientific diagnosis and is based on subjective assessment and observations rather than by proven medical testing. Research also shows that it tends to run in families. ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability although they may also have learning difficulties and additional problems such as sleep disorders.


The exact cause of ADHD is not known. ADHD is a disorder that appears in early childhood and can make it difficult for children to inhibit their spontaneous responses - responses that can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness. Whilst it is often difficult to recognise the difference between a strong-willed or emotional child and one with ADHD, children with the condition show a pattern of behaviour.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) often exists alongside ADHD and is characterised by persistent ‘negative, hostile and defiant behaviour’ towards authority. There are obvious similarities here with the demand avoidant behaviour of children with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). PDA, though, is made up of more than this, the avoidance and need to control is rooted in anxiety and alongside genuine difficulties in social understanding, which is why it is considered as part of the spectrum. This isn’t the case with ODD.

Children with PDA use a much wider range of avoidance strategies including a degree of social manipulation. Children described as having ODD tend to refuse and be oppositional but do not use a rangeof strategies. Many children with ODD and their families are said to be helped by positive parenting courses which is less often the case with children with PDA.

Take a look at some of our other related Sunflower Stories

Here are just a handful of stories to give you a flavour of how we have helped children, young people and their families. Helping children be the best they can be is what Sunflower is good at.

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