Often, as parents, we find ourselves reacting to situations in the moment. We put out fires as they ignite, stepping in when help is needed and urgent. While being ready to handle emergencies as they occur or deal with a crisis in the moment is vital to helping our kids, we might also want to consider preventing these crises from happening altogether. By looking at challenging behaviors from a preventative place, we can keep peace in our homes and minimize damage if something does go wrong.
Feeling Rundown From Reacting
Being a parent is difficult enough. When kids engage in problematic behaviors, like addiction, cutting, promiscuity, or other issues, we can feel rundown and even trapped. We might feel that we are continually on guard, jumping from one emergency to the next. We can feel anxious, always waiting for the next bad thing to occur. These feelings can leave us feeling hopeless and alone.
Creating proactive strategies to help our kids and families might require us to take a step back and look at how we feel. Are we feeling anxious? Helpless? Hopeless? Afraid? Sometimes the best way to manage our kids’ challenging behaviors is to learn to manage ourselves first. As Fire Mountain’s Aaron Huey states in multiple podcasts on “Beyond Risk and Back,” we need to take care of ourselves first to be the best that we can for our relationships and families.
Being Proactive by Getting Support and Reaching Out
One crucial element to successfully dealing with any issues is getting support. The first step to taking proactive measures during a child’s treatment is reaching out and engaging in the recovery community. Other parents can understand what we are going through and can provide helpful tips and strategies. Just reaching out and talking about what is really going on in our homes can help us change our mindset and feel less alone.
Some places to consider for support:
- Online communities can provide support for parents struggling. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment has created a space called “Parent Teens That Struggle” on their Facebook account.
- Al-Anon groups can be helpful for families of individuals in recovery from addiction.
- We can find other online or in-person groups to support parents struggling.
- Participating in parenting workshops and actively engaging in our child’s treatment can help us understand how to create a healthy home environment for our kids.
- Simply reaching out to friends, family members, kids’ coaches or teachers, and people we know for support. Once we break down the barriers of shame, we can see hope on the other side.
Getting Involved in Treatment
While kids are struggling, some parents feel like they have taken on a “case management” role—yearning to just get their kids back and have their parental relationship again. However, getting involved in our child’s treatment can help us get through the current crisis and get back to the sense of normalcy that we long for. Being involved in our child’s treatment might mean that we need to look at our role differently. Shifting from a “case management” role to a “coaching” or even “cheerleading” role.
We can partner with our kids during the treatment process, holding them accountable for their actions. When we partner with our kids during their treatment, we diffuse the sense of responsibility and share the burden with them. Rather than being a case manager running from one emergency to the next, we build a working partnership with our kids, coach them from the sidelines, and cheer them on in their triumphs.
“If It’s Not Written Down, It Won’t Happen”
Creating contracts with our kids might seem like an odd means of running our households. However, behavioral contracts are a valuable tool for kids in treatment for many reasons:
- Contracts teach kids that with responsible behavior, they earn freedoms.
- Kids learn to negotiate and advocate for themselves when drafting a behavioral contract.
- Parents get to hear things from their child’s perspective to understand their struggles.
- Contracts help us stick to things by creating a separation between us and our expectations. In other words, the contract becomes a living thing that we can defer to instead of facing confrontation in the moment. (i.e., “This is all part of the contract that you agreed to.”)
- Sitting down to discuss contracts and treatment plans when things are going well gives us a chance to create proactive strategies to deal with things when they go wrong. Knowing what to do ahead of time gives us peace of mind in the moment of chaos.
- Having things written out together clears up any ambiguity in the moment regarding our expectations for our kids when returning home from treatment.
Being proactive in our child’s treatment can help us create peace in our homes and prevent issues from occurring or getting worse. By getting support for ourselves when things are going wrong, we can build resiliency to help our kids best. When we reach out to others, whether in person or online, we can feel less alone and stronger together as a community. Creating behavioral contracts with our kids can prevent miscommunications from occurring when our kids return home from their treatment facility. Our kids have what it takes to be successful. With planning and proactive strategies, we can help them become their best selves in recovery. If your child continues to deal with challenging behaviors or mental health concerns, Fire Residential Treatment Center might be the next right step. Our treatment team is committed to helping both troubled kids and their parents build healthy families at home. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.