It can be quite a struggle for any parent, who is raising a child, who has a mental illness. Usually the symptoms of mental illness start as early as two years old and manifest themselves in the form of temper tantrums or other disruptive behaviors. As the child ages symptoms become worse and in many cases, the child becomes increasingly violent or withdrawn. Since there are such a wide variety of mental illnesses, there are also a broad range of symptoms that may present themselves at any given time.
Sometimes children who actually suffer from severe mental illnesses are misdiagnosed early on with ADD/ADHD and given medication for such. Unfortunately, because it is so hard to get a definitive diagnosis in early childhood, many parents find themselves hitting a brick wall. The following information may help anyone who is living with a child who has some form of mental illness.
When the Child Exhibits Violent Behavior
Some children have been violent from the very beginning. However, when they were small this was not much of an issue as they were easy to control. The real problems begin as the child grows older and violence becomes more serious. In many cases, siblings and even parents find themselves in dangerous situations. If this violent behavior continues to progress, the consequences can be quite detrimental. Unfortunately, some parents remain in denial for years while this pattern develops and grows into a very volatile situation. If you have a child who has been showing aggressive and violent behaviors then now is the time to do something and get that child help. This will prevent something tragic happening such as the injury or death of that child or another human being.
Protecting Other Members of the Family
Not only is it important to address the issue of violence for the afflicted child’s sake but also for the sake of others who live in the home, such as siblings. It is important when dealing with child who is prone to violent outbursts to have some sort of a plan of action in place, so that when an incident should occur, everyone will be fully prepared. Unfortunately, living with a child who can become violent what seems like no apparent cause can be very stressful for everyone involved in the situation. There may even come a time when the child may have to be restrained. This is very difficult and can be literally heartbreaking for any parent to have to deal with. However, in order to protect the child from harm as well as innocent bystanders, it may become necessary.
Defusing the Situation Before it Escalates
Most parents who have been living with a child who exhibits violent behavior, learn quickly how to identify triggers. This can be very helpful when it comes to defusing the situation before it has had a chance to get out of control. For example, there’s a very good chance that the child has a pattern of behavior which he/she displays shortly before an attack. Knowing what these behaviors are and what situations may trigger an outburst is a very important part of controlling things and keeping the peace. What starts out as normal sibling rivalry can very quickly become something much more serious when dealing with a child who suffers from an illness such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder. The dynamics involved with dealing with a child who suffers from these issues are very much different than dealing with a stable and healthy child. This means that standard consequences and/or normal parenting tactics may not work. It is not wise to believe that you can reason with or set normal limits where these children are concerned.
Self Medicating Teenagers
Unfortunately, one of the things that can occur in children who suffer from these types of mental instabilities is that they often learn self medicate through the use of illegal drugs as they become teenagers. In fact this is quite common. This is why it is very important to seek counseling and treatment early on in the child’s life in order to avoid larger problems later on down the road. In addition, if you are dealing with the teenager who is prone to violent outbursts the situation can become quite serious during an episode. Parents must stand their ground and remain strong in the face of their child’s mental illness, if they are to overcome and save their child. In many cases when a child’s mental illness has been allowed to go untreated well into the teenage years and the child turns to drugs or alcohol, only the addiction problem is focused on. Parents may send their teenager to a number of rehabilitation programs and realize very little success unless the underlying mental illness is treated as well.
Dealing with a child who suffers from a mental illness will require major sacrifices, as well as a lot of time and patience. Just as if you were dealing with the child who suffered from cancer or another serious illness, there will be a lot of stress and a lot of measures that must be taken. When you are dealing with healthy and well-balanced children, there will come a time when they will leave the nest and go out into the world start their own lives. Sadly, a child with a mental illness may never be able to do that. This means that parents must accept that they are in this for the long haul and that they must support their child in any way they possibly can. However, under no circumstances should any parent ever allow themselves to be physically harmed or abused. There may be times when legal action such as restraining orders or other drastic measures will become necessary when dealing with violent adult.