When To Seek Behavioral Counseling For Your Preschool Child (And Measures That May Help)

If you are the parent of a preschool-aged child, you probably have experienced the occasional temper tantrum and defiant attitude typical at this stage. When negative behavior becomes unacceptable and gets out of control, however, it may be time to seek professional intervention. How can you tell if your 3-5 year-old needs professional counseling and how might that benefit him or her? Look for the tell-tale signs and educated yourself on counseling methods that are designed to help.

Recognize the Signs

Sometimes it becomes difficult for a parent to recognize problematic behavior in a preschooler. Some parents view the negative behavior as merely a "phase" the child is going through that will pass in time. Hoping your child's bad attitude and disruptive behavior will simply "go away" isn't the right approach, however. In some cases, these issues may escalate into something more troublesome if ignored. Here are a few of the more common signs to look for that often indicate a child needs counseling:

  • Temper Tantrums or Meltdowns at Frequent Intervals: While it's typical for a preschool child to throw an occasional temper tantrum, frequent outbursts should not be considered acceptable. If your child throws a temper tantrum or meltdown every day for not getting his or her own way, it may be time for intervention. Crying, screaming, kicking and throwing things are the signs to be aware of.

  • His or Her Actions Are Becoming Unmanageable: When parents cannot control the child any longer, this is another red flag. Do you find yourself at your wit's end trying to cope with your child's unruly actions? Are you at a loss for how to manage this negative behavior? When things become out of control and nothing you do seems to bear any consequence, think of this as a sign that your child needs professional management therapy.

  • Other Family Members Are Suffering, Too: Are siblings becoming affected by your preschooler's bad behavior? Maybe the child in question has been picking fights with brothers and sisters or disrupting the family in some other way. In such a case, counseling may be the best solution. When all family members are affected by your child's emotional issues and unacceptable actions, family counseling may help.

  • Fights at Daycare or Preschool or Disruption in Class: Have you been notified of disciplinary issues by your child's daycare provider or preschool teacher? Has your child instigated fights or become disruptive in class? This is a red flag warning for concern. Ignoring these issues may cause serious consequences, including dismissal from daycare or preschool. Before it gets out of hand, ask your child's preschool teacher for direction and a possible recommendation for counseling.

Learn How Counseling May Help

Once you've recognized and identified the problem, it is time to seek professional intervention. A child psychologist or family counselor may help you sort through these behavioral issues and correct the negative patterns. Here's how therapy may help:

  • Parents May Be Shown Parenting Skills to Help The Child Overcome the Negative: In many cases, when preschool children display disruptive behavior, parental intervention is necessary. What happens when you've been unsuccessful when attempting to intervene and reinforce positive behavior? Maybe you need a new direction, as you may have been approaching the situation wrong. A professional child counselor may show you the measures you need to take to correct this bad behavior. The counselor may also point out your mistakes that may impede your progress. Basically, this is a coaching method for the parents.

  • Family Participation May Bring Results: You may have heard of group therapy. Family therapy utilizes much the same concept. When the family becomes involved in therapy or counseling sessions, relationships may be strengthened. Other family members may learn how to reinforce positive behavior and create programs or rules that everyone must follow.

If you need to find an early childhood counselor or you need help with parenting skills, you might want to first consult with your child's pediatrician. The doctor might suggest your child undergo a complete physical examination to rule out any medical cause for the behavioral issues. For more information, contact a professional, like those from Associated Psychologists & Counselors