Many of our children-patients "act-in," or retreat from their world relying upon rigid, maladaptive coping strategies. Isolation, cutting, tearing cuticles, piercings and gauging, food addictions and restrictions, vaping, drug and alcohol use beyond the occasional experimentation, and self-defeating peer relationships and promiscuity are but some of the ways in which children "act-in." Children also somaticize. That is, their emotional developmental disturbance is revealed via bodily ailments, for example acute gastro-intestinal distress, constipation, incontinence, headaches and migraines, and sleep disturbances.
Many of our children-patients "act-out," or move against their world relying upon rigid, maladaptive coping strategies in an attempt to comfort their self. Violating others' boundaries be it threats or cruelty to others --racism, bigotry, thievery, sexual offending-- or cruelty to animals, or property damage are but some of the ways in which children "act-out.'
Parents often feel inadequate and insecure, helpless and hopeless to help their children. Their anxiety mounts and can express itself as anger or rage, or the parent can become numb and paralyzed.