When your child has a medical issue, the solution is rather clear-cut: you take them to a doctor. But when your child is struggling with behavior rather than health issues, the path is much less straightforward. Many people simply see all behavioral issues for kids as a matter of discipline, so parents often assume that parenting their kids correctly is the only way to solve the problem, and they spend years trying one strategy after another. For some kids, though, the issue needs more than a change in parenting style, and sometimes it’s even caused by an underlying medical or mental health condition. Regardless of the reason, you’re not in it alone, and there are a number of specialized professionals you can turn to for help.
Board-certified pediatricians are experts in kids, in both their physical and their emotional wellbeing. Especially for first-time parents, just knowing whether or not your child’s behavior is normal can be the first challenge. Our pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center have the experience to know what you can expect at different developmental stages, so if you’re concerned about a change in your child’s behavior, we’re happy to answer your basic questions. We also have the expertise to recognize the signs of certain conditions that can affect behavior, like ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, depression, and more. While we don’t conduct thorough diagnostic tests or provide a definitive diagnosis, we’ll be able to tell you if your child’s behavior may be a sign of a known condition and we can provide you with referrals to the appropriate mental health specialists who can evaluate your child and offer you more detailed answers. As your “medical home,” we also work toward spreading valuable information to our patients between appointments, so be sure to follow Children’s Wellness Center on Facebook for daily articles about physical and behavioral health for kids.
A Behavior Therapist and/or a Cognitive Therapist
For kids with general behavioral problems, talk therapy is often a great first step. There are many different methods, but for improving a child’s behavior, the two most common and most helpful are generally cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy seeks to identify the negative thought patterns that are keeping kids in emotional stress (like “I can’t do anything right,” or “If I can’t get all A’s, I might as well stop trying”) and teaching the child to break free of them. Behavior therapy, on the other hand, is useful for breaking kids of bad behavioral habits and reinforcing positive actions instead. Sometimes these two methods are used in combination with each other.
A Family Counselor
One important factor in a child’s behavior problem is his or her relationship with family members, and there are often disagreements or problems the parents don’t even know about because kids struggle with having an open and honest discussion about them. For families, learning to communicate calmly and clearly about your emotions can be a very challenging process. This is the role of a family counselor – to guide families through their difficulties and teach them how to communicate with each other and talk through any frustrations or negative feelings they may be experiencing.
Your School Psychologist
If your child’s school has a school psychologist, he or she can be a tremendous help. School psychologists are trained specifically to address the psychological needs of kids and teens and to communicate with them. Plus, because they are already in your child’s school, school psychologists can be a perfect connection to your child’s teachers and school administrators to help resolve any issues between the child and the school authorities. If your child’s behavior stems from one of the underlying conditions mentioned earlier, the school psychologist can also be a great advocate for their needs and can make sure that their teachers and administrators understand how to help your child be successful.
A behavioral problem can be a huge concern for parents, because there’s no simple “if this, do that” solution, and because it can have such an impact on a child’s future. But it really does take a village to raise a child, and you can rest easy knowing that our staff at Children’s Wellness Center is here to be the go-to village member you can rely on. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s behavior, schedule an appointment at Children’s Wellness Center to take the first step toward a happier and more peaceful home.Tags: how to fix kids behavior problems, kids behavior Atlanta, kids behavior resources, pediatrician Atlanta, what to do if your child starts misbehaving