Therapy for children focuses on helping kids to process and adapt to stressful situations, as well as cope with their own emotions. Being a child can be hard and therapy that focuses on helping kids to adapt and even thrive into their full potential should have a specialized approach by an expert therapist who understands how children’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings work. Children go through many stages and each developmental stage requires a unique understanding and way of interacting from caregivers, each of these stages are unique and present challenges for the child’s coping reserves.
Developmental Stages of Children
Trust vs Mistrust- 0-1.5 years- The parent and child develop a deep bond and the child is challenged to reach a stage of trust for the outside world. They come to understand that their caregiver and the world can be counted on to fulfill their needs for time, attention, and nurturing.
Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt is a stage- 1.5- 3 years. This hallmarks the ‘terrible 2’s.’ The child is beginning to assert their independence, their personalities emerge and they begin to test boundaries. Tantrums are very common at this age as the children have not yet mastered any sense of emotional control.
Initiative vs Guilt-3-5 years of age. Young kids are learning the rules and how to interact in social environments, interacting with your child in a way that supports their curiosity and encourages independence also nurtures positive emotional reactions for the later stages.
Competence vs Inferiority- 5-12 years of age. The Children continue to master a sense of independence and really compare their skills and talents to see where they fit in with their peers. Self-esteem, while vital through life, is especially important in this age range. This also is a common point for stress to emerge including mental health, and behavioral disorders.
Identity vs Role Confusion. 12-18 Tweens all the way up to early adulthood, children are really wanting to figure themselves out and they also will likely want to have some independence. Teens naturally experiment with their role in life, they are thinking about how they fit into the world and what makes sense to them. They also struggle with changes in their bodies and hormones and everything can feel strange to them. This can often be a time for rebellion and challenging the norms of the family. They are especially sensitive to peer group stress and performance stress at this age.
Could Your Child Benefit From a Child Therapist?
If you have noticed a recent change in your child’s behavior, you may be wondering if they need the help of a child therapist. If you notice that your child is withdrawn, is bedwetting, having nightmares, behavioral outbursts, seems paranoid, has repetitive behaviors, is expressing thoughts of suicide, has lost weight, or excessively worries about their performance in school or activities, or emotional dysregulation, therapy can help to explore a potential diagnosis and to determine the best treatment route.
When it comes to Child therapy, there are many options including expressive therapy to help your child or adolescent be able to talk about what they are thinking and learn ways to effectively manage their feelings. For some kids, a play therapy or art therapy is the best way to unearth their feelings and become more well adapted. In addition to providing a safe space to understand him or herself, some common goals of child counseling are to develop self-esteem, have healthy coping to feelings and situations, and also to expand the emotional vocabulary/emotional intelligence of the child, and to help the child towards the path of normal and healthy development.
When something happens in the home such as divorce, loss, grief, other trauma, or for children who are being targeted by bullying, abuse, as well as kids who have recently received or are exploring a mental or behavioral health diagnosis, getting the right therapy is important. At times it is appropriate to bring the whole family in to participate in treatment so that each person who interacts in the home can also help the child to adapt, cope, and flourish. Our center also has one therapist who offers Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).
Children can attend therapy without the participation of the rest of the family.
We have a fully licensed staff of Child Therapists, Family, and Marriage Counselors in our Pittsburgh, Wexford, Monroeville and South Hills locations who are glad to help your child become emotionally well.
Blogs Written by Our Child Therapists
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 9, 2022 Child Anxiety, child counseling, child psychologist, child therapy, children mental health, Play Therapist, Play Therapy, play therapy week0 comments
Every single person in this world wants to feel heard and to be validated. However, children do not always have the words they need to express themselves due to their developmental level. Children will then find other means to express themselves, which often becomes frustrating for the adults in their lives because this behavior may be viewed as aggression, shutting down, or other...Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 6, 2022 anxiety in children, Child Anxiety, child counseling, child psychologist, child therapy, children mental health, death, health anxiety, pandemic, parenting, Parenting and Families0 comments
In the last two years there has been a noticeable increase of school age children spending a lot of their time discussing and playing out themes of death. This can be very concerning to parents as they want to shield their children from anything that is scary and death is a heavy concept, even for adults. With the pandemic, death has been a constant topic on the news, media, and at the dinner...Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 15, 2021 Adoption, Guardianship, Child Anxiety, children mental health, grief, healthy holiday, holidays, holidays stress reduction, trauma, trauma counseling, trauma informed care0 comments
When most people celebrate the holidays, they are surrounded by loved ones telling stories and laughing over mugs of hot cocoa as they exchange gifts. During this time of holiday cheer, many children who were adopted are faced with the realization that they will not see any of their biological family during the holidays. It is a stark reminder of the grief and loss they have...Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghOctober 1, 2019 anxiety in children, child counseling, child psychologist0 comments
5 Ways to Soothe Anxiety in your Child Ways to Soothe Anxiety in your Child Whether your child is anxious or even has a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, you have probably tried everything that you can think of to help them manage their emotions. Your daughter stays up all night worrying about show and tell tomorrow in school, she cries and repeats, ‘I know I am going to mess up, I...Learn More
More On Child Therapy
Developmental stages according to the research by Erik Erickson.