Is Your Child Acting Out After A Change In Family Dynamic?
Has your child been having behavioral issues that go beyond the expected challenges associated with their age? Is your child having more tantrums than usual, or have they resumed having tantrums after you thought they’d grown out of them? Perhaps they’re refusing to go to school or follow instructions. Bedtime may have become a nightly struggle, especially if they have developed a strong fear of the dark or an increase in nightmares. Headaches and stomachaches are becoming frequent. You might have noticed this behavior first started after a big change in your family dynamic, such as a divorce or loss, but you don’t know what you can do to help them get back to the sweet, happy child they used to be.
You may be at your wits end trying to manage problematic behavior. If only your child could listen to instructions and enjoy some quiet time every now and then, you would not only have more time for your own self-care, but you would feel like a better parent.
Do you wish you knew how to manage your child’s difficult behavior? Are you ready to meet with someone who can help you understand your child’s unspoken needs?
Children Often Express Their Unmet Needs Through Problematic Behavior
While your child’s problematic behavior may be driving you crazy, it’s likely their way of trying to tell you something important. At a young age, children don’t have the cognitive skills to express their frustration or communicate their needs clearly. Instead, they use physical behavior, like acting out.
Fortunately, working with an experienced child therapist can help both children and parents by building communication skills and uncovering the root of the problematic behavior. You can learn how to better parent for your child in a time of transition, and how to understand their needs through their behavior. And once they understand that the separation, loss, or other shift in family dynamic happened for reasons that had nothing to do with them, positive change can start to take place.
Changes in family dynamics are hard, no matter what your age. With therapy, you can become the parent your child needs to feel better as they adjust to their new normal.
Child Therapy Can Help You And Your Child Find Relief
You may not know where to turn to for help following a separation or loss in the family. You and your child have a lot of adjustments to deal with, and it can be hard to stay hopeful when everything you’ve tried so far has failed to deliver lasting improvements. Fortunately, I have years of experience working with families like yours. I have seen many families thrive after several sessions of therapy, and yours can be one of them.
My approach to therapy is based on techniques developed by Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud. She developed a system of play therapy that helps children establish a bond with their therapist in order to communicate their feelings. To start, I have a basket of chips that children can eat while I ask some general questions about what is happening in their lives and how they feel about these changes. I also incorporate coloring into my work, as this helps children express feelings and emotions that they don’t know how to put into words. This is a form of directive play therapy designed to help your child understand the subconscious influences that motivate their behaviors and emotions.
Things may seem challenging right now, but this challenging behavior in your child is not permanent: it’s a response to a sudden change or loss. Change takes time to get used to. But I have seen time and again how child therapy can help families overcome stress and fear to grow closer. With the help of an experienced therapist, your child can learn to express themselves in clearer, more productive ways so you can foster a healthier, happier family dynamic.
You May Have Some Concerns About Child Therapy…
My child’s school recommends that my child start medication for ADHD.
In some cases, medication can be helpful. But in my experience, medication is over-prescribed as a “quick fix” when some children may not even have ADHD. Not all behavioral issues are because of a mental or learning disorder. Investing in therapy can help get to the root of your child’s behavior issues and discover the unmet needs being communicated through problematic behavior. If necessary, I can communicate with your child’s school to let them know that the behavioral issues are being addressed. I also manage children who have ADHD and set up programs for them.
Is child therapy expensive?
I typically recommend a minimum of six sessions to help establish a root cause for the problematic behavior and start learning new skills to effectively correct it. Child counseling may seem like a big investment up front, but the cost of ongoing behavioral disorders or problems can become more significant than the cost of a few therapy sessions. You are investing in your child’s future by seeking help early, regardless of the cost. We also don’t have to meet every single week, if that is what’s best for your budget.
My child’s co-parent doesn’t want to come to therapy.
I would remind your co-parent that therapy is for the benefit of your child, and it’s most effective when both parents are present. Encourage your child’s co-parent to give counseling a try for at least one or two sessions. Even if they refuse to attend, it’s still beneficial to come alone – you can tell your partner later about the skills you are learning to better communicate with your child and correct problematic behavior. In time, as your partner notices the changes, perhaps they will change their mind.