Uncontrollable Behaviors in Children

Children exhibit uncontrollable behaviors for various reasons, including the presence of emotional and mental disturbances, and as responses to traumatic events, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Familiar, uncontrollable behaviors are hyperactivity, defiance and violence, and can cause significant difficulties for children and families 2. Early, evidence-based behavioral interventions can help diminish uncontrollable behaviors and teach children appropriate ways to act at home and at school. In other cases, parents and clinicians opt for pharmaceutical treatment of uncontrollable child behavior.


Children with uncontrollable behavior are often diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder 2. They have difficulty staying focused, show poor impulse control and are constantly fidgeting. This behavior is especially troubling in school because teachers are usually busy managing multiple children and find this behavior disruptive to other students' learning experience. While it seems uncontrollable, ADHD, a neurobiological disorder, can be regulated with medication, dietary changes and behavior modification techniques.

Oppositional Defiance

According to the American Academy for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, defiant behavior can be developmental -- toddlers and early adolescents exhibit defiance as a normal part of growth. When defiance becomes pervasive and interrupts day-to-day functioning, it can extend beyond a developmental issue and might require intensive interventions. Oppositional defiant behavior includes frequent temper tantrums, constant arguing with adults and authority figures, and deliberately annoying others. Many times, oppositional defiant disorder coexists with other conditions, including ADHD and learning difficulties, and requires a comprehensive examination to address all potential contributors to uncontrollable behavior.


When a child is violent, he might threaten to hurt himself or others. Violent behavior is often fueled by poorly managed anger, witnessed violence in the home, or as a response to repeated trauma. Violent children can get into frequent fights at school and home, and might be impervious to consequences that are given in an attempt to quell violent behavior. Caregivers, teachers and mental health practitioners can find activities and programs to help violent children process painful emotions, and learn to manage their anger more appropriately.

Implosive and Explosive Rage

Dr. Ross Greene, author and clinical professor in the Psychiatry Department at Harvard Medical School, suggests that childhood rage is implosive or explosive anger that children experience when they don't have the necessary tools and skills to address challenging situations 3. Explosive anger or rage resembles throwing items and disrespectfully yelling at others, and demonstrating acts of violence. Implosive anger, according to licensed marriage and family therapist Ernesto Segismundo Jr., is when children suppress their anger because they are ashamed of it or are attempting to avoid the consequences associated with having an explosive eruption, such as jail and other forms of punishment. Implosive rage can develop into cutting and severe depression.