Journey with Your Child through Adjustment and Transitional Issues
People go through a range of transitions from childhood to adulthood. For children, these may involve adjustments to changes in family, relationships, school, and other activities. While childhood is usually a period of joy and pleasure, traumatic and stressful events can change a child’s world in a fundamental way.
The negative impact of some events fades on its own, making it possible for some children to weather the early challenges that life throws at them. Other events may make adjusting very difficult for a child: the birth of a sibling, relocation to a new home, the death of a loved one, parents’ divorce or separation, domestic violence, or school concerns. These events may leave children with symptoms of adjustment disorder, such as negative feelings or behavioral change.
Challenges in the Eyes of a Child
An unhealthy response to a tense or emotionally distressing life event is called an adjustment disorder. It can occur at any stage of life, but it is more common in children. They experience more difficulty adjusting to transitions that demand strong emotions because of a myriad of factors, such as immaturity, inborn temperament, and having to handle several changes all at once.
The fact that adjustment disorder is related to stressful life events makes many people think that it is not a serious emotional health condition. In truth, adjustment disorder can negatively affect every facet of a young child’s life. When ignored, it may overwhelm children so they feel hopeless and chronically frazzled.
Symptoms of Adjustment and Transitional Issues
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a basic reference used by emotional health professionals, states that “the accompanying symptoms of an adjustment disorder manifest within three months of the identifiable stressor.” They are considered acute if they are experienced for less than six months and chronic if they last longer. It is important to note that the symptoms vary between children, being influenced by physical and environmental factors.
If there has been a recent change in your child’s life, you may have some questions about his or her behavior:
- Is your child’s academic performance declining?
- Does your child appear depressed, as manifested in sadness or uncontrollable bouts of crying?
- Is your child jittery and always nervous?
- Does your child exhibit disturbing conduct like aggressive outbursts or reckless behavior with little remorse or concern for others?
- Does your child experience significant impairment in relationships in multiple settings?
- Do you consider your child’s distress to be an unexpected response to a specific stressor?
Prospects of Recovery
Early detection and treatment of adjustment disorder symptoms can greatly improve the affected child’s quality of life. Most recoveries are rapid and complete, enabling patients to regain their former level of functioning, especially when there are no other complicating conditions. However, early treatment is critical to prevent the symptoms from becoming severe. It is important that evaluation takes place immediately after the symptoms have been noted. Therapy is often regarded as the most beneficial and preferred treatment option for adjustment disorder.
A vital component of therapy for this condition is helping the child identify and understand their reactions to a stressor. Without treatment, a child diagnosed with adjustment disorder has a higher risk of engaging in self-harming activities, substance abuse, and various psychosomatic complaints. These potential risks may serve as impetus to seek immediate help from a professional.
Journeying with Your Child toward Recovery
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there is no way to predict who will develop an adjustment disorder, nor can we prevent all distressing life events. What can be done instead is to offer support and guidance to children with adjustment and transitional issues. If your child is struggling to adjust to a life transition, consider the expertise offered by the professionals at Carolina Counseling Services in Fuquay-Varina, NC.
Your child can greatly benefit from matching with one of our independently contracted counselors specializing in adjustment disorder. You and your child will be welcomed into a warm and inviting environment that fosters communication and connection. The independently contracted counselor at CCS in Fuquay-Varina, NC, can help your child on the journey to conquering fear, anxiety, helplessness, and hopelessness and readjust to enjoy life again. Call now to request an appointment.
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