All children misbehave now and then; bickering with siblings, testing the ‘no’ word, throwing a temper tantrum. These are a typical part of childhood. Eventually they grow out of it and learn the appropriate behavior expected of them. When they continually exhibit negative behaviors, even as they get older, outsiders assume it is the effects of bad parenting. In reality it could be a behavior disorder. Behavior disorders include conduct disorders, emotional disorders, Opposition Defiance Disorder (ODD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolar disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
MAS Home Care is special in that it does not only treat the elderly and disabled. Children’s services are also available. In Maine, MAS provides Section 65 HCT (Home and Community Treatment Therapy) to children who have a mental health diagnosis and are at risk of being placed out of their home due to serious negative behaviors. The program generally involves 10-20 hours of in-home treatment a week. The intention is to achieve the family’s goals in 3-6 months.
A master’s level clinician will provide strategies to help manage the behavior and a behavioral health professional will provide individual support to the child. Until a child is referred, or self-referred by his parents, the family may be at a loss as to how to handle the behaviors. With patience and hard work, they can help the child to make better choices about how to resolve a problem.
One method to try is increasing physical activity. Behavior disorders often stem from frustration and anger. Physical movement is one way to vent frustration and deescalate those strong feelings. Getting active is a safe and positive way to burn off excess energy that may be fueling the bad behavior. It may be exercises in the backyard, dancing to a favorite song, or joining a sports team. Structured sports promote team work as well and can teach children how to work together. An obvious plus is that exercise is good for you!
Many families are referred to MAS by their case managers or doctors. Remember that families can always call MAS directly!