When your child's personality suddenly changes, you might wonder, "Does my child need therapy?" Sometimes these changes appear as a result of a traumatic experience, while other times they seem to appear out of nowhere.
Whatever the reason, these changes are important because they can help you decide whether or not to seek some type of therapy for your child. Here are some signs your child could benefit from therapy.
Your child is displaying defiant behaviors
One of the most common indicators that your child may require some type of therapy is if they have behavioral issues both inside and outside of the home. Even the smallest request or conversation with you may cause your child to argue, complain, and become defensive.
Take note of these reactions, especially if they begin to occur more frequently than usual. Often, this is your child asking for help without even realizing it. When it comes to school and other extracurricular activities, stay in touch with your child's teachers and other parents who interact with your child on a daily basis. Consider informing them that you are concerned and asking them to notify you if they observe any unusually defiant behaviors in your child.
Your child is displaying a sudden shift in usual interests and habits
Changes in your child's daily interests and habits, similar to behavioral changes, can indicate that your child may require therapy. Significant changes in eating, sleeping, and personal interests are usually the easiest to detect and the most suggestive. If these changes persist for more than two weeks, consult with your child's doctor. If they believe emotional stressors are to blame, they may suggest that you seek the opinion of a psychologist or psychotherapist.
Your child is displaying anxiousness, sadness and seems to be worrying
Excessive worrying, sadness, and increased anxiety are perhaps the most direct and obvious signs on this list and are sure signs that your child may require assistance beyond your reach. While worrying and sadness are normal emotions, particularly during major transitions and changes, when these emotions become excessive and begin to consume your child and their thoughts, it is time to take a closer look.
Your child is displaying regressive behaviour from skills they have mastered
Regressions are common when a new sibling is born, when divorce occurs, or any other major life changes take place in the home. Therapy can help your child cope with these new changes and equip them with lifelong skills to manage their experiences. Here are a few of the most common regressions that signal that your child may need therapy:
Bedwetting (when already night trained)
Frequent temper tantrums
Separation anxiety and clinginess
Excessive anxiety and fearfulness
Language regression (using “baby talk”)
Your child is socially withdrawing
You should look into your child's emotional health more closely if you observe them withdrawing socially. Children frequently withdraw from social situations and become more introspective when they are depressed or anxious. When this starts to occur frequently and begins to negatively impact their interpersonal interactions, it is safe to say that the behaviour is not caused by the odd bad day. Especially if your child does not exhibit shyness or introverted inclinations frequently.
If you're not sure what social withdrawal looks like for a child, here are a few things to look out for:
Eating alone ( at school, in a group setting with peers)
Avoiding playdates and other social activities
A lack of desire to leave the house for any reason
Your child is talking about hurting themselves or their peers.
Finally, and most importantly, it is crucial that you seek help for your child as soon as they reveal any symptoms or thoughts of harming themselves. This might sometimes be subtle, with undertones of helplessness and loneliness. Sometimes it is much more obvious and is indicated by the existence of suicidal ideation and cutting.
While cutting and suicidal ideas may appear excessive in younger children, it's important to remember that there are many different ways that feelings of self-harm can be communicated. The indicators of self-injury in young children include hitting oneself, hitting one's head against something, and driving one's nails into flesh. Take note of any self-harming behaviors you see in your child and get care for them as soon as possible.
Why Play Therapy could be right for your child.
The sooner you identify the warning signals that your child needs therapy, the sooner you can get them the support they require. With the warning signs mentioned above, you can be sure that you will be aware of what to watch out for when it comes to the emotional and mental health of your child.
Therapy is here to help you and your child to live better. The quality of the relationship with our parents or other significant adults in our lives directly influences how we relate to our children. Whether we like it or not, we can sometimes hear the voice of our parents in our heads as we deal with our own children. At times we are reminded of our unresolved past trauma because relating to our children can become a re-enactment of the early experiences we had with our parents.
I often get asked about just how effective Play Therapy is by parents. Over the course of my career of working with children, I see firsthand how children are often unable to verbalize what they are experiencing and the strong emotions that they have in the same way that they can express themselves through play. Becoming a trained Play Therapist has taught me how to "speak their language", the language of play and it has given me access into a child’s world, one which is often left silent. I explain to parents that "the play" serves only as a bridge to therapy. I often stress that play therapy is not about having some toys in a therapy room or encouraging children to draw or play with blocks as they talk with a counselor or psychologist.
If you find, yourself questioning how Play Therapy is going to help your child and you have no clue about what to expect. How will your child "playing" with a therapist really help what your child is struggling with? Then read this blog here!
As you do your own research on Play Therapy you will find that there are no predetermined interventions during the play therapy sessions that seek to change the child's behaviour. Instead, what we do as play therapists is consistently offer a safe relationship and an environment in which your child is free to be self-directive. I mainly focus on the relationship I have with your child rather than the initial problem as this allows your child to tell me through "play" the anxieties, fears, or other complex emotions that are feeling or experiencing.
This is why Play therapy fills a wide gap in therapy services for young children. It is effective with tangible results that have allowed children to make massive strides in their emotional and behavioural development.
If you would like to speak to a qualified Play therapist to learn how your child could benefit from play therapy, click here to get in touch today or want to know if Play Therapy could be right for your child take our quiz!