If you’ve recently started thinking “why is my child acting out all of a sudden?” then you are not alone.
Recently, It’s become a more widescale issue. Seemingly out of nowhere children can start to act out all of a sudden. This can feel very random and unexplainable putting parents in confusing situations.
Seeing a child acting out with one parent and not the other, can be very disheartening, especially if that parent is the main caregiver.
However, there is usually a much deeper reason. We will explore that below but first we should highlight what the term actually means.
What is Acting Out?
The term “Act Out’ can be defined as:
“Acting in an unrestrained or improper way over a short period of time”
This behaviour is typically caused by denied or even suppressed feelings and emotions that boil over and erupt out in a typically explosive fashion.
Relieving stress can be linked to children’s disruptive behaviour as these hidden emotions find a way to surface.
Fighting, stealing or throwing extreme uncontrollable tantrums is examples of such behaviour and some children can show signs of all 3 at the same time.
This can be very distressing for parents of children who seldom show signs of disruptive behaviour.
Why Is My Child Acting Out All Of A Sudden?
Seeking attention is usually the first and most common reason a child would show negative behaviour. As you respond to their constant disruptions you fulfil their craving for attention.
Disruptive behaviour is a way for your child to get the attention they want from you as fast as possible. If they don’t receive enough positive attention they will find constructive ways for you to take notice, even if that’s taking notice in the wrong way.
Witnessing a child acting out with one parent and not the other is usually a tell-tell sign that their is an attention issue that needs to be resolved fast.
2. Power Shifts
Children crave self-worth and power. They want to feel autonomy and independence. They need to feel in control of their actions and surroundings. If they are unable to feel a strong sense of power and control then acting out is a manageable way for them to regain some control, albeit for a short time.
3. Self Esteem
Children who suffer from low self-esteem can begin to act out if they feel that they are not able to perform a simple task or tasks.
For example, a child who is underperforming at football, basketball or netball lessons can act out as a way to try to cope with the emotional backlash of being unable to perform.
4. Personality Dysfunction and Disorders
This is usually attributed to older children and some adults but can include children as well. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the most common type with antisocial personality disorder being very common as well.
It’s important you seek professional help if you feel that your child is showing any signs of a personality disorder
More Examples Of Acting Out Amongst Children:
- Frequent Temper Tantrums
- Frequent Aggressive behaviour towards others
- Frequent Defiance
- Constant Oppositional Behaviour
- Frequent Disruptive behaviour
5. Blaming Your Child Won’t Help
It is important to note that just blaming the child is not an effective solution.
Most children are not predestined for disruptive behaviour and although the process of ‘Acting Out’ can happen suddenly it usually has been boiling up for long periods before the eruption.
It takes a lot more digging to get to the bottom of why is my child acting out all of a sudden?
Pain, fear and loneliness and the inability to be heard are reasons a child may act out all of a sudden. Taking a deeper look can take a lot more effort and more time but this is a very important way to uncover the root cause of the disruption.
Try to think if you have any major influences on your child’s behaviour. It’s a better idea to find dynamic ways to connect with your child and see the world from their eyes.
Are you too strict with them?
Do you not provide them with enough freedom to explore
Are there any other factors that could contribute to their behaviour like a recent death in the family or a divorce?
By looking deeper you can find a more anchored reason for the behaviour and begin to find effective ways to deal with it.
6. Abnormal Social Circumstances
Parents who think “why is my child acting out all of a sudden?” should take their children’s friends into consideration. For example:
Has your child recently been introduced to a new group of friends or peer group?
Have they provoked into responding in a certain way by other students?
Is it a long term friendship that has been harbouring negativity and then ended badly?
Children are very socially connected and follow their peers closely. A change in circumstances can explain a sudden flurry of disruptive behaviour.
Having a child acting out at school can be difficult to handle. But a child may act out at home if they are being bullied in school and can conversely act out at school if they are being bullied at home.
To find the root cause of the aggression you should look at all of the relationships your child has to see if you can find a connection.
7. Sensory issues
Doe s your child have a sensory issues condition like autism? Autistic children are on the increase globally and many parents have no clue that they have a child who needs extra care and attention from a trained professional.
There are many simple tests you can take so ensure you seek additional medical help. If you are worried that this may be the case speak with your local paediatrician.
8. Learning Disabilities
One important factor to consider is whether or not your child has any learning disabilities. This will help to get to the bottom of the “why is my child acting out all of a sudden?” question.
For example, does your child suffer from dyslexia?
Having untreated learning disabilities will result in long term disruptive behaviour as your child fails to get the help they need to learn correctly.
This will result in further disruptive behaviour as they will blame themselves for not being able to concentrate or focus in class.
Children can sometimes find it difficult to express their emotions and feelings especially the bigger ones like anger, fear, betrayal, jealousy and pain. If your child is acting out all of a sudden then it’s likely they are in pain and need some extra support.