5 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Acting Out During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Everyone gets angry or frustrated sometimes. Whether you are a child, teen or adult, it’s important to understand that these emotions are normal when expressed appropriately. As we continue nationwide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, long-established household routines have been disrupted, while family conflict and child behavioral problems increase. There are many factors that can contribute to a child feeling angry or expressing their anger in challenging ways. Virtual learning and lack of social interaction are only a few reasons why your child may be acting out. If your child is struggling to express their anger and emotions appropriately, they may benefit from a mental health professional. 

When we hear about a child “acting out”, this behavior is typically derived from suppressed or denied feelings and emotions. As an adult, we are more likely to pick up coping mechanisms that manage these volatile emotions. Children however, act out as a means of reducing stress. This behavior is often an attempt to show otherwise hidden emotions, expressed through actions such as fighting, tantrums or stealing. In severe cases, acting out can be associated with antisocial behavior or other personality disorders commonly found in teenagers and younger children. If you have been struggling to understand or manage your child’s behavior, there are a few reasons why they may be acting this way. 

5 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Acting Out 

If your child is acting out, finding a solution for your family means finding a reason for the behavior. While all children are unique in their own way, here are 5 reasons why your child may be acting out. 

An Upsetting Situation

Some children act out because they are responding to a situation that has upset them. When children reach a point where they are unable to manage their emotions, throwing a tantrum or showing aggression become their release. While this is a normal expression of emotion, this type of “acting out” should be managed if it occurs more often than not. 

A Mental Health Condition

Stress from the COVID-19 pandemic has created a rapid increase of mental health conditions. Feeling the pressures of anxiety for example, are hard to manage when left untreated. One reason a child may be acting out is because of an untreated disorder. Here are a few conditions which may amplify “acting out” behavior: 

All of these conditions can effectively be treated by a mental health professional, and become much more manageable with consistent treatment over time. 

Unknown Sensory Issues

Another reason your child may be acting out is because of an unrecognized sensory issue. Conditions such as sensory processing disorder, make ordinary sights and sounds physically painful. This means that your child may be coping with constant discomfort that makes ordinary sights and sounds physically painful. Those suffering from sensory processing disorder find it hard to stay calm in day-to-day life.

Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities can often go undiagnosed or untreated for some time. Some children who have a  report card of “acting out” in the classroom may be suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia. When this occurs, it becomes very easy to fall further and further behind in school. If this condition is not addressed, learning in the typical classroom setting becomes extremely difficult, often leading to more inappropriate behavior. 

A Need to Impress Peers vs Self Esteem Issues 

In some cases, there are children who “act out” to impress those around them. While this may sound mild, it’s important to understand the reasoning behind their need to impress. This form of acting out can often become volatile if they receive the attention they crave, deepening their tendency to misbehave. On the other hand, self-esteem issues can greatly impact a child’s behavior. Children who believe they’re unable to perform a task may act out to distract a parent.


The reasons for bad behavior are not always obvious, and in some situations can become deeply buried if we simply blame the child for being a “bad kid”. Finding ways to recognize and reduce the behavior is an important component in reversing bad patterns.


Behavioral Therapy in St. Petersburg and Tampa Florida

If your child is experiencing behavioral problems at home or in school, it may be time to consider help from a therapist. There are many options available including art therapy, virtual therapy and therapy dogs that can make the process more exciting for your family. It is important to know that this is a common struggle, and you are not alone as a parent. The team at McNulty Counseling and Wellness takes a holistic approach to promote balance for you and your family. Contact us here or call us at 727-344-9867 to schedule a remote consultation or an in-person session at our Saint Petersburg or Tampa, Florida office.