Therapy for Children and the Adults in their Lives
- Attention and Impulsivity
- School performance issues
- Trouble with peer relations
- Sibling conflict
- Destructive behavior
- Overly shy and fearful
- Low self-worth
Is your school age child having a hard time?
Are you worried about how to help him or her thrive and be happy?
School can be an adventure, but also a challenging transition. Therapy for school age kids can reduce family tension and provide relief to both parents and children. Kids need to learn new skills, including the ability to sit still and manage their feelings appropriately. Otherwise their academic performance may suffer. Many children will bring the stresses of school home and vice versa. In both situations, they need to grow their capacity to manage feelings. I can help your child learn to explore his or her feelings without acting out.
School brings about the challenges of relating to peers. Some common issues are learning to share, collaborate, accept others who are different, and manage competition and aggressiveness in themselves in others.
Some children of this age will need to deal with divorce, loss and other trauma. Again, the issue is being able to tolerate feelings and learn to self-regulate behavior. We want our children to learn resilience now and in order to be able to overcome life’s hurdles in the future. This is the time for children to develop age-appropriate emotional skills to head off the storms of the teenage years.
Divorce and Loss
School aged children may be verbal, but still respond best to some mix of play therapy and talk. I often use a set of story cards that allow children to comfortably express themselves within the context of a game. The goal is to help them process feelings in a safe place. Feelings can be confusing and troubling for a child who often lacks the verbal and conceptual skills available to adults. Working with them with art and games allows them to come to grips with the issues in their life in a way that matches their level of development.
Adjusting to Change
School age kids are often faced with unexpected and disturbing losses, such as the divorce of parents, the loss of a beloved grandparent, moving and losing friends or the loss of a pet. In my experience, kids need to process these feelings both verbally and kinesthetically. Learning that they can process emotions can significantly improve their self confidence and sense of internal control. Again, play and art can help them come to grips with the sometimes difficult realities of life. This can include the more severe forms of sexual molestation and physical violence. While we hope this never happens, I have been privileged to help kids move ahead after such trauma.
I see many kids who are having trouble in school and have received negative feedback or have been labeled as having learning difficulties. While there are many possible causes, in my experience, it is always important to find out what is going on in the emotional life of the child. It’s not always clear what the child is thinking and feeling. Some children have completely inaccurate ideas, which cause them unnecessary distress. A common example is a child blaming herself for the breakup of the parents’ marriage.
Healthy, Happy Kids
Around the corner from grade school is the bigger world including, as much as we may want to deny it, the possibilities of sex and drugs. Healthy, happy kids with good relationship skills are the best prevention.
If you see your child suffering emotionally, or needing improvement in how he or she is currently coping, child counseling can help. I am always available for a short, initial consultation to see if we both think my approach can help your child.
Although you may believe that you and your child could benefit from additional support right now, you still may have questions or concerns about child counseling…
Is there a way for me to determine if my child’s behavior is a developmentally normal phase or if something more serious is occurring?
Even though you know your child best, it can oftentimes be difficult to understand what’s occurring for him or her emotionally. This can be further complicated by how quick children are to shift and grow. If your child has exhibited concerning behaviors for some time and strategies you once used are no longer working, it’s best to be proactive and seek a consultation with a therapist who specializes in children. An experienced therapist will be able to offer insight into whether your child is going through a developmentally normal phase or if his or her behaviors are indicative of something more serious. While it may be determined that your child’s behavior is normal for his or her age and life circumstance, in the case it’s not, studies show that early intervention provides the best long-term results.
My child is shy and easily overwhelmed. I’m not sure how he or she will respond to child counseling.
It’s important to note that a great benefit of child counseling is that it can help a shy and overwhelmed child build self-confidence and strengthen his or her social and interpersonal skills. It can also help to improve self-esteem, increase participation in class and give your child the tools needed to take healthy social risks. I’ve been working with children for a long time. I create a warm, supportive and safe place that helps children with all kinds of personalities and traits relax and open up.
How involved will/can I be in the child counseling process?
I believe that when children are struggling, they truly benefit from a collaborative process. I’ll meet with you to get your child’s history and a detailed explanation of your concerns. I’ll check in with you regularly about progress and you can attend some sessions if we both believe that could be helpful. Furthermore, I will provide you with information about what is occurring for your child as well as tools, tips and strategies you can use to best help and support your child at home.
Call me for a free phone consultation. I’m happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and answer any questions you have about child counseling and my practice.