Are You At Your Wits End Parenting Your Young Child?
Is your child exhibiting behavioral or emotional problems, like throwing massive tantrums? Does your child suffer from separation anxiety? Are you concerned your child does not interact with other children the way you think they should? Does your child hit or bite others? Are these issues impeding everyone in your household’s ability to function? Have transitional times – like entering daycare – increased stress and anxiety? Are you feeling overwhelmed with your child’s up and down mood changes all the time? Is it difficult for you to communicate or connect with your child? Do you feel mentally and physically exhausted, overwhelmed or very alone? Are you aching for a break or to find any sort of relief? Do you think that if you could just figure out what it is your child wants and needs that everyone would feel much better?
Figuring out how to parent a young child can be a frustrating and challenging experience – especially if this is your first child or if you’re parenting on your own. And, these challenges can feel heavier if your child is emotionally needy, prone to tantrums or acting out or resistant to new experiences and/or daily routines. It’s normal to feel anxious, stressed and question yourself as a parent.
What You’re Experiencing Is Very Normal
Almost all families with young children experience periods of time when everything feels really hard. It’s totally normal to question if you’re being a good parent or making a mess, and if your child’s behavior is normal for his or her developmental stage. Many parents of young children feel highly stressed, are sleep deprived and are struggling to create some semblance of balance within their homes. And, if your child’s issues are even a little outside the range of normal, you don’t have adequate support or are a first-time parent, problems can quickly become compounded. It’s not unusual to feel guilty, weighed down or hopeless.
Early Childhood Therapy Can Help
Therapy can be very effective for families with young children. Right away, you can begin to develop an understanding about what’s happening with your child and within your family dynamics. Today is just a snapshot of the bigger life picture, so getting help now can improve things moving forward.
Your experienced and highly qualified BPS therapist is an expert in counseling for early childhood issues. They will take a look at what’s going on with your child and within your family. Your BPS therapist will try to access if any big issues are possibly at play – such as autism, learning disabilities or hearing or vision problems – that could be affecting your child’s behavior, with recommendations for proper follow-up. After big issues are ruled out, your therapist will work with you to figure out the root causes of your child’s emotional or behavioral upsets. It’s kind of like peeling back an onion. Sometimes there are multiple layers that need to be pulled back and identified so they can be addressed.
Your therapist can also help you learn how to interact with your child in ways that support long-term, healthy social and emotional development. You can create strategies for strengthening the attachment between you and your child. You’ll learn ways to communicate feelings and demonstrate love and respect, while creating a supportive and nurturing environment for them to grow up within. Developing these approaches now will set the stage for later interactions. It can also help children develop increased resiliency and the social and emotional wellbeing that they’ll carry with them throughout life.
There is a lot of trial and error work in parenting. There can also be aspects of grief and loss when expectations are not met. It’s all part of the journey. But, with the right approach, skills and strategies that your therapist can help you develop, the journey can be a truly joyous one.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I really need some help, but I’m so busy and stressed for time right now. I’m not sure that I have the time to get it.
Having a young child certainly adds another layer of busy to our already too busy lives. BPS therapists understand and appreciate this, and try to be as flexible as possible with families. You can talk with your BPS therapist about creating a schedule that works for you and your family. Finding just one hour a week to commit to therapy can lead to dramatic improvements. It can get the ball rolling so you can effectively manage issues independently as they arise in the long-term.
I’m not sure that therapy is really necessary. I should be able to figure out how to be a parent on my own.
You may eventually be able to figure out what’s going on for your child on your own. However, it always helps to get another perspective and some extra support as you grapple with new challenges. You can learn new strategies, tools and skills that can make a big difference right away and in the future. Your BPS therapist can also help to determine if your child’s behaviors are within the range of normal. If not, identifying and addressing issues early can prevent a whole host of other problems from occurring as your child enters into new stages of development.
My child is so young. Is therapy really helpful/necessary at this age?
At this age, therapy is often more about providing family support and helping parents to understand what’s going on with their child than it is about individual child therapy. If you have concerns about your child, your BPS therapist can help you develop the skills to work through issues, learn new ways to connect with your child and help you build a stronger relationship. Getting help with issues now can prepare you on what to expect and to be better equipped to handle new challenges as they arise.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your child’s specific issues are and ensure a good match between you, your child and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and your child with a therapist who has expertise working with early childhood issues.