“My kid is running me to the ground”… “I can’t go two days without the school calling me about her behavior!”… “I am at my wits end…” “I’ve tried everything—punishments, rewards, time-outs, ignoring, everything! Nothing works. He’s out of control!”
These are statements I often hear from parents who call seeking therapy for their child. I listen as parents vent their frustrations. It’s rough having a kid that feels out of control! I totally agree. It is like trying to harness a tornado that leaves nothing but destruction in its wake. It’s so frustrating when parents are doing the best they can, and things still aren’t going well. Between work, family, partner, and trying to maintain a balance with it all, parental life is stressful! The average parent has a tremendous amount of ‘stuff’ on their plates.
Now add a defiant, angry kid who won’t listen and pops off at everything. What’s a parent to do? It is even harder trying to figure out how to make the behavior stop, let alone deal with it. Parents naturally get frustrated, their tolerance hits an all-time low, and most just want to fix things so they can go back to their lives and be happy with their child again.
So they call me. I agree to see their child, if they agree to see me too. At first the parent hesitate, using excuses like, “Well I dunno—I’m pretty busy” or “Is that necessary? I just want my kid to improve. They are the ones that need to change”.
I then share my family therapy mantra. And it goes something like this… “If you’re asking your kid to work hard in therapy, than the expectation is that you will too. Change happens with family support. We’re on the same team here—we both want your son to win the big ballgame of life. And he’s having some problems at bat right now. So as his parents and teammate, can I count on you to step-up to the plate with me as we help your son get through this?”
Most parents, no matter how angry they are at their child, want to help. And that step is the biggest step for many parents. Some parents experience shame or guilt for having an out of control kid. That’s normal. But, hey guess what? No one is perfect. All of us human beings are bound to make mistakes, and this includes parents. Parenting is one of these things that you learn as you go, and you keep learning. The good news--if you are a parent willing to try for your kid, that’s all it takes!
It is the parents that step up to the plate for their child that make the difference. I believe that once the child can begin healing, then so can the family—or vice versa. A family heals, then the child heals. I give the parents who step into my office permission to clear their plate of all the ‘stuff’ that bogs them down and to start paying attention to their child in need. I hand them the brush, the parent wipes off home plate, and allows their kid to step up to bat. In the end, it’s teamwork that wins the game Life doesn’t need to be that hard for parents or for kids. An angry kid doesn’t need an angry parent— they need a loving, supportive one.
Now, let’s join your kid out on the field, and be her teammate and coach! Because she needs you to step-up and cheer her on as she steps up to bat. A little encouragement and a lot of love go a long way for a troubled, angry kid.
Not sure how to get started? Call me today, and let’s talk!
By Arielle Grossman