Managing Challenging Child Behaviors


Parents and child caregivers can feel isolated when children display intense negative behaviors, like hitting, throwing temper tantrums and refusing to follow directions. Most children will act out to some degree. When parents need help dealing with the challenging behaviors of a child, they can turn to other parents who have been able to overcome similar situations. There is hope. Families can be equipped with techniques to deal with behaviors. These techniques can support children in being successful in school and in life for years to come.


Parents can become discouraged when they feel like they have tried everything. A lot of the time, learning effective behavioral change strategies takes time and consistent practice.

Often parents hear that their child “will grow out of it,” when describing the challenging childhood behaviors to those who work with children. These behaviors can be managed, but sometimes the road isn’t easy.

There is hope for management of challenging childhood behaviors. Interaction with other parents can help parents learn from similar experiences. They can help children express their feelings in a healthy manner. Mistakes can be made. Parents can find relief, comfort and help when engaging with others who have had success with handling negative behaviors.

Additional Resources

The Regional Intervention Program (RIP) is a parent-implemented, professionally-supported program for children under 6 years’ old and their families who are experiencing challenging behaviors. RIP has been serving families with young children since 1969. This unique program guides parents in learning skills to work directly with their own children while they receive training and support from experienced RIP families. 

Visit the kidcentral tn State Services Directory and search for RIP for your zip code to find a program closest to you.

Mental health services for children can include outpatient counseling, case management, psychiatric services or other support services for your family. Learn more about Mental Health Resources available in Tennessee.

If you notice your child experiencing persistent periods of sadness, excessive worry, or you notice significant changes in how your child handles everyday activities or routines, please seek professional care with a behavioral health or primary care outpatient provider. If you think your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, and you are concerned about safety, please contact Crisis Services at 1-855-274-7471.

As a community when we make sure that everyone can reach their potential and fully contribute to our communities, we all benefit. Learn how the state helps parents and children thrive together.

Find more information on early childhood mental health and social/emotional development.