Children’s Mental Health
Life can have challenges for people of all ages – including kids. Children as young as 4 or 5 (and even younger) can show signs of mental health challenges. A variety of conditions and concerns may prompt you to seek help for your young child. Dealing with minors is different from treating adults. In the past, children were simply perceived as smaller versions of adults. This way of thinking did not contribute to their development, but thankfully psychologist Jean Piaget pioneered child psychology and confirmed that indeed – children think differently from adults. It’s important that parents adapt this way of thinking and consider that their children have different needs based on their age. Children see the world from another perspective and face many challenges for the first time. In the process of growing up, children often have trouble coping at some time (at home, at school, with divorce and separation, with other children, etc.), or they exhibit behaviours which concern or alarm their parents or teachers. Some children face more problems than others, depending on their home or school situation, and sometimes due to biological or inherited conditions. Others face psychological disorders that parents may not notice or do not want to acknowledge.
Children that have been involved in traumatic situations can sometimes be left unable to cope with what just happened. A loss of a close loved one, such as a parent or grandparent, a difficult divorce, natural disasters, and other traumas can all have a tremendous impact on a child’s mental health and overall well-being.
Some issues your child may be facing today include:
- Adoption Issues
- Divorce and separation
- Communication difficulties
- Peer pressure
- Sibling rivalry
- Extended family difficulties
- Mixed family Issues
- Learning disorders
- Peer relationships
Symptoms & signs of mental health challenges in children
- Overwhelming fears of things that are normally not seen as scary
- Regressing to a younger or infantile state
- Lack of concentration
- Trouble performing in school
- Mood changes
- Behaviour changes
- Common emotional symptoms of anxiety or depression
- A sudden change in marks or performance
- Damaging behaviour (to self, others, or property)
- Acting withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Lack of concentration
- Frequent stomach aches
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Common physical symptoms of anxiety or depression
When is it time to get help?
If you notice your child is exhibiting some of the symptoms listed above, and their daily activities are being affected, or if you notice mood or personality changes, see their marks suddenly drop or a decline in their performance on sports teams or at other activities, are alerted by a teacher or coach’s concerns, or if your child just seems to be “off’, it may be time to seek help.
Treatment methods for mental health challenges in children
- Art therapy clients use their imagination to approach and explore their emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Especially useful in young people and people with developmental delays, when their motor skills exceed their verbal skills, they’ll get more out of art therapy than talk-only.
- Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all of which make use of one or more of the natural benefits of play, using toys, dolls, games, etc. Play allows children a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows them to express their true thought and feelings in ways best suited to their developmental level.
- Psychotherapy is a broad term that encompasses numerous styles of therapy and uses verbal or nonverbal communication with a client to help treat psychiatric problems, behavioral issues, personality disorders, and various other types of emotional distress. This form of personal counselling is based on an interpersonal relationship, as opposed to the alternative chemical or physical forms of therapy.
- Eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is defined by EMDR Canada as an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems that utilized bilateral eye stimulation or somatic responding.
- Family systems therapy looks at the family as one emotional unit. This therapeutic approach looks at the relationships within the family and the structure as a whole.
What will my child get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Getting to the root of the issue is the first step in helping your child work through the stressors, challenges, and/or traumatic situations they may be experiencing. An evaluation by one of the licensed therapists at Insight Psychological will be done to determine the best types of therapy for your child. Parents also tend to reach out to child psychologists if they are concerned about their child’s developmental or cognitive functioning. Evaluating your child is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, knowing if your child has a condition or not allows you to plan your child’s education. Children with disabilities may require adapted education, which will depend on the degree of their condition(s). Our child psychologists also treat children after traumatic events. If the child has just lost a parent or family member, or has been abused, it is advisable to have them see a psychologist. Professional help will allow the child to process the traumatic event, and transition into the new changes in their life.
Insight has child psychologists in Edmonton and Calgary who specialize in treating children. If your child is struggling, please contact us and we can help you find a therapist that’s right for you and your child.
If you are booking a session for a minor, please call our office as we will need consent forms signed prior to their appointment.