Among all the dilemmas facing a parent of a child with emotional issues is whether the child’s behavior is sufficiently different to require emotional issues counseling.Every child and adult faces emotional difficulties from time to time,. Feelings of sadness or loss and extremes of emotions are part of growing up. Emotional conflicts between parents and children are also inevitable as children struggle from the “terrible two’ s” through adolescence to develop their own identities. These are normal emotional changes in behavior due to growth and development. Such problems can be more common in times of change for the family – the death of a grandparent or family member, a new child. a move to the city. Generally, these kinds of emotional problems tend to fade on their own or with limited visits to a counselor or other mental health professional as children adjust to the changes in their lives. At times, however, some children may develop inappropriate emotional and behavioral responses to situations in their lives that persist over time.
The realization that a child’s behavior needs professional attention can be painful or frightening to parents who have tried to help their child. Many parents are afraid that their child may be inappropriately labeled, and point out that the array of diagnoses, medicines, and therapies have not been agreed upon by all specialists. Still other parents become alarmed after obtaining an assessment for their child only to discover that the evaluator believed emotional disturbances originate in family dynamics and parenting classes are the best way to address the emotional problem. While many parents will concede that they may need to learn new behavior management or communication techniques in order to provide a consistent and rewarding environment for their child, many parents express deep anger about the blame placed on families with children who behave differently.
Before seeking a formal emotional difficulties or emotional issues assessment, parents may have tried to help their child by talking to friends, relatives or the child’s school. They may try to discover whether others see the same problems, and to learn what others suggest they might try. Parents may feel that they also need help in learning better ways of supporting the child through difficult times, and may seek classes to help them sharpen behavior management skills or conflict resolution skills. Modifications in a child’s routine at home or school may help to establish whether some fine tuning” will improve performance or self-esteem. If the problems a child is experiencing are seen as fairly severe, and are unresponsive to interventions at school, in the community or at home, an assessment by a competent mental health professional is probably in order. Assessment will provide information which, when combined with what parents know, may lead to a diagnosis of an emotional or a behavioral disorder, and a recommended treatment program.
So when should parents recognize their child’s behavior has surpassed the boundary of what all children do and has become sufficiently alarming to warrant a formal assessment? There is no key moment. It is often a gradual awareness that a child’s emotional development just isn’t where it should be that sends most parents on a quest for answers.
Symptoms of Adolescent Emotional Issues
Following are a few symptoms which may indicate a child and/or adolescent with emotional difficulties:
- Marked fall in school performance.
- Poor grades in school despite trying very hard.
- Hyperactivity; fidgeting.
- Persistent nightmares.
- Persistent disobedience or aggression.
- Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrum.
- Inability to cope with problems and daily activities.
- Marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits.
- Many physical complaints.
- Sexual acting out.
- Depression shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude.
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Intense fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight.
- Threats of self-harm or harm to others.
- Self-injury or self destructive behavior.
- Frequent outbursts of anger, aggression.
- Threats to run away.
- Aggressive or non-aggressive consistent violation of rights of others.
- Opposition to authority, truancy, thefts, or vandalism.
- Strange thoughts and feelings; and unusual behaviors.
If problems persist over an extended period of time and especially if others involved in the child’s life are concerned, adolescent emotional issues counseling may be helpful.
Effects of Adolescent Emotional Issues
The effects of childhood emotional issues vary greatly, depending on the type and severity of the emotional issue. Examples of these effects include:
- Severe anxiety
- Drug Abuse
- Difficulty learning, struggling in school
- Eating disorders
- Extreme anger and hostility
When to seek Adolescent Emotional Issues Counseling
Parents are usually the first to recognize that their child has a problem with emotions or behavior. Still, the decision to seek adolescent emotional issues counseling can be difficult and painful for a parent. The first step is to gently try to talk to the child. An honest open talk about feelings can often help. Parents may choose to consult with the child’s physicians, teachers, members of the clergy, or other adults who know the child well. These steps may resolve the problems for the child and family.
A family can have four children three of whom are well behaved and doing fine. When parents seek help for problems with one of their four the first assumption is that the parents have done something wrong with this one. They will drag the parents through endless counseling and parenting classes. They will stubbornly stick to this approach in the face of no improvement for far longer than should be. The helpers will be blind to the skills the parents showed with their other three children.
Many suggested that improper parenting was the basis of all emotional problems. This theme has persisted with many bitter consequences down to today. It has only been in the last few years that people have finally surrendered this wrong view in the area of autism. How many mothers have tortured themselves with the belief that a cold, unloving parenting style was supposed to have caused this disorder? While it is true that even among all normal children some are more compliant than others, or easier to parent, if a parent has been successful at reward and punishment plans with some of their children, they probably understand how to use them for all their children. If parents prefer to handle severe emotional problems with behavior modification first before resorting to other interventions, these plans can be very demanding. When research has shown them to work with serious emotional disorders, they were characterized by being clearly defined, frequently communicated, and rewards and consequences were administered frequently and extremely close in time to the behavior that triggered them.
It is not easy for parents to set up these kinds of behavior modification plans. This requires a high degree of objectivity and most parents are too emotionally involved with their children to be highly objective. They have problems identifying target behaviors, and they have problems arranging meaningful rewards and punishments that work. They also have problems issuing the consequences quickly and frequently. Often it helps to have someone else oversee your efforts with emotional issues. A professional adolescent emotional issues counselor can provide a different point of view helpful for the family and the adolescent in the adolescent emotional skills development stage of life.