How to Cope with Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
If your children have emotional and behavioral disorders, you may feel alone. But these disorders are more common than you might think, and there are several ways to cope with them.
What are emotional and behavioral disorders?
Emotional and behavioral disorders encompass several diagnoses, such as anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and more.
Children with these disorders often display characteristics like an inability to learn (which has nothing to do with intelligence or sensory factors), difficulty building relationships with classmates and teachers, and generally feeling unhappy.
Research suggests that around 17 million children out of 74.5 million in the US have or have had an emotional or behavioral disorder, of which there are several types.
What are the different types of emotional and behavioral disorders?
There are six main types of emotional and behavioral disorders.
Anxiety disorders can be excessive and overwhelming. Everyone experiences occasional anxiety, but for people with an anxiety disorder—such as generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, or PTSD—there is a factor of irrational fear of something that might seem mundane to other people. Anxiety disorders are the most common emotional and behavioral disorders affecting both adults and children.
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings that go back and forth between euphoria and hopelessness.
Conduct disorder occurs specifically in children and adolescents. It causes them to have difficulty following the rules, and they also struggle to behave in a socially acceptable way.
People with eating disorders go to extremes when it comes to food by either consuming too much or too little. Anorexia and bulimia are the most common eating disorders in this category.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is technically an anxiety disorder. It’s characterized by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors such as counting or handwashing.
Lastly, psychotic disorders refer to severe mental conditions causing abnormal thinking such as delusions and hallucinations.
There are a few signs that your child may have one of the above conditions. Children with emotional and behavioral disorders may display hyperactivity, aggression, immaturity, social withdrawal, or learning difficulties.
What causes emotional and behavioral disorders?
If your child has an emotional or behavioral disorder, you might wonder what caused it. Unfortunately, the cause of emotional and behavioral disorders is unknown.
That being said, a few factors have been suggested, such as imbalances in the brain, heredity, diet, stress, and how a family functions. However, none of these are proven causes of emotional and behavioral disorders.
It’s also vital to understand that having a disorder does not indicate that a person is weak or lacks character. Many people with emotional and behavioral conditions find relief once they find the right treatment plan.
Why medication doesn’t always work
For many parents, the first course of action when you suspect an emotional or behavioral disorder is to go to the doctor, which usually leads to your child being prescribed medication. However, you may not wish to medicate your child because of the possible side effects.
Sometimes, parents turn to more holistic methods of managing a disorder, such as special diets. Food sensitivities can sometimes trigger behavioral issues. But if these methods don’t work, you might feel like medication is your only option, despite your misgivings, which can cause you to feel really stressed and hopeless.
Why trying to find a solution can be stressful for parents
If you feel like you’ve tried everything but nothing is helping, you may begin to feel desperate. Or, in worse-case scenarios, you may feel like a failure.
For parents with children on medication, it can be difficult to manage the fact that your child might seem like a different person. Some medicines cause children to become almost zombie-like, so you may be inclined to take them off their medication during school holidays. But then, you have to deal with your child’s outbursts, which is also stressful.
For the founder of Kat’s Naturals, homeschooling her oldest child was the only option because he couldn’t thrive in a traditional school setting. He wasn’t able to sit still and was later diagnosed with ADHD. However, when he had the freedom to move around and listen to music while learning, he was able to complete his studies. And this accomplishment reduced a lot of stress on him and the family.
How to cope with your child’s emotional or behavioral disorder
If your child has emotional and behavioral disorders, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But there are a few simple steps you can take to cope.
Look for natural alternatives
First, you can start looking for natural alternatives to conventional treatments. There are several supplements, vitamins, oils (such as CBD oil), and herbs that can help your child sleep or stay calm. Then, when they’re in a more peaceful state, you can teach them coping mechanisms and how to communicate better, which can be very difficult for a child who has problems with communication.
It’s really important to take care of yourself. Try not to get lost in guilt or negative emotions. If you get depleted, there’s nothing left to give your child, which is problematic if your kid requires a lot of attention due to their emotional or behavioral disorder.
While it may sound impossible, try to create moments that are just for you. You can do this by asking friends or family for help or taking time after your child is asleep to process the events of the day.
Don’t run away from your thoughts
Lastly, try not to hide from your thoughts. Write them down, talk to a friend, or join a support group. This tip is a great way to work through your feelings and help prevent negative emotions from building up.
You are not alone
Emotional and behavioral disorders are more common than you may think, and they in no way reflect poorly on you or your child, despite the negative stigmas they carry. There are several options to explore if your child has one of these disorders, and it’s important to seek support if what you’re trying is not working.
Share this article if you have a friend or family member who needs new ideas to help them stay strong while their child pushes to get better!