Tag Archive: Children

  1. How Can I Earn the Respect of Non-Compliant Adolescents?

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    Adolescents with substance abuse or mental health diagnoses can be difficult to reach. Some clients use their behaviors to avoid treatment to such an extent that they are considered “non-compliant.” As a professional, such behaviors are usually a cry for help, but how do you reach a client who does not seem to want help? How can you earn the respect of non-compliant adolescents?

    The Behavior Is Not the Problem

    How often are adolescents labeled as “bad,” “troubled,” “at-risk,” or more? Too often adolescents have learned that negative attention is still attention. Creating behaviors to deflect from their actual pain and struggles allows them to live down to others’ expectations of them.

    The behaviors themselves are not the problem, however. Substance abuse and mental health diagnoses are not even the actual problem, they are simply diagnoses of the symptoms. Their actual problems are often emotional pain from physical or emotional trauma, serious problems with family, and more. The more distracting the behaviors, the easier it is to simply consider them “difficult” or “non-compliant.” Digging deeper, they are all still human beings, and their behaviors are standing in the way of getting help to heal from their emotional wounds.

    Listen and Observe to Find the Whys

    Behaviors are like puzzles. When you are willing to watch and listen carefully, slowly but surely you can find the whys, or the motivations for their behaviors. Often the adolescents themselves have no idea why they are acting out, using substances, or are unwilling to comply with any form of treatment. This makes it even more important as a professional to listen and observe closely.

    For most adolescents, there is no easy answer, no “aha!” moment where all of their behaviors disappear. Finding answers is more like peeling the layers of an onion, and requires incredible patience. Some adolescents will even increase their behaviors as you get closer to their truths. While this can be very discouraging and frustrating as a professional, remembering why you chose this path and the success stories you have can help you to maintain motivation.

    Offer Adolescents Reasonable Choices

    Simply telling an adolescent “no” is as effective as telling a toddler “no,” except adolescents throw bigger tantrums. Learning to offer consistent, reasonable choices to adolescents takes away the opportunities for distractions, but also gives them responsibility for their choices. Sure, they may only have a choice between something that is not fun and something that is really not fun, but you will gain respect when you hold them accountable for their choices.

    Developing respect and compliance is great in a small group setting, where adolescents can see that others making good choices are rewarded for those choices. Perhaps their initial response is still to act out or not be willing to comply, but eventually, they will want to receive the rewards or privileges for making good choices. Even if their motivation is only the benefit of the good choice, they start making good choices a habit, and eventually will learn that making good choices and receiving positive attention is better than negative attention.

    Giving Adolescents Control Without Giving up Control

    There is a false notion that offering an adolescent control of their own choices means giving up control as a clinician or professional. This concept is actually the opposite of true. As you give an adolescent the opportunity to make their own choices and also to accept the consequences of their choices, you gain more respect from them.

    Respect is far more powerful than the “control” that so many adults seek to impose on young people. An adolescent’s respect empowers both the youth and the adults who are offering them guidance to move past the behaviors, find the source of their pain, and help them to heal and move forward with greater success in life. This is how you can give young people control without giving up your own control.

    Respect Is a Two-Way Street

    As professionals, we sometimes forget that in asking for respect, we need to give respect. Whether you are working with a child, an adolescent, or a young adult, age does not preclude the necessity of offering the same respect that you are asking for. When you are able to effectively demonstrate your respect for your clients, they are more likely to treat you with respect in return.

    Non-compliance should not be confused for a lack of respect, either. Remember that an adolescent’s behaviors are about them, not you. When you can respect them, observe and listen to them, offer them choices and allow them to consistently receive the same consequences for their choices, you are more likely to be able to reach them, too.

    Earning the respect of adolescents with serious behavior issues or who are deemed “non-compliant” can seem like a battle, but it is really more about patience and respect. Remembering that the behavior is not the problem and not taking things personally will allow you to gradually earn respect and hopefully be able to help your client heal. The Sustain Recovery program is built around the concept that the substance abuse and mental health diagnoses are not the problem but rather the adolescent’s maladaptive solutions to the real problem. Our extended care program offers the opportunity for them to not only have more success in treatment but also be able to transition back into their homes and communities. Our staff are committed to providing evidence-based practices and the structure and opportunities for young people to become accountable. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program can be the solution to your child or client’s needs.

  2. Asking for Educational Assistance

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    Being mentally healthy means that kids have a good quality of life and experience minimal problems at home and in school. A good mental condition and stable support system are key to achieving certain developmental and emotional milestones that allow kids to create boundaries between themselves and others. They also learn how to communicate, socialize, and manage emotions and expectations. Mental health is not fixed in one spot, though, and actually exists on a continuum. It’s normal for kids to experience days where they just need some rest and relaxation to recenter.

    A problem arises, though, when they express continued distress and dysfunction. They may be getting in trouble frequently at school and not listening to parents at home. This may be an indication of a mental illness, which is fairly common in the U.S. Millions of Americans are diagnosed with disorders like ADHD, behavioral problems, anxiety, and depression. Other children are described as being “on the spectrum” or neurodivergent. Supporting parents in acquiring educational assistance for their child, whether your client has a mental disorder or is neurodivergent, can be helpful in getting them the attention they need in the classroom.

    Statistics on Mental Disorders 

    The CDC explains that “mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day.” Mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders tend to manifest in early childhood at a rate of 1 in 6 children between the ages of 2 to 8 years of age.

    Among the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in children are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems. These disorders can also co-occur and cause significant problems with learning in school.

    Here are some CDC statistics on the number of children aged 2-17 diagnosed in a given year:

    ADHD: ~6.1 million

    Anxiety: ~4.4 million

    Depression: ~1.9 million

    Behavioral problems: ~4.5 million

    How Is Neurodivergency Different?

    In the late 1990s, the term ‘neurodivergent’ emerged in response to challenge the dominant view of neurological diversity as pathological. As a term, it describes persons who have an atypical neurological configuration. These persons have conditions like dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum disorder, and Tourette syndrome. Social and emotional disorders can also fall into this category. Neurodivergent is a concept that views these conditions as stemming from normal variations of the human genome, and thus, neurological differences should be recognized and respected. In other words, kids who have these conditions are not abnormal or strange; rather, they are unique in their own way. A neurodivergent perspective also rejects that these conditions need to be cured. Instead, they should be accepted as being a part of who the person is.

    An important component to this perspective is that of support systems. Neurodiversity advocates are in favor of programs that can help others live with their condition. Some examples include occupational training, inclusion-focused services, independent living support, accommodations, and communication and assistive technologies. Kids that are neurodivergent could benefit significantly from aides that facilitate their learning in, for instance, a classroom setting.

    Accommodations in the Classroom

    Nowadays, many schools provide educational assistance – sometimes labeled as ‘disability services’ – for children with mental illness or neurodivergence. However, if your client’s school is lacking, there are some suggestions you can offer parents so they can advocate for accommodations.

    Within the classroom, teachers can first recognize that individuals differ in how they learn best. Even for students who are not neurodivergent or do not have a mental health condition, there is a diverse range of modalities that teachers can use to provide learning opportunities for all. Some kids do not respond well to the traditional and strict approach of long lectures, continuous writing of notes, and exams. Embracing this diverse worldview can help educators re-evaluate their teaching styles and adapt according to students in the class. Allocate time to check in with the kids and see how the methods are working. Teachers could also implement the use of online learning platforms. These can be a valuable tool to supplement in-classroom work and can be used at home.

    Another important point for teachers to be aware of is that neurodivergent children tend to have specific and significant strengths. It’s crucial for the teacher to know his or her students and be informed about their condition. For example, kids with autism spectrum disorder can be highly attuned to small details and identifying patterns that others do not notice. Thus, they may problem-solve differently than their peers. Children with a mental health condition may also have specific needs that need to be addressed. Teachers and parents should not feel shy to engage and support each other through this process, as the student is not the only one learning here. Family members know their loved one best and can offer practical insight into which learning styles the student will best respond to.

    Mental illnesses and neurological conditions can make learning challenging. Millions of children are diagnosed in the U.S. with conditions that disrupt daily life, like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders. Some kids are described as being “on the spectrum” or neurodivergent, which means they have an atypical neurological configuration. This concept takes the perspective that the condition should not be cured, rather, it should be accepted and embraced. Either way, children with a mental or neurological condition need special attention, particularly in the classroom. Parents can advocate for educational assistance for their child by communicating openly with teachers about their child’s strengths and unique needs. Educators can embrace a diverse worldview that may lead to a re-evaluation of their teaching styles. This can help neurotypical students as well. Sustain Recovery is a treatment facility that specializes in adolescent mental health and addiction treatment. We believe family plays an important role in any recovery process and encourage members to get involved. Call us today for more information: (949) 407-9052


  3. Treating the Underlying Issues of Your Child’s Addiction

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    child's addiction

    Coming to terms with your child’s addiction isn’t always an easy thing to do. You might wrestle with questions or place the blame on yourself. When did the substance use start? Why did the substance use start? What could I have done differently? It’s natural to want to retrace your steps, examine every decision you made, and try to figure out where it all began.

    It’s important to remember, however, that you cannot change the past, no matter how hard you try. The focus now should be on getting your child the help they need to get and stay sober. This process is going to require your family to dig deep and uncover difficult emotions that have been buried for a very long time. Sustain Recovery can help.

    Be Rooted in Understanding and Compassion

    In order to be successful in their recovery, your teenager is going to have to make some major changes. It’s going to take hard work and dedication, but they are going to learn, grow, and find their path on their recovery journey. The same is true of you. As caregivers, you must be ready to support your child when they return home from treatment. This will probably require some changes from your end, too. A good place to start is to be rooted in understanding.

    There are often a lot of deep and painful emotions surrounding substance abuse. You will likely be disappointed with your child, and even with yourself. It’s important to feel these emotions instead of bottling them up and burying them deep inside of you — but you cannot harbor them forever. Start by letting go of any judgment or blame you are holding on to. As you move into a mode of understanding, these emotions no longer serve a purpose. The longer you cling to anger, the farther recovery will feel for your family.

    Instead, commit to being rooted in understanding and compassion. The closer you look at your child’s substance abuse, the more you will realize that substances are not the problem — they are now the solution.

    Using Substances as Coping Mechanisms

    Stress has been known to contribute to one’s susceptibility to addiction, and adolescents in today’s world are not immune to either. In fact, because their brains are not fully developed, they are more likely to engage in impulsivity to help them cope with stressors in their lives. Adolescents don’t have enough life experience to see that their stressors are often temporary or that the impulsive methods they are using to cope have long-term consequences. They often see the world in black or white, ignoring the gray that can give them a sense of clarity.

    When your child is dealing with experiences that are stressful for them, they’ll try to find any way to remove the stressor from their life. Whether it be depression, anxiety, trouble with relationships, trouble in school, or other traumas they have endured, your child will find some way to cope. Unfortunately, they often turn to self-defeating behaviors to do so. It’s not uncommon for adolescents to experiment with alcohol or drugs in an attempt to reduce stress or self-medicate to numb their feelings.

    Over time, as your child learned to cope by using substances, an addiction formed. Their brain learned to depend on the substances to feel better and engaging in substance use was no longer a choice. Cravings and compulsions to use became so strong that not even negative consequences of their substance use was enough to stop them.

    The Science Behind Stress and Addiction

    The more stressors that your child is experiencing, the more vulnerable they are to substance abuse. In a study published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, researchers describe how chronic adversity leads to an increased vulnerability to substance use. The study focused on three primary areas of adversity — recent negative life events, past trauma and maltreatment, and lifetime exposure to stressors. The greater the number of stressors that an individual is exposed to, the higher the risk of developing an addiction.

    It’s important to understand that your child was doing their best to cope with their problems. Although their coping mechanism wasn’t a healthy option, it was the one they chose. You cannot change the past. Instead of blaming them and being angry, it’s your job to now help them get the support and treatment they need for the underlying issues they were trying to cope with. If you allow yourself to come from a place of understanding and compassion, you will give your child the space to begin their recovery with your support.

    Hope for the Future

    There is help out there for your child. It’s important to understand that they need help not only for their addiction, but for the underlying issues as well. Think of their addiction like a weed growing in a flower garden. If you only pull the part of the weed that you can see and leave the rest, a new weed will soon grow in the old one’s place.

    To successfully get rid of the weed, you must remove the roots. If you only get your child help for their substance abuse without dealing with the underlying stress and trauma, there will soon be unhealthy coping mechanisms that show up in the addiction’s place. The key is to treat the underlying issues as well and give your child the necessary tools they need to cope in healthy ways when stress returns.

    Recovery from an addiction is hard work. If your child is returning home from treatment, know that the work is just beginning. No one expects perfection, so stop striving for perfection. Do your best to be supportive and give your child what they need, not what they want.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help you and your child in their addiction recovery. We provide adolescents with a positive and loving environment where they can address their addiction and mental health issues and find the path to sobriety. Any treatment would be incomplete without the inclusion of the families who suffer alongside them, and that is why we include weekly family therapy in the recovery process as well. Let us help your child and your family heal together. To learn more, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

Sustain Recovery changed my life in a way I never considered remotely possible. I arrived in a place where I knew nobody. Sustain Recovery gave me tools so that I never had to be alone again. I learned how to live like an adult and have genuine relationships with other human beings. I gained a sense of self respect, love, and pride from the challenges I was given by staff. I was able to work through the recent loss of my father and I achieved my goal of not taking any psychiatric medication.
I learned that life is an endless balancing act. I have to continually work on myself and my relationships with the people in my life. The staff at Sustain Recovery are all incredibly experienced and spiritual. They were available to me whether I wanted their help or not. Through their efforts and experience, I experienced the inner workings of having an intimate, loving relationship with a loving creator.
Sustain Recovery is “home” for me. I discovered a loving, caring family that helped launch me to a place I would have never dreamed and, if I would have dreamed it, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish it.

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