Ten Examples of Behaviours of Concern

Explore ten example behaviours of concern: physical, verbal aggression, self-injury, and more. Definition, causes and impacts.

ten examples of behaviours of concern

This is a list of example behaviours of concern, it isn’t exhaustive by any means but gives you a broad range of ideas that covers most types.


1. Pyhsical Aggression

Physical aggression towards others, which can include hitting, biting or kicking.

Physical aggression is a form of behaviour that is of significant concern in both interpersonal relationships and societal dynamics. It refers to actions or behaviours that can cause physical harm or injury to another person. This form of aggression can manifest in various ways, such as hitting, punching, kicking, or any other act that inflicts physical damage.

One of the primary concerns with physical aggression is its impact on the victim. Victims of physical aggression can suffer from a range of injuries, from minor bruises to severe, life-threatening harm. Beyond the immediate physical consequences, there are often psychological repercussions as well. Victims may experience fear, anxiety, depression, and a sense of helplessness, impacting their overall well-being and mental health.

Physical aggression also has broader societal implications. It can lead to a cycle of violence, where aggressive behaviour begets further aggression, either as a form of retaliation or as a learned behaviour. In communities where physical aggression is prevalent, there can be a breakdown in social order and an atmosphere of fear and mistrust.


2. Verbal Aggression

Verbal aggression towards others which can include shouting, making threats or calling names.

Verbal aggression, a form of behaviour that involves shouting, making threats, or calling names, is a significant concern in interpersonal interactions and social dynamics. Unlike physical aggression, which manifests through bodily harm, verbal aggression uses words to inflict injury, often leaving deep psychological scars.

The primary concern with verbal aggression lies in its impact on the recipient. Individuals on the receiving end of such aggression can experience a range of negative psychological effects. These can include lowered self-esteem, increased anxiety, depression, and a pervasive sense of fear or unease in the presence of the aggressor. The damage inflicted by verbal aggression is often not visible to the eye, but it can be deeply felt and long-lasting, affecting an individual's mental health and emotional well-being.

Verbal aggression also contributes to a toxic atmosphere in any environment where it is present, be it at home, in the workplace, or in educational settings. It can lead to a breakdown in communication and trust, fostering an environment of hostility and resentment. This atmosphere not only impacts the direct victims but can also affect bystanders and the overall culture of the community or organization, leading to a general decline in morale and productivity.


3.Self Injury

Actions where an individual causes harm to themselves, such as head-banging, cutting or self-biting.

Self-injury, a behaviour where individuals deliberately harm themselves through actions like head-banging, cutting, or self-biting, is a significant concern in mental health and social care. This form of behaviour is often a coping mechanism for dealing with deep-seated emotional pain, stress, or trauma. It's a complex issue that warrants sensitive understanding and intervention.

The primary concern with self-injury is the physical harm the individual inflicts upon themselves. This can range from minor, superficial wounds to severe, life-threatening injuries. However, the physical aspect is often just the tip of the iceberg. The act of self-injury is usually a manifestation of underlying psychological distress. Individuals who engage in self-injury often struggle with intense emotions such as anger, sadness, or feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. They may also be dealing with mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder.

Self-injury is particularly troubling because it is both a symptom and a cry for help. It can be a way for individuals to express feelings they can't put into words, to distract themselves from emotional pain, or to feel a sense of control over their lives. The secretive nature of self-injury makes it a challenging behaviour to detect and address. Many individuals hide their injuries and may feel shame or guilt about their actions, further complicating the issue.


4. Property Destruction

Damaging property or belongings, either of their own or of others. Examples include punching walls, breaking windows or throwing objects.

Property destruction, the act of deliberately damaging property or belongings, whether one's own or others', is a concerning form of behaviour that can have significant implications. This behaviour includes actions such as punching walls, breaking windows, or throwing objects. It's a physical manifestation of aggression that can stem from various emotional states or psychological conditions.

The primary concern with property destruction is the tangible damage it causes. This can range from minor damages, like small dents or marks, to significant destruction, such as shattered windows or broken furniture. The financial cost of repairing or replacing damaged property can be substantial. However, the implications of property destruction go beyond the physical damage. It often represents an underlying emotional or psychological issue that needs addressing.

For individuals who engage in property destruction, this behaviour can be a way of expressing or coping with overwhelming emotions like anger, frustration, or helplessness. It can also be a symptom of deeper psychological issues, such as impulse control disorders, conduct disorders in adolescents, or even severe stress and anxiety. In some cases, it might be a learned behaviour, where the individual has observed and mimicked similar behaviours in their environment.

Property destruction can also have significant social and legal consequences. It can lead to strained relationships, both in personal and professional settings. If the destruction involves someone else's property, it can result in legal action, further exacerbating the individual's stress and potentially leading to a cycle of aggressive behaviour.

5. Non Compliance

Refusing to follow rules or instructions, which can disrupt activities or routines.

Non-compliance, characterised by a refusal to follow rules or instructions, is a behavioural concern that can significantly disrupt activities, routines, and social dynamics. This form of behaviour is not limited to any specific age group and can be observed in children, adolescents, and adults. Non-compliance can manifest in various settings, including homes, schools, workplaces, and public spaces.

The primary concern with non-compliance is the disruption it causes. In educational settings, for example, a student's refusal to follow instructions can hinder the learning process, not just for the individual but for the entire class. In the workplace, non-compliance with protocols or policies can lead to inefficiencies, conflicts, and even safety risks. At home, it can create a tense and challenging environment, especially when it involves authority figures like parents or caregivers.

Non-compliance often stems from a range of underlying issues. In children and adolescents, it can be a part of normal development as they test boundaries and assert independence. However, it can also be indicative of deeper issues such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), or underlying stress and anxiety. In adults, non-compliance might be linked to disagreements with the rules themselves, a desire for autonomy, or as a response to perceived unfairness or injustice.

6. Withdrawal or Isolation 

Avoiding interaction with others, not participating in group activities, or showing signs of social disengagement.

Withdrawal or isolation as a behaviour of concern involves an individual actively avoiding interaction with others, not participating in group activities, or showing signs of social disengagement. This behaviour can be observed in various settings and across different age groups. While everyone may require some alone time occasionally, persistent withdrawal or isolation is concerning as it can indicate underlying emotional, psychological, or social issues.

The primary concern with withdrawal or isolation is the potential impact on an individual's mental and emotional health. Prolonged isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. It can also exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Social interaction is a fundamental human need, and its absence can affect overall well-being.

In children and adolescents, withdrawal or isolation may be indicative of bullying, social anxiety, or difficulties in fitting in with peers. It can also be a sign of more serious issues such as depression or trauma. In adults, these behaviours might be related to life stressors, mental health disorders, or significant life changes, such as retirement or the loss of a loved one.


7. Repetitive or Obsessive Actions

Engaging in repetitive behaviours or focusing excessively on specific interests or topics.

Repetitive or obsessive actions as a behaviour of concern involve engaging in the same behaviours repeatedly or focusing excessively on specific interests or topics. This type of behaviour can be observed in various contexts and among individuals of all ages. While some degree of repetitive behaviour or focused interest is normal and even beneficial in certain cases, it becomes a concern when it is excessive and interferes with daily functioning or social interactions.

The primary concern with repetitive or obsessive actions is their potential to disrupt normal life activities. For instance, individuals may become so preoccupied with a specific interest that they neglect other important areas of life, such as work, school, or relationships. Repetitive behaviours, such as hand-washing, checking, or arranging objects in a certain way, can be time-consuming and interfere with daily responsibilities. These behaviours can also cause distress or anxiety, particularly if the individual feels compelled to perform them but does not want to or realizes they are unreasonable.

In some cases, repetitive or obsessive actions may be indicative of underlying psychological conditions, such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For individuals with OCD, these behaviours are often driven by intense, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and are performed to alleviate anxiety or prevent perceived negative outcomes. In the context of ASD, repetitive behaviours or intense interests are part of the disorder's characteristic patterns of behaviour and thinking.


8. Inappropriate Social Behaviour

Acting in ways that are socially unacceptable or inappropriate for the context, such as undressing in public or using offensive language.

Inappropriate social behaviour as a behaviour of concern involves actions that are socially unacceptable or inappropriate for the given context. Examples include undressing in public, using offensive language, or engaging in behaviours that violate social norms or cultural expectations. This type of behaviour can occur across different age groups and settings, and it often leads to social difficulties, misunderstandings, and conflicts.

The primary concern with inappropriate social behaviour is its impact on both the individual exhibiting the behaviour and those around them. Such actions can lead to social isolation, misunderstandings, and strained relationships. They can also have serious consequences, like disciplinary action in schools or workplaces, legal issues, or damage to one's reputation and social standing.

Inappropriate social behaviour can stem from a variety of causes. In some cases, it may be due to a lack of understanding of social norms, which is often seen in individuals with developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It could also be a result of impulse control issues, as seen in conditions like ADHD or certain personality disorders. Additionally, this behaviour might be influenced by cultural differences, where actions considered inappropriate in one culture might be acceptable in another.

In more severe cases, inappropriate social behaviour can be symptomatic of underlying mental health issues, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, where individuals might have difficulty distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.


9. Sexualised Behaviour

Non-consensual touch, sexually explicit language or exposing one's genitals in inappropriate settings.

Sexualised behaviour as a behaviour of concern involves actions such as non-consensual touch, using sexually explicit language, or exposing one's genitals in inappropriate settings. This type of behaviour is particularly concerning due to its potential to violate personal boundaries, cause discomfort or harm to others, and breach social and legal norms. It can occur in various contexts and can be exhibited by individuals of different ages, though the implications and underlying causes may vary.

The primary concern with sexualised behaviour is its impact on the safety and well-being of others. Non-consensual touch or exposure can cause significant distress, trauma, or fear in victims. Additionally, such actions can lead to serious legal consequences for the perpetrator, including criminal charges and legal sanctions. In a social context, these behaviours can result in social isolation, damaged relationships, and a loss of trust.

Understanding the reasons behind sexualised behaviour is crucial for addressing it effectively. In some cases, especially in children and adolescents, such behaviour might be a result of curiosity or a lack of understanding of appropriate boundaries.

However, it can also be indicative of exposure to inappropriate sexual content or experiences, including abuse. In adults, these behaviours may stem from impulse control issues, psychiatric disorders, or a lack of understanding of social norms and consent, possibly exacerbated by substance abuse or other factors.

10. Food Related

Food related behaviours of concern is a broad group in itself and can include binge eating (eating very large quantities of food in a short period), vomiting after eating, refusing to eat or eating inedible things.

PICA behaviour where the individual eats things not usually considered edible, for example buttons, magnets or grass, can be very dangerous.

Food-related behaviours of concern encompass a range of actions associated with eating that can be detrimental to an individual's health and well-being. These behaviours can include binge eating (consuming very large quantities of food in a short period), vomiting after eating (often associated with eating disorders like bulimia nervosa), refusing to eat (which can be related to disorders like anorexia nervosa), and eating inedible objects (known as Pica). Each of these behaviours has unique implications and requires specific approaches for management and treatment.

The primary concern with these food-related behaviours is the potential harm they pose to physical health. Binge eating can lead to obesity and related health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease. Vomiting after eating can cause severe damage to the digestive system, dental erosion, and nutritional deficiencies. Refusing to eat can lead to malnutrition, severe weight loss, and in extreme cases, organ failure. Pica, the ingestion of inedible objects, poses risks such as poisoning, intestinal blockage, and infection.

Beyond physical health, these behaviours often indicate psychological distress. Binge eating, vomiting after eating, and refusing to eat are frequently associated with body image issues, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Pica can be related to developmental disorders, nutritional deficiencies, or mental health conditions.


These are just examples of some common behaviours of concern that are observed often in schools, care or in family settings. A behaviour of concern doesn’t have to fit into one of these ten examples.

Any behaviour could be considered concerning if it reaches a certain frequency, intensity or duration and is unsafe.

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