Last week’s blog discussed common reasons that babies and toddlers act up. This week, we will explore the reasons that little kids and kids act up. Many are similar to reasons that babies and toddlers act up. As kids grow and grow up, so do their opportunities for misbehavior. When we can stay one step ahead of them, we can help mediate or avoid these situations. At the very least, we can use these incidences to parent with empathy and as opportunities to grow closer to our kids.

Back rubs, reading, prayers, and snuggles with our kids can go a long way towards helping our kids navigate these challenges.

Common Reasons that Little Kids and Kids Misbehave or Act Out-of-Sorts

Teething – This is probably one of the most overlooked reasons for crabbiness in kids. We expect teething from babies and toddlers, but it’s not generally at the front of our minds with older kids. BUT, kids will get their molars at around age 5-7 and again around age 12. While a 12 year old might be able to tell you that his mouth hurts, a 5 year old might just be grouchy!

Growth spurts and growing pains – (Why are his shoes two sizes too small? I just bought them last month!) Kids grow; often they grow in spurts! We know they’re sleeping more and they’re terribly cranky, but we don’t figure out why until we realize that their pants are three inches too short or their sneakers that we just bought are pinching their toes.

Hunger and thirst – This is something that affects all age groups. I’m sure you know the feeling when your blood sugar starts to bottom. It’s not pleasant, and it can make us feel and act really cranky. Our kids are no different. If you notice when you pick her up from school each day that she’s a beast until she gets a drink or a snack, have a juice box or snack ready. As parents, we can try to stop the problem before it starts or gets out of control. And remember, that thirst can cause many of the same mood symptoms as hunger.

Illness – As with babies and toddlers, sometimes the first indication that our child is ill is a major crank-fest or crying-fest. This is just something to keep on your radar.

Boredom – “I’m bored!!!” We look around and see zillions of things for them to do or play with, but yet, they are bored. Usually, this means they might need attention from us, even if it’s just to get them started in some independent play or reading. If we just spend a few minutes with them, we can overcome this form of acting out most of the time prior to our kids doing something that brings negative attention their way.

Overstimulation – Do you ever feel overstimulated? I do every time I go into a big store like Macy’s with all the merchandise, bright lights, and people. It makes me dizzy-drives me nuts. If we put our kids in situations where they have too much stimulation and they need to use lots of self-control for a prolonged period of time, we can be setting them up for a major melt-down.

Exhaustion – Along with overstimulation, tiredness can make our kids (and us) super crabby. Two really tough times of year for us is when we turn the clocks back/ahead. Another tiring time is when we go from the relaxed schedule of summer to the more demanding schedule of the school year. As moms, it’s out job to make sure that we all get enough rest and that we’re eating properly and staying hydrated.

Worry – Do you ever feel distracted and cranky when you’re worried about something? Kids are no different. It’s a good idea to spend some time each day really talking with our kids. Snuggle time is not just for babies and toddlers. We can give our kids a back rub, pray with with, read to them, or just talk about our days and the things that we are thankful for and worry about. Use this as an opportunity to get under the hood more and really get to know your child as the unique individual that they are. ;o)

Bullying – Sadly, bullying seems to be increasing and can be a very common reason that kids are acting off. No one likes to be on the receiving end of a bully’s insults and taunts. Sometimes our kids will hesitate to tell us what’s going on because they don’t want to bother us or they want to handle the situation themselves. Again, try to get under the hood and discover the reasons behind the behavior.

Embarrassment – There are many things that kids might feel embarrassed about. They may have made a mistake at school, disobeyed you about something and are afraid to tell you. They may feel too fat… or too thin. She may have accidentally tucked her skirt into her undies and walked out of the girl’s room like that. He may have been mean to you or someone else and feel bad about it. Kids often act up when they feel bad or embarrassed about something. As with bullying and worry, by taking some time to get under the hood and really communicate with your kids, you can ferret this information out and then take steps to help them feel better.

Free Will – Kids like to assert their independence, and just as toddlers will push back sometimes, kids will also, but to an even greater extent. One line in the Mrs PiggleWiggle book: “I’ll do it because I want to but not because you told me to!” Illustrates this desire for independence perfectly. One thing I teach in my Happy Mom Toolkit program is to set a big safety net of what is acceptable for you and then allow your child choices within that broad net of safety. This allows them to make choices as well as learn from the consequences of their choices, but, honestly, behind the scenes, you are still in control of the overall situation. Kids need to learn that some choices have super consequences and other have negative consequences. We can help them avoid disasters later in life by allowing them to make choices within our broad safety net.

Many experiences in life are universal; we all go through them. And kids may not have the maturity and experience to recognize that we know what they’re feeling because we’ve been there. Once we recognize some of the main reasons that my be behind our kids’ misbehavior, we are in a much better position to deal with it positively.

About Me

Originally published at


  • Beth Meltzer, D.Min.

    Certified Wellness Coach and Yoga Instructor

    Beth Meltzer Coaching

    I can help you end emotional eating, reduce stress, increase flexibility and balance, and feel great! For years, I've coached individuals to better emotional and physical wellbeing. My one-to-one personal coaching is the quickest way to get from where you are now to your goals. Check it out here. I also teach weekly yoga and yoga breathing classes to students from all over the world via zoom. Message me if you'd like to try a class.