Kids Corner

Kids Corner (Image 1)
Kids Corner (Image 1)

reiterate the times your child does NOT have a significant problem and define a few commonly diagnosed disorders for parents.

Picky eating

Personal preferences and over-indulgence are not eating disorders.  Anorexia (restricting calories) and Bulimia (purging) ARE disorders

Though some clinicians are trying to have picky eating added as a diagnosis and there is some evidence that some childhood eating issues CAN predict later eating issues, Your garden variety picky eating is probably OK.  How you handle it matters:

·         Most picky eating is a preference. 

o   If the problem is an indulged child, work on setting better boundaries with your children. 

o   My son does this regularly and it is really a means of control.  He hated all peas yesterday and gobbled them up today.  Give your child others means of control and the food issues will diminish.

o   My son is small and not a big eater, so having breakfast at 7, then lunch at 10:30 is a bad idea.  Unfortunately, this is his lunch hour at school, so we plan for that.  We power eat at breakfast, he mostly skips lunch (no matter how much I want him to eat, he is just not hungry).  We snack in the car at 2:30 and have a healthy dinner.  I also try my best to keep healthier options around the house.  I also don’t stress if they have something unhealthy from time to time.  A cupcake at school is not the end of the world.  I just need to make sure that MOSTLY, the choices are healthy ones in other places.  We are very lucky at our school that a healthy menu is provided every day.  Hopefully this will move to all Greenville County schools soon. 

o   Your child won’t starve if you provide healthy foods and no dessert for a week. We have dessert Sunday at our house (yes we slip up, but moderation is the key).   

o   Don’t give your children the choice to pack themselves full of empty calories that are addictive and tasty (high in salt, sugar and fat).

Anorexia

o    is regular restricting of calories, low weight / underweight, distorted thinking about food and often a distorted body image. 

Bulimia

o   is purging of calories either by throwing up or using exercise / diuretics or laxatives to rid the body of calories to maintain a weight that is linked to distorted thinking

“Bad Behaviors” are not necessarily pathological

·         A child who annoys you by challenging rules, talking out of turn, not listening immediately may simply need a more structured environment. 

o   Often personality issues between adults and the child lead to worse behaviors in the child. 

o   I often see a child whose only problem is at home, or at school or at football practice.

o   Reasonable adults need to check themselves here and figure out what is going in that environment, NOT necessarily in the child. 

o   We have all had a boss, acquaintance, teacher, etc. with  whom we just did not mesh.  Not being liked by someone with a position of power is sometimes just the breaks folks.  Try to solve the environmental problem for your child, but also teach them they have to learn to get along even when they are not with a person who thinks they are great. 

o   Teach this child problem solving, rather than fighting that system.  Often, the situation resolve itself (find a new job, go up to the next class, stop hanging out with that person)

Conduct Disorder

o   If your child is INTENTIONALLY  harming animals or other children / adults

o    starting fires

o   breaking the law and

o   disrespecting the rights of others with no remorse, then we have a problem! 

Selfish children are not necessarily disordered

·         If your child is sometimes a real pain, they just might be a kid!  So your child is occasionally:

o   Narcissistic,

o   Self Centered,

o   Selfish,

o   Unable to Maintain consistent relationships with others and

o   occasionally lacking empathy,

He or she does not necessarily have a Personality disorder.  Actually, your child could be diagnosed as just be a KID between the ages of 2 and 12.  Children are sometimes by nature all of these things and as they grow and develop this changes.

It is your job as the parent to model appropriate, pro-social behaviors.  Remember we all learn through modeling and making mistakes, so your child is bound to do all of this stuff.  I worry sometimes about “perfect children,” and suspect there is some anxiety issues going on for that child. 

On these I tend to want to wait it out and change the environment before I would ever diagnose a child with a serious personality disorder.  Even serious issues like cutting and suicidal thinking are often trendy and transient.  You definitely want to take it seriously, but don’t assume there is a serious disorder until you talk to an expert who thoroughly interviews your child and you.  It is a very bad thing to misdiagnose anyone.  Don’t take that lightly and don’t assume because one person with limited data gives a diagnosis, that you have to accept it.  Get a second opinion if you have doubts. 

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