Children 3 to 5 Years
Children as young as preschoolers and those in kindergarten can face mental health concerns. People of all ages are impacted by trauma, abuse, anxiety, grief, and depression. Young children may face developmental or learning disorders, which can affect their ability to communicate, be understood, or understand the world around them.
Reasons young children may face mental health issues
- 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.)
So, while young children can experience these events and situations, what they lack is the ability to understand and process them or express themselves and how they’re feeling.
Child therapists are specially trained to work with young 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 young children.
Symptoms & signs of mental health issues in young 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 playschool or kindergarten
- Mood changes
- Behaviour changes (for example, no longer being invited for playdates with friends)
- Persistent sadness
- Common emotional symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Damaging behaviour (to self, others, or property)
- Acting withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Bathroom issues (bedwetting, regressing in toilet-learning, etc.)
- Lack of age-appropriate concentration
- 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. 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 young child is behaving different from normal, by more frequent or severe emotional outbursts, by being excluded from playdates, by causing turmoil in the family, or experiencing the symptoms listed above, it’s likely time to seek help – especially if they’ve recently suffered a traumatic event.
Treatment methods for mental health issues in young children
There are various treatment methods that are effective for young children (or people who are non-verbal for other reasons). They include:
- 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.
- 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.
Treating children this young will always involve 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 and/or parenting support programs such as the Triple P Positive Parenting Program.
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.