If you’re a parent and your child shows characteristics of an addictive personality, you’re right to harbor concerns. Those who go on to develop substance abuse disorders often encounter troubles in their careers and personal lives. However, by knowing what to look for, you can recognize the warning signs early and implement appropriate interventions.
Recognizing the Characteristics of Addictive Personalities
As if parenting weren’t tough enough, you might struggle to know whether your little one’s quirks indicate an addictive personality or merely an enthusiastic, passionate one. For example, some people develop an exercise addiction — does that mean you should worry about your daughter’s obsession with cheer?
The critical question to ask yourself is, does the activity add to your child’s life, or does it detract from it? Trying out for the team is one thing. Abandoning studies and family responsibilities to focus on diet and workout goals is another.
Watch for signs of antisocial behavioral patterns, such as ignoring your, “How was your day,” question after school. If they shrug you off to isolate themselves in their room and play video games obsessively, that’s a cause for concern. Additionally, children with addictive personalities may display depression or apathy, and they may engage in compulsive behaviors, like running away when they don’t get their way.
Many of the following tips make excellent parenting advice whether your child displays signs of an addictive personality or not. However, these techniques can prevent your youngster from spiraling into substance abuse and give them the coping skills they need to avoid developing a disorder as an adult.
Teach and Model Positive Coping Skills
If your child sees you come home from a challenging day at the office to proclaim, “Gosh, I need a drink!” they will imitate that behavior. You’ve established a pattern of using the substance as a reward to cope with challenging emotions. Instead, model positive coping skills, such as going for a run or practicing yoga. When your child weathers a storm of feelings, share these positive strategies, along with others, like meditation or even coloring quietly to calm themselves.
Enact Logical Consequences for Impulsive Behavior
Illogical punishments too often cause children to rebel and fall into negative behavioral patterns. Instead of lecturing or grounding your child for spending all their allowance on one game, let them live with the consequences of their behavior. Calmly explain that money is a limited resource, and if they choose to misspend it, they will need to go without until the next “pay period.”
Criticize Behavior, Not the Child
Many addicts suffer from critically low self-esteem. They may believe no one likes them, and telling them, “You’re bad for doing X,” reinforces this idea. Instead, explain to them, “I love you very much, and that is why I have to explain why X behavior isn’t OK.” Lovingly presenting corrections empowers your child to make healthier choices, not out of fear, but out of a desire to please others.
Nurture Your Child to Overcome Their Addictive Personality
You might feel frightened if you notice signs of an addictive personality in your child. However, by exercising patience and guidance, you can help them correct their behavior and make healthier decisions.