Therapy for Challenging Children in Palm Harbor
As the parent of a challenging child, moms often find themselves wondering what you can do to make them feel better.
Whether it's because of ADHD, oppositional behavior, anxiety, or a lack of skills, you feel like you've tried everything, but they still act out and don't listen.
It's so frustrating seeing other parents appear to succeed at raising their children, while you're stuck apologizing to teachers, babysitters, or even strangers for your child's behavior.
If only your child came with an instruction manual on how to help them listen!
The good news is that most children respond well to a few parenting techniques and coping skills!
The bad news is that, until now, nobody was there to help you to recognize the specific areas that you are already doing well, and the things you could improve upon.
Our task will be to work together as a team to identify your child's areas of struggle and to implement well-researched techniques to help them improve.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
One of the first questions parents ask when their child is acting out consistently or having problems at school is, "could my child have ADHD?"
I know you've read about it since it seems every other child gets the diagnosis either at school or from their primary care doctor. ADHD is a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to control their impulses and concentrate on things they don't find interesting (e.g., school).
ADHD comes in three flavors: inattentive type, hyperactive type, and combined type.
Inattentive type is when a child has difficulty concentrating and remaining on task, but does not demonstrate hyperactive behaviors. Because of this (not standing out as "bad" or "hyper"), these kids often are not identified until they fall behind at school without an obvious reason.
Hyperactive type is more easily identified as parents will see their child running around, climbing, and jumping off things from an early age.
Combined type is simply having symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive types.
ADHD diagnosis requires the presence of six symptoms in either type to meet criteria:
- Does not pay close attention to details and makes careless mistakes.
- Difficulty sustaining attention.
- Appears to not listen when spoken to.
- Does not follow instructions, and fails to complete tasks (e.g., chores, schoolwork).
- Poor organizational skills.
- Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort.
- Loses things required for tasks (e.g., school papers).
- Easily distracted.
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity Symptoms
- Fidgets or taps hands or feet.
- Difficulty staying in seat.
- Runs and climbs in inappropriate situations.
- Often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
- Always seems to be moving and acts like they are "driven by a motor."
- Talks excessively.
- Struggles to not blurt out an answer before a question is completed, or before it is his or her turn.
- Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.
- Regularly interrupts or intrudes on others.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can cause strained relationships between parents and their children, difficulty making friends, and problems keeping up at school.
Early intervention is key in helping children and families develop skills and processes to overcome the challenges caused by ADHD.
It's also important to note that many other issues can cause symptoms that resemble ADHD, so it's helpful to involve a mental health professional to help understand what's truly going on.
anxiety & depression in kids
Anxiety and depression in children looks very different than it does in adults. The most obvious way is that kids tend to act out when they have difficult internal emotions.
If you've noticed a sudden change in their behavior, it may be worth getting things checked out.
Things to keep an eye on:
- Depressed or irritable
- No longer completing chores or homework assignments
- Changes in sleep patterns or ability to concentrate
- Changes in eating habits, either eating more or barely eating at all
- More angry or showing unusual mood swings
- Withdrawing from family and/or friends
- Low self-esteem
- Increased sadness or crying
- Teachers reporting changes in behavior
- Reports of upset stomach or other physical pains
Younger children are not able to express what they are feeling with words, so it's important to take note of changes in behavior as well as physical symptoms that don't seem to make sense.
Do your best to support your child, show them that you love them, and reach out to your primary care doctor or a mental health professional if you have concerns over what you're seeing.
Trust your instincts!
Other causes of behavior problems
Sometimes kids have not developed appropriate ways to cope with strong emotions so the emotions are expressed as anger, hyperactivity, or trouble-making.
Kids may also lag behind in developing the skills to interact well with other children or adults.
With these kids, we can help them learn to identify their emotions, as well as build the skills to respond appropriately to what they are feeling.
Do i need to be involved?
When working with children, it is nearly impossible to make progress without the cooperation of the child's parents.
Typically around half of the session is devoted to parenting strategies, and the other half is spent directly working with your child.
Some parents worry that these techniques won't work if their child "knows the trick," but we actually want everybody on the same page.
Although kids may seem to enjoy the chaos that they are known to create, they actually crave a sense of order.
Having you involved also shows your kid that they are important enough for you to take time out of your day for them.
That time together will not go unnoticed by your child!