Understanding mental health for children goes beyond just thinking about whether children are ‘bad’ and defiant……or ‘good’ , which usually means they are compliant and listen to you. If we stretch ourselves to challenge previously held assumptions, we find far more complex answers as to the triggers of a specific reaction or behavior.

Along with the obvious contributors, behaviors are a response to lots of different things. Here are a few factors to take into consideration when you are curious as to why your child behaves the way he does:

First ask yourself, “Is this an example of his temperament style?….Do I even know what his temperament style is?” Temperament is not a choose-it-as-you-go thing, it’s a personality style that your child was actually born with and has a lot to do with how he/she responds to those things that come at him. This, by the way, is the same for us adults.

Also, it is important to note that each of your children have their own temperament that is unique to them, so don’t be surprised if each one (even if there are as many as 5 or more) is very different from the others. There are approximately 7- 10 examples of primary temperament styles:

1) High Activity Level (hyper)

2) Impulsivity (doesn’t think much before reacting)

3) Distractible

4) High Intensity (strong emotions)

5) Irregularity (unpredictable body rhythms)

6) Negative Mood (doesn’t show pleasure openly)

7) Poor Adaptability (has difficulty with transitions)

8) Low Sensory Threshold (physically sensitive to light, textures, smells, temperatures, etc.

9) Negative Persistence (very strong-willed – long trantrums)

10) Initial Withdrawal (Shy and reserved with new people).

Image source: http://sarclassroom.blogspot.com

Figuring out which one of these categories each of your children fit into will help you understand, and even in some cases, help you to manage unpredictable behaviors.   For those behaviors that are predictable, you might find relief in realizing that suddenly you are more understanding of why.