3 Questions to Ask If Your Child Is Acting Out

If tantrums are the norm in your house, your child may be struggling with something other than a bad attitude. How do you determine if it’s just a “bad day” or if there’s something else going on? Start by asking yourself the following questions each time your child acts out.

Are they hungry?

Not eating enough of the right foods affects children in many ways, one of which is poor mood. The American Psychological Association says that hunger can cause children to experience anxiety, depression, and toxic stress. Before you correct your child, try offering them a healthy, filling snack first and see if the behavior subsides on its own. Encourage them to let you know when they’re hungry in the future instead of acting out.

Are they tired?

Did you know that sleep deprivation can affect your child’s behavior? Not getting enough sleep stifles a child’s ability to regulate their mood and control their actions/reactions. They may act out, talk back, or have meltdowns because their body hasn’t had adequate sleep. So how much sleep does your child need? According to sleepeducation.org, the amount of sleep your child needs varies by age:

  • 3 months – 1 year need about 14 – 15 hours a day.
  • 1 – 3 years should sleep for 12 – 14 hours a day.
  • 3 – 5 years need 11 – 12 hours of sleep a day.
  • 6 – 12 years require sleep for 10 – 11 hours a day.

Are they asking for attention/love?

Did you just move to a new home? Have you been busier than usual? Has there been a lot of conflict or stress in your family? Sometimes when kids act out, it’s because they’re going through a hard time. Lashing out at you or whining or throwing things may actually be a cry for attention, love, or reassurance. While acting out isn’t a healthy way to respond to difficult circumstances, our children may not know how else to express their anger, frustration, or loneliness.

So before you label your child as “difficult” or assume it’s “just a phase,” ask yourself these questions. Make sure your child’s physical and emotional needs are being met! While we know that every child wrestles with sin in their heart, there are some behaviors and tantrums that could be avoided by simply meeting these basic human needs.