Child and Family Counseling
Are You Worried About Your Child and Unsure How to Help?
Does your child seem nervous, unhappy, lonely or prone to intense mood swings? Are you struggling to connect with your child and have a healthy conversation about what’s really going on? Perhaps your child no longer gets along or wants to visit with friends, and you’re worried that he or she is being bullied, whether at school, online or both. Maybe your child’s grades have been slipping, and he or she has expressed feelings of frustration, self-criticism and shame. Or, maybe your son or daughter has always done well in school, but he or she seems edgy, stressed and determined to always excel at homework and tests. Alternately, you might have no idea what’s troubling your child and feel helpless when he or she lashes out or shuts down. On top of it all, your parenting style might conflict with your co-parent’s, leaving you feeling even lonelier and increasingly unsure. Do you feel exhausted, desperate and guilty, especially when it seems that other parents have all the answers? Do you find yourself having trouble falling asleep at night because you can’t stop thinking about how to help your child? Do you wish you knew how to foster healthy parent-child communication and help your child develop the skills needed to identify, express and manage difficult emotions, now and throughout his or her life?
Watching your child struggle can be a painful and overwhelming experience. You may feel as though you are to blame, especially if you’ve also struggled with anxiety, depression, friendships and academics. Maybe you long to solve your child’s problems or simply make them disappear, but nothing you’ve tried has provided answers or resolution. It may be that your son or daughter has become a sullen, angry or disrespectful child that you don’t recognize or get along with anymore, and you wonder what happened to the fun you used to have and the connection you used to share. Perhaps you’re worried that your child just doesn’t like or trust you. Most of all, you may be plagued by worries about his or her health, wellbeing and sense of self, especially as he or she grows older.
You and Your Child Are Not Alone
No parent has all the answers, and if your child is struggling, it is not your fault. In the United States, one in five children suffer from a mental health or learning disorder, and 80 percent of chronic mental health disorders begin in childhood. Some children are predisposed to anxiety or depression because of genetics and brain chemistry. Some begin to demonstrate emotional and/or behavioral issues after a stressful life event, such as the death of a loved one or beloved pet, a move or a change in their family structure. In addition, as children develop and move through their school years, they begin to flex their independence and test boundaries. The Boulder area can be a competitive place, and from an early age, many children feel pressure to match their peers, excel in school and know who they want to grow up to be.
If your child is having a hard time, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a parent or things will be this way forever. When children experience complicated or intense emotions, they tend to act out or shut down because they often don’t have the vocabulary or self-awareness necessary to fully understand what they’re going through, let alone communicate or cope. Unlike adults, children have little practice and experience with unpleasant feelings and difficult situations. Because they don’t know how to problem-solve, their stress levels keep getting higher and higher, like a balloon about to explode. If this sounds like your child’s experience, it is a good time to reach out for help.
Therapy can be extremely beneficial at any age. In fact, early intervention can be key to a child’s long-term wellbeing. With the help of a qualified child therapist, your son or daughter can discover his or her strengths, get in touch with emotions and develop the self-care skills needed to foster calm and confidence throughout his or her life.
Child Counseling Can Teach Skills for Effective Self-Care and Communication
Learning how to be aware of your feelings, manage stress and take care of your emotional and physical needs is extremely valuable, especially for children who are just starting to form a relationship with themselves, others and the world. By identifying his or her strengths and developing self-compassion and self-confidence now, your child can become equipped to navigate life’s challenges and thrive.
During child and tween counseling, your child psychologist will also help you, as a parent, understand that you and your child are not “broken” or “crazy.” There is no such thing as a perfect parent, and it’s okay that you don’t have all of the answers all of the time. In sessions, you can learn more about child development so that you can recognize what your child is going through and approach his or her difficulties with empathy, awareness and effective solutions. You can also develop parent-child communication skills that will help you validate and show appreciation for your child’s experience and talents, as well as feel equipped to discuss big feelings or sensitive topics. You can begin to build the bonded, mutually respectful relationship that you and your child both need.
Parental involvement is an essential component to counseling, and by participating, as appropriate, in this process, you can greatly improve the likelihood of a positive outcome for your child. Depending on your child’s age and preferences, you might join us in some early sessions or at the beginning or end of sessions. It’s vital to create a therapeutic relationship based on trust, which means that often your son or daughter will have one-on-one sessions with your child therapist. If you child expresses any indication that he or she may be in danger, your therapist will share that with you and help you figure out the best way to offer protection and support.
Our therapists draw from a variety of approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy and mindfulness for children. Your therapist will create an individualized plan tailored specifically to best address and support your child’s needs. CBT for children can be especially useful for helping your child understand the relationship between his or her thoughts, actions and emotions, as well as empowering him or her to make positive changes
We understand how painful it can be to watch your child struggle. But, we also know that it’s okay to go through hard times early in life. Addressing and overcoming challenges now can prepare your child for the ups and downs that inevitably lie ahead. Instead of learning to give up, your child can discover that he or she has the strength to make things better and move forward. With expert help and guidance, your child will learn to manage strong feelings, cope with stress, verbalize his or her needs, connect with others in a meaningful way and feel good about him or herself. And, child counseling can be a fun, positive place for you to spend dedicated time with your child, laughing about life’s ups and downs while learning how to handle them with greater ease. It is possible for your child to feel independent, confident and resilient.
You may have questions or concerns about therapy for children…
I’m worried about the stigma attached to therapy and medication.
Especially in Boulder, many people want to support their children’s wellness in holistic, natural ways. While alternative medicines certainly have their benefits, if your child is struggling to make and maintain friendships, engage at school or simply feel happy, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help. A trained, experienced child psychologist can help your child really understand his or her challenges and develop the practical skills needed to transform his or her life.
If I seek child counseling, people will think I’m a bad parent.
No parent knows everything, and there’s no one-size-fits-all parenting manual. You likely learned much of what you know about parenting from your own parents or caregivers, and it makes sense that you’re replicating old patterns or struggling at stressful points along the way. After all, you’re a human, too! Seeking counseling shows that you want to learn and do better, which doesn’t make you a bad parent at all. In fact, it demonstrates just how deeply you care.
Isn’t my child just going to grow out of this?
If your child isn’t having fun or feeling happy, or if he or she is struggling in school and/or relationships, then it’s likely time to seek help. Problems are unlikely to disappear on their own. But, there is help and hope available. You and your child don’t have to struggle alone.
If you have more questions about counseling for children, schedule a free 15-minute consultation through our secure Client Portal. We can talk about your child’s specific issues and how child or tween counseling could help.
Schedule an appointment with a experienced child and family therapist today.