Behaviour disorders are nothing new – but labelling them is a fairly recent development.
Grandparents may be unfamiliar with many of the terms used to describe behaviour issues, but it can be a great help for them to familiarise themselves with the symptoms and treatments so that they can enjoy the best possible relationships with their grandchildren.
Supporting Grandkids with Behaviour Disorders
All children (and adults, too) benefit from knowing that family members love and support them for exactly who they are.
Behaviour disorders can make it difficult for loved ones, testing their patience and then making them feel guilty for being short-tempered. For grandparents, who may not recognise that their grandchildren are not fully in control of their behaviour, it can be hard to accept that the outbursts and other symptoms displayed by their grand-kids are the result of a disorder, rather than simple disobedience.
Overview of Common Behaviour Disorders
While grandparents may be unfamiliar with the specifics of their grandchild’s diagnosis in the beginning, they can educate themselves on the topic so that they can better understand what they can do to help minimise outbursts, making things easier for both generations. Some of the more commonly discussed behaviour disorders include:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Kids with ADHD are often inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive. More common in boys than girls, ADHD affects about 5% of children. Studies show that about half of children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to exhibit symptoms into adulthood. Behaviour management, counselling, and medication may all be effective in controlling the symptoms of ADHD.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): Characterised by extreme defiance and disobedience in kids under nine or ten years of age, ODD symptoms go far beyond what parents might normally see in young children. Kids diagnosed with ODD must have difficulties in more than one setting – for example, they are symptomatic at both home and school. Treatment for ODD typically involves careful and consistent attentiveness by parents, who are instructed to set clearly defined boundaries for their children while refusing to engage with the kids in confrontational displays.
- Conduct Disorder (CD): Children or adolescents diagnosed with CD are often viewed as “bad,” rather than ill because they behave in ways that utterly disregard societal norms. Aggressions toward people or animals, destruction of property, stealing, lying, and continual violation of rules are all signs of CD, but in order for a diagnosis, a child must have displayed at least three symptomatic behaviours within the past year and one within the past six months. It’s important to note that CD often coexists with other conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or substance abuse.
Helping Grown Children with the Grandchildren
Parents who have kids with behaviour disorders need the support of family members to help them cope with the stresses associated with parenting.
All too often, parents of special needs children find themselves feeling judged by the very people that they are counting on to help them through life’s challenges.
When kids act out or have trouble fitting in with their peers, others who may not understand the complexities of behaviour disorders may assume that the kids simply haven’t been taught proper self control, but that is rarely the case.
Many behaviour issues in children can be effectively treated, helping the kids to improve their focus, control their impulsiveness, and feel more comfortable in social situations.
Kids who are struggling with behaviour disorders and their parents, who are likely to feel stressed over their children’s condition, can benefit a great deal from knowing that the kids’ grandparents love them, just as they are.