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Help! My kid is annoying

Do you hear from parents, teachers or other children that your child disrupts activities or bothers others? It can be a tough pill to swallow, but the best solution is to help your child develop better social skills.

Learn how to deal when your child is annoying
Annoying kid in school

When someone says your child is annoying, it’s OK to feel defensive or even angry. Once you’re done reacting, step back and work on ways to help your child correct his behavior and improve his social skills.

Come up with a gentle way to alert your child

Mom Sherri Kuhn recommends frequently modeling appropriate behavior, especially before social gatherings. ”It helps to have a ‘signal’ with some kids that is a sly way to let them know they are being annoying,” she says. ”Then you aren’t calling them out in front of others, but they can change their behavior.” Many kids genuinely don’t know they’re being annoying, and a simple reminder can help. It’s OK to let your child know that her behavior is annoying, but don’t talk to her about it in front or others or in an embarrassing way. Be blunt but gentle.

Talk about feelings in basic terms

If your child struggles with understanding emotions, start with basic terms. You can slowly build your child’s vocabulary as she develops more nuanced language about feelings. Using a chart or book with basic facial expressions may help for younger kids who are having trouble grasping concepts like annoying, embarrassed or frustrated. Some kids don’t respond well to explanations. When that’s the case, try to suggest appropriate behaviors instead of explaining why the inappropriate ones are annoying. Always verbally praise appropriate behavior.

Learn about raising a sensitive child >>

Get support from teachers and experts

When your child frequently annoys other kids or adults, it can be a frustrating, puzzling situation. Some children do it for attention, while others aren’t aware that they’re being annoying. As a parent, you may not have all the answers. That’s OK. Reach out to your child’s teachers and guidance counselor. In some cases, your child may benefit from an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist or child behavior specialist.

Read more about when it stops being cute: Behaviors you should nip in the bud >>

Work with your child’s needs

Some developmental and cognitive issues in children directly affect behavior, especially in social settings. If your child has special needs, develop social strategies related to those needs. Dr. Jeffrey Deutsch is a speaker and life coach. He has Asperger’s syndrome and founded A SPLINT — ASPies LInking with NTs. ”Most folks pick things up by osmosis — much like your laptop or smartphone gets automatic updates,” he says. ”Aspies more often need to be told things — including awkward stuff like ‘Please let the other person go back a step or two from you,’ ‘Please don’t stare’ and ‘Please use inside voices inside.’” Offer guidance in basic, direct ways.

More on child behavior

Nervous about school or true separation anxiety?
Signs your child is (or isn’t) ready for preschool
Managing ADHD without medication

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