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Inappropriate Social Behavior in Children

By Carolyn Williams ; Updated June 13, 2017

From embarrassment to peer interaction problems, inappropriate social behavior in children runs the gamut. While some trivial behaviors simply need gentle reminders, other behaviors accompany learning challenges and may require more significant methods to overcome. Work with your child carefully to ensure she improves the behavior.

Every Day Behavior

If your child is disrespectful or impolite, tread lightly. Balance the need to teach your child about the inappropriate behavior with the need to model polite and respectful behavior yourself. Some children recognize their blunder, compounding the embarrassment of a public discussion. If a child does not realize her error, take her aside and speak to her politely. Don't compound the mistake with one of your own by embarrassing her in front of her friends or classmates.

Learning-Challenged

Children with learning challenges may struggle socially. While this is not true for all children, if your child struggles with inappropriate social behaviors, help him with games that focus on social skills. Role-play scenarios that your child might experience; instruct your child to act out one part, then the other part. After the game, talk about what happened and how he felt. Discuss his behavior if this type of situation occurs in the classroom or on the playground, asking questions about what he might do. If he continues to make inappropriate choices in the role play, guide him with gentle suggestions.

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Sexual Behavior

Children are naturally curious about their bodies. As part of the normal development process, children touch, observe and ignore polite distances in an effort to see things more clearly. This is entirely normal behavior for children between 2 and 6 years of age. Don't worry if your child has a moment where she behaves inappropriately with her body, your body or the body of her friends; natural curiosity is at work. However, if your child displays sexual behavior on a frequent, daily basis, seek the advice of your pediatrician.

Aim to Focus

Children struggle with social behavior if they don't pay attention. This causes inadvertent blunders, or it means that your child hurts other children's feelings unknowingly. Teach your child to pay attention to others and apologize appropriately. In addition, give your child an emotional vocabulary so he can express his feelings without anger or frustration.

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