Appropriate Goals for Children with Behavioral Problems

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Children with behavioral problems can be a challenge for parents, teachers and even their own peers. Kids need boundaries and guidance if they are to learn to behave appropriately at home, in the classroom and in social settings.

What Are Realistic Behavioral Goals for Kids?

Elementary students are enthusiastic and constantly on the move. Their unbridled enthusiasm can lead to behavioral problems in the classroom environment if it is not channeled properly. Some of these early learners disrupt the school day routine with their impulsiveness. They’re the ones who leave their seats without permission, shout out answers, shove their peers to be first in line, and talk during quiet time.

Kids this age are eager to please and respond well to positive praise. Post classroom rules, and set goals accordingly. Behavior charts work well with this age group. Give verbal prompts as needed to help children meet goals, such as remaining in their seats, taking turns and raising hands before answering a question. Stickers, stars, or happy faces are little positive rewards for compliant behavior. When students accumulate a specified number of rewards, allow them to be the classroom helper, or earn additional recess or free time.

The same principles can be used at home. If your child has trouble following family rules, getting along with siblings, or curtailing overly impulsive behavior, set up a goal and reward system. Rewards for proper behavior such as family outings, game night, or extra computer or TV time are great incentives for appropriate behavior.

What About Older Children?

Adolescents with behavioral problems can be disrespectful, irresponsible, and verbally abusive. These behaviors should not be tolerated at home or in the classroom. Pre-teens and teenagers need firm boundaries and positive role models. Their hormones are raging, so they are likely to have frequent emotional outbursts and meltdowns.

Let them know that you understand their conflicting emotions. They also need to know that certain behaviors are unacceptable, such as disrespecting adults, lashing out in anger, or bullying younger siblings.

Kids this age are old enough to understand the importance of appropriate behavior. Encourage them to set behavioral goals for themselves and help them attain those goals. Teach them how to respond to stressful situations by modeling correct behavior. Don’t raise your voice, or lose control when a disagreement arises.

If they are having trouble controlling their impulsive behavior at school, try some role-modeling exercises in the classroom that teach tolerance and acceptance. Reward appropriate behavior with plenty of positive praise and encouragement.

Growing up in today’s world is not easy. The influence of social media, television, and the gaming industry affects the way kids think, react, and behave. Let your children know what your expectations are, and help them meet the behavioral goals that will help them evolve into well-adjusted, productive adults.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Appropriate Goals for Children with Behavioral Problems," in, January 30, 2017, (accessed August 11, 2022).