The Danger of Treating the Symptoms, not the Cause

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Have you ever thought about the dangers of treating the symptom, not the cause? You may wonder what it has to do with your child’s behavior. Well, keep reading. You’re about to find out.

This is a true story. When I was 12, I got this sharp pain in my belly-button area that I’d never had before. While stomachaches are common in children, mine was quickly growing steady and intense.

Within hours, I was unable to keep down food. I was extremely thirsty. I doubled over in pain, in bed. The mere thought of getting up was painful.

My mom knew that wasn’t like me. She was scared. She kept doing whatever she could, but it got worse. She didn’t have a car, so she hired a friend to take me to the hospital.

After examining me, the doctor told my mother not to worry and that it looked like I had a stomach infection. He recommended that I keep taking painkillers and assured mom that it was going to be alright.

Walking to the car was a real nightmare for me! People were staring because I was crawling rather than walking. Mom knew it was "just a stomach infection" and that "everything was going to be alright”. She kept telling me to stand up and to keep walking. Aware of peoples’ stares, she felt embarrassed by how this must have looked to others.

Long story short, even a massive dose of painkillers did not help. A few hours later I was in even worse condition and the only smart decision was to take me to the emergency room. Thank God they did!

It turned out that I had a severe case of appendicitis and mom was advised to have me operated on immediately!  After the surgery, the doctor explained to her that even an hour later could’ve meant the difference between life and death. The wrong diagnose and attempt to get rid of the symptoms rather than providing the necessary detailed exam of my body and addressing the cause of the illness could have cost my family and me my life.

How does this story relate to a child’s behavior? Here is how.

Just like in case of a medical health issue, when it comes to a child’s behavior issue, the actions that we perceive as misbehavior are only “symptoms” of the real issue. A child’s inappropriate behavior, emotional meltdowns, and negative emotions are signals to us that there is a much, WAY MUCH deeper issue behind it. To help such a child, we need to carefully examine the situation and the true cause of this kind of behavior. For example, the reasons for misbehavior might be that a child is emotionally overwhelmed and needs our help to deal with their emotions appropriately, or a child does not feel heard and understood, but does not know how to ask for our support appropriately.

If a parent ignores or misinterprets the child’s behavior symptoms, the consequences might be tragic and life-lasting for that parent AND the child. Among those consequences are emotionally disconnected, unhealthy and even hostile relationship, the child’s low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, physical health issues and antisocial behavior. The list doesn’t get exhausted here, but just starts.

Help your child prevent such a challenging and unhealthy future by taking a closer look at your child’s behavioral “symptoms”, identifying the true issue, and by learning everything you need to know as a parent to create a positive, effective, and reliable plan to address that issue.

Instead of keeping feeling scared, uncertain and overwhelmed, be a responsible guardian of your child’s wellbeing and start helping your child now! Parent, your child counts on you!