Background Around 12% of Australian children aged 4–12 years experience externalising behavioural problems such as aggression and hyperactivity. Similarly, around 12% experience internalising problems such as anxiety and depression. Other common behaviour problems, such as temper tantrums, arise as the child strives to achieve developmental milestones.
Objective This article reviews externalising behavioural problems and common developmental behavioural problems in children from toddler to school age. Diagnosis, management and when to refer are discussed.
Discussion Behavioural difficulties arise as a result of an interaction between biological vulnerabilities and environmental stressors. In most cases, behavioural difficulties are temporary, and occur as children strive to achieve developmental milestones. General management includes reinforcing positive behaviour, using a consistent approach and setting limits and clear consequences for misbehaviour. Children should be referred when there are concerns about their safety or development.
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