Growing up is hard work: So is parenting. Your job is to raise a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted adult. But many times there are struggles along the way.
You have talked with other parents, family members, or friends. Afterwards, you likely said “I am not alone” & “I know other children with similar struggles”. (Insert: sigh of relief) This helps you feel better for a while.
Eventually you ask “when will this pass” or “shouldn’t they have outgrown this already”.
Sometimes problems with your child or teenager don’t “just go away”, they stick around or get worse. You’ve read self-help books. You’ve talked to other parents or your friends.
Then you try to talk to your struggling child or teenager. They may have responded with “I don’t know” or “I don’t want to talk to you, leave me alone!” Shut down. Now what? Nothing you do or say seems to make a difference. You’re scared and worried.
Parents “should” know all the answers, right? No. Children don’t come with instruction manuals.
Parents can’t know everything. Give yourself a break. Parenting a child or teenager with challenges requires a lot of energy, time, skills, and patience.
You likely didn’t expect your child or teenager to lack important life skills. On top of everything, you begin hearing “labels” like: depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar, trauma, low self esteem, self-injury, or substance abuse. Other people in your child’s life are noticing their struggles too. You know your child is more than these symptoms, you've seen their strengths. But you still find yourself scared and worried. You want the best for your child or teenager.
Do you wonder if your child or teenager really needs “professional help” though? That’s a good question. Imagine if you lacked important skills to manage daily demands. You struggle with organizational skills. You see the world in “black and white” missing the “gray areas”. Being flexible is difficult. You struggle with transitions or changes. You don’t tolerate frustrations well. Problem solving is difficult for you. These are important life skills. If your child hasn’t achieved these skills yet (for whatever reason, including the likelihood they were born neurodiverse), meeting daily demands just got harder!
Now add on situations out of you and your child’s control: divorce, sexual – physical – emotional abuse or neglect, bullying, death, job changes, natural disasters, moving homes/schools, incarceration, family illness, financial hardship…the list goes on.
Your child will communicate their lack of coping skills. This typically leads to unhelpful behaviors. It also leads to: parental frustration, fractures in your relationship, and unneeded tension in your home.
These are a few ways your child or teenager is communicating their need for help: