When to Consider Professional Counseling for Your Child

Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash

As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to ensure that your child grows up safe, healthy, and happy. While it is important to provide them with adequate protection such as bike helmets and knee pads, there are some “boo-boos” which may not be as noticeable but can still leave deep emotional wounds.

If left untreated, these emotional injuries can result in more serious problems for your child later in life. This is where therapy steps in – therapy has no age restriction and can be beneficial for children of any age, even as young as three years old.

Therapy helps children process difficult emotions they encounter due to trauma or behavioral issues while providing them with the necessary skills and support they need to manage their feelings and build resilience. It also serves as an opportunity for parents to learn more about their child’s emotional development and find ways to better support them.

Signs Your Child May Need Therapy

As the parent, it is important to trust your instincts when it comes to the health and development of your child. Rather than focusing on the age of the child, it is wise to pay attention to any issues or problems they may be having. Even if a doctor or other family friend suggests that any changes in behavior are merely “going through a stage”, as a parent you can often recognize when something isn’t quite right. An in-depth assessment of the problem at hand can provide more clarity regarding potential causes and solutions, and will help ensure that your child receives adequate care. If necessary, medical professionals should be consulted in order to bring about the best outcome for your child’s wellbeing.

With this in mind, here are some signs that may indicate a problem that may require specialized attention. Your child:

  • Is having trouble at school (grades, bullying others, talking back to teachers…)
  • Is attempting to injure themselves
  • Avoids family functions and ignores friends
  • Experiences frequent mood swings and/or extreme emotions (anxiety, angry outbursts)
  • Has difficulty concentrating
  • Had difficulty sleeping
  • Is eating far more or far less than before

This is by no means an exhaustive list but gives an indication of the kinds of behavior that may need addressing.

It is also important to mention that other things can be ruled out before you decide to give therapy a try. For instance, has your child had a full medical work-up recently? Her difficulties at school could be caused by an emotional disturbance, OR they could be caused by poor eyesight. His insomnia could be caused by anxiety, OR it could be the result of a biological issue that is causing him pain. Are you and your partner arguing more? Is your child’s behavior a natural response to an emotional situation at home?

Talk to Your Child About Therapy

While you may be worried your child is too young for therapy, your child may quite like the idea of talking to ‘someone special’ about how they feel. And, at the end of the day, your child is taking cues from you on how to feel about things. If you feel therapy has a certain stigma, your child will feel shame and not want to explore this option. But if you see therapy as beneficial, chances are your child will as well and be open to trying it.

Once you decide to explore treatment options, look for a therapist who specializes in helping very young children. They will most likely put an emphasis on art and play therapy, allowing your child to express themselves in a way that is natural for them.

Be sure to ask as many questions as necessary to select a therapist you feel comfortable with, and speak openly with your child about treatment so they can know what to expect.

If you believe your child may benefit from therapy and would like to speak about treatment options, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to see how I may help.