Although all children can engage in bouts of disobedience or oppositional behavior from time to time, those who make a habit of defying authority on a daily (or hourly) basis may be more than a parent can handle. Learn more about how to tell if your child would benefit from behavioral health services and where you can seek out help.
What types of behaviors can merit behavioral health services?
Because children go through phases quickly, any behavioral problem that lasts six months or more can be a red flag. Other warning signs that could merit behavioral intervention include:
- Hitting, biting, or kicking even after repeatedly being corrected or redirected
- Banging their head on objects or hitting their head with their fists
- Damaging property or stealing
- Major mood swings, nightmares, or anxiety
- Consistently lying or sneaking out
What behavioral services are available?
Behavioral therapists work with your child to encourage new behaviors and try to stop them from engaging in negative or detrimental behaviors and habits. A behavioral therapist will work with you, the parents, to implement a reward or consequence plan to ensure that your child's therapy carries over into their day-to-day life. Over time, patients will learn to adapt their behaviors to help them meet their personal goals.
Just a few of the behavioral health services available for children and teens include:
- Peer interventions. In a peer intervention, a student's classmate(s) or other peers will provide positive reinforcement for positive behaviors. A supportive teacher can help coach classes to reinforce behaviors for multiple children, improving the value of this approach.
- Parent training. Much like peer interventions, parent training brings parents into the fold to provide positive reinforcement. During a typical parent training therapy session, the therapist may ask about a typical situation that occurs at home, instruct you to role-play or re-enact the situation, and then work to find the tools (whether rule-setting, time out, natural consequences, rewards, or positive attention) that can encourage more positive behaviors and discourage troublesome behaviors.
- Modeling. In modeling behavioral therapy, the therapist will primarily be focused on addressing the child's anxiety or anger. The therapist will demonstrate their own desired response to negative stimuli, like an upsetting or disappointing situation. When the child repeatedly watches their therapist engage in functional responses to bad situations, he or she will be more likely to imitate this behavior.
This is not an exhaustive list of behavior therapies, and some of the most effective treatments may combine these approaches. Your child's therapist will work with you and your child to find the approach that works best for your family. If you have more questions about behavioral health, be sure to contact a company near you.