Parenting can be a challenging journey, and when a teenager is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it can become even more complex and emotionally demanding. Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by unstable moods, behaviours, and relationships, making it particularly challenging for both the affected individual and their family. In this blog post, we will explore effective parenting techniques for parents dealing with children and teens with borderline personality disorder. Additionally, we will take a look at the role of Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) as a valuable therapeutic approach to help both the teen and their parents navigate this challenging journey.
Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder
Before we even look at parenting techniques for this challenging disorder, it’s essential to understand what Borderline Personality Disorder is and how it can manifest in children and teenagers. BPD is a mental health condition that typically develops during adolescence or early adulthood. Some of the common features of BPD include:
Intense Emotional Instability: Children and teens with BPD often experience extreme mood swings, going from intense happiness to severe anger or sadness rapidly.
Impulsivity: They may engage in impulsive behaviours like self-harm, reckless driving, substance abuse, or risky sexual behaviours.
Unstable Relationships: Maintaining stable relationships can be challenging for individuals with BPD. They may experience intense and stormy relationships marked by fear of abandonment and frequent conflicts.
Identity Disturbance: Many individuals with BPD struggle with a sense of self-identity, leading to confusion about their goals, values, and who they are.
Self-Harm or Suicidal Behavior: Individuals with BPD are at a higher risk of self-harming behaviours and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
For more information on diagnostic criteria for BPD, please look at this page by MSD Manuals. It is important that all diagnoses should be performed by trained and licensed mental health clinicians.
Parenting Techniques for Teens with Borderline Personality Disorder
Parenting a child or teenager with Borderline Personality Disoder can be an emotionally exhausting experience. However, there are effective techniques that parents can employ to provide support, promote emotional stability, and nurture their child’s growth:
Educate Yourself: The first step in effectively parenting a child with BPD is to educate yourself about the disorder. Understanding the symptoms, triggers, and potential treatments can help you empathize with your child’s struggles. Additionally, you may want to find a parenting class that can help you establish parenting skills in this area.
Consistent Boundaries: Children and teens with BPD often test boundaries, so it’s crucial to maintain consistency in your rules and expectations. Be firm but loving in enforcing limits.
Validation: Validate your child’s emotions. BPD individuals often feel invalidated, so acknowledging their feelings, even if you don’t agree with them, can help build trust.
Communication: Encourage open and honest communication. Create a safe space for your child to express their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment.
Emotional Regulation Skills: Teach your child or teen skills for emotional regulation, such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and grounding techniques. These skills can help them manage intense emotions.
Therapeutic Support: Seek professional help. Therapy, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be highly beneficial for individuals with BPD. Likewise, it is important that you are also in therapy, as the challenges are great when you are parenting a teen with borderline personality disorder.
Self-Care: Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Parenting a child with BPD can be exhausting, so make sure you prioritize self-care and seek support when needed.
The Role of Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) in Helping Teens with Borderline Personality Disorder
Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) has gained recognition as a valuable therapeutic approach for individuals with various mental health conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder. EAT involves interactions with horses and skilled therapists in a controlled and therapeutic environment. Here’s why EAT can be an effective therapy for children and teens with BPD:
Non-Threatening Environment: EAT takes place in a natural and non-threatening environment, which can make it easier for children and teens with Borderline Personality Disorder to open up and engage in therapy. The presence of horses can create a sense of calm and connection.
Building Trust and Relationships: Horses are sensitive animals that respond to human emotions and behaviour. In EAT, individuals learn to build trust and establish relationships with horses, which can translate to improved interpersonal relationships in their daily lives.
Emotional Regulation: Interacting with horses can help individuals with BPD learn emotional regulation skills. Horses provide immediate feedback based on the person’s emotional state, encouraging self-awareness and control.
Mindfulness and Grounding: EAT often incorporates mindfulness and grounding techniques, which are essential for individuals with BPD to manage their intense emotions effectively.
Teamwork and Communication: Working with horses requires clear communication and teamwork. Children and teens with BPD can improve their communication skills, learn to cooperate and build confidence in their abilities through EAT.
Experiential Learning: EAT is an experiential form of therapy, allowing individuals to learn through hands-on experiences. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who may struggle with traditional talk therapy.
Reducing Isolation: BPD can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. EAT provides a supportive and non-judgmental environment that can help individuals with BPD feel more connected to others.
The Horse Therapy Centre of Canada
If you’re considering Equine Assisted Therapy as part of your child or teen’s treatment plan for BPD, the Horse Therapy Centre of Canada is here to help. Our team of experienced therapists specializes in using EAT to support individuals with various mental health challenges, including BPD.
Our therapists work closely with both the child and their parents to create a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each family. We understand that parenting a child or teen with BPD can be overwhelming, and our goal is to provide the necessary tools and support to help families navigate this challenging journey.
Parenting a child or teenager with Borderline Personality Disorder can be incredibly demanding, but it’s essential to remember that there is hope and help available. Effective parenting techniques, combined with therapeutic approaches like Equine Assisted Therapy, can make a significant difference in the lives of both the teen and their parents.
At the Horse Therapy Centre of Canada, we are committed to helping families facing the challenges of BPD. Our therapists are here to support you and your child on the path to healing and emotional stability. Remember, you are not alone, and resources are available to assist you in providing the best possible care for your child or teen with BPD.
Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog post/online content is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition. This content is not intended to be a form of therapeutic intervention or to replace professional therapy. If you are in crisis or in need of immediate assistance, please contact emergency services or consult with a mental health professional.