Behavior Clinic

Behavior Clinic Therapist, Sarah, works with a child in home.

The Behavior Clinic at Penfield Children’s Center provides treatment services to children 5 years of age and younger who have significant behavior and emotional issues.

A partnership between Penfield and Marquette University, the Behavior Clinic is the only program of its kind in Milwaukee offering family-centered, in-home treatment sessions that address issues very early in a child’s development to help prevent serious mental health issues from developing in the future.

For many young children under the age of six, behavior issues are overlooked or parents are told their children will “grow out of it.”  While some challenging behaviors are typical during the toddler and preschool years, others can indicate a more serious condition. The Behavior Clinic works with children who have demonstrated:

  • Persistent temper tantrums that last for several hours. 
  • Aggression issues that result in self-harm or harm to others.
  • Sleeping and eating problems.
  • Problems at school or daycare.
  • Sadness, nightmares, or difficulties with relationships after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event (domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, removal from parent).

Behavior Clinic services help parents and other caregivers reduce their children’s challenging behaviors and increase positive behaviors. Clinic research has shown that parents who improve their child rearing knowledge and learn strategies to consistently respond to challenging behaviors experience significant improvement in their children’s behavior, resulting in stronger family bonds and lower family stress. Through weekly treatment sessions parents learn to help their children by:

  • Establishing home routines, and using regular positive reinforcement.
  • Recognizing how their child’s behavior affects their thoughts and feelings.
  • Developing fair expectations for their children based on the child’s age.
  • Reducing their child’s challenging behaviors through consistent use of proven treatment strategies.

History and Goals

The Behavior Clinic was established in 2003 as a collaborative effort between Penfield Children’s Center and Marquette University’s College of Education to make a positive impact by focusing on three primary goals:

1)    Service: To provide parents with the knowledge and skills to positively impact their young child’s behavior while fostering a positive, stable environment for their overall development.

2)    Training: Increasing the community’s capacity to provide quality pediatric mental health services by paving the way in an emerging field through hands-on practice and experience focused on children with special needs.

3)    Research: Informing the professional community about effective strategies for working with young children with significant behavior and emotional problems research and community outreach.

Behavior Clinic Staff and Hours of Operation

The Behavior Clinic is staffed by a Clinic Director, Psychologist, Family Counselors, and graduate student clinicians.

Intakes and home visits are scheduled Monday—Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, based on the family’s schedule.


For enrollment information, please call:

Enroll online >


Photography by Jim Moy

Caleb and his mother, Kayla, play together

Caleb's Story

By the age of 2, Caleb’s behavior had become a huge concern. His mother, Kayla, started to feel like her daily schedule, which included caring for Caleb’s 4 month old baby sister, revolved around Caleb’s mood swings and demanding behavior. Already taking Caleb to Penfield for speech and occupational therapy, Kayla turned to the Behavior Clinic for help.

Read more about Caleb's Story >

Our Mission Statement

Penfield Children's Center creates a positive start in life for infants and children, many of whom have developmental delays or disabilities, by providing early education, health services and family programming.

Penfield Facts

Penfield Children’s Center is named in honor of Dr. Wilder Penfield (1891-1976), a world-renowned neurosurgeon who strongly advocated early intervention for children with developmental delays and disabilities.