The parents of the kids I work with have a range of problems they want to solve. Some kids’ behavior issues are pretty mild – maybe the child is basically cooperative at home, but he just won’t do his schoolwork. AND, some kids’ behaviors are really extreme! I also work with kids with defiance, aggression, violence… often these kids have a diagnosis, often they’re on meds, some have been in residential treatment, and some have had the police brought in as a way to address the behavior.
So what’s a parent to do? Here’s the deal: If your child’s behavior is REALLY challenging, the fastest and most effective way to fix the problems is to learn how to intervene yourself. In fact, learning to parent in ways that solve these problems, is often the ONLY way. The child’s environment and the behavior of the people in charge in that environment are huge factors in a child’s behavior. So many of my clients say things like “He’s fine at school, but he’s terrible at home.” Along the same lines, it’s common for kids to behave in the therapist’s office but not at home; or they do well in a residential setting, and then the behavior reverts once the child returns home.
At the end of the day, if parents want cooperation at home, they need to be in charge, they need to know how to intervene in ways that motivate the child to cooperate, and they also need to know how to work with the child to develop his or her buy-in to the changes the parents are wanting.
It does take effort to do this yourself vs. hire a therapist, a medication, or a treatment center to do it for you. But the third parties often don’t work with the really challenging problems, so you NEED to make that effort — and the great news is, most of my clients are surprised at how quickly things change. If the behavior is a big problem, it takes a lot of effort in the beginning, which is stressful, right? But you’re stressed now anyway! It really is SO worth the effort, and it may be hard to believe in the beginning, but when you intervene the right way you can not only solve the problems; you can also have positive change you may never have imagined was possible! That’s a promise.