Recovery from addiction and mental health requires examining the systems your child is involved in. You might think that you can just fix your kid, and everything will be fine. Once your child returns home from treatment, they will be cured—nothing else needs to be addressed.
Most often, behavioral problems and addiction occur in environments that support these issues. For example, a child with a genetic predisposition to depression can lead a happy life without experiencing depression when living in a healthy environment that prepares them to deal with life.
Maladaptive behaviors like drug abuse or cutting occur when a person has no other means of coping with their emotional or mental health concerns. Addictions can take hold when a child is exposed to substances during a vulnerable age when they are just learning how to cope with stress, disappointment, rejection, and other issues.
Nature Versus Nurture
The nature versus nurture argument often comes up in the behavioral health sciences. The questions posed are: Do our genetics (nature) determine who we will become, or does our environment (nurture)? If both, which is more influential?
You might discount the impact that an environment has on a person’s behaviors. The way that you are raised or nurtured influences things like:
- Attachment styles
- Healthy routines (or a lack of them)
The environment includes all the places your child spends time in. Your child might deal with issues at school, like bullying or being placed in the wrong classes, which dramatically impacts their development.
When a child has behavioral issues, one of the best things that you can do is examine all of the systems that your child is a part of — school, community, and family.
Behaviorism 101: Where Does the Behavior Occur?
One of the things that a behavioral support professional will want to know is where does a child’s maladaptive behavior occur? If your child is polite and well-mannered at home but acts out during school, then what is happening at the school? What is happening at home that isn’t happening at school?
Your child might be dealing with problems in just one system that need to be addressed. When a child is struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, and other serious issues, you want to be sure to partner up with all systems that your child is a part of.
Talk to teachers, coaches, parents of friends, siblings, and others involved in your child’s life. For treatment to be effective, a child’s environment must be healthy, safe, and secure. As a parent, you can start with what you can control: the home environment.
The Home Environment in Recovery
Some parents might struggle with self-blame. They might not want to participate in their child’s treatment, as they might feel like that is an admission of being at fault for their child’s problems.
Being involved in your child’s recovery is crucial for their success and is not about assigning blame. You might need some support and guidance from other parents who have been there before.
The home environment is critical to a child’s sense of safety and security. When your child feels safe, loved, accepted, and secure at home, they will be more likely to feel confident in the world at large. Any person — in recovery or not — needs a safe and loving environment to thrive.
Each family member needs to be on board in supporting your child who struggles. Talk to siblings and your parenting partner about what is happening and how they can help your child during recovery.
Family Support During Recovery
Family support during recovery yields the best outcomes. Most treatment centers offer parenting workshops and family support for everyone involved. Addiction and mental health issues from one person in the home impact everyone — you, your partner, and any other children in the home.
The siblings of a child who struggles might have issues that you haven’t been aware of while helping your other child. They might feel concerned or even blame themselves for the problems. Get everyone on board to help as best as you can.
When your child has a safe and supportive home during recovery, you can help them make significant leaps in their recovery. If another system is broken, like school or otherwise, your child has a secure place to call home.
If you have a child who struggles, look at every system and environment they are a part of. You might find that their behavioral challenges are most often the result of adapting to an unhealthy environment or reacting to adverse circumstances.
Fixing the environments that your child is a part of is crucial to their success in recovery. They might be struggling in school or elsewhere in the community. Your family might also need work during your child’s recovery. When a child struggles with addiction and mental health issues, they might be exposed to environmental factors that cause them to react in an unhealthy way. They might not know a better way to handle these issues or how to talk to other people about them. You can create a healthy and happy home for your child who struggles. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, offers treatment services for kids who struggle, along with academic programs to help them continue their school. We also host parenting workshops and online events for parents and families. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest.