Are You Concerned About Changes in Your Child’s Mood and Behavior?
Is your normally vibrant, joyful and outgoing child suddenly quiet or withdrawn? Or, has your child begun acting out in new, worrisome ways, such as yelling or jumping at inappropriate times, throwing tantrums over every little thing and/or hitting other children at school? It may be that your child has gone from independent and curious to nervous, clingy and anxious about separating from your side. Maybe your child is having nightmares and waking up in the middle of the night frightened, unwilling to be left alone in the dark or unable to fall back asleep. Perhaps it’s become a struggle to get your child out of bed and ready for the day, even when you’ve planned to do something your child once enjoyed, such as going to a friend’s house or playing sports. It may be that you’re battling to get your child to complete his or her homework, or that you’ve discovered he or she has been hiding homework assignments and zoning out at school.
When you attempt to talk to your child about what’s going on, you may be met with lies, avoidance, silence, arguments or tears. Do you feel lost, helpless and uncertain about what provoked this concerning change in your child? Do you wish you could better understand your child and develop the tools you need to help him or her express emotions in healthy, productive and healing ways?
It can be overwhelming and frightening to watch your son or daughter transform into a child you hardly know. As you struggle to prevent tantrums, calm fits of tears and address other child behavior problems, you might be fighting against feelings of exhaustion, sadness, anger or even fear, especially if your child is lashing out physically. You might also be struggling with shame, guilt and the belief that you’ve failed as a parent somehow. It may be that teachers, family members or other adults have come to you with concerns, making you feel increasingly frustrated and helpless to make your child feel better, get along with peers or do well in school. Perhaps your heart is breaking for your child, and you just don’t know what to do.
Most Children Struggle to Understand and Express Their Emotions
Children from the ages of 3 to 12 are developing, maturing and learning how to cope with the often confusing and difficult experiences life can throw their way. If your child is exhibiting a change in behavior, it is likely that he or she is trying to deal with a challenging emotion, a significant life change or some new academic or social difficulty. For example, if you have recently lost a family member or beloved pet, or if a neighborhood best friend has just moved away, your child might be struggling with a sense of grief. Or, if your child has just started school, he or she might be upset about new, unfamiliar routines and responsibilities. Children of divorce also commonly exhibit behavioral issues as they adjust to their new family structure.
It’s also possible that your child has recently received an ADHD diagnosis, which means he or she likely has particular issues related to concentration, controlling impulsive behavior or engaging fully in conversation. Or, maybe your child is somewhere on autism spectrum, which makes it more difficult for him or her to read social cues or tolerate discomfort. Alternately, some children begin exhibiting unusual or regressive behavior after experiencing a trauma.
Regardless of what your child is going through, it’s not your fault, and you have not failed as a parent. In fact, just by searching for and landing on a child therapy page, you’ve demonstrated that you care about your child and want to help in any way you can. And, it is possible to help your child through this stage. An experienced child therapist can offer you new insight and parenting tools as well as help your child develop effective emotional regulation and communication skills that can be used now and throughout his or her life.
With Child Counseling, You and Your Child Can Develop Skills, Strengthen Your Relationship and Experience Relief
Eddins Counseling Group offers child therapy to help both parents and children develop skills and strategies needed to navigate a wide range of childhood issues, including grief and loss, crisis and trauma, divorce, anger problems, social development disorders, conduct disorders, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and more. Whether you have some idea of what your child is experiencing or you feel completely lost, your child therapist can provide you with support, guidance and a more connected and empowered path forward.
Some child counseling sessions will occur with you present, and in others, your child’s therapist will meet with him or her alone. Your child’s therapist will create a warm, safe environment so your child can build a sense of trust and feel comfortable talking about his or her thoughts, feelings and experiences. Because so many children don’t quite know how to identify or talk about their emotions, your therapist will utilize a variety of age-appropriate approaches that are specifically tailored to child counseling, such as play therapy and art therapy. Toys and objects can help children focus, interact with others and express many of the thoughts and feelings that they don’t know how to put into words. Therapy can be a space for your child to safely release pent-up or challenging emotions and experience a sense of relief. As your child plays in session, he or she will also be experientially learning concentration, communication and emotional regulation skills that he or she can use in every area of life.
Your therapist will also include you (and your co-parent) in the therapy process. You can learn how to recognize your child’s unique way of expressing emotions and develop the parenting tools needed to help your child through periods of distress. Sometimes, we might also ask other family members, such as a sibling or close guardian, to join as well. Familial involvement is essential to your child’s long-term wellbeing, and it is very important to reinforce what he or she has learned in therapy at home.
Child counseling can offer you the key to your child’s development and provide you both with the resources, support and understanding you need. It is possible for your child to learn how to express emotions with clarity and confidence. And, you can develop the insight and skills needed to best help your child navigate this challenging time as well as offer guidance and support in the future. Your child can find relief, and your family can move into the future feeling stronger, happier and more connected.
You may have questions or concerns about behavioral therapy for children…
Does needing a child therapist mean I am a bad parent?
Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of. Many, if not most, parents have felt helpless and powerless at times, and no one has all of the answers. Through years of research and learning, therapists have developed particular modes of therapy to help children. If your child broke his or her arm, no one would expect you to know how to mend it – you would bring your child to a doctor. Similarly, if you are concerned about your child or feel overwhelmed by a specific issue, it makes sense to see a professional who is trained in behavioral therapy for children and can offer your son or daughter individualized, effective care.
I’m overwhelmed as it is. How will I find time to come to child counseling?
While one-on-one sessions with your child are a huge part of the therapy process, your role is equally important. It’s essential that you also get the care and support you need, especially if you’re stressed and worn out. In sessions, you can develop important parenting skills that can help you feel more empowered, capable and resilient. And, by developing these skills, you can offer your child consistency at home and continue all of the good work he or she has accomplished in sessions. Consistency is especially helpful for children of divorce. The time you spend in therapy will be an investment in your wellbeing, your child’s wellbeing and the harmony of the whole family.
My child doesn’t want to go to therapy.
Even though it may feel painful, we encourage you to bring your child anyway, despite his or her protests. If your child seems disruptive, sullen, angry or changed in some other way, it’s important to get him or her help sooner rather than later. And, your child is likely to start enjoying therapy after the first few sessions. Therapy can be a comforting, fun place for him or her to try new things and begin to feel better.