A through Z about Challenging Children

So I found this old article Challenging Children written by Elin J. Cormican, who is a Social Worker, and I thought it was interesting how she used A through Z to explain some of the difficulties children can be experiencing and how to help them. She made some great points but I do want to touch on a few things as well from my own experience raising a Special needs child. Now I am not calling him challenging because every child has their moments and phases but some children do lash out as a call for help. Or it can be their way of expressing their emotions when they don’t know how to how to regulate their emotions. We, as parents and educators, need to help them do the best they can. We also must lead by example. So lets break it down and discuss each bit


Cormican states that there needs to be age appropriate punishments and expectations. I completely agree with it. If you have ever watched Super Nanny, that is exactly what she implements. Reward system and Punishment, which was 1 minute per age in time. It really does work for most children. Of course not all. I don’t neccessarily agree with rewarding children when they should be doing things they need to do but sometimes it really does work.


Cormican states that when you discuss your child, you need to explain the behaviors your referring to. I am going to mention, it is usually a good idea not to do so within ear range of your child. Absolutely seek help where it is needed. Even if your child is NeuroTypical, there are methods to help them with those specific behaviors.


Cormican says that you, as a parent need to point out the positive and the negative consequences when you request something. Be specific and you must follow through. This is 100% correct. When you don’t follow through, your child learns that their are empty threats (bad word but you know what I’m saying). They learn that they can continue to get away with things.


Cormican explains that you must be specific when giving directions. Don’t just tell your child to clean their room as it over loads them. Even at a young age, they don’t know where to start. Break it down with, Lets make your bed first. Okay lets pick up your cars or your dolls etc. You can even make it a game. I know from experience raising my own son, he loves that. Who can clean up faster, who did it better.

Emotional State

Cormican explains, just as I did above in the intro, that how you respond within your own emotional state will depend on how you proceed with consequences. Meaning you need to make sure you are in a calm state to follow through. Your child is watching you as much as your watching them. Monkey see, Monkey do. Lead by Example. If you need to handle your own emotions first before handling situations, do so. It is extremely important. It won’t be easy but as I mentioned above, we need to help our children learn to regulate their emotions.


Cormican states that feelings matter for both you and your child. You are both valid in your feelings. Name your emotions. Express why you feel the way you do and how you can both do better. Again it is all about learning how to regulate emotions.


Cormican says that it doesn’t matter a child’s age but that boys tend to need trust where as girls tend to need nurturing. Quite honestly I wish Cormican explained more on this. I don’t think gender should matter. Your child need to trust you and be nurtured. Repeating that consequences need to fit the age and situation. Cormican also states that Boys forget while Girls remember and I disagree. Children, no matter age or gender, react to how you treat them.


Listen to your children both physically and verbally. Give them all your attention. Do not interrupt, correct or interrogate your children writes Cormican. We are all guilty of telling our children juts a minute, or give me five or even half paying attention. We are guilty of being on our phones or zoning out when your child is trying to explain something for the millionth time but again, your children are paying attention. They are craving your attention. Put the phone down, turn off the tv or whatever is not important and give your child your undivided attention.


You need to react differently to different situations based on the intent of the behavior or incident says Cormican. For example, a child spills milk accidentally vs a child purposely pouring it on the floor. Every incident is different. There are times when things happen that were no intentions behind it.


Cormican states that there needs to be a time limit to punishments and not just “when I say so.” As I mentioned above in Age, its best to do a time out of 1 minute per age, or take an item away for a time like a day, or a week. Also note, it really depends on the situation, but do not threaten you child with police or jail. It is never to late to help your child but the younger they are, the easier it is to implement and get the resources.


Ask your child what the meaning of the event is to them. What the event is will not matter nearly as much as what it means to them explains Cormican.


Comircan says that you need support for when you feel overwhelmed. That is so true. It doesn’t matter if you have a challenging child or not, a support system is must. It just helps a lot more when your team can understand your struggles

Me Time

Comircan says that parents need to take time for themselves. We need to focus on ourselves and reward ourselves. We all time and space for alone time. Chase your dreams, have fun, chill out without the kids. Its nice to have it daily but thats not realistic. At least once a month.


Noting what your child has done is important said Comircan. Praising your child for what they are doing, good behavior and what they have is good. Children respond better to positivity. When you only tell them the negative and put them down, the only thing your child understands is that the attention they get also gets the negative reaction, which becomes a vicious cycle.


As a parent, you need to raise your children with confidence and give them chances to avoid or do better when it comes to managing their risk factors says Comircan. Give them chances to succeed and grow. Follow their interests. Encourage and praise them. Learn to enjoy their hobbies and get close. When you have a closer relationship with your child, the better they behave.


Comircan explains that you need to have a balance as a parent. You can command your household without being hostile or begging. Parenting isn’t easy but you can have fun and enjoy it too. Not every family operates the same so don’t try to compare. Be the mom or dad you wish to be. Remember to be rational. You got this.


Comircan said to don’t ask why, what or how or ho come are appropriate to ask your children. Why just comes off like your accusing your child of something.

Risk Factors

Understand that certain factors could be hurting your child like racism and or rejection. But there is also a balance between understanding and making sure your child doesn’t use it as an excuse explains Comircan. Not everyone has the same “risk factors” and everything can effect us differently but that is why you need to learn to express yourself and help your child do so too to help them understand why they are feeling the way they do. Meaning that you can pinpoint the triggers.


Comiracan says that we need to build on our children’s strengths and praise them. Yes, yes, yes. I also say to use your chili’s strengths and interests to your advantage. It not only helps you to help them be motivated but it helps build their confidence.


Don’t get sucked into listening to a third party about a situation. Always ask a source directly explained Comrican. This is so true. There are always 3 sides to a story but you should absolutely as those involved before making assumptions, especially when it comes to your children.

Understand Temperament

Not all children can do well in all circumstances, challenging children need lot of attention, ideal conditions and to be nurtured more wrote Cormican. I couldn’t agree more. Our kids need more help and that os completely okay. They need more attention, they need more affirmations, they need more sit in time, there is nothing wrong with it.


Cormican states that the parents need to be cohesive when they speak as a team. When you and your spouse, and anyone around your children whether its grandparents or a teacher, need to be on one team and on the same page. Kids have an easy time figuring out who they con push buttons best.


Give yourself time to respond and don’t just respond instantly to a situation based off your emotions. Often times we overreact in the moment wrote Cormican. Exactly what I’ve been saying. Its not easy to get into the habit of waiting to calm and think rationally but it really helps.


Comircan says some rules can be bent depending on situations. Compromising helps with cooperation. Rigidity makes life boring, which at least for us is not okay. We get much more done and he’s better behaved too.


Children, specifically challenging children, will bug and hem and annoy until you change your “No” to a “Yes” says wrote Cormican. Children love to challenge their boundaries. When they learn they can push your buttons, they will absolutely do so. As said in Age, set the expectations and follow through.

Zero in

Cormican says that when a problem happens, zero in on them and try to understand why from a rational point of view. While I agree each incident should be looked at individually, if its reoccurring, consider what is not working and how to change it .

All these tips are really helpful to all sorts of parenting. I can tell you that when I went through a challenging time with my own son. You got this. You have support and feel free if you need me as a line to help. Always happy to help or just talk.

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