20 April 2023
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The COVID lockdowns limited children’s exposure to structured environments such as childcare where they have typically developed their social skills and emotional resilience. 

This has resulted in many children presenting with challenging behaviours.

Examples of challenging behaviour include:

  • Defiance/ refusing age appropriate requests
  • Overly fussy such as difficultly settling
  • Hurting self/ others
  • Excessively angry when refused their wishes
  • Ongoing or frequent emotional outbursts

When to refer?

Challenging behaviour is part of typical development. However, families need support if their child’s behaviour is impacting on family functioning, the child’s engagement in daily tasks and learning environments, or if there are safety concerns.

Some behaviours may be due to an undiagnosed developmental delay (eg social, emotional, communication), disability or trauma.

Where to refer?

  • Psychologist or family therapist
  • Parent Child Interaction Therapist (PCIT)
  • Parenting education program such as Circle of Security or Tuning in to Kids

Find more information

This article was written by members of the ‘Stronger Seeds, Taller Trees’ project which includes professionals from a number of government and non-government organisations in South Western Sydney. The group aims to support GPs working with families to navigate and access timely services when they have a concern about a child’s development.