Characteristics of Children with Behavior and Adjustment Problems

All parents want what is best for their children. Most parents would be concerned if they found out that their child is having behavioral, emotional or social difficulties. If you are concerned about your child, the first step is to identify your child’s challenges. Understanding these difficulties will help you formulate a plan of action to increase your child’s success. Here is a description of signs and symptoms of typical problems in children:


  • Hyperactivity-Hyperactivity means being more active than is usual or desirable.  A child with hyperactivity is in constant movement and appear to be driven by a motor. They squirm and fidget in their seats or roam around the room.  Hyperactive behaviors interfere with your child's social, academic, and emotional functioning. These behaviors generally affect parents, teachers, and peers.
  • Impulsivity- Children who are impulsive don’t think before acting. They are constantly interrupting others, talking excessively, blurting out answers without being called upon to do so, and are unable to take turns.  These children usually have difficulty dealing with emotions such as anger and frustration.
  • Inattention- Kids who are inattentive are easily distracted and have a hard time focusing and completing tasks. These children tend to avoid difficult tasks and often become unmotivated with tasks that requires effort (i.e math and/or reading comprehension). They can sustain attention for a long period when they are interested  (i.e. video games and/or TV).
  • Aggression-  Physical aggression includes: hitting, punching, and kicking. Children who display aggressive behaviors are prone to thinking that another child is doing something negative on purpose and they must be aggressive in response.
  • Oppositional Behavior-  It’s normal for children to display defiant behavior at times. However, high level of defiance can lead to Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). A child that exhibits ODD: argues with adults and authority figures, blames others for his mistakes, often loses temper and is angry and/or resentful, and refuses to comply with adult requests. ODD tends to occur in families with a history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), substance use disorders, or mood disorders.
  • Moodiness- It’s normal for kids to display a wide range of emotions. However, if you have a child who is moody to the point of causing problems in school, at home, or with friends,  his/her behavior might not be normal.  Either end of the mood continuum (i.e Euphoria and/or Depression) causes problems in children.
  • Anxiety- It is normal for children to feel nervous every now and then. When anxiety is severe, it can interfere with children’s development.  A child who suffers from anxiety generally thinks that something bad is going to happen to him or his loved ones. These children tend to avoid places, people or situations that are the source of their anxiety. Some physical symptoms of anxiety are: headaches, breathing difficulties, and racing heart.
  • Academic Problems- A child with academic problems may be delayed in reading, math, writing or other areas of academic proficiency. Academic problems can be very difficult to deal with and identifying the factors contributing to these problems can be complicated. Among the most common reasons why a child might not be doing well academically are: undetected learning disabilities,  lack of basic skills and study habits, inappropriate educational activities, or lack of parental support in their education.
  • Social Difficulties- Some children have a hard time with friendships. Many children do not have the social skills to make and maintain friendships. These children often feel rejected and tend to withdraw.

Can you pinpoint any characteristics that apply to your child?

Are these behaviors interfering with his ability to succeed in school, make friends, relate to you, or enjoy life?

Do you feel that you don't have the tools to help your child?

A qualified professional can help you develop an effective plan with interventions to help your child succeed.  Click here to learn how an experienced New York City clinical psychologist can help your family. Call 347-781-4614 for a FREE 15-minute consultation.