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I need help with problem children. My problem children!

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Have you ever said this? I certainly have. I am currently raising my fourth child and sometimes parenting is downright difficult.

Getting help with difficult children is an important part of effective parenting. I have found that having a strategic parenting plan helps tremendously. Not only are you more confident as a parent - with a far better understanding of where you are going in parenting - but your children feel your confidence and certainty and often feel less need to challenge your authority overall.

Which translates into fewer problems in the long haul.

Let's continue with our discussion of finding effective help for problem children.

Finding help for problem children

Getting help with difficult children depends greatly upon what specific problem your child is struggling with - and the level of struggle.

Let's start with minor problems. Your child smarts off to you once in a while. You have been ignoring it, because, well, you really weren't sure what else to do. Besides, you read something that said the best way to deal with misbehavior is to ignore it.

But the behavior has not stopped. In fact, it's getting worse and you're getting worried. The truth is, ignoring some behaviors at certain times is effective, but as an overall parenting plan, ignoring behavior at all (positive or negative) is usually a bad idea.

So when you think about how to stop back talking, for example, you realize that you could use a few pointers. So you visit some forums and listen to what other parents are saying about solving back talk and how to deal with a problem child.

I've done that myself with some problems my children have wrestled with and I have found solutions using this method. Of course, I've found a lot of "answers" that didn't work either. Actually, that was good because the process forced me to make some decisions about my parenting style and to take a hard look at my individual child; how she learns, what motivates her and so forth.

Or you can read a parenting book. Again, a good solution for all kinds of situations when you need help with problem children. And yet again, you'll need to sort through different ideas (and some junk) to find the excellent parenting nuggets.

When you're sifting through lots of parenting strategies like this, watch for similar ideas that keep popping up, confirming each other. Definitely look for values that match your own. Do a gut check; is the parenting method safe, healthy and just plain make sense? By the way, here is an outstanding article on getting help for problem children. Is It an Adolescent Phase or Out-of-Control Behavior? Part II: 8 Ways to Manage Acting-out Kids

Next, consider getting (and being) a parenting mentor. Do you know other families you admire and respect? Offer to take one of those parents to lunch and ask if they will mentor you as you try to do the best by your children. Most people would be glad to help out in this way.

And remember to return the favor and offer your parenting help to a struggling parent who isn't as far along the parenting highway as you are.

Getting help with difficult children means intensifying the effort.

Maybe your problem child is beyond this stage, however. Maybe you realize you need a bit more advanced help. If that's the case, never hesitate to reach out to your child's teacher or your clergy for referals to a competent professional.

As always, make sure the professional's values align with your own. Otherwise you'll find yourself frustrated that their plan of action doesn't work in your own family structure.

Don't make the common mistake of thinking that someone else - even a "professional" - is going to fix your problem child. Life just doesn't work that way. For example, counseling is far more effective if you come alongside the therapist and work - hard - to learn the new skills being taught.

There are many self-help parenting programs available, as well. I think many have merit providing - as in the case of therapy - you are willing to work the programs. My favorite is The Total Transformation because it has a proven track record with all kinds of problem children issues and it teaches parents how to take control of their parenting and then supports parents in doing exactly that.

Support in parenting is super important. Which is another reason why I endorse parenting mentors as mentioned above.

Getting help for problem children who need to leave the home.

This does happen, of course. Sometimes getting help for difficult children - usually teens - means leaving their home environment and getting a fresh start in a highly structured environment. It is outside the scope of this article to make recommendations on boarding schools and other residential solutions for serious behavioral problems in children, but certainly if you come to the decision that your child or teenager needs this type of intervention, it would be silly to send them off and not be taking serious parenting courses yourself at the same time.

Your child still needs you to learn - deeply learn - some fundamental parenting processes and parents who skip this step sometimes find that life is no better when their child returns home. You can start right now by signing up for my ezine "I Love My Child" (signup box above). It's a good first step.

Be proactive, Mom or Dad! It is the best thing you can do to help your child and yourself form a happy, healthy home.

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