DSC_3120_2Parenting difficult children requires love and skillful determination. The ability to handle emotion is developmental. Mood dysregulation occurs when the child’s ability to manage emotion is under-developed. Defiance is when kids refuse actively. Opposition can be passive or active.

Power struggles with opposition and defiant behavior are a lose-lose situation. Instead, the child needs help in developing skills for problem solving. The mood of these children can vary regardless of circumstances, unprovoked. Parents must calm themselves and maintain composure in order to teach this skill to the child. Research shows these kids are missing cognitive skills which must be taught.

Skill Sets to Develop

  1. Affect (emotion) Regulation; frustration tolerance.
  2. Cognitive Flexibility-learning to see “in the grey” rather than all or nothing, black and white thinking.
  3. Managing Transitions-getting up, going to school, returning, play to homework, dinner to bathing, shifting the mindset without intense reactions.
  4. Problem Solving skills:
    • know what the problem is
    • know how to verbalize the problem/label it
    • looking ahead to predict an outcome
    • choosing between outcomes
  5. Language Skills for emotions, expressions of feeling.
  6. Empathy-as kids develop self awareness, they can begin to see how another may feel.

Behavioral charts work well for motivational problems, not problem solving deficits. So behavioral charts should list issues which child needs motivation to change. At the same time, parents are intentional learning how to help children learn cognitive skills to handle strong emotion. The goal is to help children think and feel; all three parts of the brain working at the same time. Specific, deliberate mentoring of children.//revelationcounseling.com/parenting-points-8/

Parenting difficult children; For oppositional-defiant children the temper-tantrum, grumpiness, or moodiness is “over the top.” Often related to the inability to calm rather than manipulation or being spoiled. If the behavior program does not help with the problem, it indicates a lack of skill rather than a lack of motivation. Cognitive flexibility by parents is required. Approaches with different children are individual. Parental coaching varies child to child. Compliance is a behavioral outcome of the skills being in place. It is a developmental outcome.

The collaborative team approach between therapist, parents and child is the most effective method for teaching and practicing these skills. Significant improvement is usually experienced, sometimes in a relatively brief period of time. Parenting difficult children can be done well, they grow into outstanding adults.

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