When kids are in treatment for challenging issues, like addiction, depression, or other problematic behaviors, they might have experienced difficult emotions with no known outlet. Kids often have underlying problems driving troubling behaviors. They might have trauma or an underlying mental health issue. They could be bullied at school and deal with low self-esteem. The emotional response to these conditions can be difficult for kids to manage, and they turn to alcohol, isolation, cutting, running away, or other maladaptive means of coping.
Internalizing Shame and Negative Emotions
When kids struggle with their emotions, they might generate even more negative feelings toward themselves. Kids might be ashamed that they cannot “get themselves together” and internalize shame or other negative emotions. Shame can create a cycle that continues to feed onto itself. A child might feel ashamed following a tantrum, then bury those emotions with more negative behaviors.
Feelings like shame and guilt can manifest when we blame ourselves for our feelings or actions. While, at times, we might need to make amends for mistakes when we are in the wrong, kids struggling with emotional regulation might not yet understand what is happening to them. They might feel on the inside that the world is falling apart, creating a sense of urgency, driving them to reach to whatever is available to quell this feeling. Knowing that they seem to struggle where others don’t might result in more shame, which feeds the cycle even further.
Separating Ourselves From Our Emotions
When kids are dealing with mental health issues that create powerful emotions, they might not have the words to describe what they are feeling. They are often responding to what is occurring while not entirely understanding the issue. Yet, they know that something is wrong. They might realize that they impact their family with fits of rage, emotional outbursts, or other troubling issues. Kids might start to feel that they are flawed as a person, broken and damaged beyond repair. They might believe that there is no hope for change.
However, when we help our kids identify what is happening to them on the inside, they can separate themselves from their mental health disorders. When kids have outbursts or seem out of control, we might worry about the stigma of having a label of a mental health disorder. We might hope that these outbursts just “go away on their own” or that these are just “phases that kids are going through.”
When a child attempts to process challenging emotions on their own, they might internalize and blame themselves. Without interventions or guidance, they might grow up believing that they are out of control. By teaching kids that they have emotions that they can manage, they can learn ways to cope with their challenging feelings and internal states.
Getting Treatment for Mental Health Disorders
One of the most significant benefits of getting treatment for an underlying mental health disorder is learning to thrive with the disorder. Often, when kids have an underlying concern like depression, bipolar disorder, or others, we worry about the impact of stigma and might be reluctant towards seeking treatment. When kids are shown that they have a disorder that can be treated, they can start to separate themselves from their challenging emotions and behaviors.
As kids continue to thrive in treatment, they can start to identify the challenging feelings that they have. They might identify triggers and notice warning signs of potential outbursts. As kids grow in therapy and treatment, they can find relief in knowing that they can find hope in their struggle.
Having a Name Creates Distance
Labeling and having names for internal experiences can help kids create distance between themselves and how they feel at their worst. When kids are given names to their struggles, they can feel relief in finally having some answers to the turmoil they feel. These labels do not need to define them; they can help to create a wall to end the cycle of shame that kids might feel when they cannot control themselves. They can feel less of a burden to others when they begin treatment and working toward thriving with their mental health issue.
We might think that our kids do not process or understand some of these challenging issues. We might assume that kids are naive and can just move past things quickly. However, if a child experiences deeply distressing emotions, they might need professional guidance to sort things out for themselves. Kids are likely to know that something is “off.” We can help them move past these issues before they begin to internalize distressing emotions and outbursts as a part of who they are. Instead, we want our kids to realize that these are challenges that they can thrive under, and we are here for them.
Identifying emotions and disorders can help kids move past challenging issues. Kids might internalize everything if they do not process what is happening to them. They might grow up believing that they are flawed or damaged. Negative emotions like shame and guilt can become an endless cycle as kids struggle to break free from who they are at their worst. By learning to identify and name what is going on inside, kids can learn to cope and thrive with their challenges. When our kids engage in challenging behaviors or deal with complex emotions, we might not know where to seek help for them. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, is here for kids and their parents. We can help you get your kid back and teach you valuable skills to create a healthy home environment. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest.