HELP FOR PARENT OF ANGRY KIDS


Does your child complain that you don’t understand him/her? Your response: I know what is good for you and I know what are struggling with because, I struggled too at your age with the same things. Kid: But you don’t understand me. Parent: I understand that if you don’t buckle down and do what you need to do, you’ll be lucky to get a job working in a fast food joint, if you graduate.

  • Parental Statements: I just can’t stand this anymore, we’ve given you so much, not have to struggle like we did, we love you and want the best for you, we want to be proud of you, your just ungrateful and full of anger, I don’t know what else to take away from you, I really don’t like you this way, you are a painful wart on the back of humanity, you leave me feeling helpless, angry, confused and you name it.
  • The Child’s Statements: You just don’t understand me, I hate you, etc, I can’t wait to just get out of here, you suck, home sucks, school sucks or maybe so does life in general.

If this sounds familiar or it’s variation, I want to give you some new hope. You need support right now if things are spinning in a downward spiral. You need a therapist who will work with the child and parents to get everyone on the same page. First of all, an angry person is in defensive mode and cannot process new information. The anger is a sign of the fight-flight stress response (primitive survival mode thinking) to something that you need to understand. Usually this is not fully understood by the child because they don’t have the capacity to look at it from a comfortable distance and process it. You as parent just need to know nothing goes in when somebody is angry and upset. Stop beating your head on a brick wall by trying to explain and reason. The only time to talk to your child in a reflective way is when everyone is in a calm state. The brain circuits are in receptive mode when both the right left hemispheres are both working together and the emergency circuits of the limbic system are quieted down and less reactive. In anger, the child is just trying to survive, is defensive, ready for flight, fight or just shutting down in isolation. Put in simpler terms, the brain that is calm is less chaotic, less ruminating, less rigid and more able to be flexible toward problem solving. The parent needs to learn about the child’s challenge at the time of worry and concern that generates this core of negativity. You must learn a new way of listening, attuning to the child’s struggles. If this is not worked on, the struggle will lead to more distancing rather than reciprocity between the two of you. At the bottom of rage, may be hurt, confusion, shame, feelings of inadequacy and worry. When you address the outcome of their laziness, not doing their work, not being dependable, not staying on task and all the things that go along with not doing their job as you see it, then you are missing the child’s main issue. It is something that they’re experiencing that they cannot even articulate. It is like something right in their face that feels bigger than they can put into words because it’s all new to the developing child. For example, when there are body changes associated with puberty, these are not only external, but also hormonal, and brain changes with new experiencing, perceptions, feelings, wishes and wants. There are not only external changes, but also new brain connectivity. They need time to grow into their new ever-changing embodied brains and the meanings they attribute to everything going on inside and outside themselves. They desperately want to feel less weird and more normal and acceptable. They may be anxious and upset because they are losing their old familiar selves. Like one youngster shared with me, “I used to feel smart, now I feel like I’m just barely able to keep up”. Girls at age 9 or 10 may be concerned about their appearances, maybe feeling that they are getting too fat or that they’re concerned about being accepted by the female peers as well as how to better deal with all the feelings of embarrassment that they face given their anxiety going through these changes. For pubertal boys, common concerns may involve gender identification (what do I do with all the sexual feelings that are flooding me), capacity to compete as well as feeling acceptable. Boys may complain feeling as if they’re falling apart. Understand that teens and younger kids can’t even voice or totally comprehend the cause of their worry and concern, as it is right in their face. When you remind them of the reality of what they need to do, they feel you miss the point in being with them in the moment of their concerns and crisis.

How can you be a good enough parent? First of all, it’s their reality that needs to be understood. It is not about the future reality that needs to be focused on at their crisis moment. The child is quite aware of your worry and concern, but they don’t know how to deal with the emotional flooding. It is difficult for parents to attune themselves to their youngster, when the parent is also worried and concerned about the child grim future. One mother may believe for example that if she doesn’t keep her early adolescent busy every moment of the day, that he or she may become involved in drugs as a way to find comfort and get into even more difficulties. It’s difficult for the parent to, if they have never slowed down enough to look inside themselves, to be able to do this with their child. In our affluent community of high achieving parents, consider the older teen preparing to go off to college. Many may be terrified. Their parents may have been academic stars and highly successful. How will I measure up, especially when I can’t concentrate on my studies in a state of worrisome anxiety? One failed exam has much more meaning to such a child. At this older age, therapy is focused helping the young adult develop his or her own unique psychological space. They learn to focus on the here and now and learn to modulate the negative feeling states associated with past and future worries. I believe that you can come home again to be with family, when the family can also learn to value the new struggles the young adult is navigating. This is something that I help families with particularly around college vacation times. It’s the therapist’s job working with the child sometimes with family members and sometimes not, helping the older child become aware of their separateness, uniqueness as a budding adults.

If you are locked in a struggle with your youngster and are feeling more helpless, I invite you to explore more of my blogs to hopefully find that there are many ways to regain hope in this ever-changing pathway called life. Feel free to give me a call, if you wish (630-527-1631, Dr. Kraus). I am happy to listen when I have time. There are no dumb questions and each situation calls for individualized creative solution. You are very important to your family, even if they don’t always see eye to eye with you. There is a book entitled, The Dance of Anger (about couples) that also fits this dance between child and parents.

SCHOOL, THE TIPPING POINT


Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000105 EndHTML:0000007116 StartFragment:0000002288 EndFragment:0000007080

SCHOOL, THE TIPPING POINT


backtoschool
Returning to school is an ordeal for not only the student but also parents. It’s a new beginning and everyone wants things to go well. Mothers and dads are busily shopping and preparing the child’s return to school, expectations are high, also increasing everyone’s hopes as well as anxiety. The pressure is on. We forget that our minds are a lot more than conscious, disciplined goal setting. We also carry a lot of subconscious baggage based on our histories. How we feel about ourselves, deep down, is not only an individual thing but also a reflection of our relationships at home that have become a part of our working minds on how we view ourselves, being imperfect as human beings. It is our internal road map of how we expect the world to treat us. Anxiety is normal, when we have new challenges. The growing child needs the help of the parents to make sense of these new things that are happening, lets call it the “lens of inner experiencing”. When the lens is clear, parents can help their child modulate their feelings about new experiences. Children lack the words, to even say what is bothering them, other than to know that they may feel sick/overwhelmed and to eventually freeze up and withdraw or rebel and become school avoidant, or refuse to do their homework. Older kids may self medicate with whatever they can get their hands on or self mutilate just to prove to themselves that they can cut, bleed to show themselves that they are alive and can control something (they feel better, relieved after they cut, before going to school). Sounds strange, but that’s what is reported by some of the kids I’ve seen. Naperville is no wonderful island of escape when the expectations are so high. When parents are high achieving, the expectations are clear, even when no one says a word. In simple terms, this baggage is subconscious and the child doesn’t recognize that it’s unfinished business that needs to be focused on and brought up for conscious reworking. This reworking process will reduce anxiety and depression, free up energy to the child can sleep better, and be able to focus on the work at school. Schools generally want to help their students and are highly invested in doing so. They will help in whatever way they can to reverse the downward academic spiral. They make all sorts of accommodation’s and recommendations to help the student. School, however is not the place to try and resolve subconscious unfinished business that builds up and causes problems. The quickest way to get to the subconscious baggage is to use medical psychotherapy provided by a very experienced psychotherapist who can treat the child and include the parents in the process. Parents become a powerful ingredient toward growth, change, and stabilization for the child who is hurting. When the child is relaxed along with the parents, then we get a closer look inside at the child’s struggles and help put it all into words so that we can make new up to date roadmaps that are more age appropriate as well as helpful to the family. What we do is resolve it quickly. This is done usually within 10 to 12 therapy hours once we get a developmental history from both parents and get everyone on the same page to work towards an understanding of the problem(s). Most psychiatrists will prescribe medication, which may help temporarily but never touch the subconscious problem. In the short run medication seems faster, but in reality what you get is a diagnosis that misses the mark of why the child is anxious or depressed. I know and believe that there are specific reasons for what makes for misery. Once we can make sense of the misery, then it diminishes or goes away for good. I don’t think that medication in most cases works that way. When I was involved as the Clinical Director of Dual Diagnosis Adolescent Units and The Residential Units, everyone got medication. It saved lives and helped people function. I still refer people for second opinions, but also value even more a trial of medical psychotherapy, including the parents in the process. When appropriate, you waste precious time fooling around with meds that could be better spent by looking at what’s going on inside someone’s mind and making sense out of it for everyone concerned. Now my focus is on medical psychotherapy facilitated by hypnosis and hypnoanalysis that also includes the parents. I see the family as the support system. We get everyone on the same page. This can turn around a failing child very quickly once the core conflict(s) the problem is understood. This is fast, yet powerful therapy. You are invited to call me for a consultation if you think this may be helpful to your family. Thanks for reading.

Building Your Immune System


Changes of our midwest seasons bring on new challenges. As parents, everything falls upon our shoulders caring for our children. YOU need to give first priority to yourself. If you get sick, then your family suffers. Managing your own personal daily energy resources is imperative toward setting priorities. Do you know that 2000 Units of Vitamin D3 seems to be beneficial toward boosting your immune system? You can fight off a lot of viral bugs with a good immune system. (Milk only has about 100 units per glass) and Walgreen’s multivitamin A to Z contains only 500 Units. Fish oil (without mercury) seems to help stabilize moods. Exercise is a great help toward mood stabilization, heart health, and perking up your brain pathways to take on new daily challenges. As an antidepressant exercise is usually considered equal to antidepressant medication without the side effects of weight gain and libido issues. If these little suggestions also help in your relationships with your significant other and children, then great. Got some of your own Self Care Tips that you would like to share? I appreciate all of your comments. Also take a look at the book by Joel Fuhrman,MD, SUPER IMMUNITY, THE ESSENTIAL NUTRITION GUIDE FOR BOOSTING YOUR BODY’S DEFENSES TO LIVE LONGER, STRONGER AND DISEASE FREE. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Supporting The Parents: Your Child Is Hurting


When people seek help for their child who is having difficulties, the parents are usually operating in emergency mode and feeling at least as bad as their child with high anxiety, confusion and uncertainty about what to do next. They are looking for the best clinician, located nearby who has almost immediate time available to see and fix the situation. The first consultation gives the parents a chance to assess the clinician to see if the clinician can emotionally connect, is able to tune into the current crisis and misery the parents are experiencing and begin to offer hope that things can get better. It takes a lot to begin trusting a new stranger who wants to become a new functional part of the family. It’s a big responsibility that weighs heavy on everyone’s shoulders. Parents are looking for some kind of wisdom that can reduce their sense of helplessness. It is a highly charged emotional situation and it is not about theory out of some book. It’s about the emotional interaction between all concerned which will also soon include the child/adolescent. As a Blue Cross PPO Provider, if you want a responsive therapist who can jump into the family system and help with your child in distress, give my office a call for a medical consultation. I am not a medication-pushing psychiatrist; I can help you with a referral for medication evaluation and management, if that is your wish. I will accept children on medication if there is a wish to reduce dosages, as the child gets stronger through our work together. My focus is getting to the root of the presenting problem(s). At the core of being helpful, I find that the relationship we work toward establishing is essential toward getting the job done. So it is important to meet and see if we can connect. I usually begin by getting a history from the parents about your child/adolescent. I am fortunate to have Medox Billing helping us with billing issues. Medox is also helpful in applying what we need to know about diagnostic procedure in using the new DSM5, the standard used in payment for certain psychiatric diagnoses. You as parents need to address another important issue, however. There is a theoretical divide regarding medical psychotherapy. One side focuses on the need for medication to control higher levels of anxiety, sadness, chaos of feeling states, which may lead toward all sorts of difficulties that range from addictions, eating disorders, academic problems, and you name it. A number of kids may show up with severe depressive symptoms because they worry that they don’t fit in because they are “gay”, “weird”, or “life is’nt worth living”. If you look for medication to cure these kinds of complaints, then think again. Can “Dr. Right” value and understand that the root cause of the childs’ complaints may be subconscious or unconscious and therefore not available to the child/teen for easy discussion of the presenting complaint(s)?. A common response to my first question to the youngster may be something like: What’s the problem, what is going on in your life now? A typical response of the youngster may be: “I cannot really say or put it into words”. That may be the sort a teen gives who has been thinking about suicide or another drastic ways out. The parents are panicky and feel they cannot help so they focus instead on something more tangible like the teen’s plummeting academic performance. The school would like to help, but since each social worker/counselor is inundated by several hundred kids each, there is not enough support to go around. So the bigger question falls on you the parent(s): Do you want to get to the root cause of the problem in your teen/child? How long, how many sessions will this take? Depending on the motivation of the child, usually about 12 hours of office time may be enough to get a conscious understanding of the underlying subconscious root cause of the problem that causes misery in the family at large. The other “shorter” route is medication oriented but many times meds only cover over deeper issues and miss the psychological root cause of the problem. The pharmaceutical industry suggests that the use of medication is more scientific than talk therapy, but research suggests that the development of new brain pathways, strengthened through mindsight techniques as part of medical psychotherapy facilitate life long improvement in the child’s ability to handle stress more flexibly over time and maturation. As the prefrontal cortex becomes stronger as several new healthy adaptations occur: (1) I would enjoy meeting parents who can appreciate that psychological growth is possible when we work as a team helping your struggling child. Thanks for reading.

MINDSIGHT BEGINS IN INFANCY


MOM and Baby

Being a good enough parent (because no one is perfect) for an infant requires three things: For a new-born its WARMTH, SOMETHING TO EAT and KNOWING THAT YOU ARE LOVED and Treasured. It is not, “I need to go back to work and will have someone else raise my child”. It is not, “I don’t have it to give, so too bad you little baby”. There is a test that looks at the security of attachment between mother and infant at about 16 months of age: For three minutes the mother is asked to not emotionally respond to her infant and observe the infant’s response to the mother’s  non response to her infant. The infant attempts to get the mothers attention and this crescendos, from protests, physical attempts to total bodily attempts including rage, terror and finally despair and exhaustion. It is so painful to watch that the test many times is called off. You see, we as human being are wired for attachment. Without secure attachment you can observe in infancy all sorts of responses that have been documented like depression, giving up, mistrust, rage, body upset including physical as well as emotional responses. Good connection leads to feeling alive and hopeful that being alive offers hope and promise for the next stages of life. We need it to develop faith hope and trust. Without good attachment the child may feel dead. Childhood depressions are characterized as “holes in the soul”, there is deadness in the child and giving up or giving in is characteristic of this picture in its extremes. Finally the “emotionally trashed” baby does not have the capacity to develop faith because the hope of getting love, soothing and basic body security was never laid down as a learned experience in infancy. This is not new information; it’s been around for about 50-75 years. Put the infant  up for adoption, for someone else to love and care for, if you cannot. If you need help with your own difficulties, get some help. You can begin by going to your local emergency room and talk to the social worker on call the child abuse hot line for immediate protection of your infant.

God and Faith


With the sudden death of Tony Soprano by heart attack, it got me thinking. He was in Rome with his family, father of a one year old and teen. What a loss. It reminds me that faith is important and so is paying attention to your physical heath. He died at age 51. From pictures in the news, he appeared to be obese. He was a bright talented actor, but that is not enough. To be smart you got to also pay attention all the time to caring for your body, since that’s the only one you got. It should also include your mind. If you have addictions, then do something about them. Foods addictions are tough to deal with because we have to eat and diets usually don’t work over the long haul. What does work is getting in touch with the subconscious issues that drive you to overeat. For example, every time I get near the pantry I look inside as if there is something special waiting for me. It is a kind of tension that I am experiencing, maybe an anticipation that if I eat something now it will satisfy me and my tension will go away. But that does not work! I remind myself that it is OK to experience tension in my body and my long-range goal is to keep walking away from the pantry. This is just a little example of myself trying to be aware of what is going on inside of me with my own struggle. How about your own will power challenges? Dr Kelley McGonigal PhD, Psychologist explains that will power development is imperfect but can be improved by various exercises.  With Hypnoanalysis we can get to the bottom of your will power and core issues in as little as a dozen office hours and feed this back to you so that you can begin to do more than count points, calories and feel like you are getting nowhere fast. If you want change in yourself, you need to look deeper inside. Perhaps a guide, a buddy who can help you get unstuck from your rut can help? I can understand with you, how you feel overwhelmed by certain challenges, make sense out of them and help you get moving toward your goals. I am a counselor and psychiatrist who works with children, adolescents and their families. God put you here (if you believe) and now it’s your responsibility to care for yourself before you try to care for everyone else or heal the world. Give me a call. Dr. IM Kraus, DO, LCPC, Naperville Family Counselor, 630-527-1631. I am a Blue Cross PPO Provider and will work with you, if you wish, if you are out of network.