Dr. Dean Beckloff, founder of the Beckloff Behavioral Health Center, is a renowned mental health professional with over three decades of experience. Dr. Beckloff has worked with kids, teens and their families in areas such as anger management, depression, anxiety and social skills development as well as with kids and teens who have been diagnosed as having ADHD and ASD (spectrum disorders). He and his team of therapists tailor solutions that empower families to lead their best lives. They adopt a team approach, involving at least two therapists in each case, with the conviction that a greater number of perspectives enhances the process. They also recognize parents as an essential component of this collaborative effort, emphasizing that parents possess valuable contributions in assisting their children.
1. How does counseling benefit children with Autism and ADHD and their families?
Children with Spectrum disorders (ASD - autistic spectrum disorders) and those diagnosed with ADHD often have difficulties regulating their emotions. That is not always the case, but where it is, counseling can be very helpful in helping them learn new ways to regulate their emotions. Children with these neurobiological differences do have trouble with regulation across the board, including regulating attention and the development of social understanding. Counseling can be very helpful to the child in developing social skills as well as developing skills for regulating themselves. We also work with parents to help them to also discover strategies to help their kiddos!
2. Can you share effective strategies for parents dealing with children's anger issues?
One of the most important tools that a parent can use — and also develop, is to stay non-reactive, and then to also use language to help the child realize they are being understood — and therefore calm themselves. Parents are critical in helping the child to learn calming techniques. Once the child is calm, they can then be in a position for the parent to use reasoning to help guide their child. This is harder to do than these words imply! It is simply quite easy to get pulled into the child's anger and tantruming and to meet it with anger as well. But stopping our own instincts is important, and then to begin helping the child to understand that the parent is simply working hard to help them, giving the child the ability to calm down. Using words that reflect the emotion the child is feeling is very helpful to give them the idea that they are understood, such as, "I know, you are very sad that your friend has to go home," can help them calm down and then the parent can begin to use simple reasoning with the child.
3. Any advice for parents helping children cope with anxiety?
Normalize. Help the child to understand that this is an emotion, and that it is indeed uncomfortable, but that it will pass. Help them understand that all human beings and their animal friends all feel it, at times, and it's there to help us take some action that might be needed. (If a dinosaur is coming, we need to take action!) We often use play therapy as a way to help younger kiddos to help cope and deal with their anxiety. With older kids and teens, learning strategies can be very helpful to them in dealing with this powerful — but normal — emotion.
4. What are some rewarding outcomes you've seen in families you've helped?
I'll never forget the time I was working with a family early on, and the mom told me one day, I've got my son back. He's a kid again. I was struck by that, so much so that it has become one of our mottos at our clinic, “Where kids become kids again.” That's what we want, the kid to be the kid — and take care of their most important job, to have fun.
Beckloff Pediatric Behavioral Center
17210 Campbell Road
Dallas, TX 75252