Apr 11, 2016

Dr. Cindy: Some kinds are easier to raise than others. We will discuss raising a difficult child today on The Scope. I'm Doctor Cindy Gellner

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering "The Healthy Kid Zone with Doctor Cindy Gellner" on The Scope.

Dr. Cindy: As parents, you want to be a parenting genius. And that can be easy if you have a child with a cooperative, happy temperament. But what if your child is moody, stubborn, wild, anxious, or otherwise just challenging? Despite many parents' best efforts, some children are just uncooperative and difficult to raise. They have inherited certain traits that make their lives and their parents' lives just a little bit more tricky.

Kids like this are often called challenging, spirited or difficult. Sometimes they have a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, anxiety, depression, or they are on the Autism spectrum. Often, they don't fit any of these diagnoses, and they are just more temperamental.

This can be hard for parents to deal with. Parents love hearing how well behaved and well liked their child is. And when you have a child who is traumatic or unhappy, instead you'll hear reports of how your child scares other children or has problems listening, or doesn't seem to have any friends. You try your best and sometimes feel like it's your fault that your child isn't behaving nicely.

First, give yourself a break. Parenting is a hard work. I'm a parent and I don't get it right all the time, not even close. In most cases, you as a parent did not make your child have the temperament they have. It is an inherited cluster of traits that make up all of our personalities. Sometimes they just come together in a way that makes the child tough, oversensitive, or negative.

Often, a difficult child is only difficult at home. They manage to pull themselves together at school, but then fall apart as soon as they get at home into their safe zone. Even though this may make you feel better as a parent because you know your child can behave in public, it still causes feelings of helplessness and misery at home, having to deal with disobedience, tantrums and demands.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your child is to admit when you've reached the point of too much, when it's time to call in the reinforcements. Talk to your child pediatrician. Often we have tips about how simple changes can make a world of difference. For some children, they need everything very structured and cannot tolerate unexpected changes in their routine. Put up a poster of daily activities so your child can anticipate what will happen at what time. Know what your child's triggers are and if you see your child on the verge of a meltdown, have a cold word that lets them know you see their behavior and emotions are ramping up and you are there for them to help them gain control.

Some very anxious children do well with a stress ball or something tangible that they can hold on to when they feel nervous. Consulting a child psychologist, parenting experts or therapist early on can be most helpful.

Parents of special kids need special tools in their toolbox. These tools will help you navigate the choppy waters of parenthood. There are people out there who can provide you with those tools. As a parent, you must always remind yourself to take care of yourself in order to stay strong. Remember to go on date nights and be around other adults but not necessarily other parents. Remember, you don't want to hear about how another child is perfect when you are struggling. Be kind to yourself. If you do, you'll have more patience, compassion and energy to raise your child.

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