The Child Behavior Checklist

child behavior checklistLike most teenagers, I was pretty angst ridden. I had spent the first fifteen years of my life in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon where I had grown up among a closely-knit group of friends and family. I played soccer and took art classes, and spent most of my days riding my bicycle around our neighborhood and playing at the park. When I turned fifteen though, my parents abruptly moved us to Houston, Texas. The weather was hot (and not great for soccer), and I had never seen skies so big. I missed my friends intensely, and within a month of our relocation, I fell into a deep depression.

Looking back, I wish I’d had access to Katherine Katsenis’ You Can Beat Depression: Winning Strategies That Work, but at the time, my parents sent me to a therapist who offered me hope through a diagnosis with the help of the Child Behavior Checklist. I was eventually diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and have spent the last twenty years managing (and sometimes mismanaging) my mental illness. I’ve learned that mental illness doesn’t have to be a big scary thing, and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. There are a number of childhood behaviors that can be detected using the Child Behavior Checklist, and early diagnosis can lead to a better understanding of your child as well as an early diagnosis for behaviors that can cause you and your child pain and mental anguish.

About the Child Behavior Checklist

Developed by Thomas M. Achenbach, the Child Behavior Checklist utilizes a Likert Scale to determine maladaptive behavior in children. Offering an extensive list of questions for caretakers and guardians of children ages 1.5-5, and another list of questions for older children ages 6-18, the Child Behavior Checklist allows parents, guardians, teachers, and medical professionals the opportunity to probe deeper into the minds of children with behavioral issues. These questions and their answers can assist in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of disorders in children including attention deficit disorder and depression. If you are unsure of the indications of ADD in your child, learn more with Jef Gazley’s Learn About Attention Deficit Disorder course. Kevin O’Doherty’s Introduction to Cognitive Behavior Therapy offers insights into a variety of common behavioral difficulties and provides both the history of the therapy, as well as information for anyone interested in exploring this form of therapy. The therapy has been known to help a number of the issues that the Child Behavior Checklist may diagnose, and can be an effective tool in alleviating psychological distress. I have recently utilized this therapy method, and with the help of my psychologist, have learned numerous ways to help my anxiety and depression with Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

How Can Parents, Educators, and Medical Professionals Help Children by Using the CBCL?

The Child Behavior Checklist is an effective tool for assisting with the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and a number of childhood phobias and depression. The Child Behavior Checklist is often used by psychologists and medical professionals, and with the input of parents and guardians, children with problematic behaviors are often quickly diagnosed. Before determining if your situation warrants the use of the Child Behavior Checklist, I recommend looking into better understanding your child’s own psychology. Bill McAneny offers parents, or anyone interested in understanding others better, with How to “Get” People: Practical Psychology. This course may help those who are in need of better understanding a child’s behavior prior to consulting the Child Behavior Checklist.

What are the Advantages of the CBCL?

The Child Behavior Checklist offers a standardized measure for these often difficult to deal with behaviors. The Child Behavior Checklist is easy to use, and children along with teachers, guardians, and observers can easily answer the questions. The results can often offer a sense of relief to family members and friends, and allows for an ease in the creation of a plan for ensuring the child’s future well being. The positive impact of a diagnosis can translate into more positive parenting strategies, and a stronger connection between parents, guardians, and their children. As someone who has benefited from the Child Behavior Checklist, I highly recommend seeking out a trained professional who may help you better understand you child’s behavior. In my early years struggling with depression, I believe that without the Child Behavior Checklist, my illness would have gone undiagnosed. This early diagnosis helped me to better manage my own symptoms and gave me an early understanding of my own needs, something many teens and young adults are unable to grasp.

What are the Disadvantages of the CBCL?

The Child Behavior Checklist, while effective in a number of ways, also offers a number of disadvantages. The checklist itself is limited by the questions provided, which means educators and parents can force a child into a category in which he or she only partially fits. This can lead to misdiagnosis and inaccurate categorization, thus further hindering a child’s development. The Child Behavior Checklist also does not account for the behaviors of children with chronic illness or allergies, who are often in pain, which can also contribute to challenging behaviors. My best advice is to first consult a trusted doctor or your child’s pediatrician to rule out any physical illness or allergies that may be hindering your child’s ability to behave appropriately. Allergy testing and a full physical can greatly help rule out any physical ailments that may be contributing to your child’s behavior.

You Can Help Your Child

As someone who has spent most of her adult life managing mental illness on a daily basis, I urge parents and guardians of children with behavioral difficulties to look over the Child Behavior Checklist. Often you’ll find that a child is simply going through a phase or is up against some difficulties with school or friends. This is normal. The fact is that children misbehave. They test limits to find their place in the world and within their family unit. They push boundaries in the classroom and with authority figures to see where they belong. There are many children, however, that do need help, and those with maladaptive disorders can benefit from a number of therapies including medications or Cognitive Behavior Therapy. If you are the parent, guardian, or teacher of a child who is exhibiting inappropriate behaviors, or you are simply having trouble understanding a child in your life, try Wendy Tomlinson’s Positive Parenting Using the Law of Attraction. Using an informative and compassionate tone, this course may help you approach your child in a different manner, before having to resort to doctors, psychologists, or the Child Behavior Checklist. If you’re child is suffering, however, talk to your doctor. Mental illness is easily treated with therapy and medications, and is nothing to fear. Nearly twenty years after my own diagnosis, I am happy, healthy, and my anxiety and depression is under control.