Does your child have difficulty taking “no” for an answer or become defiant no matter how nicely or firmly you give instructions or set limits? Do you have to closely monitor your child just to make sure that even simple tasks are completed? Does your child often spiral into a “meltdown” with tears or angry screaming if confronted about non-compliance? Is your child an expert at how and when to “push your buttons” for maximum effect?
At Silber Psychological Services, we frequently meet with parents who are concerned about their child’s behavior. They may be receiving complaints from the school, having concerns about play dates, or may simply be having difficulty getting their child to follow directions around the house. “Bad behavior” can range from relatively mild but frequent and highly annoying behaviors to severe temper tantrums that can last for hours. Some children appear to misbehave on purpose while others seem unable to control themselves. The parents of children with behavior problems are concerned and interested in finding ways to help their child improve their behavior. Often these children are experiencing stress, anxiety and/or sadness or an Oppositional Defiant Disorder. In seeking help, parents are hopeful that their child will feel happier once the behaviors have improved. Most often the parents we meet have tried a range of strategies that have been suggested by friends or written resources. Sometimes there has been short-lived improvement that leaves the parents feeling guilty, or ashamed that they were unable to “fix” their child.
The first step in helping a child learn to behave appropriately is a thorough assessment to determine what factors may be contributing to the behavior problems. A variety of issues such as problems with motivation, anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, or situational circumstances such as a divorce or other losses can contribute to behavior problems. Our staff is skilled at isolating the causes of unacceptable behavior patterns. Even perfectly healthy and normally developing children can hit a “rough patch” of behavior, when transitions occur such as the birth of a sibling, a family relocation, or the beginning of a school year.
Whatever the underlying causes, the next step is to help the parents find solutions that can bring relief to the child and the family. Parents learn when, where and how to respond in effective ways, setting firm limits and appropriate consequences.
In working with school age children, our clinicians often work with teachers in developing a successful plan to get behavior problems under control. A variety of very effective behavior therapy techniques are frequently used. Diagnosing and treating teenagers often requires different strategies that are more flexible and creative and include setting basic expectations at school and home while considering common issues that adolescents deal with such as emerging identity, varied interests, and personal style.
The staff at Silber Psychological Services is available to hear your concerns and evaluate the behavior problems and patterns exhibited by your child. After a good diagnostic picture has been obtained, the clinician, parents, and teachers, if needed, can implement plans to help improve your child’s behavior, level of compliance, and overall happiness.