Why Teenagers Need Counseling More than Ever

These days, teenagers are typically seen as upbeat individuals who are confident and very technologically savvy. Unfortunately, that perception doesn’t hold up to the reality of what this generation is really experiencing.

Going through the data, few contest that teenagers/millennials are the most depressed and stressed generation out there today. USA Today recently featured research done by Harris Interactive that presents this startling news. According to their research, 19% of millennials acknowledged that they have been diagnosed with some kind of depression or anxiety disorder.

The findings also tell us that almost 40% of millenials have indicated that their stress is actually rising. Even though teenagers and millenials are constantly contacted, they are stressed.

You may have guessed that this is common for any generation that has been fresh out of school. Finding work and building a foundation is indeed stressful, especially as more millennials are having kids earlier in their lives. While there is truth to that assumption, more data sheds light on what’s causing these anxiety disorders: unemployment.

According to a recent Gallup poll, finding work for millennials is sharply declining. Even with college degrees, more young Americans are finding it harder than ever to hold a full-time job, which is definitely stressful for anyone trying to pay back student loans and other debt.

These factors alone make it clear why so many millennials are struggling to maintain a positive outlook on their lives, which means we need to do more to offer professional help to this age group. Colleges are on the front lines of this, of course, as campus counselors are as ubiquitous as ever. When it comes to older millennials experiencing some of their first real challenges, however, more awareness to affordable counseling services needs to be generated.

One of the best ways to generate any kind of awareness is to start the uncomfortable conversation. Now that we’ve done that, the next step is to keep talking about it and encourage all millennials to seek out tangible solutions to what they’re facing.

If you are a teenager or young millenial, Success Source Counseling is here for you when you are ready – go ahead and give us a call today.

Bergen Area Counselor – Success Source Counseling and Life Coaching LLC

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Sources: 

Jacobe, Dennis (July 26, 2013). In U.S., Fewer Young Adults Holding Full-Time Jobs in 2013. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/163727/fewer-young-adults-holding-full-time-jobs-2013.aspx

Jayson, Sharon (Feb. 7, 2013). Who’s feeling stressed? Young adults, new survey shows. Retrieved from  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/06/stress-psychology-millennials-depression/1878295/

How untreated Childhood Obsessive Compulsive Behavior can negatively impact a family’s interaction in their community.

 Obsessive and compulsive behavior does not just affect a child; it affects the family as a whole. Many parents struggle with supporting their child that has OCD because the family typically has internal conflicts among family members and social isolation. All family members struggle, parents who cannot participate in family social events, siblings who are argue over disruptive behaviors, and the child with OCD suffers due to the difficulties of making and maintaining friendships.

Let’s discuss basic needs for all family members before we go into detail about how to treat the OCD symptoms. First, parents always need to ensure they are meeting their own needs. Parents typically sacrifice for their child and many times will neglect their basic needs, social life, and leave their profession to assist their children. This is a noble effort but, parent neglect may increase the intensity of these symptoms because neglect leads to parent fatigue.

So what is Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in basic terms? Well, major results of OCD include Obsessive, Repetitive, and Ritual behaviors. The behaviors are typically maintained by fear and anxiety. Many children struggle with fears of being mortally injured or becoming fatally ill. An example many parents see are when their children refuse to eat in certain places due to the food being “Dirty,” and chronic hand washing for children terrified of germs. These symptoms are not isolated to just children but, these behaviors severely impact a child’s normal social functioning. The belief that the repetition of the behaviors will keep them safe, firmly plants the socially crippling behavior in their life.

Many times children struggling with Obsessive and Compulsive behaviors are unable to explain their behavior and feel ashamed by their feelings. Due to the shame they attempt to keep their struggle as much of a secret as they can, even from their parents. An example I have encountered of these behaviors as a Family Counselor was when I worked with a 12 year old girl who refused to eat at other people’s homes outside of the family’s home. She reported that she could not explain why she couldn’t eat at other people’s homes but she was embarrassed to visit during parties and events because she was accused of being rude because she would not eat. Her parents were also embarrassed and upset because their daughter would not eat food that was offered and received ridicule regarding their parenting skills.

In addition, school behaviors are effected as well. In some cases, some children refuse to attend school due to their symptoms.  At one point I worked with a 9 year old boy who refused to return to school because of his anxiety related to the uncertainly of school, the uncleanliness of the environment, as well as the fear of being ridiculed. When he attended school he had been bullied by the other children as well as the school personnel. When he was being re-entered into the school he was terrified he would experience ridicule again and if he started to have symptoms, he not only feared that he would have symptoms but also feared that he would be teased by his peers and caregivers.

Obsessive Compulsive behavior can be difficult to treat, and extremely hard to guide as a parent, but there is hope. Many children respond very well to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family Therapy, as well as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition, many children find relief working with a pediatric psychiatrist or neurologist for medication management.

Obsessive and Compulsive behavior does not only negatively affect the child but the entire family suffers. Parents re-arrange their life to accommodate their child’s disability and at times feel isolated and many times blame themselves; some parents attribute their child’s behavior to poor parenting skills. Siblings struggle also, many times they feel embarrassed by their sibling’s obsessions and compulsions. In addition, sibling conflict frequently occurs and this conflict places additional stress on the children involved and negative stressors on the parent managing the situation.

Overall, Obsessive and Compulsive behavior, otherwise known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can severely impede a family’s functioning and over all happiness. At the Success Source Troy has a significant amount of experience helping children with Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and uses a unique blend of individual Counseling and Coaching, Family Counselor and Parent Coaching, as well as working (In Vivo) with children and families in real world environments were the obsessions and compulsions are happening. Troy accompanies his clients and families to the root of their difficulty and assists them with developing the skills to thrive.

 

 

Parenting Strategies for Oppositional and Defiant Children

Being the parent of a child with Oppositional and Defiant behavior is very difficult, but developing a successful parenting strategy is not impossible (Keep in mind that your child does not have to be diagnosed with Oppositional and Defiant Disorder (ODD), in order to exhibit Oppositional and Defiant Behavior.) These basic steps are an outline of parenting strategies which can be combined with other strategies:

First, keep in mind the only behavior you have control over is your own. Therefore if you have no control over your own behavior, you will not be able to affectively guide your child’s behavior. Contributors to loss of behavior control with parents/caregivers is related to burnout, lack of self-care, lack of affective parenting strategies, as well as lack of a parent’s support system. Once you have satisfied all of these factors we can move onto affective parenting strategies.

Now that we covered the importance for parents to take care of themselves as well as their children. These tips may be somewhat helpful.

  1. Pick and choose your battles; be aware that when you need your child to follow a direction it should be something significant and relevant to their well-being. The reason for this is because if you are to enter a possible conflict, the topic would best be something worth arguing about.

    A common situation I encounter providing family therapy is helping parents prioritizing the wants and needs for their child’s behavioral expectations. We first start with safety; the biggest conflict a parent should not back down from is safety, followed by decisions which can have lasting impacts on the child’s future – specifically on decisions which may be irreversible. For many families prioritizing these wants and needs may be impacted by culture and family beliefs, but it is important for parents to know where they stand prior to solidifying their parenting strategy.

  1. Focus on positive behavior; every child regardless of how difficult their behavior can be to manage has their moments of positive behavior. A great way to guide oppositional behavior is to avoid it. A way that many parents prevent Oppositional and Defiant behavior is to actually focus on positive behavior which is helpful with increasing compliant behavior. In family therapy, I have the parents I work with track the amount of times they negatively and positively interact with their child and more often than not; the negatively is much stronger. When the parents discover the moments they can focus more positively their children’s compliance increases. This strategy may be difficult to implement effectively and many parents benefit from Parent Coaching.

  1. Be consistent, be consistent, be consistent; do not make promises you cannot keep, “stick to your guns” when setting ground rules, and keep from expressing extensive emotional stress while parenting.

Many parents I work with in family therapy speak about how they make a promise intending on keeping it, but stuff happens where it is impossible for them to keep the promise. Unfortunately things happen, and many parents find that if a promise was to be made – they best benefit from putting it in writing with multiple contingencies. This may sound excessive, but let’s look at it like this.

A mother says to her son that if he does all of his homework over the week, she will take him and his friend to the movie. Well, what happens if the mother gets a migraine headache on Friday night? What is she to do then? She cannot make it through a movie. At this point, her son may become agitated, and possibly verbally abusive, oppositional and defiant for all of mother’s requests over the weekend. The mother apologizes as she is in agony and her son calls her a liar.

 An agreement – which would have an increased likelihood of success – looks like this. Mother explains to her son, if he completes his homework over the course of the week, she would be willing to make a behavior contract with him. The contract should have every reasonable contingency such as: Time and day of the reward, and two to three alternative times he would get the award if mother was unable to deliver on the initial target day. Also, the mother should make it clear in writing what the expectations for her son’s homework completing behavior looks like. This strategy drastically increases the likelihood of consistency for the parent and reduces the likelihood of a conflict for the child.

In addition, have strong boundaries and stick to your guns when you say no. In the same respect, keep in mind what you may say no to because, if you go back on your word, children may interpret it as inconsistency. For example, if a child asks her father if she can have a few friends over for a sleep over and he says “no.” After, his daughter begs and repeatedly asks for her father to change his mind; he decided to say “I guess you can have a few friends over tonight.”

Now, in reality there is nothing wrong with allowing your daughter a sleepover, but keep in mind if she believes the begging was the reason for the sleepover it will increase the likelihood she will repeat the begging and asking behavior. The begging behavior when ignored will result in oppositional and defiant responses when the daughter does not get her request. A way to avoid the issue from the beginning is for the father to be clear about him being unsure about his decision.

A common conversation I have had in family therapy with parents developing their parenting strategy is: Be clear with your child about how you may not have made a decision yet, and give them a timeframe when you will discuss the issue. For example, a father saying “Sweetie, I’m not sure yet but later after diner we’ll talk about it.” The reason why this is important is because you can reduce the likelihood of entering an unnecessary conflict and prevent unnecessary oppositional and defiant behaviors. Keep in mind your child will not be happy about the new boundary and having to wait for an answer but they will learn to adapt with time.

Lastly, watch your emotional responses because you may find yourself in the middle of your own tantrum. Many parents struggle with maintaining their calm when interacting with their child during a conflict. Remember, it takes two to have a argument/fight and only one to have a tantrum.

That being said, if your child is having a tantrum you want to leave it as a tantrum. If you have a tantrum yourself it becomes a conflict/argument/fight. You only have control over your behavior and not your child’s. Keep your cool, if you address your child with a straight face even if you feel angry you are more likely to direct their oppositional and defiant behaviors more effectively. Using a calm demeanor will allow the parent to handle a child’s limit testing without entering a conflict.

In reality most parents already know these tips work but struggle with consistently using them. The reason many parents struggle with successfully using them is because they may not be meeting their needs and feel burned out.

There is hope out there. Troy runs “No Cost Groups“ to assist parents with avoiding parent burnout. Contact the Success Source today and we can help you organize your plan and reach your goals!

Parent Burnout Prevention Group

Research shows that special needs children respond better to their various therapies when their parents participate in Burnout Prevention activities. Preventing your own burnout keeps you your parenting skills sharp!

This is a 3 group series meeting on (7/22/13, 7/29/13, 8/5/13) from 7:30pm-8:45pm.

Topics:
– Causes of Parent Burnout
– Stress Management
– Therapy Resources for Special Education
– Brief Advocacy Strategies
– Reconciling the past, organizing the present, and planning for the future
– Burnout Prevention strategies
– Parenting Strategies
– Review of Current Parent Burnout Research

The group is overall a great time, and great way to expand your support network. Coffee and Cookies will be served.

Space is limited to only 12 and groups fill up fast.
If you are interested in attending contact:

Troy Leonard MA EdS LPC
Cell: 201 805 3480
Email: TroyRLeonard@gmail.com
808 High Mountain Rd Franklin Lakes NJ Suite 201-A
The Success Source Counseling and Life Coaching LLC
BergenCounseling.org

Oppositional and Defiant Behavior

Family stress of children with Oppositional and Defiant behavior. The importance of getting help sooner than later.

Oppositional and defiant behaviors with children can take many forms. Some children meet the diagnostic criteria of Oppositional and Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder; oppositional and defiant behavior is common across multiple different diagnosis. In reality Oppositional and defiant behavior happens with most children, and it makes no difference if they have a diagnosis or not. Keeping in mind, a major feature of oppositional and defiant behavior; Sadness. Many parents may not understand the function of the behavior and desperately try various different parenting techniques, and find that many simply do not work.

Some children are extremely difficulty to redirect and at times become aggressive when they are sad/angry. Difficulties with redirection typically happen at the most inconvenient times like when grocery shopping, during homework time, and or when at church. An example would be:

A mother gets home from work and she asks her 11-year-old son to open his books at the kitchen table so that he can do his homework at the kitchen table. The mother turns her back for a few moments to start dinner, and Mother turn back around he is not at the table. She walks through the house and finds him playing his XBOX, and she reminds him “I asked you to open your books at the kitchen table. Turn off the XBOX and open your books at the table.” “Mom I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he says with frustration in his voice. His mother heads back upstairs and continue preparing dinner, and she can’t help but notice that time is continuing to go by. Now she starting to breathe heavy, walk swiftly back to his room and says, “I thought I told you to turn off the XBOX and go start your homework!” He looks at his mother and screams, “I don’t care about homework, and I’m not doing it!” His mother responds with s firm tone, “Yes you will or you will be punished. I will take your XBOX.” To which the boy cries, “No, I will do anything! No, don’t take it!” He then goes upstairs and sits at the table, and opens his books. The boy’s mother continues preparing dinner, and sees him open his books and quickly complete his worksheets and then leave the table. “Are you sure you did everything,” his mother says in disbelief that he completed the work so quickly. “Yes mom, everything,” as he heads back to the XBOX. She reviews the works sheets and then she notices that he quickly scribbled answers. “These worksheets are not completed correctly, get back here,” she says in an authoritative voice. “I did it already, I’m not doing it again and you can’t make me,” he screams from his room. She walks quickly to his room “You get off that XBOX now! I’m taking it, you’re punished and you need to do these worksheets all over again!” “I don’t care, I’m not doing it and you can’t make me, “he yells at his mother. The mother shocked at his reply says, “I can take the XBOX!” The boy responds, “I don’t care, take it. I hate you.” “Well you will have to hate me without your XBOX, and you will not get it for a month,” mother says. Then she returns to the kitchen and attempts to finish dinner. At this point she almost tears up and feels like she has eaten glass because her oldest son, her first-born, told her that he hated her.

This is a common scene in many homes. In reality the child does not need to be diagnosed with oppositional and defiant behavior in order to be oppositional and defiant. For the family as a whole, opposition and defiance can stress out everyone. The mother who has been screamed at by the oppositional child, the sibling who is embarrassed and upset by the family turmoil, and the father who is upset because his son is disrespectful to his wife and him.

There is hope; Troy has worked with hundreds of families in counseling offices as well as in their homes. Troy uses a unique approach of natural observations, Family/Individual Therapy, as well as Parent Coaching to assist families with improving their quality of life.