A key part of normal childhood development is exploring and understanding emotions. That means a certain amount of ups and downs are expected. Just like adults are not happy all the time, children also have a full range of different emotions. But, how do you know when your child is experiencing something more than the normal emotional roller coaster of childhood? How do you know when you child would benefit from seeing a therapist?
The Line Between Normal Struggles and More Complicated Issues
Your child will hit some bumps in the road. He may experience moodiness, especially as he hits certain transition points in his life. Even a slight dip in academic performance may be normal. They key is to stay connected with your child.
This doesn’t mean riding on the emotional roller coaster with him. Instead it means listening to what he has to say, observing his behavior, validating his feelings, and being ready to talk when he is ready to listen.
However, sometimes the problems your child is facing may evolve into something more serious. He may benefit from working with a child therapist. Some examples of when your child may be facing more than just the normal emotional struggles all children face include:
- Problems across multiple areas of their life. For example, instead of only struggling with some friend issues they are also having a hard time academically, they have lost interest in hobbies or extracurricular activities they used to enjoy, or they are also having a hard time with family relationships.
- Your child begins to lose confidence in themselves or regularly feels bad about themselves
- Has significant changes in sleep or eating habits
- Shows self-destructive behaviors like scratching, skin picking, or hair pulling
- Talks about any kind of self-harm
- Sounds hopeless about the future and has been sad for a significant amount of time
- Child has a lot of worries about safety, contamination, academic or sport/music performance, social relationships, or the future
- Compulsive behaviors like hand washing, cleaning, overly invested in order, symmetry, etc.
- Avoids certain places, activities, numbers, certain kinds of foods, etc.
- Restricts eating, overeats, purges, or takes laxatives
- Is incredibly distressed about her/his own appearance
- Increases or decreases in sleep, appetite, or weight
- Is isolating
- Has a short temper
- Sudden changes in academic performance, behavior at school, how much he or she likes school, or resistant to going to school, or poor attendance
- Difficulties with attention, organizing, procrastination, or concentration
When your child is dealing with these kinds of issues he or she may be going through more than “just a phase” and should begin working with a child therapist.
How a Child Therapist Works
One of the most beneficial approaches to helping children who struggle with major anxiety and other issues is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is an evidence based approach that has years of scientific research that shows it significantly helps children.
CBT helps children change their inner dialogue that often triggers their acting out or other negative behaviors. CBT also can strengthen the bond between parent and child. This further helps to reduce stress and tension and gives children a solid foundation of trust and support to build on moving forward.
One of the best things about CBT is that anyone can benefit from it. There is no harm in having your child or adolescent meet with a therapist. Because it focuses on helping people change their inner dialogue and helps them find solutions to chronic sources of negative feelings, it is an effective technique for dealing with a broad range of emotional struggles.
If your child is struggling with emotional issues and they don’t seem to have the ability to fully cope with them, you should explore taking your child to see a therapist. A child cognitive behavioral therapist will help your child develop the tools they need to work through their struggles.
When to Take Your Child to See a Long Island Child Therapist
If you live in Long Island, we have a center where you can find a child therapist that can help children with all kinds of issues. Child anxiety, depression, anger, ADHD, eating disorders, and self-harm can be incredibly debilitating, and detrimental the mental health of the whole family. No parent wants their child to suffer and whenever parents watch this, they can’t help but be incredibly distressed too.
If your child, you, and your family could use professional help, please do not hesitate to call us. Our child therapists will be happy to meet with you and your child to assess what is happening and let you know how you can be helped. Our office is located on the South Shore of Long Island in Rockville Centre. We have a number of therapists who work with children, adolescents, and families depending on the issues. Please let us know if we can help.