By Tundi Massey, Licensed Professional Counselor
The start of a new school year is an exciting time for many families, shopping for supplies, finding the perfect backpack, new clothes marking the growth of children over the summer. Some families, however, face the school year with dread and fear.
Is It Just a Phase?
Parents may be dealing with children who do not want to go to school, fail classes, have poor peer relations, do not get along with their teachers, act-out in the classroom or are withdrawn. Facing one of these issues is difficult enough, but when you have a combination of them or they happen repeatedly, it makes for a miserable school year. Struggles at school often play out at home, just as problems at home may be carried to school.
As a counselor, I have seen so many families struggle with the same types of problems and ask the same questions. Is this normal? Is this a phase? What should we do? Some details of the struggle are different, but patterns of hurt, resentment, loneliness, poor communication, acting out, anger, poor choices, and broken relationships remain.
Nearly all families struggle at some point. But sometimes problems become too much or go on way too long. When this happens, families have to make some difficult decisions on how to get help and what is the right form of help for their family.
Do I Need Help?
While many of the following characteristics and behaviors may be seen in any family, the following list can help you to determine if your child and family needs help:
- Has your family experienced a significant life event that has been difficult to cope with?
- Have you been working with outpatient resources without much progress?
- Are there communication problems in your family?
- Is there a significant emotional distance between members of your family?
- Are you pessimistic about your family’s future?
- Are you and your child currently engaged in a power struggle?
- Do you feel burdened as a parent?
- Does your child shut you out?
- Is your child shut down and withdrawn from people, school and activities?
- Is your child disrespectful, belligerent or dishonest?
- Is your child in trouble at school?
- Have your child’s grades declined or are they poor?
- Is your child in trouble with the law?
- Have the above problems persisted for over a year?
If these issues sound all too familiar, your family may be best served through a program such as Eagle Ranch.
Where Do I Find Help?
The first options for assistance usually start with school counselors and private therapists. Sometimes they escalate and require a community agency, hospital or working with the court system.
To find out if Eagle Ranch is right for your child and family, call 770.967.8500 and ask for our Intake Office or visit EagleRanch.org.