DBT for Children – 5 Quick Tips about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Training

By Jeanette Lorandini

DBT therapy for children and adolescents is designed to help the child as well as the adults in a child’s life, persons in an authoritative position, like parents and teachers. For some children, these adults often feel as if they are walking on eggshells around a child to avoid or side-step exploding behaviors.

What Issues Does DBT Help

DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) Treatment for Teens in Manhattan, NYC and Long Island, New York

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, referred to as DBT, is an intensive, structured therapy that was once concentrated on helping those with borderline personality disorder.  Today, DBT skills for adults & children is used for treatment of other issues including:

  • ADHD
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Mood Disruptive Dysregulation Disorder
  • Drug Abuse
  • Eating Disorders
  • Self-Harm
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Trauma including PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder

DBT therapy for children has proven to be an excellent way to teach children how to handle their emotions by learning how to deal with two somewhat contradictory things at simultaneously:

  • Acceptance of feelings: I am doing the best I can
  • Change of Feelings: I need to do better and do I want to keep this emotion around?
  • Acceptance of urges: Noticing that urges come and go
  • Change of Urges: I can either act on these urges or I can allow them to pass

Different DBT Training with The Same Outcomes

DBT for Children is much the same as it for adults because it focuses on helping them learn how to handle their strong emotions in a safe and rational way. For children that have been in other types of therapy unsuccessfully, dialectical behavior therapy for children has been tremendously successful.

DBT Skills training provides children tools to help them manage their problems better. It helps them learn to stick to healthy habits like eating well, getting sufficient sleep, maintaining their medication regime, while keeping away from other harmful drugs.

Today, borderline personality disorder symptoms have been studied in countless ways by a countless number of clinicians and experts. Where it once believed these symptoms couldn’t be diagnosed until the age of 18, they have found the roller-coaster type of behavior can be diagnosed in some younger children as well. In fact, a child doesn’t wake up on their 18th birthday meeting criteria for borderline personality disorder as the day before the symptoms were clearly there. Often, they have been there for years and well-meaning clinicians treating symptoms with treatment that is not helpful.  DBT Skills training have proven effective in helping children that are emotionally unstable and show multiple, severe behavioral symptoms, with an emphasis on “multiple. “

What Are the Five Crucial DBT Skills?

There are five DBT Skills training steps that have been used with great success. Those 5 are:

DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) Treatment for Teens in Manhattan, NYC and Long Island, New York
  • Mindfulness: The skill of being in the present moment while realized the signs of unconstrained emotions.
  • Emotion Regulation: The skill of coping with a difficult situation by creating pleasant and self-soothing experience to protect themselves from emotional extremes. Of all the DBT skills training for teenagers, this one is an exceptionally important one. A focus on their physical body is emphasized like eating properly, getting adequate sleep, staying on schedule with medications, and avoiding other drugs.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: Impulsive behavior is often the result of negative triggers when interacting with others. The purpose of teaching this DBT skill for children is to learn how to more effectively interact with others. It enables the child to feel they are supported by others.
  • Distress Tolerance: This is the DBT skills that teaches a child to recognize those urges to do things that are ineffective, like self-harm or suicide, how to consciously control those urges.
  • Walking in the Middle: Of all the DBT skills for adults, this one incorporates working with the child and the parent. They learn three important skills:
    • How to validate each other
    • How to compromise and negotiate
    • How to see things from the other person’s side

This part of DBT for children acknowledges multiple truths in both the child’s and the parent’s view instead of the attitude of” I am right, and you are wrong.”

In Conclusion

Severe emotional dysregulation and the corresponding uncontrolled behavior that is often associated with pre-adolescent children can be handled, giving the child and those around them tools with dialectical behavior therapy for children. It is a fact that some children experience emotions differently and stronger than most children. The smallest things can cause them irritations, creating overwhelming emotions they lash out physically and verbally.

In the past, these outbursts were considered “manipulative “moves by the child. With in-depth studies though, experts have found that out-of-control behavior like this is the only way some children know how to handle those intense emotions.

With DBT skills for Adults & children that also incorporate DBT for adults with theoretical model, principles, and therapeutic strategies, children can learn how to handle these feelings in an acceptable manner. Thereby preventing future destructive choices and forgoing a life with chaos and destruction.


Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges. Suffolk DBT Manhattan and Long Island offer a free screening call so you can get started right away.

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