PARENTING & CHILDREN CHALLENGES
Parenting is difficult because the communication between a parent and their child (regardless of age and abilities) is often misfiring. A child’s way of interacting with their parents is often communicated through their behaviors, rather than using their words, even for those are very capable of verbalizing their thoughts. On the other hand, sometimes our children will use words that are hurtful or react in ways beyond proportion to the situation. Children experience worries, sadness, frustration, and uncertainty in many ways, including in their bodies and their behaviors. They be loud and obvious about their feelings, or they may be quiet and retreating within themselves, and everything in between. It may be outside of their developmental readiness to express it, or their budding or developing personalities are so different from the parents that it is difficult to share meaning together. Or they may feel uneasy about expressing themselves in the context. They also may experience their feelings as very big and that is beyond their window of tolerance.
Infants, toddlers, school-aged children, pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults all have their unique ways of being in a relationship with people. Our team of therapists work with the caregiving system to help them gain insights into their child, teenager, or young adult’s world. For some young people, working one-on-one with the therapist is beneficial. The ways into understanding your child’s heart will be explored in various configurations, but the goal is always to help your child to gain understanding about themselves and how to express their needs.
Our young clients become more encouraged to take risks, to become developmentally appropriately capable and independent, and thrive in their environments, when they feel connected, understood, and supported to be and grow as they are. Our therapists support the whole system so that it can be synchronized and move in the same direction together.
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) are types of psychological disorders that influence how the brain functions and alters neurological development, causing difficulties in social, cognitive, and emotional functioning. The most common NDs are autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD).1 Many NDs are not as well known or widely studied.
NDs usually onset during stages of development which makes them most present in toddlers, children, and adolescents, but continue to persist into adulthood, or may go undiagnosed until one is an adult.2 There are instances in which a child outgrows the symptoms associated with an ND.
Types of Neurodevelopmental Issues
There are many different types of NDs, below are a few of the most prevalent ones;
- Attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Cerebral palsy
- Communication disorders
- Conduct disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Learning disorders
- Neurodevelopmental motor disorders
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral condition usually diagnosed during childhood. It is characterized by symptoms including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Understanding the symptoms of ADHD can help parents distinguish between what might be considered “normal” rambunctiousness and inattention and the genuine inability to sit still and focus. It can also help adults recognize whether they may have symptoms of undiagnosed ADHD.
This article discusses the common symptoms of ADHD and some less common ones people might experience. It also explores potential complications and when you should seek help from a professional.
Signs & Symptoms
The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)” is the official diagnostic guide for mental health issues used in the United States. It identifies nine symptoms of inattention and nine symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Types of ADHD
There are three different presentations for ADHD:
- Predominantly inattentive presentation
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation
- Combined presentation
Each type is characterized by a different presentation of symptoms.
Symptoms of Inattention
Children and adults who are inattentive have difficulty staying focused and attending to tasks that they perceive as mundane. Because of this, they may procrastinate doing work that requires a great deal of mental energy. People who experience symptoms of inattention may:
- Be easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
- Shift from one activity to another and get bored easily
- Appear forgetful and even spacey or confused
- Make careless mistakes
- Struggle to stay on task and pay attention
- Have difficulty following instructions, finishing projects, and staying on task
- Have trouble organizing tasks
- Lose belongings frequently
Symptoms of Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
Hyperactivity is the symptom most people think of when they hear the term “ADHD.” Children and adults who are hyperactive have excessively high activity levels, which may present as physical and/or verbal overactivity. Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity include:
- Being constantly in motion as if driven by a motor
- Restlessness, including excessive squirming or fidgeting
- Talking excessively, interrupting others, monopolizing conversations
- Loud and disruptive behaviors
- Difficulty sitting still or remaining seated
Common symptoms of ADHD include those related to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. How these symptoms present determines which type of ADHD a person might have.
Other ADHD Symptoms
In addition to the official symptoms, there are additional ADHD symptoms that many children and adults experience. While these are not taken into account during the diagnostic process, they frequently affect the quality of people’s lives. For example, people with ADHD are often accused of not trying or not appearing to care, which can be hurtful. They may also experience:
- Slow progress: Tasks, homework, a project at work, or a household chore seem to take people with ADHD longer than other people.
- Hyper-focus: While they have a low tolerance for boredom, they may hyper-focus on tasks that interest them, to the detriment of essential activities like sleep and social interaction.
- Underachievement: They may underachieve in areas of life where they have a lot of potential and talent, such as academics, their profession, athletics, or managing finances.
- Forgetfulness: People with ADHD may forget things ranging from important people’s birthdays, taking out the trash, or handing in homework (even when it has been completed).
- Financial problems: Even if they earn an above-average wage, impulsive spending and forgetting to pay bills can cause problems.
- Sleep problems: Getting to sleep, staying asleep, and waking up on time can all be difficult. They may also consume a lot of caffeine.
- Low self-esteem: People with ADHD do not trust themselves to do what they say they will. They worry about things they might have forgotten to do or done poorly because of inattention or impulsivity. Because of this, they often have low self-esteem after years of not meeting their own and other people’s expectations.
When people with ADHD realize that these behaviors are connected with ADHD, they can experience a sense of relief. A diagnosis helps explain why they are the way they are and why they feel different from others.
Anger is an intense emotion you feel when something has gone wrong or someone has wronged you. It is typically characterized by feelings of stress, frustration, and irritation. Everyone feels anger from time to time. It’s a perfectly normal response to frustrating or difficult situations.
Anger only becomes a problem when it’s excessively displayed and begins to affect your daily functioning and the way you relate with people. Anger can range in intensity, from a slight annoyance to rage. It can sometimes be excessive or irrational. In these cases, it can be hard to keep the emotion in check and could cause you to behave in ways you wouldn’t otherwise behave.
When we are angry our body goes through certain biological and physiological changes. Examples of biological changes your body might go through include:
- Increased energy levels
- Raised blood pressure
- Spike in hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline
- Increase in body temperature
- Increased muscle tension
Anger doesn’t look the same in everyone and we all express it in different ways. Some outward characteristics you might notice when you are angry include.
- Raised voices
- Clenched fists
- Frowning or scowling
- A clenched jaw
- Physically trembling
- Rapid heartbeats
- Sweating excessively
- Pacing excessively
No matter how healthy a couple’s relationship is, there’s bound to be a few squabbles here and there. And a few occasional disagreements usually aren’t a big deal. Mature conversations, keeping it generally out of the kids’ view, and refusing to name-call all show a child how to deal with disagreements in a healthy manner. But more serious conflict definitely takes a toll on kids.
Physical altercations, insults, and tactics such as “the silent treatment,” are just a few of the toxic interactions parents can have that are likely to create some emotional damage to a child in the long run.
Why Parents Fighting Is a Problem
There’s research to suggest that a child as young as 6 months old can be negatively affected by harsh parental arguments.1 But it’s not just young kids who are affected by parents fighting. Other studies show that young adults up to age 19 can be sensitive to conflicts in their parents’ marriage.
It goes to show that children of all ages, from near-infancy through early adulthood, are impacted by how their parents choose to handle their differences. Researchers believe high-conflict marriages take a toll on a child’s mental health. Here are some of the ways kids are impacted.
- It can cause insecurity. Fighting undermines kids’ sense of security about the stability of the family. Children exposed to a lot of fighting may worry about divorce or wonder when one parent’s silent treatment is going to end. It can make it difficult for them to have a sense of normalcy in the family since fights may be unpredictable.
- It can affect the parent-child relationship. High-conflict situations are stressful for parents too. And a stressed-out parent might not spend a lot of time with kids. In addition, the quality of the relationship may be affected as it may be difficult for parents to show warmth and affection when they’re angry and upset with the other parent.
- It can create a stressful environment. Overhearing frequent or intense fighting is stressful for kids. Stress can take a toll on their physical and psychological well-being and interfere with normal, healthy development.