christian counseling for teens Articles

Ten Child Behavior Problems You Should Not Ignore

Everyone displays problematic behavior at some point, whether it is overreacting to being cut off on the freeway or coping in not-so-healthy ways (e.g., emotional eating). This is especially true for children, since a child’s brain is continuing to grow and does not become fully mature until early adulthood.

Furthermore, although a child may be able to control his or her behavior in some situations, other times, especially when emotionally overwhelmed, the same child may actually be unable to control his or her behavior/reactions. This, although mind boggling and frustrating at times, is completely normal!

On the other hand, there are some child behavior problems that you definitely should not ignore, especially when these problems become habitual or negatively impact a child’s functioning and/or relationships. It is at this point that it is time to seek help. By intervening early, you have a chance at eliminating the behavior before the problem escalates and/or has significant consequences.

Regardless of the child behavior problems you are facing in your home, there is hope! A child’s brain has amazing capacities for growth and change. Furthermore, caregivers and other adults are vital partners in helping a child develop healthy coping skills and the ability to re...

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Are Behavior Problems in Children Normal? Yes and No

So, your child is having behavior problems. They might be displaying a range of behavioral concerns. Are they being disrespectful? Talking back to you, hitting, kicking, lying? Working with caregivers who are navigating children’s behavioral problems is something I have run into a lot.

I have worked for several years at a child and family outpatient clinic and met a lot of exhausted, angry, confused parents. There is nothing worse than having no idea what is going on with your child while feeling completely responsible to help them.

What do you do when your child is inconsolable? Or when they are reacting seemingly out of the blue and becoming aggressive toward you, themselves, or others? What do you do when your child won’t listen? What are we to think when our children are simply non-compliant?

If I had to choose one word as the most important word a parent would associate with behavior problems in children, it would be this: interpretation. Why, you may ask? Because, behavior is 90% about how we interpret it (why we think it’s happening, what control we think our child has over stopping it or not, how we think doing that behavior makes the child feel, ect). We think. We assume. Bringing your child and yourself into therapy is ...

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4 Ways Counseling for Teens Improves Life for the Whole Family

I love working with teenagers. Those years are some of the most fertile for personal growth and development that we experience in our lifetimes. From the age of 13 to 19 we are constantly learning – learning facts/numbers/words, learning about the world, and learning about ourselves. While we never stop learning through life, our job for this period of time is literally to learn!

When I get to work with teenagers, it reminds me of when I was going through that time. It felt kind of like seeing the sunrise. As its rays shone down on the world around me, I could see it there and think and plan about where I might go next.

Along with the joys of newness and knowledge, adolescence carries a burden as well. Adolescence is a time of change. This is a time of looking around and seeing these changes happening in yourself and in your friends as well. For many, the rate of these changes can cause stress and internal self-doubt if a person feels changes coming on too slow/too fast, not enough/too much.

While we learn facts in adolescence, we also learn about the processes going on around us. How one feels about these processes can cause teenagers to live with more anxiety or even depression. Seeing that your family isn’t perfect, or maybe comparing to your best friend...

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How is Depression in Teenagers Different Than in Adults?

Imagine this: you’re feeling lonely. You have connection to a lot of potential friends but you’re not sure if they are ones you can count on or not. You’re constantly second guessing yourself, unsure of who you really are anymore. It’s difficult to get up in the morning, but most nights you can’t fall asleep easily either.

Your body is seemingly rejecting the normal routines you once had with a newfound increased appetite and lack of desire to move. In general, your mood has been low and at points much more unstable. What am I describing here?

Depending where you’re coming from, I might be describing your teenage years, or I might be describing depression. For many adolescents, teenage years present a major challenge and a lot of it can look like depression. Even more so, then, when a teenager does struggle with Depression, it can be an incredibly challenging exacerbator to an already difficult life stage!

Depression in Teenagers

Here are some ways that depression in teenagers is different from depression in adults.

The Social World

One of the hallmarks of depression is a cycle of negative self talk. People struggling with clinical depression often feel like they aren’t good enough, or they struggle with anxiety made worse by ...

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How to Help Troubled Teens Dealing with Depression

For the last 20 years, I have worked in some capacity with adolescents, particularly troubled teens. When I worked in foster care, I witnessed firsthand the impact of parental choices on children, some good and some not so good. When I worked in law enforcement, I saw how a lack of parenting created long-term problems for both the adolescent and parents. When I transitioned into school counseling, I witnessed how a lack of support in a child’s early years often resulted in a lack of support in a child’s high school years.

But the main thing I have learned in working with troubled teens is how not having a sense of belonging creates space for depression. What does a lack of belonging mean? Belonging means connection. Belonging means knowing that you are accepted as you are. It means security.

Can you imagine a life without security, without belonging anywhere? Think about high school for a minute. We have cliques: the athletic students, the drama/band students, the robotics/engineering students and we have the outliers. The outliers are those students who don’t fit in anywhere. This was the group I specialized in at my high school. These were the students who sat in my office in tears because they felt rejected, angry because they felt different, or isolated because th...

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The Faithful Family: Christian Counseling and Raising Godly Children

As I think about some of the families that I have worked with and even my own family, one thing that has always been consistent is the formation of family rules, values, and norms. Christian families will often use the Bible as a guide for creating their values, which also includes ideas around what it looks like to raise their children.

The Bible talks quite a bit about families. Families in the Bible traveled together (the children of Israel), went through hardships (Noah and his family on the Ark), experienced betrayal (Cain and Abel), and were sometimes completely torn apart by tragedy (remember Job?).

I believe God knew that families would be searching for examples and answers to make it through their own family struggles, so He included many real life stories in the Bible. The Bible gives specific instructions to parents on how they should raise their children in some areas, but other areas seem to be a little less clear.

What does the Bible say, if anything, about counseling? Did anyone receive counsel from wise people? The Bible includes many incidents where someone is gaining wisdom or knowledge from a trusted person, often directly from God through a chosen person (I am reminded of Paul's letters to the church).

I think Christians everywhere would agree that...

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Anger Management for Kids: How Christian Counseling Can Help

The reasons and causes for a child to be prone to angry outbursts are too numerous to discuss in one article. Children are born with different innate dispositions, may be dealing with a disability that constantly frustrates them, or may be reacting to a dramatic change to their life. These are some examples of life factors that result in an angry child who is difficult to manage.

Having an approach specific to the particular cause is an important consideration when dealing with anger management for kids. However, we can find some universal parenting principles in the Bible that are necessary ingredients for helping children develop coping skills to function in the world.

In my 20 years in working with families, a common theme I have found with children and teenagers with anger problems is inconsistent parenting. A lot of permissive parents focus on being connected to their child, but shift to be controlling in a crisis. Conversely, authoritarian parents don’t know how to be positively connected to their kids when things are going well and provide little support toward autonomy.

Many parents shift back and forth between the two styles inconsistently, leaving the child without stable boundaries to figure things out. The result is that the child is constantly frustrated t...

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