Sensory circuits are typically established during early development, yet how circuit specificity and function are maintained during organismal growth has not been elucidated. To gain insight we quantitatively investigated synaptic growth and connectivity in the Drosophila nociceptive network during larval development. We show that connectivity between primary nociceptors and their downstream neurons scales with animal size. We further identified the conserved Ste20-like kinase Tao as a negative regulator of synaptic growth required for maintenance of circuit specificity and connectivity. Loss of Tao kinase resulted in exuberant postsynaptic specializations and aberrant connectivity during larval growth. Using functional imaging and behavioral analysis we show that loss of Tao-induced ectopic synapses with inappropriate partner neurons are functional and alter behavioral responses in a connection-specific manner. Our data show that fine-tuning of synaptic growth by Tao kinase is required for maintaining specificity and behavioral output of the neuronal network during animal growth.