Is your child out of control?

So what constitutes behavioural difficulties or a child out of control, and does it apply to your child?

Behavioural difficulties usually build up over many years and will include some, possibly all, of the following:

  • Your child refuses to do as he or she is asked within a reasonable time.
  • Is verbally rude, answers back, talks over you, interrupts, doesn’t listen, demands rather than asks.
  • Walks away when you are talking, covers his or her ears or makes a loud noise when you are talking.
  • Shouts, screams, throws things or has tantrums when his or her demands are not immediately met.
  • Satisfies his or her own needs to the exclusion of others’.
  • Dominates you, your partner, siblings and friends.
  • Manipulates or threatens you or others – with verbal or physical aggression.
  • In older children, displays antisocial behaviour including stealing, vandalism, drug and alcohol abuse.

All children display some challenging behaviour sometimes, but you will know the difference between the occasional refusal of a child testing the boundaries, and a child who has behavioural difficulties and is out of control. There is one factor which governs all of the child’s actions, and which you may have identified but didn’t like to admit: he or she is in charge, and dominating you through their unacceptable behaviour. They have become ‘top dog’ and leader of the pack.

Apart from challenging and governing you through their bad behaviour there will be other less obvious signs that your child is out of your control and in charge:

  • The child pushes ahead of you to go through a door first.
  • He or she sits on the seat in the lounge where you were about to sit, so you have to sit somewhere else.
  • He or she speaks first when you meet your friends in the street.
  • They always answer the door, house phone and even your mobile.
  • They question you and need to know what is going on the whole time – you have no privacy.
  • Your meals are based on what the child wants, to avoid scenes.
  • Family gatherings are dominated by the child and you are on tenterhooks to keep them happy to avoid a scene.
  • You find you have modified your own behaviour and the activities of the family to accommodate the child.
  • You find yourself making excuses for the child’s behaviour.

A child who is out of control won’t be continuously throwing bricks through windows; they won’t have to. They are in charge and everyone works to their agenda. In my next blog I’ll look at how parents and carers can regain control.

Cathy Glass (

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