Adjustment Disorder in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Adjustment disorder means that your child has emotional or behavioural problems because of stress. But the response to the stress is far more severe than a normal response. It's severe enough to affect your child's school, work, or social life. And it may cause depression and physical pains. Events that may cause this response can include the parents' divorce, awareness of family money problems, or starting school or a new job. It might be anything that causes some stress.

This disorder is most often a short-term problem. It happens within 3 months of the stressful event or change. If the response lasts longer than 6 months after the event ends, your child may have a more serious disorder.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child go to all counselling sessions. Do not skip any because you think your child is feeling better.
  • If your doctor prescribed medicines, have your child take them exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Encourage your child to discuss the causes of his or her stress with a good friend or family member. You and your child also can join a support group for people with similar problems. Talking to others sometimes relieves stress.
  • Encourage your child to be active for at least 1 hour every day. Walking is a good choice. Your child also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.

Relaxation techniques

Have your child do relaxation exercises 10 to 20 minutes a day. Your child can play soothing, relaxing music at this time.

Tell others in your house that the child is going to do relaxation exercises. Ask them not to disturb him or her. Help your child find a comfortable, quiet place.

Have your child:

  • Lie down on his or her back, or sit with his or her back straight.
  • Focus on his or her breathing. Make it slow and steady.
  • Breathe in through the nose, and breathe out through either the nose or mouth.
  • Breathe deeply, filling up the area between the navel and the rib cage. Have your child breathe so that his or her belly goes up and down.
  • Have your child breathe like this for 5 to 10 minutes.

As your child continues to breathe slowly and deeply, help your child relax by having him or her do these next steps for another 5 to 10 minutes:

  • Tighten and relax each muscle group. Your child can start at the toes and work up to the head.
  • Imagine the muscle groups relaxing and getting heavy.
  • Do not think about anything. Empty the mind of all thoughts.
  • Relax more and more deeply.
  • Be aware of the surrounding calmness.

When the relaxation time is over, have your child come back to alertness by moving his or her fingers, toes, hands, and feet. Then your child can stretch and move his or her entire body. Sometimes people fall asleep during relaxation. But they most often wake up soon.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You think your child may hurt himself or herself or someone else.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child can't go to the counselling sessions.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: October 10, 2017