Parenting Children During Difficult Times
by Sheri Bickford, M.Ed., Bailey Psychology Group
How many times have you wished there was a fail-proof how-to manual to raising children? We’ve all at one point or another felt at a loss, especially during diﬃcult times of transition or with a new normal, such as with COVID. Parents want to understand and help their children with anxiety, sadness and other big feelings that cause behavioral concerns. Parents need to remember it is okay to reach out to get much-needed support from counselors and therapists who specialize in the care of children and adolescents to help ensure the well-being and mental health of their children.
All children are diﬀerent and possess their own unique personality and temperament. They have varied coping skills, problem solving abilities, communication styles and chemical make ups—then we add parenting styles into the mix! Not all parenting styles are the same. When we combine these factors, we see the impact on children’s feelings and how they process feelings can have a profound impact on their behavior. Diﬃculty processing and coping with feelings may cause disruptive behavior and their social emotional skills being underdeveloped, can add to the problem. These challenges often elicit feelings of anxiety, sadness, confusion and anger in children, which, can cause unwanted behaviors and can negatively aﬀect the entire family.
There is a lot we can do to help children and families with these struggles. We start with getting curious of why a behavior starts by using the ABC model of behavior –Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence. We know that all behavior has a purpose and this model helps us better understand the reason for the behavior. For example, a certain behavior can be due to the need for attention or because they are trying to escape a situation or avoid something. It can also even be because they are trying to access something they want or for sensory reasons. When we use the ABC model, we can determine the purpose of the undesirable behavior and identify the trigger (Antecedent)—or what caused the behavior—and the consequence following the behavior. Deﬁning a child’s ABCs, helps us work better with them and their family on a positive behavior plan, which can include rewards for the child when they make good choices. The ultimate goal is to have increased positive behavior choices moving forward.
Children also need to learn skills and strategies to cope with their negative feelings. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or goal-oriented therapy, with a counselor or therapist can help teach these vital skills and provide hands-on, real-life, practice learning skills. This type of practical experience enables children to be able to incorporate what they’ve learned into their everyday life and increases their coping skills, self-esteem and self-conﬁdence. Children can self-regulate their feelings more eﬀectively, feel empowered and in control over their feelings and behavior choices.
Navigating the parenting waters is diﬃcult, especially during these trying times. Children dealing with negative emotions and behavior while being secluded at home and away from their typical social peer group adds a whole new element to coping. Children and families can get help from an experienced counselor or therapist with expertise in helping children to learn coping skills and gain a shift in mindset and positive replacement behaviors for optimal wellness. Contact Bailey Psychology Group at 813-720-7411 or BaileyPsychologyGroup.com. Our team of counselors and therapists know the struggles you are dealing with and can help.
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