When your kids have behavioral issues, you might find yourself asking, “What is wrong with you?” As a parent, you have done everything you can to ensure that they have a good life. You make sure that they have a clean home, healthy food to eat, and other comforts. When they start acting out with problematic behaviors like drug use, drinking, or running away, you might feel like something is wrong with them.
All teens will go through some sort of rebellious phase as they grow up. This process is natural as they assert their identity as a young adult. However, when you see dangerous behaviors, your kid might have an underlying issue like trauma at the root of these behaviors.
Instead of asking, “what’s wrong with you?” you can shift your thinking about their behaviors. Consider the question, “what happened to you?”
“What Is Wrong With Me?”
When you ask, “what is wrong with you?”, the issues can be interpreted as an internal character flaw. You might say reckless things in the moment — we all do! — but you might need to walk some of these things back as you look for solutions.
Also, consider your own thoughts about yourself as a parent. When you do your best to make your kid’s life great, and they act out anyway, you might ask, “what is wrong with me?” or “am I a bad parent?”
Again, shift your focus to what has happened to you. You are not a bad parent. When your child is addicted to drugs, cutting themselves, or staying in bed all day long, you might start blaming yourself. You might have never encountered these issues before and just need additional support.
Your experiences will shape how you manage these challenges. If nothing like this has ever happened to you before, reach out for support. Gain the wisdom of learned experience from other parents who have been there before. When you see your emotions and experiences shared by others, you can accept what is happening to you.
Self-Compassion in Recovery
Both you and your child are in this together. When one member of the family struggles, the entire family needs help. You might not realize the impact that these experiences have on you. You might need to learn self-compassion and self-care during your child’s recovery.
Self-compassion in recovery is crucial to getting through this issue. When you blame yourself for your child’s problems, your child will absorb that energy. They might start to blame themselves for how they make you feel.
No one is responsible for making you feel a certain way. Only you can make yourself feel better, and you cannot make those feelings the responsibility of another person. You need to take care of yourself first. By engaging in self-care, you will teach your child by the example that you set.
Re-thinking Your Perspective: What Happened to You
Self-compassion starts the process of recovery. Instead of thinking that you or your child have some flaw that is hopeless to change, you begin to see that your experiences have brought you to this place.
Accepting what happened to you is an act of self-care. You accept the impact of seeing a loved one struggle. Instead of self-blame, you acknowledge that you and your child can work through these issues together.
Your child needs this example when they struggle. They might start to think that they are a problem. When your child continues to ask themselves, “what is wrong with me?” they are entering a cycle of self-blame that is not helpful.
The Impact of Trauma
Most often, when you start to ask, “what’s happened to you?” you notice underlying issues of trauma. Trauma can have a long-lasting impact on you or your child. If your child starts acting out, especially with extreme and dangerous behaviors, something might have happened to them, and they are unsure how to manage their emotions.
Trauma can be “big T” or “little t.” Sometimes, a traumatic experience for one person might not impact another. Kids are at a vulnerable stage as they grow up because they do not yet understand how to manage their emotions.
For example, getting a “B” on a report card can be traumatic for some kids if they never struggled with grades before. Getting turned down for a date, having an issue with a friend, or coming across disturbing content online can impact kids in a traumatic way.
Seeing your child struggle can be challenging. You might get so frustrated that you struggle to manage your own emotions during this time. Be compassionate — to both your child and yourself.
Shifting your focus from asking, “what is wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” can help you make leaps in recovery. Your child might be acting out as part of normal growing pains. You might get frustrated in the moment, yelling, “What is wrong with you?” However, when you see dangerous or deadly behaviors, they might have an underlying issue at the root of their behaviors. As a parent of a child who struggles, you might also blame yourself, asking, “what is wrong with me?” or “am I a bad parent?” Self-compassion is needed for both you and your child. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, is here for both kids and parents. We offer residential services for kids who struggle and provide resources for parents. Call us today at (303) 443-3343 for more about how we can support your family. We’re here to help you get your kid back!