Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for ChildrenJoe Czarniecki2020-06-15T15:52:40+00:00
Are You Searching For A Way To Help Your Child Cope And Thrive?
Are you raising a sensitive child who is often overwhelmed by intense emotions? Do their anger, sadness, fear and boredom frequently translate into outbursts, withdrawal, anxiety attacks, impulsive behavior and conflict?
If your child is struggling to cope with their emotions, they might have difficulty focusing or following the rules in school. It might be extremely hard for them to get along with others, including their classmates and teachers. You might wonder if your child’s behavior will ever change.
Your child might also lash out at you, especially when you try to assert healthy rules and boundaries. Whether you’re asking them to do their homework or brush their teeth, they might respond with tantrums and meltdowns. Every day might feel like a battle.
Maybe you’ve sought help in the past, and your child has been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), an anxiety disorder or something else. Perhaps you’ve tried every treatment and parenting technique you can think of, but nothing has truly helped. Your child might still seem lonely, vulnerable and lost.
Do you wish you could help your child discover the strength in their sensitivity, while also offering them the tools to navigate their world? Do you want to learn new parenting strategies to help your child manage difficult emotions, connect with others and move forward with happiness, confidence and peace?
Parenting An Emotionally Sensitive Child Can Be Challenging
Raising a child is rarely easy—if ever. That’s true whether you’re the parent of one or a dozen. Children all have unique personalities and needs, and none of them come with an instruction manual. So, like all parents, you’re doing the best you can with the tools you have.
Emotionally sensitive children generally require a more specialized toolkit. They’re wired to feel things more intensely than others. Even something that seems minor—for example, an itchy clothing tag, a detour on the drive home or a game at recess—can feel enormous to a “Super Sensor.”
Overwhelmed by their enormous feelings, your child might react in ways that seem confusing and alarming. And, that reactivity likely has negative consequences, whether that means punishment at home, criticism from teachers or judgment from their peers. As a result, your child might feel invalidated and rejected. However, they also learn that acting out gets attention. In an attempt to have their feelings and needs heard, they might continue acting out, feeding a destabilizing cycle that can continue into adulthood.
The truth is, your child is likely dissatisfied with their own behavior. They don’t want to lash out—they want to make friends and have fun. And, just like you, they’re doing the best they can with the tools they have.
Thankfully, there is an effective way to offer your emotionally sensitive child specialized tools. By working with a child therapist who specializes in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), you can help your son or daughter find calm now, and lay the foundation for a healthy, successful future.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy For Children Offers Specialized Insights And Tools
DBT for children is a highly effective approach that focuses on helping your child understand their unique place in the world. In a safe, welcoming environment, your child is free to be completely themselves. Being sensitive doesn’t mean something is wrong. It’s simply a different way to navigate the world.
Here, your child will enter an environment designed to validate their needs. Through sessions based on acceptance and positive reinforcement—not punishment—they will come to see how they can change their behaviors to make life a little easier.
Unlike other models of DBT for different age groups, this is a form of child and family counseling. As a parent, your active participation is crucial to your child’s long-term growth. That is why we begin work together without your child present.
First, you will have a chance to explain your parenting concerns. Then, for a few weeks, we will focus on developing new parenting techniques that can help foster the accepting environment your child needs to enact their own positive change. With empathetic guidance, you can learn how to sustain this environment, both in sessions and at home. For example, your therapist can help you learn how to ignore disruptive behavior, so that your child learns that acting out does not result in earning attention.
After the parent-therapist sessions, your child will attend a few sessions on their own. This is important for establishing a trusting therapeutic relationship, and for giving your child an opportunity to commit to the work ahead.
Then, the family will meet together. During this portion of the work, we will hone in on learning and practicing adaptive coping skills, as well as rewarding behaviors that demonstrate those skills.
The entire process of DBT aims to help your child find a new sense of balance and ease. It’s a highly effective treatment for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, ADHD and childhood anxiety and depression.
With the right help, your child can gain tools needed to overcome reactive behavior and make choices that support their needs. They can learn how to work with their sensitivity to get a head start on a lighter, more fulfilling future.
You may have questions or concerns about DBT…
Therapy hasn’t helped in the past. How is dialectical behavior therapy for children different?
Many child therapy approaches are based on identifying how your child has to change. DBT is unique in that it emphasizes changing behaviors, not the child’s emotions or personality.
When your child starts to make changes in sessions, it will be because they feel empowered and safe to be who they are. Their attempts at exploration and expression will be validated, not punished. As a result, they will feel free to try out new behaviors, experimenting until they communicate their needs in ways that get them met. Their behavioral changes will be reflections of real, sustainable shifts.
Through this process, we offer your child something undeniably valuable: the development of a stable, empowered sense of self. That’s a gift that lasts a lifetime.
We don’t have time for two sessions a week.
In the short-term, making time can feel impossible. However, we encourage you to consider how efficiently you are able to use your time now, especially when interacting with your child. How often is your workday disrupted by phone calls from teachers or coaches? How many hours have been lost to tantrums at the store?
DBT for kids can not only save you time, it can allow you to really treasure the moments you spend with your child. And, in the long-term, it can help your child grow up into a balanced, resilient adult.
How can I convince my child to come to therapy?
Especially if your child has been to therapy before, they might be hesitant to try again. Because you get to meet with your child therapist first, you can offer your child first-hand reassurance about your positive experience.
Our therapists are committed to making you and your child feel comfortable and welcome. We are genuine and fun, and we want your child to enjoy their experience, even when we process difficult topics.
In our experience, children want to come to our office. We are here to show them that we accept them, and that being sensitive is not a bad thing. At the same time, they can get better.
Your Child Can Find Acceptance And Growth
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for children is a unique and effective approach for those aged 7–12. If you are ready to help your child move toward a better life, we are here to help.
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