Managing Behaviour in Young Children


It is hard to disagree that there may be various challenges while parents raise their children, and they need to be fully aware of the ways to make this process more comfortable and correct. One such issue that can make parents confused and ask professionals for help is child aggression and problematic behavior. Since there is an extended number of different reasons for such a problem, various tools and methods may or may not be useful in addressing challenging behavior and supporting young children. Therefore, several strategies based on theories are applied by professionals. The purpose of this paper is to discuss what tools and techniques are likely or unlikely to work in a particular case study. The strategy discussed in this paper is a micro strategy because it focuses on the family and interventions that will be applied by its members.

Analysis of the Case Study Details

To begin with, it is essential to mention case study details and try to find the reason for such behavior. Though the boy has excess energy, it is normal for boys of this age (Porter, 2016). Since the boy behaves well and has friends at nursery, it is possible to suggest that it is his home and family that cause him to show aggression towards his six-year-old sister. The fact that such challenging behavior, namely pushing, kicking, and pulling his sister’s hair, occurs mostly at home, proves this idea. Interestingly, such aggression typically appears when the boy is tired, which may mean losing control and being willing to show his emotions in a way opposed to speaking.

Since both children spend time with their grandparents until the mother takes over, and the father is on frequent business trips, it may be a reason for the boy’s challenging behavior. It is quite general for children to express the lack of attention, care, love, and tenderness from parents aggressively as they have difficulty saying it (Lindon, 2012). Therefore, the intervention and its tools and techniques should be aimed at improving the boy’s perception of the family situation, as well as at making his parents understand the necessity of their increased participation in their son’s life. What is more, it is vital to focus on helping the child to find other ways of expressing his emotions (Grusec, 2019). Thus, given the precise details of the case study, the intervention will include increased adult consideration and care with praise and positive feedback, social skills training, and expressive art therapy.

Theoretical Support of Chosen Methods and Techniques

Famous theorists and psychologists who study children’s challenging and aggressive behavior suggest using the tools and strategies mentioned above. To begin with, British psychologist John Bowlby indicates that there is a strong connection between infants and their first caregivers (Banyard et al., 2019). According to him, the first five years of life are a relatively sensitive period, so children should not lack attention from their parents (Banyard et al., 2019). Porter (2016) supports the idea of providing kids with increased care, support, attention, and love and suggests it as a way of reducing aggression in young children. What is more, Burrhus Frederic Skinner suggests using praise and positive feedback to strengthen the needed changes in kids’ behavior (Banyard et al., 2019). Psychologists also recommend paying attention to the needs of children. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, kids need to feel love and belonging (McLeod, 2007). Without these basic feelings, children are likely to develop disorders or demonstrate problematic behavior, namely aggression. Thus, it is the parents’ significant responsibility to show presence in the life of the child and their unconditional and strong love.

At the same time, according to Albert Bandura, an American-Canadian psychologist, learning appears through interactions with and observations of other humans (Banyard et al., 2019). Bandura suggests that modeling, imitation, and observation help children learn how to act in various situations, and their behavior is the result of what they see (Banyard et al., 2019). Therefore, parents need to provide their kids with positive role models, as well as consider social skills training as a way to make sure their sons and daughters learn how to interact with others correctly. Finally, Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget believed that children under five are at a pre-moral stage of development where they do not understand rules and have little idea of morality (Keenan et al., 2016). Since it is parents’ responsibility to teach their children to distinguish between the bad and the good, a proper technique is to offer alternative ways of expressing negative emotions. For example, art, music, sport, and extra motion are appropriate and effective for young children.

Conditions Under Which Methods and Techniques Will or Will Not Work

Fortunately, the psychological field offers a significant variety of different methods and tools that may be useful in certain situations, support children and improve their behavior, and some of them were mentioned above. For this particular case study, it is possible to suggest that several interventions can be of great help. People involved in the intervention would be the boy’s parents and grandparents and a psychologist.

Increased Adult Consideration and Praise and Positive Feedback

The first method supported by the theorists is to provide the boy with increased adult consideration and care. Since he rarely sees his parents, the child probably tries to draw their and grandparents’ attention by pushing and kicking his sister, and he feels a lack of appreciation and emotional support (Dowling, 2014). In this case, spending more time with the boy and demonstrating love is a correct and most likely working way of addressing his aggressive behavior (Allen et al., 2020). What is more, praise and feedback would also help improve the situation as it would be the attention needed by the boy (Keenan et al., 2016). It is a good approach to positively comment on his daily activity and let him know that he is talented and appreciated, as well as show compassion and feel sorry for the boy.

Nevertheless, in case the boy’s aggression is not rooted in his desire to draw attention and get more love from his parents, this technique is unlikely to work. There is even a possibility that parents’ increased demonstration of their love and appreciation towards the boy may make him think that his aggression is appropriate. Finally, if his parents also used to work a lot when he was an infant, he may have the strongest connection with his grandparents instead of his mother or father. Then, increased attention and praise are unlikely to be effective.

Social Skills Training and Providing Positive Role Models

Social skills training for young children may also be beneficial for this particular family. According to Spence (2003), it is especially helpful in aggressive behavior. Because the boy behaves well at nursery and has friends, it is possible to suggest that he will feel comfortable during such training. Parents may want to help the boy develop empathy, and the ability to talk about his emotions and feel shame when he shows aggression towards his sister (Grusec, 2019). For example, running through various engaging scenarios, asking the child to describe his feelings, and explaining why it is bad to push and kick his sister, as well as other people, are what the boy’s parents can do (Dowling, 2014). Then, positive role models will be sufficient for him in case they can get and maintain his interest and attention (Grusec, 2019). Nevertheless, the case study details mention that the boy shows aggression typically when he is tired. Taking this fact into account, it is possible to suppose that he will be too exhausted for social skills training, and there will be no expected outcome.

Alternative Ways of Expressing Aggression

Because the boy is stated to be active, allowing him to do sports or merely running in the garden may be a good way to get rid of negative emotions and excess aggression (Porter, 2016). Motion and space usually help develop the vestibular and proprioceptive systems that can enhance confidence in the child and eliminate challenging behavior, namely tantrums (Dowling, 2014). Art therapy is also proved to be effective in such cases. However, if the reason for aggressive behavior is, for example, the unnoticed provocative behavior of his sister, the boy’s tantrums may still take place.

Expected Impact of Practices

It is possible to suggest that these tools and methods within the chosen intervention plan will have a positive result. The boy is expected to reduce the number of tantrums and stop showing aggression towards his six-year-old sister. His self-confidence level and the ability to control his emotions are likely to increase, and the boy should feel more loved, appreciated, and cared for. These practices are expected to improve the situation in the family and enhance their awareness of the seriousness of the problem and their son’s need for additional attention and care.

Complexness of Supporting Others to Manage Behaviour

Undoubtedly, it is essential to acknowledge that supporting other people, especially young children, to change behavior and show less aggression is challenging. Changes always require much energy, determination, and the ability to start over even after failing an attempt. People who support those with complex behavioral problems also need to be persistent and, more importantly, confident of success and aware of possible complications. As for parents who try to help their children cope with anger, tantrums, and aggression, it is especially difficult because mothers and fathers themselves get stressed out and may lack the necessary psychological knowledge and skills.


Allen, S., Whalley, M., Lee, M. L. & Scollan, A. (2020). Developing professional practice in the early years. Open University Press.

Banyard, P., Norman, C., Dillon, G. & Winder, B. (Eds.). (2019). Essential psychology (3rd ed). Sage.

Dowling, M. (2014). Young children’s personal, social and emotional development (4th ed.). Sage.

Grusec, J. E. (2019). Principles of effective parenting: How socialization works. Guilford Publications.

Keenan, T., Evans, S. & Crowley (2016). An introduction to child development. Sage.

Lindon, J. (2012). Understanding children’s behaviour, years 0-11: Linking theory and practice. Hodder Education.

McLeod, S. (2007). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Simply psychology, 1, 1-8.

Porter, L. (2016). Young children’s behaviour: Guidance approaches for early childhood educators (4th ed.) Allen & Unwin.

Spence, S. H. (2003). Social skills training with children and young people: Theory, evidence and practice. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 8(2), 84–96.

Case Study Details

Details about the child
Age: 4
Gender: male
Ethnicity: Greek Cypriot
Additional information about the child that you feel is relevant (height, weight, appearance etc)
Regular height and weight, bright child, has excess energy and advanced gross motor skills.
Details about the behaviour
Type: aggressive behaviour towards his 6 years old sister
Frequency: quite often
Time it occurs: usually when he gets tired but can happen other times as well
Context: at home most of the times
Additional information about the behaviour that you feel is relevant

Pushing, kicking and pulling hair
At nursery he behaves well and has friends

Background information
Family type: nuclear family
Family relationships: responsive, caring
Good socioeconomic status
Cultural background: close relationships with grand parents
Additional background information that you feel is relevant
Both parents work and grandparents look after the children until mother takes over
Father travels abroad for his work a lot.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Managing Behaviour in Young Children'. 6 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Managing Behaviour in Young Children." September 6, 2022.

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PsychologyWriting. "Managing Behaviour in Young Children." September 6, 2022.