Behavioural problems

Many young people have behavioural problems. At times these can show themselves as aggression or violence directed at parents or carers.

Aggression can be: verbal aggression involving threats or abuse, and/or; physical violence including, pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping or damaging property and belongings.

If you are a parent or carer experiencing aggression or violence from the young person you care for you need to be aware of the following issues:

  • You are not alone - although rarely reported or researched this situation is probably a lot more common than we realise. One Parentline survey found that 60% of calls concerning behaviour problems involved verbal aggression and 30% involved physical aggression.*
  • You do not have to put up with it - parents have a right not to be assaulted, abused or suffer theft and property damage in their own home- even if this is being done by their own child.


Where to get help:

Further advice and support is available at;
or telephone 0808 800 2222
If required contact your GP, emergency services or local social care team.

What to do and not to do

In our experience there are some key DO’s and DON’Ts:


  • try to stay calm - don’t shout back; it is likely to make the situation work
  • call the police - if you are worried about you or other people’s safety or the risk of serious property damage. If appropriate, press charges - violence is criminal behaviour. You may also need to notify social services if another young person in the home (e.g. a brother or sister) is the victim of the aggression
  • reward good behaviour - with praise or treats, this can work with teenagers and adults as well as toddlers
  • if you have a spouse/partner work as a team - if you both respond in the same way to negative behaviour you are much more likely to see positive change
  • get help and support - both as a family and as a parent where available.



  • shout back or get angry if possible - this may make the situation worse
  • give in to threats or demands - this is rewarding the aggression and will make it much more likely to happen again.


Leaflet reference: L814
Version: V2
Date last updated: 06/04/2017
Archive date: 06/04/2020

 Was this information useful? Please let us know by clicking here