Is Your Child Acting Out After A Recent Life Change?
Has your child been having meltdowns, throwing tantrums, or refusing to follow directions? Perhaps they have taken to hitting, biting or other inappropriate behaviors when told to stop doing something, and they won’t respond to attempts at discipline. It may seem like nothing you and/or your partner have tried is working, and you aren’t sure what else you can do to help your child.
Perhaps your child’s outbursts are related to changes at home, such as a move to a new school district or the addition of a new baby brother or sister. Or maybe your child is struggling to perform well or feel accepted at school. You know it’s normal for children to act out as they grow and develop, but you can’t help but worry there is something more serious that is causing them to misbehave. And regardless of the source of your child’s stress, you want to be able to offer them the love, support, and guidance they need to get back to the joyful, curious person they used to be.
Trying to correct errant behavior on your own, however, may have left you short-tempered and stressed. At the same time, your child might not have the words or skills to express their feelings and needs clearly. It’s clear that you and your child are both exhausted and frustrated, but you can’t seem to find common ground to start addressing the disconnect. You and/or your partner are at the end of your rope, and are eager to learn new skills to build a more open, honest, and trusting relationship with your child.
Do you wish there was a way to change your child’s behavior—and your own—to re-establish your role as an effective parent? Are you ready to talk to an experienced professional who understands child behavior and family dynamics?
Children Often Express Their Needs With Disruptive Behavior
Change is hard, whether we’re talking about a significant life change or a natural developmental change that all children go through. A sudden shift in family dynamics—including positive changes, like an adoption or moving to a new city—can be stressful and traumatic for both children and parents. Even small changes in routine, like not getting enough sleep or exercise or social interaction, can lead to disruptive behavior. Your child may feel devalued if they aren’t given enough responsibility and accountability. At the same, every day might feel like a power struggle as your child tries to avoid doing chores, getting ready for bed, or taking a bath.
Many children don’t have the words to express their needs clearly, so they communicate through their behavior. Tantrums and other disruptive behaviors may be your child’s way of trying to tell you something important. But most parents aren’t taught how to recognize and interpret misbehavior, and it can be hard to know what your child needs—emotional support, more accountability, or greater independence—when you are speaking a different “language.” Children need to learn how to recognize their feelings and express themselves appropriately. Likewise, parents often need help understanding what their child needs and how to respond in a productive way that allows everyone to feel heard and valued. By working with a therapist, both you and your child can learn emotional regulation skills to help you pause, think and react in a calm and thoughtful way.
Family therapy can help you understand what your child is trying to communicate and how you can respond in a way that helps them thrive while growing closer as a family. It may take some work, but remember that the difficulties you and your child are experiencing are not permanent. Working with an experienced family therapist can improve the dynamic of your home, improve communication, and help you foster the open, loving relationship you want with your child.
Child Therapy Can Help You Better Understand Your Child’s Needs
You may be using a combination of the parenting techniques that you and your partner grew up with, only to find that they aren’t so effective with your child. Every child is different, even when growing up in the same household. I have been helping families like yours improve communication and strengthen their relationships for over 22 years. And as a parent and a stepparent I have experienced firsthand how powerful it can be when both parents and children feel truly heard and understood.
My approach to child therapy is honest and down to earth. Children are tactile learners and naturally curious, and the use of toys and play during sessions can help reveal how they interpret and navigate the world around them. Play therapy allows your child to communicate at their own pace and in their “first language.” When you recognize how your child communicates, what they’re trying to say, and what they need at this stage in their development, you can give them the accountability or independence they need while strengthening the parent-child relationship.
In addition to the work we do in session, I offer strategies you can use to keep growing the parent-child relationship outside of counseling. I want to help you understand each other and continue to grow closer, and that starts with embracing your unique needs, goals, and family dynamic. By observing how you and your child interact and play together, I can tailor the skills and resources I provide to work best for you.
No matter your situation—whether your family is adapting to a significant life change or you just want to understand your child a little better—therapy can help you build a closer relationship with your child. If you are willing to try new things and be consistent, both you and your child can feel heard and respected.
You May Have Some Concerns About Child Therapy…
We have no time for therapy.
Therapy does take time and effort, and I know how hard it can be to add something to your already full calendar. But by putting in the time to improve your relationship with your child now, you can improve your family dynamic in the long run. And we can be creative and flexible in scheduling sessions to fit your availability.
Is child counseling expensive?
Counseling is more than just a financial investment, but an investment in your child and your family. However, depending on your financial circumstances, we can adjust the number and frequency of sessions as is appropriate.
My partner doesn’t want our child in therapy and won’t participate.
It’s perfectly natural to have apprehensions about putting your child into therapy, especially if you and/or your partner don’t have any prior experience working with a therapist. If your partner is not yet ready to participate in the therapeutic process, that’s okay. I can meet with you for the first session to discuss your concerns about your child. In most situations, I would invite the other parent to attend a session, either with you or alone so they can share any fears or doubts they may have. My goal is to give your child the best help and support possible, and that starts with addressing everyone’s concerns—including you and your partner.
If your partner still doesn’t want to be involved in therapy, you and I can work together with your child to address issues and foster the changes you both need.
Child Therapy Can Improve The Dynamics Of Your Family
If you’re ready to work with an experienced child and family therapist, I invite you to call me at 503-927-9194. I offer a free 15-20 minute consult by phone or in person, so you can ask any questions you may have and we can decide if we are a good fit.