All children are defiant at one point in their life or another. In fact, it’s a normal part of development. But what happens when your defiant child’s behavior goes overboard, and it starts to impact his or her functioning at home or school? And what does it mean for you as the parent?
Where’s the line between dealing with your defiant child by yourself and reaching out for therapist support?
Continue reading and see if you have experienced any of the warning signs that indicate you and your child may need therapeutic support to help manage troublesome behaviors.
1) You question why you had children in the first place.
If you tell this to a group of parents you will likely get a laugh and a grumble from everyone but what if you really feel it? And you feel this often? That’s a painful place to be in when you question this choice.
2) You resent how your defiant child has drained you and the rest of the family.
Unfortunately, resentment is a vicious cycle. Resentment is a painful feeling that can end up fracturing your relationship with your child and increase the behavioral challenges and mood symptoms your child is experience.
3) You feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with life’s demands.
Your challenging child takes up a lot of your time. And you have to pay more attention to him than a child that doesn’t have behavioral challenges. It’s probably difficult to take your child to do errands if you know the first item he sees that you don’t allow him to have is going to cause a meltdown situation on the floor.
Or maybe it’s hard to get home from work, prepare dinner, do the chores, and pay the bills, when you have to assist your child who struggles getting thru her homework routine and can’t seem to manage putting toothpaste on the toothbrush even though she’s 9.
4) You feel nothing is going to help your situation.
Feeling hopeless is a warning sign that warrants immediate attention. Oftentimes when a situation feels hopeless it’s because you don’t have the resources and support you deserve. When kids have behavioral challenges finding the right kind of help takes time. Don’t give up.
5) You feel exhausted.
Take a moment and listen to your body. What is it saying to you? My muscles ache? My head hurts? I just woke up from a nap and I need another one? Physical symptoms warrant medical attention, but after your doctor rules out a physical cause, it may be time to have a heart-to-heart with your body, because it’s trying to tell you something.
6) You feel guilty.
Second guessing your parenting decisions comes with the territory, but guilt over how you parent is a burden you shouldn’t have to bare. We all make mistakes and it’s important that you take those moments you are second guessing and reflect on them as learning lessons, and not let them get you down.
7) You feel like a failure as a parent.
What a horrible feeling and it hits too many parents. We all know kids didn’t come with a parenting manual and having a child with mood and behavior difficulties wasn’t even close to being on your radar. It’s easy to look around at other parents and say “how do they do it so easily?” I get it. You’re trying your best and you deserve credit for that.
So what’s a parent of a defiant child to do?
If any of these sound familiar I want you to do two things.
First, praise yourself for recognizing the thoughts. By you acknowledging that you deserve parenting support you are already beginning the healing process- for you and your child.
Second, reach out for help. This can look like talking to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician. Oftentimes, enrolling your child in therapy (and for you, your own can be helpful too) is a helpful way to stem off the troublesome behaviors and moods your child is experiencing and get your whole family back on track.
So tell me, have you ever had difficult times with your child? If you did, what did you do to get you and your child back on track?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health.