christian counseling for teens Articles

What is the Definition of Child Abuse? A Christian Counselor Explains

Most of us do not get out of childhood without a few scars. Abuse can come in many forms, at any age, and from multiple sources including family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. In the past 40 years, social norms and government rules regarding child abuse and neglect have become much less tolerant.

As compassionate, responsible people, we now have resources to turn to when confronted with the disturbing specter of abuse. So, when we believe we are witness to abuse or signs of it, it is important to understand how it is defined, what to look for, and what to do if you suspect it is going on.

What is the Definition of Child Abuse and Neglect?

As we begin to wrap our heads and hearts around a difficult subject, perhaps it makes sense to begin with the external, societal implications.

According to the Washington State office of the Attorney General, RCW 26-44-020, the definition of child abuse and neglect is injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child’s health, welfare, and safety are being harmed.

It goes on to say that abuse and neglect does not include physical discipline of a child, but there is a regulation which addresses that, as well, R...

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Top Tips for Effective Anger Management for Kids

I remember my father describing being at the grocery store once. There was a woman with a child who was being unruly. She tried to get the boy to settle down and grabbed his arm, but he screamed and raged all the more. I remember the menacing look on my father's face as he commented a kid who did that in HIS care would only do it once.

Few things can impact us as quickly and as deeply as the anger of our child. We all have our own reactions to it; some weather it and patiently correct, some get angry or violent right back, some feel overwhelmed and emotionally go to ground unable to deal with it. As they are remarkably complex, uniquely formed individuals, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when your children are angry, but there are some tools that will help in most cases.

It's Tough Being a Kid

We’ve all been there, and while a very few of us may have had a completely peaceful transition into adulthood, a great many of us suffered all manner of emotional and physical traumas along that particular path.

When you think for a moment about the developmental phases a child goes through, it makes sense that rage is going to be a part of their emotional makeup. Their capacity to experience it and process it will vary from person to person, based not only on emot...

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Divorce Counseling For Couples With Children: 6 Unexpected Benefits

One of the great tragedies in any life is the dissolution of what was supposed to be a lifelong journey. Divorce usually marks the death of shared hopes and dreams and is deeply disruptive to everyone involved. There is a scale of life stressors by someone named Rahe; on this list, divorce is rated second, just after the death of a spouse or child.

The pain and stress of the transition are significant, sometimes enormous, even if the people involved somehow manage to guard against despondency, avoid blame shifting, manage their anger, maintain civility and focus forward toward a more positive “new normal.”

If neither spouse is immovably spiteful or bitter to the point that they no longer have the capacity to have the children’s best interests at heart then this is a situation where a licensed counselor can make a huge difference in helping the couple manage the emotional currents present in the process. If there are children involved, even more so. If the parents are unable to agree to settle things amicably, their lawyers will end up doing it in court.

Divorce Counseling When Children are Involved

What follows is only intended for couples where there is no abuse involved. If one or both parents are abusive, the divorce probably will not be amicable, and if...

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Signs of Self Harm in Teens and How to Help

Do you know someone who intentionally cuts or burns themselves? Chances are that you do know someone who has engaged in self-harm behaviors, since it has been estimated that 14% to 17% of adolescents and young adults have reported engaging in self-injurious behavior (Whitlock, Eckenrode, & Silverman, 2006).

In one study of community adolescents, researchers discovered that 46.6% of participants reported engaging in non-suicidal self-injury (Lloyd-Richardson, Perrine, Dierker, & Kelley, 2007).

From these and other studies, it is obvious that self-injury in teens is a major concern. What most people think of as self-injury is referred to as Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) in the psychology community. NSSI is when an individual intentionally harms himself or herself in a manner that is not socially acceptable and does not have suicidal intent. From this point forward, NSSI will be referred to as self-injury.

When you hear the phrase self-injurious behavior, what is your initial reaction?  You may have questions such as: Why would someone intentionally harm themselves? Are there any warning signs? How can I help?

Throughout this article we will examine these and other aspects of this very important and often misunderstood topic.

What Does Self-Injury Look Li...

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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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