The Out Of Control Child

Health Writer

Parents often ask how to deal with and help the child that seems to be out of control. How do you control or manage the child that intimidates, hits, punches and seems to enjoy torturing their siblings? What do you do with the child that argues, is defiant, and refuses to participate or follow directions can be difficult to live with and can create disharmony within the household?

Some parents are at a loss as to what to do and where to go for help. They watch as their family life falls apart around them. They feel helpless as the defiant child controls the household. Parents argue with each other about what to do. Some parents may be afraid to go for help. They might feel that poor parenting skills have caused the problems or that they have failed as parents. Often one parent will blame the other for being too easy and letting the child get away with poor behavior and the other parent will feel as if the other is too harsh

It is possible for parents to take control of the situation and help their child and their family. But it is hard work and many times a long road.

Believe In Yourself. Parents know their children better than anyone. They see their potential, they see their strengths and they see their weaknesses. A teacher sees your child every day, but only in a certain location. They do not share the same history as a parent and a child. You may become frustrated watching your child misbehave, but you have also seen your child sit quietly next to you on the couch and read a book. You see both the good and the bad in your child, and sometimes it can be confusing. Believe in your assessment of the situation. If you see something wrong, and you feel as if there is some unknown cause behind the bad behavior, seek help. Believe in yourself as a parent.

Find A Support Group. Most children can be a handful from time to time, however, raising a challenging child can make parents feel isolated and alone. They may avoid social situations, not sure how their child will react. When friends get together and talk about their children, and their successes, parents raising a challenging child may feel out of place and alone. Not wanting to always have to report the terrible thing your child did yesterday, you might stop contacting family. There are other parents going through the same situation. Support groups around the country and on the internet can provide an outlet for parents to share experiences and talk with one another. They can create a group to help one another through the rough days and feel accepted. They can create a ring of parents that can listen, understand and accept you and your child can do wonders in helping you to cope better at home.

Rule Out Physical Causes. Talk with your physician about exactly what is going on and have a complete physical for your child. Rule out any physical causes.

Get A Complete and Accurate Diagnosis. ADHD often comes along with co-existing conditions. To receive the best possible treatment, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis. Some of the common conditions would be: Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Learning Disabilities, Conduct Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. If your family physician diagnosed ADHD, ask for a referral to a mental health professional in your area that specializes in working with children. You will want to have a complete evaluation done to determine an accurate diagnosis. Once this is completed, you can work with the doctors, or team of professionals, to create a specific treatment plan for your child. This may include counseling or therapy, medication, educational interventions and monitoring by a psychiatrist. Don't stop until you are satisfied with the diagnosis.

Research the Diagnosis. After you are satisfied that you have received an accurate diagnosis, spend time researching and finding out as much as you can about the disorder.

Use the support group you found to talk with other parents. Talk to the psychologist/psychiatrist about treatment options. Don't accept the advice of one practitioner or one other parent. Read everything you can find and determine what treatment would work best for your child and your family. Each child is unique in their display of symptoms and intensity of symptoms. Use this knowledge to work with the doctor to develop a treatment plan that is specific to your child's needs.

Seek A Tutor/Special Education/IEP or Section504. Children with behavioral problems often struggle in school. Some may have specific learning disabilities. Even without a learning disability, school may be difficult because of other symptoms such as distractibility. Request an educational evaluation to determine accommodations or modifications your child may be eligible for. Work closely with teachers and other school personnel to help your child succeed in school.

Disengage Yourself From Power Struggles At Home. This is probably the most difficult to accomplish. With children that are defiant, it is common for the child and parent to become involved in power struggles. Finding ways to eliminate this can help both of you to cope better with your family and home situation.