When your child is acting out, it can be hard to know how to handle the situation. Sometimes, these behaviors become patterns that are difficult to change. So what should you do if your child is dealing with a behavioral condition that is affecting their interactions with family and friends?
Investing in counseling support can be a great way to shift the behavior and help the child learn to manage their decisions more effectively. This professional support can be a turning point that has a life-long impact on the child.
Behavioral therapies focus on the environmental factors that are contributing to the child’s reactions. Often, some unknowing reinforcements or rewards contribute to the frequency or intensity of the child’s behavior. The good news is that an experienced therapist can help with identifying the patterns. Then the parents can work with the child using behavioral therapy to change the environment, which affects the child’s behavior.
Foundations of Behavioral Therapy
The term “behavioral therapy” applies to a variety of treatments and strategies used by therapists. These therapies vary quite a bit from one practitioner to the next.
But all of these therapies focus on incremental changes that help to shift a behavioral condition. The common thread is to help children try new responses, with built-in rewards to encourage positive responses. At the same time, you can minimize unwanted behaviors because of the reward and consequence system.
Promoting Desirable Behaviors
If your child participates in unwanted behaviors, then it’s easy to be hyper-focused on the things you want to change. The problem is that giving attention to these unwanted actions often results in rewarding the wrong behavior unintentionally.
Consider this example when a young child throws a tantrum because they don’t get what they want. The child kicks and screams because they can’t have a piece of candy. The parent initially says no, but then gives in to quiet the child down. This reward reinforces the child to follow the same behavior in the future. On a subconscious level, the child knows that they can get the desired outcome by throwing a tantrum.
The best way to handle each situation is to ignore the unwanted behavior and reward the desired behavior whenever possible. A behavioral therapy approach helps parents find links between various behaviors, how the child reacts, and rewards that can shape the right behaviors.
Personalized Therapy for a Behavioral Condition
Our approach with counseling is to personalize the treatment plan based on each patient. Every child is unique, which is why there isn’t a cookie-cutter solution that works for every situation.
Through counseling, we can understand more about the child’s needs. Then, the goal is to identify the underlying issues that will help to reshape the child’s behavior.
In the early years of childhood, it’s common for parents to be involved in the therapy process. For example, the counselor might want to work one-on-one with the child and have times when the parents are also participating.
In a parent-focused approach, the parent talks with the therapist about the behaviors that are occurring at home or school. This approach is helpful when the child is too young to express their own needs. Additionally, it’s useful for the therapist to observe the interactions between the child and parents.
A therapist has a variety of strategies for working with a child who has a behavioral condition. Certain activities such as talking, drawing, and playing can help the child express their thoughts and feelings differently.
Finding Help to Correct Disruptive Behavior
The child’s behavior can impact every area of your life. It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with tantrums at the grocery store or trying to help teenagers improve their performance at school. You need to find the best method for turning this behavior around.
Children are constantly learning behavior through environmental factors. When you change the reward system supporting the child’s behavior, then the child changes as well.
The best approach is to be proactive about correcting the disruptive behavior in the earliest stages. It’s easier to shift these patterns when they first begin. But well-established behaviors can also change when you are working with a good therapist.
Parents are often motivated to address their child’s behavioral condition as quickly as possible. When you see the destructive behavior, the desire is to get the child back on track before the behavior influences other things later in life.
Set Your Child Up for Success
Giving your child good tools to manage emotions and mental health is a great way to set them up for success later in life. The lessons each child is learning right now will have a domino effect on their behavior through the teenage years and into adulthood.
The truth is that it’s never too early to have your child talk to a counselor. If you are concerned about the behaviors you are seeing, then it’s a sign that your child might benefit from therapy.
Finding the Right Therapy
The most effective therapies are custom-designed to fit the needs of the family and child. When working with an experienced child therapist, the treatment process is constantly changing based on the way the child is responding. A trained therapist can see the nuances in the child’s behavior and make adjustments to optimize the outcome of these sessions.
Rest assured, knowing that there is hope if your child has a behavioral condition. Various types of behavioral therapies can help shift the child’s behavior and responses.
Schedule a Consultation for Your Child
Therapy is a widely accepted practice for people of all ages. If you would like to find solutions to help your child, schedule a consultation with a member of our team. We have experienced therapists and a personalized approach to treatment.
Contact us any time to learn more about available mental health support. Do not hesitate to call our team at Lifeworks Counseling Center for information about these services.