If your child displays excessive signs of sadness, anxiety, or fearfulness or withdraws socially, those are indicators they might benefit from children’s therapy. Some states have policies that automatically qualify children with certain diagnosed physical or mental conditions for evaluation and services.
To help kids express their emotions, therapists use play, art, and other activities to validate feelings they cannot express. Contact Montgomery County Early Intervention for professional help.
Children express emotions through play, which is a natural way for them to communicate. They often play scenarios from their real life, utilizing toys to represent people and situations they are experiencing. These scenarios can cover a wide range of issues, including anxiety and depression, self-harm, trauma, and social isolation. If you notice your child is exhibiting any of these signs, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible.
During therapy, a therapist may use a variety of techniques to treat the child’s specific emotional issues. These may include using games, art, or play therapy to work through their feelings and improve their communication skills. A therapist may also teach the child breathing and mindfulness exercises to promote relaxation and self-regulation.
The Mad Game, also known as the Sad-Mad-Glad Game, is one of many games that can be used to teach children about expressing their emotions and controlling their behavior. During the game, the therapist will ask the child to stack blocks on top of each other, then instruct them to think about one thing that makes them angry, make a face that reflects how they feel, and then knock down the blocks. This helps the child to understand that it is okay to feel angry and that they can control their behavior.
Other game-based techniques include the Mutual Story Telling Technique and The Talking, Feeling, and Doing Game. These board games capitalize on a child’s natural inclination to play and to learn through play. These activities are also a great way to help children develop problem-solving skills.
Other forms of play therapy used in child’s counseling may include role-playing, sandtray therapy, art, and reading stories to children that solve problems. A therapist may also use a technique called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to address childhood trauma, as well as dissociation, and self-regulation problems. These therapies can be administered on a individual basis or in conjunction with family counseling sessions, depending on the child’s unique needs.
The Story Game
There are a variety of games and other tools that can be used in child therapy to help children open up and communicate. Many of these techniques focus on positive reinforcement and helping children develop coping skills and self-esteem. They can also provide a safe environment for children to explore their trauma and feelings.
One of the best known child therapy games is The Talking, Feeling and Doing Game, which is a board game designed specifically for use in child counseling. This game includes a board, spinner, chips, pawns and dice along with three sets of cards – feeling cards, action cards and talking cards. Children typically enjoy playing this game, which teaches them how to express their emotions and how to interact with others.
The therapist will begin by telling the child a story that may be real or fictional and that demonstrates both positive and negative feelings. The therapist will then ask the child to place tokens on the feeling cards that correspond to the emotions described in the story. Once the child has completed the task, they can tell a new story and repeat the process.
This process allows the therapist to identify the child’s presenting problems and their level of functioning. It also helps to build a therapeutic relationship and provides the foundation for other forms of therapy.
A lot of the activities that are used in this technique can be adapted and implemented at home. Parents can do this by simply asking their child to describe a TV show or movie that they watched or by having them reminisce about fun family experiences. Children can also be asked to write about a fear or anxiety that they have, and therapists can assist them with the development of an emotional vocabulary.
Another early intervention technique is to have the therapist observe the infant or toddler as they complete a motor behaviour (e.g. rolling over) and then give them specific feedback in a warm and supportive context. This will allow them to identify the missing components of the behaviour and problem solve with the parents about ways of simplifying the skill for the child.
The Story of My Life
A child who is having a hard time dealing with their emotions may exhibit signs that are cause for concern. These signs can include excessive sadness and worrying, bedwetting, frequent temper tantrums, withdrawal from social activities, and the onset of self-harm. If your child is experiencing any of these signs, it could be a sign that they would benefit from children’s therapy. Early intervention can help reduce symptoms and prevent them from developing into long-term problems that interfere with your child’s life.
Children’s therapy can take many forms, depending on your child’s age and specific issues. Applied behavior analysis is a common form of therapy used with young children, and involves training them to respond to certain situations in more productive ways. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches children how to identify negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with healthy ones. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) combines CBT with mindfulness to teach children how to manage difficult emotions.
Regardless of the type of treatment used, a qualified mental health professional will meet your child where they are at emotionally and treat them with compassion and openness. Children often have difficulty expressing their feelings, and they can be misunderstood by those around them. A therapist will be able to provide them with a safe space to do so and will encourage them to talk about their emotions.
As part of the process, your child’s therapist will ask you to participate in their sessions as much as possible. This allows you to model positive behaviors that will encourage your child to follow suit. It also allows you to provide feedback on your child’s progress and contribute to a better understanding of the overall therapeutic process.
As an added benefit, your child’s therapist will also be able to teach you strategies for dealing with your own emotions and providing emotional support for your child. This can be a great way to strengthen the bond you share and improve the quality of your relationship.
The Story of Your Life
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, talking to a therapist is an excellent option. Whether your child struggles with an anxiety disorder, depression, or something else, a professional can help you navigate through the challenges and offer compassion and support.
Depending on the age of your child, therapy can involve the whole family or just the child. It may also be a combination of talk and activities, like playing, drawing, role-playing, or other creative exercises. Regular sessions, typically once a week, provide consistency and a safe space to explore feelings.
Children who experience trauma can face many challenges, from the loss of a loved one to major life changes and even severe injuries or illness. A therapist can help them cope and learn to manage their emotions, which can improve their self-esteem and ability to form healthy relationships.
For younger children, it’s often best to use play therapy as the main approach. This technique allows kids to express their thoughts and feelings in the language they understand best — through play. For older children, the therapist might use cognitive-behavioral techniques or other talk therapies that are a good fit for them.
Psychodynamic psychotherapies can also be useful with children. These techniques focus on identifying a child’s defense mechanisms and inner conflicts that may be contributing to their negative behaviors. This type of therapy can take more time than other types, and might involve multiple weekly sessions.
There are also a number of resources for helping children cope with difficult emotions, such as anger. For example, The Story of Sherman Smith, a Raccoon who Saw Something Terrible tells the story of a raccoon who saw something traumatic and is struggling to cope with his difficult feelings. It’s a wonderful way to teach children that it’s okay to have angry feelings and how to handle them in a healthy way.
There are also a variety of worksheets, handouts, and other tools that can be used to compliment child therapy. For example, this printable resource from the Mental Health Educator includes “discussion cards” with questions for parents to ask their child. This can help foster open and honest discussions between parents and children.