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The Remarried Life

May 4, 2021

Brian Mayer talks with Matis Miller about how best to work with children who can sometimes be stubborn, difficult, or even “uncontrollable.”  Matis is the founder, director, and supervisor of The Center for Cognitive & Behavioral Therapy of New Jersey, Matis Miller is a licensed clinical social worker.

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Today's Goodies

  • Here is much of what Matis talks about on the show:
  • Labeling or Diagnosing the Child: Having a diagnosis can make it easier to modify school assignments or adapt your parenting strategies. Additionally, when people have a diagnosis for themselves or their child, it can be very validating; their experiences and challenges suddenly make sense. I thought I was going crazy, but it turns out that this is something that actually has a name!
  • ADHD: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a fairly well-known disorder that is primarily characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. The symptoms are present before the age of twelve; in some children, they are noticeable from an early age. ADHD can be mild, moderate, or severe.
  • Symptoms of ADHD include:
  • Trouble focusing on tasks and paying attention to detail
  • Difficulty following through and completing tasks
  • Difficulty organizing activities or keeping track of belongings
  • Distractibility or forgetfulness
  • Constant motion or difficulty staying still
  • Excessive talking and interrupting
  • Difficulty waiting one’s turn
  • While most healthy children are impulsive and active, the more extreme characteristics of ADHD significantly impact a child’s functioning.
  • Parenting an uncontrollable child can be exhausting, frustrating, chaotic, embarrassing, painful, and frightening.
  • (It’s pretty tough on the kid, too!)
  • It can also come along with a heaping dose of guilt: What did I do wrong that my child turned out like this?
  • Even the most experienced, knowledgeable, patient, loving parents can find themselves with an uncontrollable child: a child who is emotionally sensitive, easily dysregulated, overly moody, or highly irritable.
  • Emotion dysregulation is often misunderstood, especially by outsiders: He just needs firm discipline! All she needs is some love! Why can’t you get your kid to pull himself together? You must be coddling her; you shouldn’t stand for this behavior.
  • There’s often nothing that the parents could have done to prevent the uncontrollability—most of these children are hard wired to be extra-sensitive, impulsive, or otherwise “uncontrollable.” The good news is that there’s plenty you can do now to get your life (and your child’s life) under control.
  • As a parent, you have the power to influence your children’s lives and enable them to achieve the healthiest state possible. Childhood is the time to accept your child, build him/her up, protect him/her, defend him/her, and love him/her unconditionally, while simultaneously setting healthy limits, encouraging independence, and teaching him/her personal responsibility. It’s the time to teach him how to deal with emotional struggles on his own, and also the time to teach him/her how to reach out for help.
  • The “parent training” component of treatment for children with emotion dysregulation is an essential element. Time after time, I’ve seen that it’s far more effective to encourage parents to change than to encourage children to change. That’s because adults generally have a broader worldview than their naturally self-centered children; they’re also typically more motivated, more willing to cooperate, and more capable of self-driven change than children are.


Thanks For Listening!

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As always remember that marriage is not something you have, it is something you do.  Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute!  Take care.