Common knowledge suggests that when some children and adolescents experience emotional distress, they are likely to “act-out.”
Consequently, such children may become overtly disruptive, mischievous, aggressive, intentionally antagonistic, actively oppositional and resistively defiant.
Authority figures and the expressed and implied rules, roles and responsibilities required by the established, adult, status quo are the usual targets for many children to “act-out” against with their rage, despair and frustration.
However, one must not underestimate the potency of children’s existing peer relationships upon their mental health, as well as, extant life-span developmental challenges.
Periodic “temper tantrums” are also typical with some of these children as they consciously and unconsciously convey their feelings by wreaking bloody havoc in the tumultuous wake of their reactive “negative behaviors”.
Additionally, they may perform quite poorly in school, fail coursework which they were previously doing well at and manifest an apparent “lack of motivation” to succeed.
It is usually at such times that “acting-out” kids engage in incrementally “high-risk” behaviors and proffer an “I don’t care” attitude.
Children can also “act-in.”
Younger children may become overly dependent, clingy and “sad” while older children may become withdrawn, isolative and possibly self-injurious.
“Acting-in” kids may outwardly appear to lose all interest in once pleasurable activities. They may sleep too much, eat too much, avoid too much.
Perhaps they will develop social anxieties, depression, or other fears and phobias. They may exhibit obsessions and compulsions, or complain of somatic problems, stomach aches and headaches.
When the sources of emotional distress are not addressed and resolved, some children can develop more serious and enduring psychological symptoms.
These symptoms are likely to interfere with their functioning across multiple life-domains and result in permanent maladjustment.
“Acting-out” and “acting-in” behaviors are compensatory adaptations equivalently damaging to a child’s long-term development and well-being.
This is where “It Takes a Village”, in the form of knowledgeable community healers, mentors and guides to add demonstrable value to the lives of children.
This is also where “It Takes a Family”, insofar, as the children’s family is the elemental “building block” of society.
The clinical psychologists of Northern Illinois Counseling Associates, P.C. (NICA) quickly connect with young people and relate to them in a meaningful way, at their “unit of relevance”.
As duly licensed “village” people, we aggressively utilize our training, education and experience to provide corrective emotional experiences directly to troubled children and to provide corrective emotional experiences directly to their troubled family.
Families frequently struggle with volatile relational conflicts, divisive parenting styles, and/or disruptive life transitions such as separation, divorce, remarriage, step-family blending, a child leaving home, medical illness, or the death of a loved one.
At NICA, most counseling with children will require parental and/or family involvement in the assessment and treatment process.
We care deeply about the children in our village…and in your family!
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