Month: May 2014

Sibling Fights Could Indicate a Need for Family Therapy

If your children are fighting frequently, family therapy may be able to help. Sibling aggression and bullying are usually the result of an unhealthy family dynamic. That’s why the whole family needs to seek help. Focusing on just the victim or just the aggressor will not ultimately solve your family’s bullying problem. It’s possible that your family as a whole may benefit from family therapy as a group, or on an individual level.

It’s certainly normal for siblings to fight. If you grew up with siblings, you can probably look back on your childhood and remember some of the awful fights you had with your brothers and sisters growing up. But fighting between siblings can do lasting damage to your children’s mental health. A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics linked sibling fights to increased levels of depression, anxiety and anger among those children who were the victims of sibling aggression.

Sibling Aggression Linked to Mental Illness

The study, which was done by the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, interviewed more than 3,500 children and adolescents over the phone, using numbers selected at random. The interviewers asked questions about the participants’ mental health problems as well as the specific kinds of sibling aggression they’d experienced in the past year. The three types of aggression covered by the questionnaire included physical aggression, properly damage and psychological aggression, like verbal abuse.

About one-third of the children and adolescents surveyed said that they had been on the receiving end of sibling aggression, violence or bullying in the past year. Those who had been the victims of sibling aggression reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and anger than those who had not. The more often a child becomes the target of sibling aggression, the more likely he or she can benefit from family therapy.

This is not the first study to examine sibling aggression and violence. Another study determined that sibling aggression is common. At least half of children under the age of ten experience aggression at the hands of their siblings. Among children aged 3 to 17, 80 percent reported experiencing violence at the hands of a brother or sister during the year of the study period.

Could Your Children Benefit from Family Therapy?

It’s unrealistic to expect that your children will never fight, just as it’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll never have a fight with a spouse or a disagreement with a relative. Siblings fight.

But you shouldn’t just let your children “fight it out” – use sibling fights as an opportunity to teach your children to resolve their differences constructively. If aggression and violence between your children becomes a common occurrence, or if bullying is occurring, our family therapy center can help correct the dysfunctional dynamics in your family.

Is It Normal Sibling Aggression, or Bullying?

How can you tell if the fights your children have are normal sibling aggression, or bullying? Normal sibling aggression flows both ways. If your son pulls your daughter’s hair and she retaliates by kicking him in the knee, that’s normal sibling aggression. When each of your children seems equally capable of picking a fight with the others, the aggression between them cannot be labeled as bullying – although even normal sibling aggression can lead to an increased risk of mental health problems in children.

Bullying, on the other hand, takes on a pattern. When one of your children is consistently the aggressor and one of your children is consistently the victim, that’s a sign of bullying. A child who is a bully wields power over the child being bullied. The bullied child will not fight back. The aggression flows only one way.

When this happens, it’s definitely time to seek the help of our Florida family therapy center. Bullying by a sibling can cause lasting and severe psychological and emotional damage. Family therapy can help correct the family dynamic that is encouraging one or more of your children to bully. One-on-one therapy may also be helpful for individual members of your family.

Fighting between siblings may not be as harmless as it was once thought. If your kids are fighting a lot, our family therapy specialists can help.

Call us today at 561-338-7725 to set up an appointment.

Five Signs Your Child Will Benefit from Seeing a Boca Raton Psychiatrist

Just like adults, many kids and teenagers struggle with mental illness. In fact, according to the CDC, 20 percent of children and teens struggle with a mental illness. If you think your child or teenager is struggling with a mental illness, our Boca Raton psychiatrist is here to help.

When a Boca Raton Psychiatrist Can Help

But how can you tell if your child has a mental illness? Many parents fail to recognize the signs of mental illness in their children, because they don’t know what mental illness symptoms look like. It can also be difficult to differentiate between mental illness symptoms and normal childhood behavior or misbehavior. That’s why our Boca Raton psychiatrist has put together this helpful list of mental illness symptoms in teens and children. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek professional help as soon as possible.

1) Changes in Mood or Mood Swings

Mood swings or changes in mood may be a sign that your child needs to see a psychologist, but it can be hard to tell, especially in teens. If your child seems excessively sad or elated and hyperactive for an extended period of time, or develops mood swings or mood changes that are out of character for him or her, it could be a sign that your child needs mental health treatment.

Just like adults, children and teens react emotionally to events that occur in their life. If mood problems persist or if they cause problems in the family or at school, your child needs help.

2) Intense Worry or Fear

You might not think children have a lot to be anxious about, but mental illnesses aren’t logical – that’s why they’re called mental illnesses. Children can develop anxiety disorders including PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and social phobias. Young children may express fear and worry as a refusal to perform activities normal for children, such as going to school, going to sleep or attending a birthday party. If your child seems excessively worried or anxious, especially if he or she demonstrates physical symptoms of fear like a rapid heart rate, fast breathing or sweaty palms, for no reason, bring him or her to see our Boca Raton psychiatrist.

3) Disordered Eating Behaviors

Children as young as eight years old can develop eating disorders. These disorders are about feeling out of control of one’s environment or life, and not really about weight or appearance. If left untreated, however, eating disorders can kill; they are the deadliest of all mental illnesses.

If your child seems excessively picky about what he or she eats, hides food or pretends to eat, loses an excessive amount of weight, refuses to eat in front of others or expresses concerns about being fat, he or she might have an eating disorder. However, binge eating disorder is the most common, and it does not cause excessive weight loss; it can cause rapid weight gain as sufferers consume more than 10,000 calories in one sitting. If you think your child might have an eating disorder, our Boca Raton psychiatrist can evaluate his or her condition and recommend a treatment plan. Eating disorder treatment for young children is often very successful, since parents can take complete control of the child’s diet.

4) Other Behavioral Changes

Children suffering from mental illness may begin acting out, they may struggle academically or they may lose friends. A child or teen who is struggling with mental illness may suddenly seem to become a different person. He or she may begin eating or sleeping much more or much less and may let his or her personal hygiene go. A child struggling with mental illness may begin engaging in self-destructive or self-harming behaviors, including self-mutilation, taking drugs or talking about or attempting suicide. If your child or teen is no longer acting like the person you know him or her to be, seek the help of our Boca Raton psychiatrist.

5) Unexplained Physical Symptoms

Mental illnesses can cause unexplained physical symptoms including stomachaches, headaches, body pain, and decreased or increased energy levels. If your child is complaining of physical symptoms for which no physical cause can be found, it could be time to call our Boca Raton psychiatrist for help.

If you think your child or teenager is suffering from mental illness symptoms, call our Boca Raton psychiatrist today at 561-338-7725.

Parenting Techniques

Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world, if not the toughest.  It’s also one that doesn’t require a degree.  How wonderful would it be if along with a positive pregnancy test came a free intensive parenting techniques program!  Oh sure, there are tons of books on parenting techniques out there, but with so many different voices often giving contradictory advice, it can be frustrating.  Therefore, I’d like to use the next few blog posts to discuss some of the techniques that make the most sense to me.

Remove Emotions from Parenting

While it might seem to go against our nature, one of the most important parenting techniques is to remove emotions from the parenting process.  Our kids stress us out, but when we show frustration in our interactions with them, we lose.  Exchanges with irritated parents immediately put children on the defensive and make them more prone to dig their heels in rather than to comply.  This hurts our relationships with them and also causes more stress in the family.

The old way of thinking in the psychological world was that if you were angry, it was best to let it all out in order to feel better.  Fortunately, we now know that this is a faulty parenting technique that doesn’t work. Expressing anger in an angry voice and with angry words merely increases anger. The best way to interact with a child, despite feeling angry, is to speak in a soft, monotone voice and simply and kindly put forth what needs to be done and what choices the child has.  For example, instead of shouting, “How many times do I have to tell you to clean the table?!” it is better to say, “Hey Johnny, I need you to clean the table now.  If you decide to get it done in the next five minutes then you can enjoy your dessert, but if you decide not to, then unfortunately dessert is not going to be an option today.”  And the most beautiful part is that you don’t have to wait around for a response! You can walk away and let him make his choice.

As parents, we aren’t robots, so there will certainly be times that our emotions carry through, especially if our patience has worn thin.  However, the more we can engage in emotionless confrontations, the better we’ll feel and the less fighting and stress there will be overall.

How do Psychologists Differentiate between Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder?

Commonalities Between Borderline Personality Disorder And Bipolar Disorder

For the average person with some knowledge of psychiatric disorders, it may seem like there are many commonalities between borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. If it seems that way, it is because there are. Like many psychiatric diagnosis, certain symptoms may be characteristic of more than one diagnosis. Fortunately, psychologists and other mental health professionals have determined strict diagnostic criteria that helps us to make the most accurate diagnosis possible.

Mood vs. Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder share some common features such as unstable moods and impulsive actions. Though they may seem similar, they are, in fact, different. For one, borderline personality disorder is categorized as a personality disorder while bipolar disorder is categorized as a mood disorder. In other words, bipolar disorder affects your mood whereas borderline personality disorder is a function of basic personality development.

Duration of Mood Swings

The mood swings associated with both disorders are differentiated in their length of time. An individual with borderline personality disorder can experience mood changes several times within an hour whereas one with bipolar disorder can stay in a mood for days or weeks. They also vary in intensity. Those with borderline personality disorder experience shifts in mood that might be more frequent, but vary to a smaller degree than the vast differences in intensity in the mood swings of those with bipolar disorder.

Origin Of Mood Swings

The origin of mood swings is also different between each disorder. In borderline personality disorder, external circumstances, or what is going on in their life in that moment, are generally triggers. This displays as an extreme dependence on either the people in their life or the situation they are in to determine mood. In bipolar disorder, shifts in mood usually come from internal influences. Research also supports that individuals with borderline personality disorder were more likely to have experienced childhood trauma than those with bipolar disorder.

Though many psychiatric disorders share similar features, all presenting symptoms and characteristics must be considered before a mental health professional is able to make an accurate diagnosis. We hope this has cleared up some of the questions you.

Stop Dieting!

Advice From Dr. Kranzler on Living Healthy

Whoever I speak to about dieting tells me that it’s misery, plain and simple.  It’s also confusing as it seems that everyone and their mother have a completely different way of dieting.  Those who I’ve spoken to have tried diets that tell you to cut animal products, others that tell you that cutting carbs is the way to go, and many many more variations.  But there is one thing that unites all diets; invariably, they don’t last.  They can’t, especially the more extreme ones.

I’ve spoken to so many people who feel that they have been “dieting” their whole lives but never seem to get anywhere.  Most people who diet regularly try one and then another and then circle back to the first or second and so on, only to find that when they stop dieting or “cheat” they gain weight back.

Stop Dieting, Change Your Lifestyle

I believe that the solution isn’t dieting, it’s lifestyle change.  When you change the way you think about food and how you eat, that’s when the real success comes.  So yes, I am actually saying that the best way to lose weight is to stop dieting.  But the opposite of not dieting isn’t eating whatever you want.  It is eating healthily in general and enjoying the really unhealthy but delicious food every now and then, in moderation.

Eating well to feel well and enjoying all foods, the unhealthy ones in small doses, leads to satisfaction and happiness.  So yes, stop dieting and start living.  Look to eat more unprocessed whole foods, whole grains and natural products.  But for goodness sake don’t stop eating pizza, or ice cream, and certainly not chocolate.  And when it’s time for a treat, take a small amount of it and eat it slowly, and mindfully, paying attention to everything about it.

When you slow eating down and truly pay attention to it you can enjoy the things you love in smaller amounts which will seem like larger amounts because of the attention you give to them.  So yes, stop dieting.  It’s time to start living.

– Dr. Jeff Kranzler, Proliance Center

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