Is Your Child Withdrawing Or Acting Out?
- Are you the parent of a young child (age 0 – 7)?
- Does your child struggle with big emotions like tantrums and aggression?
- Do you believe that your child is dealing with attachment issues, trauma, anxiety, difficulty with transitions, or challenges adjusting to a new sibling?
- Are you concerned that your child is struggling to feel happy or supported in their environment?
Your child may be grappling with confusion or feelings of insecurity if they experienced loss and upheaval during birth, infancy, or early on in childhood. Perhaps they were adopted or placed into foster care at a young age, or they were subject to an unpredictable environment wherein a sense of stability or consistency was not maintained.
If big changes have occurred inside the family unit, like a divorce, move, or the introduction of a new sibling, your child may have regressed in certain ways, resulting in developmental delays. You may have noticed that they are struggling to attach or establish fine motor skills and language acquisition. Or perhaps symptoms that don’t seem directly related to development are appearing, like disparities in your child’s energy level, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings.
Even at a young age, children pick up on the nuances and emotional overtones of their environments and the people around them. They may be responding to their surroundings by misbehaving instead of asking for what they need in order to feel safe. If your child lacks the vocabulary to express themselves, therapy can be an avenue for exploration, understanding, and relief.
Children are Often Subjected to Difficult and Life-Altering Transitions
Every child experiences big emotions and every parent struggles, at times, with understanding how to help. Big emotions, behavioral issues, or tantrums tell us that your child is struggling and in need of calmness, validation, compassion, and acceptance.
In instances where proper attachments were not formed, as with cases of adoption or foster care, for example, babies and young children miss out on the loving attachments that are essential for growth and development. Even if kids are born to and raised by biological parents, they are still subject to cycles of generational trauma that impact their ability to thrive. And if parents don’t have good stress or anxiety management skills, they may be at risk for passing on unhealthy coping mechanisms to their children. These parents may not understand how to create a safe and supportive environment for their children since they themselves did not have a strong model for emotional health and well-being.
Moreover, it’s common for parents to focus on the challenging behaviors that their children are exhibiting rather than the root of the problem. Yet if given the tools to understand what is going on inside of their bodies when difficult feelings arise, children can learn to cope with stress both now and in the future.
Counseling is the first step in getting to the core of your child’s issues so that they can find relief from their symptoms while your relationship with them flourishes.
Therapy Can Help You and Your Child to Better Understand One Another
When it comes to treating children with behavioral or emotional challenges, the first step is to create a warm, safe, and neutral space for them to explore their feelings. With the nonjudgmental perspective of a therapist, children and parents alike can gain insight into what is going on beneath the surface of emotions and behaviors.
I utilize an eclectic approach that borrows from somatic modalities, play therapies, and mindfulness techniques. In using a combination of these methods, I have witnessed that children make great strides when they can develop a vocabulary to express themselves and learn to cope with their emotions.
Therapy creates the opportunity to reduce tantrums, less arguing, and increased mutual respect between you and your child so that you both can find more happiness and harmony in your lives. Focusing on their emotional development now will help your child to cultivate important skills and lay the foundation for safe and reliable relationships in the future.
During our initial sessions, I will work with you and your child to understand what is creating challenges in your lives and your relationship with one another. As I gain your child’s trust and involve you in the process, I will develop a better understanding of what they need in order to better cope with their emotions.
Though I use a variety of methods to tailor my approach to meet the needs of each client, I believe that play therapy is the most effective in getting to the core of what it is that’s bothering your child and causing them to exhibit problematic behaviors.
The philosophy behind any type of play therapy is that children will be more likely to authentically express themselves when using toys, kid-specific activities, and their imagination. They can feel intimidated by adults and, thus, may not be as forthright about their emotions in a typical talk therapy session as they are in a playful setting. By engaging with you and your child, I can better access their thoughts and feelings in order to find strategies for coping. During sessions, I will use play along with calming exercises, body sensation identification, and attachment-building techniques to create long-term, sustainable solutions for relief from pain, anxiety, and reactivity.
I will provide you, the parent, with psychoeducation on attachment and the development of your child’s brain so that you may better understand what is at the core of your child’s sadness or misbehavior. Based on the idea that babies learn to trust when their needs are met by a caregiver from the moment of birth, John Bowlby’s attachment theory argues that a “warm, intimate, and continuous” relationship with a parent is essential for a child to flourish . Therefore, your involvement throughout the process of your child’s therapy sessions is essential for their progress to translate from the session to their lives at home and at school.
I understand that it can be very hard to find time, as you are likely juggling many responsibilities in addition to caring for your child. However, if you consider therapy as time spent together, you will see that building a connection with one another will help to reduce conflict and misbehavior over time. As with other investments, therapy has the potential to pay off in a big way in the long term if you are willing to make the time commitment now
Parents are usually quite involved in child therapy, especially those of young children and babies. It’s essential to the process that you also develop the skills needed to help your child overcome their challenges. I can help you with play techniques, calming strategies, and psychoeducation in order to troubleshoot as problems arise in the future. If you are equipped with a therapeutic understanding of what is happening inside of your child’s brain and body during challenging periods, you will be more likely to react to them from a place of compassion and understanding rather than anger or frustration.
The answer to this question is extremely dependent on how much effort you as a parent are willing to put into the process. The more involvement and understanding you maintain, the sooner you will see positive results from your child’s therapy sessions. Of course, each child is different and requires different solutions, however, I am invested in the success of your family and providing your child with a long-term sustainable skill set that they can build on even after the session is complete.
Reclaim the Relationship You Have with Your Child
If you have a young child (age 0 – 7) who is struggling with aggression, outbursts, withdrawal, or attachment issues, therapy can help them to express their needs and find solutions.