Admit it, at one point or the other, you have felt like going back to your childhood days, where you had no worries, no responsibilities and lived a very carefree life. So many adults tend to think that little kids don’t face any significant challenges during their childhood, but that is false, for some kids. A lot of kids face challenges that have an effect on their behavior and emotions, and some of these challenges would require counseling and therapy. Just as adults do, a lot of kids face challenges at least once or twice in their lives that can take a toll on them.
Research has shown that at least 1 out of 5 children and even adolescents probably have mental illnesses that would require treatment. It has also been discovered that 1 out of every 10 children faces severe emotional challenges. These emotional or mental challenges could arise due to a lot of factors and can be tackled or resolved through counseling and therapy.
So, how do you know the difference between natural childhood developmental problems or challenges, and severe mental, emotional or behavioral illnesses? How do you introduce your child to counseling without making your kid feel like he/she isn’t a normal kid? How would counseling and behavioral therapy be of help to my kid? These are the questions a lot of parents ask. Here, we would be providing just the answers you need.
Counseling and Behavioral Therapy: How it helps
Child counseling and behavioral therapy definitely isn’t something any parent would want their kids to do, but it becomes unavoidable when specific issues come up. A lot of kids face problems that eventually have an effect on their actions, behaviors and feelings. Some of these are uncontrollable and are sometimes innate-like anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and so on. The solution to these issues lies in therapy. Therapy goes a long way in helping your child to cope and handle these issues, communicate, thrive and also do better.
There are different types of therapy available for your kid, depending on which he/she needs. Some of the examples are play therapy, behavior therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and more. The type of therapy your child would need would be determined by the therapist. There are a whole lot of ways, and behavioral therapy can be of help to your kids, some of which are:
• It helps build and grow your kid positively while addressing and solving the root and cause of the problem and the symptoms too.
• It helps kids to understand and comprehend properly their thoughts, feelings and what is happening to them
• Helps to improve your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
• Therapy and counseling can help to enhance your kid’s communication skills.
• This also helps to encourage healthy and normal childhood development
• It helps kids to create ways to handle their problems and feelings properly
What Signs Before Bringing your Child to Therapy
For these signs to come up, there always has to be an underlying cause. The roots of these issues are sometimes neglected because we do not even know that they could cost our children their mental health. Some of the different things that can contribute to your child’s mental and emotional issues are
• Separation of parents
• Bullying in school
• Death of a pet, parent or a loved one
• Academic difficulties
• Constantly changing schools and even location
• Sexual or physical abuse and so on
Signs that indicate your child needs therapy
It is entirely reasonable for kids to be rough while playing (especially the boys), but when your kid begins to get excessively aggressive especially for petty reasons, then you have to be a bit more alert.
It is sometimes normal for your kid to get a bit withdrawn, maybe when you move to a new place, or when he/she is shy. This becomes an issue, when there is sudden and persistent or prolonged withdrawal from social gatherings, his/her favorite activities, family and friends too. When your kid begins to get too isolated, then there is a cause to worry.
You might think, this only happens in horror movies, but it really does happen in reality. If you should ever notice cuts on your child’s body and your kid tells you that he’s done it just once. Then there’s a high probability that has been happening for a while and that your child needs therapy and counseling.
4. Insomnia: Children also have insomnia
This mostly occurs when there’s been a continuous chain of nightmares for nights. When nightmare become too frequent, and you can’t seem to get your child to talk about it or trace the cause, then there’s a need for a therapy
5. Weird Obsessive Habits and Behaviors
There are a lot of odd behaviors that indicate the need for therapy. Some obsessive habits or routines could be constant hand washing, the need for orderliness and precision and so much more. In some cases, your kid might begin to talk about voices in his/her head.
6. Academic deterioration
A sudden drop or regression in your kid’s grades at school is a significant issue with which you should concern yourself. Especially in subjects your kid always aces.
How to Introduce Counseling to your Child
Taking your child to therapy might not be an issue for you, but explaining to your kid and making them understand that they are just like other kids, but need a bit of help might be hard. This can ultimately discourage you from even considering therapy and even if you still do, might discourage your kid. For you to help your child go through this without feeling horrible or abnormal, you have to be patient, understanding and be deliberate about it. It might be quite awkward at first, talking to your kid about his or her mental and emotional health, but with time it gets better.
Ways you can introduce this to your kids
- Explain carefully what counseling and therapy is all about (every explanation you give your child should be dependent on your kids' age)
- Make sure to explain the role or function of the therapist to help and support them (also let your kid know that the therapist is for you both and is friends with him/her
- Assure your kid, that you would be there all the way and you support him/her.
- Tell your kid, how common his/her problems or issues are and how he/she isn’t the only one in it.
- Be as open, encouraging, truthful and relaxed as you can be. If you aren’t relaxed, your kid wouldn’t be.
- Take out time to talk with your kid and let your kid know that he/she isn’t in any sort of trouble at all
- Put on your listening ears, and take seriously into considerations, all your child’s complaints, emotions/feelings, experiences and concerns and make adjustments if you have to.
- Educate your child on how it works and assure your kid of confidentiality. Whatever he/she discusses with the therapist would always be their secret.
- Keep saying words of affirmation to your kid daily and if possible, have him/her learn it.
Therapy may not be easy for you and your kid, but it would definitely be worth it, it doesn’t only save your kids, their future development, but also saves you a lot of financial implications in the future. It is vital for you to know the difference between natural childhood developmental challenges and mental or emotional emergencies, they might seem a little alike, but they have a few striking difference. Always make sure to look out for your kid, to ensure that your child has a memorable and smooth childhood, he/she can look back on when all grown up. Remember that taking your child for therapy at first may not be easy, but you should ensure that you are encouraging, nonintrusive (especially for teens), open, and understanding.