Children 6 to 9 Years
When children enter the school system, they may be facing a number of new things. They may be away from home for the first time or for a longer time than they’ve ever experienced before. Their day may be much more structured and unlike daycare or playschool, there’s an expectation for them to learn so many new things, to be tested on that knowledge, and perform well on those tests. Add in navigating social relationships with their school peers and school can be pretty stressful for some children. It’s around this age when developmental delays or disorders can show up which can be stressful for a child to feel left behind by their classmates. 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 children may face mental health issues
- Struggling with learning in school
- Struggling socially with friends
- High anxiety about test performance
- High anxiety about other organized pursuits such as sports or performing arts
- 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.)
School-aged children can experience these events and situations but are not always able to fully understand and process them or express themselves and how they’re feeling.
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 children.
Symptoms & signs of mental health issues in children
- Overwhelming fears of things that are normally not seen as scary
- Regressing to a younger state
- Trouble performing in school or extracurricular activities
- Mood changes
- Behaviour changes
- Persistent sadness
- Common emotional symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Damaging behaviour (to self, others, or property)
- Disruptive behaviour in school
- Acting withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- 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 child’s behaviour or moods seems different – such as more frequent or severe emotional outbursts, they’re being ostracized by their friends, they’re causing turmoil in the family, their teachers are expressing concerns about their behaviour in school, or they’re 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 children
There are various treatment methods that are effective for 6 to 9 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.