From following your every request with a smile on her face to throwing a tantrum and showing off her temper, your child most likely has an array of both positive and negative behaviors that she engages in. If you are wondering whether or not a specific behavior is typical, a checklist for both the good and the bad can help to alleviate some of your worry.
Before checking off your little one's positives and negatives when it comes to his behaviors, it's useful to understand what is normal or typical. The American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website notes that there are three primary types of normal child behavior: Approved, tolerated (under certain circumstances) and those that are never tolerated. Approved behaviors include those that you want or expect to see, such as acting politely to others or following the rules that you set. Tolerated behaviors are actions that are not always wanted, but are understandable in light of special circumstances. For example, your child might act moody or whine when he is sick. The third category includes negative behaviors that you simply can't tolerate such as aggression or acting out. While you might not want to see some of these behaviors, they are all normal in the developing child.
You can't create one unified checklist for general childhood behaviors without taking age and developmental level into consideration. Some behaviors that are red flags and may signal problems in an older child are typical for a younger one. KidsHealth notes that temper tantrums are common in early childhood and that you may see your toddler, preschooler or even young grade schooler engaging in these behaviors while feeling frustrated or emotionally out of control. On the other hand, an older child in middle school who throws a tantrum isn't engaging in typical behavior, as he has a better developed sense of self-control and emotional regulation.
While there's an array of positive behaviors that your child may display, chances are that your checklist includes those that are specific to your own expectations. Parental expectations often vary depending on upbringing, internal values and beliefs or cultural issues. This means that there is the possibility that a behavior that you view as positive is a negative for your friend and her family. The national child development organization Zero to Three notes that some cultures expect or encourage early independence. Seeing a toddler or preschooler ask for help with something such as putting on his jacket may seem like a negative to a parent who has these expectations, but is completely normal for a parent of another culture who does not hold the same values. In general, most positive child behaviors include actions that benefit the child and those around him such as speaking in nice words, staying calm under pressure or following rules.
Negative child behaviors can run the gamut from those that are fairly normal to problem issues. Typical negative behaviors may include failure to follow rules, talking back to you or another adult or minor (verbal) skirmishes with peers. While these are certainly unacceptable, occasionally engaging in these negatives is not necessarily a reason for concern. More serious negative behaviors may include aggression (especially in an older child who should have a better developed sense of self-control), physical violence and engaging in risky actions such as using alcohol or illegal substances. Similar to positive behaviors, some negatives are dependent on parental expectations and may vary from family to family.
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images