Nothing hurts more to parents than knowing that their child is having a difficult time, especially if their kids suffer from mental issues. So, for parents raising children with personality disorders, it’s like a never-ending maze scavenging for possible ways to cope. You always ask yourself if you are raising your child right, or even whether or not the treatment you’re providing for them is enough. But, if disorders are left untreated, it will haunt children as they move on to adulthood.
Understanding Personality Disorders
According to Nicole Martinez, Psy.D. “A personality disorder is a deeply ingrained and maladaptive pattern of behavior of a specified kind causing long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society” Personality disorders is a type of behavioral disorder characterized by the behavior and feeling that differs significantly from an average person. People diagnosed with this often have trouble with interacting with others and responding well to certain situations and challenges. If you suspect your child or a close relative of suffering this disorder, here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:
- Trust issues
- Having beliefs or thoughts that people are trying to harm him/her
- Holds extreme grudges
- Lacking in emotion
- Appears cold and/or indifferent
- Shows excessive concern over self-image
- Prefers to be alone and alienates others
- Has a peculiar way of dressing, thinking, or speaking
- Persistently lies or covers up the truth
- Has an impulsive behavior
- Has suicidal tendencies
- Has an extreme fear of abandonment
For psychiatrists, they have a system in diagnosing the different types of personality disorders. The 10 types are grouped into three categories:
- Suspicious – paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial
- Emotional and impulsive – borderline, histrionic, narcissistic
- Anxious – avoidant, dependent, obsessive compulsive
When it comes to the actual causes of personality disorders, researchers have not successfully found any leads but they have singled out possible factors that build up to the development of these such as genetics, environment, family, and relationships (peers, relatives, etc.).
Tips to Remember in Raising a Child with a Personality Disorder
“The diagnosis of “borderline personality disorder” carries profound stigma for many people. Even some mental health professionals use the term pejoratively, which is not difficult considering that the diagnosis itself implies that someone’s personality is flawed.” Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW explained. Going back to what was previously mentioned, parents at the start often scratch their heads on what to do when dealing with a child who has a personality disorder. Here are a few tips or guides to take note of:
- Go slowly
Remember that your child will always have difficulty accepting or taking in change. The promise of “progress” often raises fears of failure or abandonment. This is because once children proceed to create progress and start to cope well, they begin to think that their independence will cause the people who have supported them to leave, concluding that their job is done. Therefore, continuous help and a good amount of attention is always needed. And, to understand that it is very difficult to achieve real progress. Set attainable and realistic goals for them. Do not state things like, “You’ve changed so well,” but instead say something such as “I’m happy you worked hard but this all might be difficult for you, so take your time.”
2. Family environment is important
“Mental health issues can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors, and can have a minor or major impact on a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” Christina L. Gmyr, LMHC, NCC emphasizes. If a child wakes up to a noisy and horrific house and neighborhood, it adds on to their traumatic experiences and thoughts. Family conflicts should be toned down or diminished at all costs, the hostility that bounces from this could affect your child negatively. Fear of abandonment is also something to watch out for. If you or a close relative of your child is absent, it might cause disturbed and painful feelings within your child, which could influence him/her to dissociate those thoughts.
3. Stay calm but always pay attention
There’s no use to panicking if your child begins to have episodes. These are all a part of your reality as well as theirs, which is difficult to avoid. If they begin to criticize you or pour their anger out on you, it is natural to be hurt or even feel enraged, but refrain from fighting. Remain rational in order to create alternative solutions, instead of defending yourself and adding more fuel to the fire. Remember that he/she is your child and it is best to just listen.
4. Address problems together
When your child is up against a challenge, especially when it’s with themselves, it is a parent’s instinct to step in and help. But, this might result to resentment and become an unwanted intrusion. It is best to ask whether or not your child wants actual help and always include them in family discussions when solving problems. This way, all views are respected and understood. Also, aim to be consistent as a parent. Inconsistency may lead to more family conflicts, since each and every member have different opinions. Create strategies that works for everyone and especially for your child.
Possible Treatments for Personality Disorders
There are many treatments that can help your child deal with his/her personality disorder, such as:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Treatments include Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Psychodynamic Therapy. Treatments include Mentalization-Based Treatment (MBT)
- Schema Therapy
- Behavioral Therapy
- Social Skills Training
- Prescription and Medication
- This, however, only acts as an aid to make the coping process easier. And, it might cause side-effect and withdrawal symptoms if not taken properly.