Updated: Jan 19
3 Common Signs Your Child or Teen May Benefit From Therapy
Is there any worse feeling as a parent than seeing your kid struggle and not knowing how to help?
To see that once vibrant, twinkly-eyed, sweet-faced baby slipping away behind an invisible cloak of despair, anxiety and sadness might be the most helpless spot to find ourselves as parents. But when our “baby” isn't a toddler with a boo boo, a bandaid, kiss, and a hug are no longer a magic elixir for making it all better.
“What can I do to help them feel better?” You find yourself asking almost daily. Maybe you’ve tried it all: being more strict, more lenient, more fun, more inquisitive. Maybe you’ve tried to give them more space and also engage them more in conversation. You’ve perhaps even read books, talked to friends, or listened to parenting podcasts, but nothing seems to get help.
You are not alone. At some point, many parents consider seeking out a therapist for their child. Here are 3 situations where therapy might be the answer:
Changes in Feelings and Behavior
As kids grow and change, they're bound to have ups and downs. We grown-ups have ups and downs, right? On top of life in general, kids are also experiencing rapid growth, ongoing brain development, and being relatively new to the world around them; it's a perfect recipe for mood swings! However, as a parent we know when things are "off". Maybe there are changes in eating habits. Maybe they're sleeping a lot more than usual. Maybe they're sluggish and mopey. Maybe they're weepy or anxious. When that parental radar is triggered, my advice is to listen to it. If something is off, how long has it been off? Prolonged changes that don't seem to get better might be a sign that talking to a therapist could be beneficial to your child.
A Life Change or Transition Has Occurred
Whoever said, "Kids are resilient," wasn't lying. By and large, kids can often have more resiliency than adults when faced with big life changes and transitions. That doesn't mean those times aren't still stressful for kids. Whether it's a divorce, a big move, the death of a pet, or a change in friendships, it can be difficult for children to process alone. As much as we want to be there for our kids and think that we are, sometimes they don't want to burden us with their worries. Also, in their short time on earth, chances are they haven't had the opportunity to develop the coping skills needed to get through these times. This is what a therapy can help with.
Adolescents naturally tend to spend more time in their rooms when they're at home. It's their way of differentiating from the family and figuring out who they are and what they represent. Many parents may become concerned when this happens, but I like to reassure them that it's a normal part of development. This is NOT the same as social isolation because, well, adolescents just don't consider us a part of their social circle. With social media, video games, and cell phones, teens today aren't really ever "alone," it seems. When the pulling away from us, their parents, isn't for the sake of joining with peers, either in person or through technology, however, it could be social isolation. If you sense your child is being bullied or suffering due to lack of friends or another social problem, it might be helpful to seek out a professional to help.
Being a kid can be hard. I'm here to help.
Being a kid today is HARD. There are so many expectations, stimuli and stressors, but little experience on how to navigate. On top of that, their little brains are still rapidly developing. The prefrontal cortex isn’t even fully developed until the age of 25! Sometimes having a professional to talk to can be life changing. Sometimes just having a person that’s not in the mix of everyday life feels safe for kids. This alone often allows them to open up and make connections that can totally shift their mood, behavior, and life trajectory. If you feel like therapy might be the next step for your child or teen, I offer free 15-minute consultations to see if we might be a good fit. Click here to send me a message.