Contrary to popular opinion, children are not less impacted by troubles than adults. Children have fewer coping skills and less control over themselves and their environment. When there are troubles at home, children can be affected in many ways. The age of the child and his/her developmental maturity influences how the child will communicate her/his distress. Rather than being able to tell us what she/he is feeling, a child may become more irritable, have unexpected troubles at school, have difficulties sleeping, or become upset more easily.
The thing to keep in mind is that many children exhibit their troubles before they can talk about them. The job of the child therapist is to decipher what the child is “telling” us with their behaviors and begin to help the child through play, fantasy, and conversation to find words for their underlying feelings, i.e., begin to express what is going on emotionally inside.
Therapy with children is successful when parents and families are engaged in the process and are willing to look at ways their behaviors and communications impact their child. It is essential to include parents in sessions, often meeting with the parents individually to help understand what is happening.
A Boulder Psychotherapy and Counseling Resource