Children & Youth 10 – 12 Years
Children in this age group are also known as “tweens”, meaning they are in between being children and teenagers. This is a confusing time for children as they may not quite belong in either group. They’re often expected to behave with maturity even though they are still kids, yet treated like children when they can’t wait to be older. They’re likely starting to really settle into cliques and groups at school and in their extracurricular activities such as organized sports or performing arts. If they are having any learning difficulties in school, they are likely noticeably falling behind their peers and most likely may have received a diagnosis of any developmental and possibly mental health disorders by now. Events and circumstances outside of school also have a significant impact on a child’s mental health and wellbeing if they are impacted by trauma, abuse, anxiety, grief, and depression.
Reasons tweens may face mental health issues
- Struggling with learning in school
- Struggling socially with friends
- High anxiety about performance in school, teams, or other pursuits
- Being ostracized by peers
- Death of a parent, sibling, grandparent, or other close family member
- Divorce or separation
- Death or loss of a pet
- Entering into care of Children’s Services
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Extreme poverty and/or food insecurity
- Developmental disorders (ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, etc.)
- Mental health disorders (anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, etc.)
Children in this age group can experience these events and situations but may have difficulty fully understanding and processing them or expressing themselves and their emotions.
Child therapists are specially trained to work with children. They communicate and relate to the child on the child’s level and help them to express themselves in ways that are appropriate for tweens.
Symptoms & signs of mental health issues in tweens
- Mood changes
- Trouble performing in school or extracurricular activities
- Behaviour changes
- Damaging behaviour (to self, others, or property)
- Disruptive behaviour in school
- Acting withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them
- Regressing to a younger state
- Overwhelming fears of things that are normally not seen as scary
- Persistent sadness
- Common emotional symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Inability to concentrate
- Frequent stomach aches
- Changes in sleeping habits
When is it time to get help?
Like most mental or physical health issues, it’s always better to seek help sooner rather than later, even if it’s just to ensure that things are not an issue or that they don’t get bigger over time. This is especially true in children who are exhibiting signs of mental health issues or are suspected of having developmental or learning disorders. It’s important for parents to learn how to deal with their children’s issues and how to best support their child. If you are finding that your child’s behaviour or moods seems different, such as more frequent or severe emotional outbursts, being ostracized by their friends, causing turmoil in the family, their teachers are expressing concerns about their behaviour in school, or your child is experiencing the symptoms listed above, it is likely time to seek help – especially if they’ve recently suffered a traumatic event.
Treatment methods for mental health issues in tweens
There are various treatment methods that are effective for 10 to 12 year-old children, depending on what they are experiencing or what situation they are facing. Your therapist will determine the best treatment for your child’s individual circumstances. They include:
- 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.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Treating children this age usually involves parents. Effective treatment methods include:
- 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.
- Structural family therapy involves looking at the structures within the family unit. Changing the underlying structure tends to cause a ripple effect on the family. This therapy analyzes the hierarchical structure, subsystems, and boundaries within the family.
Your therapist may also recommend couples counselling if there is stress in your relationships that is affecting your child, or your child’s mental health issue is causing your relationship stress.
What will we get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Insight can assist you and your child as you both navigate through mental health issues. We can work to get to the root of the problem that your child is facing and provide you with parenting tools that will support your child to express and process their feelings. We can offer assessments to help with diagnoses for developmental or mental health disorders and then support you in managing those disorders.
Please contact us to learn more about our services for children and youth.