Home > Managing Behaviour > Understanding Sudden, Odd Behaviour in Your Child

Understanding Sudden, Odd Behaviour in Your Child

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 11 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
Children Behaviour Sudden Odd Disturbing

When children start acting differently many parents begin to worry, and with good reason. Sudden, odd behaviour in your child could be an indication that something is very wrong in his or her world. When you notice new and confusing behaviour in your child, investigate if there could be a physical, emotional or social cause. Share your thoughts with professionals who might be able to explore these issues with you.

Physical Causes of Sudden, Odd Behaviour

When children exhibit odd behaviour very suddenly there may be an underlying physical cause. Discomfort and pain can be strong motivators for confusing, different behaviours in which a child has never engaged before. Physical causes of such behaviour might include:
  • Allergies, including seasonal, food or to something like mould.
  • Illness, even something as generalised as a sudden fever.
  • Teething or dental problems, like cavities or gum disease.
  • Underlying condition, such as an autoimmune condition/disease.
  • Serious illness, for example a childhood cancer.
  • Pain from an accident, anything from a stubbed toe to a broken bone.

Emotional Causes of Sudden, Odd Behaviour

A child who engages in new, negative behaviours with a sudden onset may also be experiencing an emotional upset with which (s)he is unable to cope. Children may not even realise what they are feeling, and so may be unable to explain it, so adults must be extra vigilant to determine if there is an emotional cause to new and disturbing behaviours. Such emotional causes could include:
  • Reaction to stress in the home, including monetary stress.
  • Parental discord, separation or divorce.
  • Death of a loved one, including a pet.
  • Feelings of guilt or responsibility, for example if something was broken or hurt.
  • Confusion over authority in the home, for example if a new partner has moved in.
  • Anger for which (s)he has no outlet.
  • Embarrassment over a personal characteristic like a speech impediment.

Social Causes of Sudden, Odd Behaviour

It may be that any sudden, troubling behaviour your child engages in is the result of an external cause. Social causes in particular can have an affect on children who aren’t sure how to cope with things over which they believe they have no control. Some common social causes of odd behaviour in children include:
  • Being bullied, or bullying others.
  • Starting at a new playgroup or school.
  • Being forced to engage in a play, skit or other instance of public speaking.
  • Believing that they have no friends or no one who cares about them.
  • Not making it onto a team, club or other organisation which requires “membership”.
  • Having others turn down invitations to play, sleep over or attend a party.

Sharing Your Thoughts With Professionals

If you wonder if there may be physical, emotional or social causes to your child’s new and troubling behaviours then don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with professionals. Your child’s GP, dentist, teacher, coaches, school counsellor a member of your clergy and even private mental health professionals can all help you investigate your own thoughts as well as provide more evidence or data for you to work with. Professionals can also help you make a plan for discussing your concerns with your child as well as how to cope with the undesirable behaviours in which your child has begun to engage.

Sudden, odd behaviours in your child can be very worrying. To help understand why your child has begun to act in these ways you could explore any physical, emotional and/or social causes. Sharing your thoughts with the professionals involved in your child’s life might also help you get a better idea of what your child is coping with and how you can help alleviate the underlying causes and stop his or her disturbing behaviours.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have full custody ov my three grand children the middle one has ad and his getting worse i took him to the doctors but he did a runner,he has no road sence so i dont chase him.he has caused three accidents now on the road but shows no emotion he wont lisen he just runs off he isnt happy unless his fighting he also wont change his under wear or socks so now have to send him too school with them were late every morning will he get better and is there help he also likes to dismantle the house and emptys all the wardrobes every night his a constant battleput up cctv but he unplugs it what can i do.x
DONNA - 11-May-17 @ 4:56 AM
hi i have 2 sons 6 and 3 and never really had problems with managing behaviour my 6 yr old has been through his stages of mis behaving but never to much just the brotherly arguing and winding each other up etc its only recently my 3 yr old who usually is so polite quiet well behaved etc but now his behaviour has gone quite bad he kicks off when he cant get his onwn way which some chilmdren do which is manageable its the constant telling me no wen i ask him todo something like coat or to stop doing something he tells me to shut up calls me stupid which is many times in a day , throwing toys hitting hisw brother which then causes them to start fighting they are both thriving off one another i think one starts silly behaviour other copies more times yountest starts it off, i have my self to blamme really because i have never really used any kind of disciplin when they are naughty and now im struggling i regret not having time out or other ways of diciplin, i am on my own with them and have had quite a few things myself knock me back abit but i love my boys more than life its self but really do believe i can get this under control if i could just ask for aabit of guidence to start me off as tyhis behaviour is mainly with me at home and never that bad when with other family members ie.nans so they dont know i struggling a little and dont want to show thjis, how can i get this under control ino the problems which i believe are myself not sticking tto my word and giving them chance after instead of following it through and routine issues i think too we dont have it as much as weshould.
<3 myboys <3 - 26-Oct-16 @ 10:16 PM
my four yr.old daughter goes through diferent phases, she wets in bed for a few days, then after we talk to her she stops, then, all over again, she also goes through mood swings constantly, constantly doesn't listen to mom and ignores dad when dad calls her,
none - 2-Aug-13 @ 9:06 AM
I have found thid topic very interesting as I hav a daughter that is suff ering. And had helped me yo understand her problems. I am st the moment applying help fof hes.
gypsyrose - 20-Jun-11 @ 6:13 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • whale
    Re: Children and Self-Harm
    My 8 year old brother has been scratching himself for a while when i tell him its time to shower or when i tell him to do something he…
    24 January 2021
  • naz
    Re: Grounding Children
    i've been grounded for ten years because of fortnite
    21 January 2021
  • Jizzy
    Re: Smacking and Children
    So im 12 and my mom has hit me many times before. I suffer from depression and PTSD from it. Sometimes when she moves her hand slightly too…
    8 January 2021
  • Jizzy
    Re: Grounding Children
    So im 12 years and the reason im in trouble for is private but long story short, my mom went through my phone when me and my friends were…
    8 January 2021
  • Mom
    Re: Grounding Children
    I am a mother of four. Three teenagers and an eight year old. I know from personal experience spankings don't work! It just makes the kids act…
    27 December 2020
  • AllyKat64
    Re: Children and Body Rocking
    Man I am 32 and MY chair in the livingroom is a rocking chair. I am open with my fam about it. Neither of my kids do it. I do it in my…
    23 December 2020
  • Imded
    Re: Grounding Children
    My parents grounded me for two months but they can’t see that it’s making me do worse. What should I do
    7 December 2020
  • Jojo
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    My so 3 years old he can respond his name , when he is busy he doesn’t look at by calling him, he use lots of…
    27 November 2020
  • Reecy
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    I'm in shock my daughter's is 8 now for the last 3 years I have suspected something was wrong. This site has just…
    10 November 2020
  • Marie
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    My daughter is nearly 16 she has all the signs of adhd she does anything for attention she breaks things she lies…
    7 November 2020