Why Would A Child Need Therapy?
We often get asked the question, “why would a child need
therapy?” The answer is multifaceted and individual to each
child or family but there are common difficulties that are seen
in many families. Play therapy can help children master skills
they may be lacking. Many skills, such as problem solving,
conflict resolution or frustration tolerance, used to be taught
in preschool or kindergarten but are now overlooked in favor
of academic curriculum. Unfortunately these are skills that
some children learn more easily than others. As a result, some
children need to be taught these skills because they do not
develop them instinctively.
Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child and creator
of Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS), states that “kids
do well if they can.” His model is based on research that finds “challenging behavior occurs when the demands and expectations being placed on a kid exceed the kid’s capacity to respond adaptively… and some kids are lacking the skills to handle certain demands and expectations.” By teaching skills in the playroom, play therapy can help enhance relationships, improve communication, and help both children and adults learn to regulate their emotions, display empathy, practice conflict resolution and appreciate another’s perspective.
Some children have difficulty with the transition to elementary school. As mentioned above, many skills that were once taught in preschool and kindergarten are no longer being provided in the school setting and since academic and behavioral demands have increased in elementary schools across the county, more and more students are having difficulties. Due to the young age of kindergarten and first grade students, some are not developmentally ready to sit for long periods of time quietly and focus on individual tasks. Their bodies, which are growing and developing, want to move, explore, and socialize with their peers so they may have trouble following classroom rules, resulting in negative behavior reports and phone calls to parents.
As far as emotional wellness, early intervention is vital. Each day we learn more about critical points in brain development and life experiences and how those experiences may increase the risk or provide protection against the development of mental health disorders. Studies have shown that nearly half of people who will develop mental health disorders will show symptoms by age 14, yet many still do not address issues until they reach crisis levels. At that point, we may be dealing with the consequences of suicide, school drop-out, or a lifetime struggle with depression, anxiety or panic attacks.
There are other circumstances which explain why a child might benefit from therapy. These include changes in the home environment such as divorce, a move, or a parent’s new job demands, or a medical diagnosis for a child or other family member that may put stress on the family as a whole. At other times, parents may need guidance regarding their child’s behavior or emotions. It is not uncommon for parents to feel comfortable raising their first child but then have questions about their younger children because they have different temperaments and what worked with their eldest isn’t working with their other children. Therapy can provide support and guidance for parents, as therapists can be partners in finding what works for you, your child and your family.
“This above all: to thine own self, be true.”