What is Child Therapy:
Many children experience emotional difficulties while growing up. Sometimes, they display attention-seeking behaviours, and at times, they avoid social activities completely, refusing to even go to school. They prefer an environment where they feel safe, such as their room and may immerse themselves in solo activities like playing video games or browsing the internet.
Therapy can assist kids in making sense of confusing, scary or uncomfortable emotions and feelings. It also helps them develop healthy coping strategies to face everyday stressors, and a variety of emotional and behavioral issues.
Is therapy required for your child:
Children might find it hard to communicate how they’re feeling. To know if a child needs therapy, pay attention to signs that seem “off”. Here are some behaviours to watch out for in a child:
- Finding it difficult to get out of bed, go to school or to engage in social or family activities
- Struggling academically, emotionally or socially
- Classroom outbursts, arguments with classmates, lack of friends or complaints about bullying, being bullied or lack of attention in class.
- Inability or refusal to engage in conversations.
- Inability to cope with a traumatic event, such as a divorce or death in the family
- Choosing isolation over mingling with friends
A child that shows some or all of these signs can benefit from therapy.
What happens in child therapy:
Therapy can help children and parents deal with various issues like learning difficulties, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), underachievement, low self-confidence, internet addiction and poor student-teacher rapport.
During therapy, children are invited to reflect on their experiences and express themselves through play, art and games. These activities give them a safe outlet for pent-up or hidden emotions and allows them to explore their feelings in a non-threatening way. They are also encouraged to identify their strengths and learn to take pride in who they are. Therapy allows children the space to discuss topics or feelings without fear of judgement or retribution.
How therapy helps:
If ADHD-like symptoms are a problem such as poor organizational skills or difficulty focusing in class, the child is taught to develop strategies that help them manage symptoms. Through therapy, they also learn new social and organizational skills.
Parents are involved in the process by meeting the therapist frequently and following up on therapy assignments at home. With the right guidance, a child’s road to recovery can become a joint effort put in by parent, child, therapist, and teacher and not the parent’s responsibility alone.
A note to all parents:
All children have different learning styles, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. A child’s behaviour is not a reflection of the parent or their parenting style. It can stem from a number of reasons such as being bullied at school, a learning difficulty, or a predisposition to depression.
In therapy, children enjoy an accepting and compassionate environment so that they feel supported. Parents can learn to feel more confident about connecting with their children and learn the right way to involve family members in the child’s recovery journey.
Parenting struggles that are addressed in therapy include:
Recognizing symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self- esteem, etc. in children
- Strengthening parent-child communication
- Setting specific, consistent and reasonable limits with children
- Understanding and using rewards and consequences
- Building awareness about common emotional challenges that children face
- Helping children cope with parental conflict, separation, divorce and other major life transitions
Accepting therapy and participating in the therapy process is a sign of a health relationship between parent and child. Therapy also offers a child the help they need to bloom and grow.