If you have a school-age child who exhibits behavior problems, you have learned what “frustrating” and “exhausted” are all about.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your child has a small problem or a bigger one. As a parent, you want there to be no problems and it can be easy to escalate any situation quickly. Your home life can go from serene to chaotic in no time, and it’s easy to start to feel like things are getting out of hand.

Let’s face it, all children have problems, just like adults. The real question is how bad the problem is and what can we do to improve it.

Now, I am not a therapist or a doctor. I am a mother with more than 27 years of experience as a mother and based on that experience, here are my thoughts for recognizing behavior problems in children.

Mild behavior problems.

In this category we have the variety of gardens that school-age children face.

= Not doing household chores.

= Laziness.

= Not doing things the first time they are told (or the third or fifth).

= Procrastination.

= Occasional speech bordering on disrespect. My mother used to call him “cheeky.”

Mild behavior problems in school-age children have a lot to do with a child’s individual temperament. If you have a strong-willed child, you left mild behavior problems a long time ago! Generally, these types of problems can be solved mainly with clear limits and firm reminders. Task charts can be helpful and fun in this process.

== Moderate behavior problems.

All children visit this section at least once in a while. Here you can expect to find:

= More regular problems with homework.

= Occasional problems at school.

= Possible harassment.

= Speaking again.

= A LOT of feet shuffling when doing housework.

These types of behaviors require stricter limits, more serious consequences, and a 100 percent compliance rate. Obviously, getting your child to see the error of his ways at this stage will be better than if he moves on to the next stage.

== Severe behavior problems.

These are the kinds of problems that completely upset a family. (Remember, these are for school-age children, ages approximately 5 to 13 years.)

= Often disruptive at school.

= Drug / alcohol use.

= Vulgar speech used against others.

= Running away.

= Violence.

These are not easy problems to fix. They are usually deeply ingrained and can be aggravated by early drug or alcohol use. They often require professional help, as well as a committed family effort.

In all these categories, I just gave a sample of behavior problems. Real life is much more complex. And all children display signs of more than one category from time to time.

As a parent, you know your own child better than anyone. If you can see that your school-age child’s behavior problems are getting worse, take steps to help sooner rather than later. Research the child’s behavior, read books, ask questions, and, if necessary, seek professional help.

Everyone has difficulties, but steps can be taken to minimize those problems. Behavior problems in school-age children can be mild, moderate, or severe. Whatever level your child copes with, he can learn to handle his challenges and become the responsible adult that you know he can be.