Hello Rock Star Parents!
These days as a mom, I am constantly finding myself in conversations with other parents who are worried, anxious, or concerned about their child’s behaviors or attitude. At times, one of the scariest things to admit as parents is that we might need some help doing this job. We all hope for our children to be happy and carefree, but at the same time look for them to be successful and hardworking. That’s a tough formula for anyone to maintain, and often not reality for children and their families. I have yet to meet a parent whose child functions each day with all four of those characteristics perfectly in tune. Between the pressures that children and parents put on themselves to have a thriving family life, it can become extremely overwhelming to maintain a family flow. So how can we tell when things have gotten out of hand and we need to get some help?
Every child has a challenge of some sort. Children can struggle with anger, anxiety, self-esteem, attention, depression, eating, aggression, or shyness, just to name a few. Most often they battle with multiple issues at a time. While some have much greater obstacles than others, it can be tough to see the difference between typical developmental behavior struggles versus ones that require professional assistance and guidance. When it comes to getting help for your family and your child, it’s one thing for parents to know that their child needs help, but it’s entirely another thing to actually take steps to get the support.
Here are 6 crucial questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to get help for your family.
1. You or your child’s teacher or daycare provider has noticed a drastic change in your child’s behavior. If you hear from your child’s teacher and/or you begin to see unusual or concerning changes in your child’s behavior either at home or at school it’s important to get to the bottom of it. Sometimes, behaviors such as fighting with other students, refusing to go to school, a drop in grades, or trouble socializing can be symptoms of a larger issue. Many times, they are not. Usually, with a bit of brainstorming as a team, issues can be resolved quickly. If you don’t see a timely resolution, it’s best to check in with a professional.
2. The behavior is interfering with your child’s ability to function at home, in school, or in other settings. Take a close look at how your child is functioning in a day. Is the behavior limiting the quality of your child’s life? Is your child having trouble consistently with falling or staying asleep? Does your child end up in tears easily or does he or she fly off the handle or become agitated without warning? Is there tension or troubles with friends at school or in a sports setting?
3. The behavior is interfering with your family’s ability to function on a regular basis. Take a look at how your family is functioning. Is it working as it normally does? Are you finding yourselves unable to complete regular family activities because of the behavior? Are you finding yourselves in regular conflicts or power struggles with your child? Do you find yourselves needing to make shifts or changes in the family’s plan because of these outbursts? Do you say no to invitations or avoid making plans because you’re not sure how your child will manage? If your child is a teen/tween, are you suddenly nervous to leave he or she home alone?
4. You and your child have made multiple attempts to improve or change the situation without success. It’s appropriate and normal to first make every attempt to resolve the issues on your own as a family. However, if things haven’t improved after a reasonable amount of time and different interventions, it’s probably time to consult a therapist.
5. You feel that you and your spouse/partner have lost your parenting power and control. When things feel out of control, you can feel it in every bone of your body. When you feel powerless as a parent, your child knows it. This only creates heightened anxiety among all family members and exacerbates an already tenuous situation. When you can fill your toolbox with more skills to help your child and your family unit, everyone wins.
6. You suspect at any time that your child might be in danger of hurting himself or others. If your parent sense under any circumstances, has you questioning this you must seek professional help immediately through your local emergency room or a licensed professional therapist.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when trying to do what’s best for your child is to look at the big picture. Take everything into account and investigate. Keep tabs on your child’s social media accounts. Question everything and ask yourself – Is this normal for my child and our family? Is this working or is this bigger than the tools we have on hand? Sometimes, you really need to invest in power tools when all you have are a hammer and nails. It is important to remember that one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family is a toolbox filled with new and creative ways for handling tough situations. One of the best places to start to find someone qualified is with your family doctor or pediatrician. He or she will usually have a group of quality clinicians to recommend. Another place might be your child’s school counselor.
There is no shame in asking for help or waving the white flag when you need it. Knowledge is power and can only help to strengthen your family to keep it running smoothly for the long haul. Keep on rocking!!!