Guidance for Preschoolers With Disruptive Behavior

By Ayra Moore
Disruptive behavior in preschoolers can indicate deeper issues.
Disruptive behavior in preschoolers can indicate deeper issues.

If your preschooler exhibits disruptive behavior at home or in other settings, some strategies can help teach child manage her behavior. It is important for you to understand the factors that can contribute to this type of behavioral response. While some preschoolers resort to disruptive behavior as a means of acting out, it can also indicate deeper problems. Knowing the specifics of disruptive behavior can help you limit the lasting effects on both you and your child.


Disruptive behavior in preschoolers can include aggression, anger, temper tantrums, defiance, disobeying rules and stubbornness. At home or in other social settings, these types of behaviors are typically seen as negatives and can interrupt normal functioning for you and your child. Most preschoolers engage in some level of behavioral problems. However, chronic disruptive behavior that exceeds what is common for this age group can indicate conduct problems that might persist through school and beyond, according to a 2002 article published in the "Journal of Infant and Young Children."


The causes of disruptive behavior include factors associated with environment, temperament and parental characteristics. For example, difficulty with behavior control, which is a characteristic of temperament, is associated with the development of disruptive behavior disorders in young children, according to a 2002 study published in the "Journal of Biological Psychiatry." Other influential factors include stressful life events, parental conflict, poverty and inconsistent parenting techniques. In most cases, several factors mesh to cause disruptive behavior.


Not all children who exhibit behavioral problems in early childhood continue to have issues later in life, but most do. A 2006 article published in the "Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry" states that young children who exhibit persistent disruptive behavior are more likely to develop conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Early warning signs of a behavioral disorder include poor social skills, lack of school readiness, irritability and inattentiveness. If you suspect that your preschooler might at risk for developing a disruptive behavior disorder, seek the aid of a mental health worker for your child.


You should be patient and talk calmly to your child when your child acts out.
You should be patient and talk calmly to your child when your child acts out.

Dealing with disruptive behavior is something every parent has to do at some point. It is important that you be patient, avoid getting angry, listen and set clear rules and boundaries, according to an article at KidsHealth. You should also teach your child how to cope with disruptive behavior. Examples include finding a positive outlet for anger or taking a time-out. Negative behavioral patterns that are persistent can also benefit from intervention. Treatment can help prevent the development of academic or social problems that might occur once your child enters school.

About the Author

Ayra Moore is a professional writer who holds a Masters of Science in forensic psychology with a specialty in mental health applications. She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts in general psychology and criminal justice from Georgia State University. Moore worked for two years with at-risk teenagers in a therapeutic setting.