Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can help parents understand and work with their emotionally volatile children - click here.
Like the waves of a turbulent ocean, the world of negative emotions seems to ebb and flow with a disturbing lack of predictability. One day you can easily manage your emotions, but the next day everything seems to get to you. You find the insult in every comment from friends and family, and you just cannot seem to calm down.
Dr. Marsha Linehan recognized that biological vulnerabilities to high intensity emotions could create a difficult parental relationship early in life.
Well-intentioned parents do their best to match the intense communications of their children, but they often fall short with a child who lives with more intense emotions. Parental initiatives in discipline, organization, and performance that may have worked effortlessly with their other children fall flat with this child. Instead, this child may stubbornly resist change and compliance, further frustrating the parent.
In worst cases, the cycle between the frustrated parents and the emotional child can become highly toxic.
The child is unable to perform optimally at school and in extracurricular activities due to their intense emotions. Confused parents misinterpret this behavior as disobedience, apathy, manipulation, and defiance. The child is labeled as difficult and exhausting because the parent doesn’t know what to do!
These parents need to understand their child’s emotional states and use skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) to help their children calm down, focus, and perform. They’ll be able to structure and properly work with their child so that they are successful at home and at school. Once they know how to communicate effectively with their child, the parent-child relationship will flourish.
If you or someone you know is having difficulty communicating with their child, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.
The work of Dr. Marsha Linehan
"Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide" by Kelly Koerner