Trauma-based & Family Psychotherapy For Angry, Anxious, Depressed, and Frustrated Families

Raising difficult children: 7 considerations to help

Challenging kidsRaising difficult children is never easy. These kids struggle to fall in line with other kids in the school and community.

Some kids even struggle to fall in line with kids in their own home (i.e. siblings or extended family).

This article will focus on the challenges of difficult children with suggestions on the direction to take to help problematic children grow, learn, and succeed. 

There are 5 suggestions I often give parents when they bring their kids to see me for therapy:

  1. “Tighten up” parenting practices: Parents often believe they can apply rules “loosely” and not follow up or reinforce them. Other parents believe they can “friend” their children into liking and respecting them. These kinds of attitudes are often displayed by permissive parents. The goal for these parents is not necessarily child-rearing, but rather becoming friends and not reinforcing expectations and rules with the child. The consequences of this approach can sink the child and the parent.
  2. Pursue outpatient therapy and mobile therapy at the same time: “Layer services.” What I mean by this is that parents should consider getting challenging children 2 or more therapeutic services in place at the same time. In the mental health field there are tons of mental health professionals who all deal with different challenges and needs a family may have. They know exactly how to “layer services.” For example, a behavior specialist can help parents learn better parenting techniques, while a case manager may help families pursue disability income, locate other services, and provide needed services such as transportation. Still, other professionals may offer family therapy and coaching. Figure out what you need and search for it.
  3. Respond to disrespect and opposition immediately: It is tiring repeatedly responding to the oppositional and rebellious behavior of a challenging child. Sadly, the parent’s job is to “confront” negative behaviors (in an appropriate fashion) before behaviors become “ingrained” or reinforced. For example, if you see your son eating out of the garbage or hitting others without reason, you need to address it head-on most times. Although I believe parents should pick their battles wisely, this is a battle you need to be in. The more you allow these behaviors the worse things will get.
  4. Give up activities you feel you can’t balance with childrearing: It’s a sad reality but if your child is challenging and problematic the chances of you pursuing pleasurable activities or achieving certain goals may be decreased. Going to school, working a very challenging job, or “hanging out” every weekend will have to become a thing of the past if your child is struggling with life. The best gift you could give to a challenging child is your time and energy.
  5. Consider extensive therapy and/or medication management: Years of therapy may be warranted. If therapy isn’t successful alone, you may have to consider medication management. Some kids may need medication to help with ADHD symptoms, anxiety, or impulsive behaviors. Other kids may struggle with sleep which makes following rules and complying even more difficult. Medication or extensive time in therapy may be needed. Medication can occur short-term as well. Some kids with ADHD need medication to help them stop and focus on the behaviors you want them to change. High energy levels and low concentration/attention span can make learning new behaviors or tools in therapy difficult for the child.
  6. Don’t let the child abuse you: When your child is struggling with regulation of his or her emotions, you have to learn to co-regulate. What I mean by this is that you will have to control your anger and walk away when you feel your anger rising. Two angry people isn’t going to accomplish anything. You want to remain calm, focused, and firm. You need to remove the child or remove yourself. If your child is physically attacking you, you will need to use your arm to move them away from you or pick them up and remove them from the scene. Keep in mind: you are either removing yourself or removing the child.
  7. Coach yourself: If you have to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are the adult, your are in control, do it. You have to change your perspective and your mind. You have to overcome that child’s strong temperament. Kids with strong wills have to learn to see you as the adult in charge. Any hint of weakness, any lack of correction, or any behavior from you that allows the child a small window to get away with things is a no-no. Immediately address the child. And immediately talk to yourself in moments of weakness.



Problematic and challenging kids


What do you think about this topic? Do you know someone struggling with a challenging child? I welcome your comments below.

As always, I wish you well

*CORONA VIRUS UPDATE1050 Lincoln Way, Ste 1 - Pittsburgh PA

As we get closer to the middle of May states across the nation are passing laws, reducing restrictions, and enacting new regulations to help support the transition from stay-at-home orders to the normal flow of life again.

Unfortunately, Gov. Wolf hasn't reduced the mask wearing restrictions in Allegheny County. However, he has announced most of Western PA will be moving to the yellow phase beginning May 15. This means that we can slowly regain some normalcy.

But until the mask wearing restrictions are reduced or eliminated Anchored Child & Family Counseling will remain closed. I will be making small transitions back to the office over the course of summer and seeing some clients in-person based on need.The office will be open starting June 17, 2020 with the goal of remaining open until/if state laws change in response to Corona virus restrictions.

In the meantime, I will be continuing teletherapy sessions until mid-June. My office assistant and I will be monitoring your insurance policy to ensure that you will be covered for teletherapy and that your copayments will be waived. At this time, it appears that all major insurance companies (UPMC, Highmark, Aetna, Optum/United, and Cigna) are continuing to provide coverage for teletherapy.

Please check (the practice website) for updates and my business facebook page at:

Please continue to stay safe!
Thank you


Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC

Licensed Child & Family Therapist
National Board Certified Counselor
Internationally Certified Trauma Therapist

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