A child you know or love isn't acting the way she used to and you can't put your finger on what's wrong. Negative behavior checklists are a way of rounding up these little actions you've noticed and assessing them to see whether a problem really exists. Sudden, worrisome changes in a child's behavior might be a sign of trouble at home, bullying at school or even abuse.
Negative behavior checklists for children are lengthy and differ depending on the entity creating them. One critical category has to do with a child's feelings of self-worth. Warning signs that something is wrong include expressions of self-hatred, self-doubt and putting oneself down, according to the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment. A child might compare herself to others and find herself constantly lacking or might withdraw from social events. She might also complain of feeling lonely or isolated.
Sudden outbursts of anger can also be a warning sign of trouble. According to Sacramento Psychology, a California therapy business, displays of anger can include rudeness to elders, constant fighting and an urge to hurt other people without showing any signs of regret. Also, be on the lookout for touchiness, defensiveness, lying and a need to blame others for faults. Children who are cruel to animals are also exhibiting signs of trouble.
A child in trouble might also show signs of being excessively worried or nervous in normal conditions, such as meeting new people, according to Dr. Dianne S. O'Connor, a Toronto psychologist. The child might seem afraid she'll make a mistake or do something bad, or she might display fears about certain people or places. She might be especially sensitive to any criticism, prone to jealousy or need constant reassurance. She also might be fidgety or display nervous behavior such as biting her nails.
An unexplained drop in school performance could be another warning sign that something's wrong, according to Sacramento Psychology. This could be a result of the child suddenly not caring how well he does; it could also happen even when he's trying his best in school. He might have difficulty concentrating and, even when striving for perfection, seems to miss the mark.
A particularly frightening warning sign is regression. A child might return to babyish habits long outgrown, according to O'Connor. These include thumb-sucking, clinging to parents, whining and bed-wetting. She might wet or even soil herself during the day. She also might find it difficult to catch up with her peers when it comes to talking, walking or comprehension.
What To Do
The Texas Attorney General's Office stresses how important it is to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child if your suspicions are based on reason. Certain workers such as teachers, doctors and nurses are legally obligated to report concerns to their local or state agency within 48 hours of noticing evidence of abuse or neglect.