Childhood is such a wonderful, special time of life; but sometimes fraught with difficulties.
I spent five years working specifically with children who were coming out of the foster care system or the court system.
I have had a lot of experience because of that, but also by working with children in normal family situations who for some reason for or another are having a difficult time.
I love working with them in play therapy. That’s the modalityI use. I have a sand tray, all kinds of objects for them to play with and all kinds of art supplies. Things for them to create with and a doll house where they can play out issues.
It’s not just about play for the purpose of playing, but because a child’s main means of expression is through their play. That’s how they express themselves.
By the time you get to be an adult, you will want to come and sit in the room and talk to me and we will use words to express feelings and thoughts.
But a child, when having difficulty – when stressed out because of school or maybe some things that are going on in their home such as a big move – and they’re not adjusting very well…Then a child might want to come and talk a little bit, but they also might prefer to draw about it.
They take symbols and toys and play in the sand and express some of the things
that they’re feeling and thinking, some of their difficulties.
Children also sometimes have a hard time talking to their parents about things that they might be mad or upset about, because they don’t want to hurt their parents.
They don’t want to get into trouble, of course. But often they just don’t want to hurt their parents, and they think they just shouldn’t say things.
And so they’ll sometimes feel more comfortable talking to an outside person about their troubles; and then they don’t have to worry about hurting me. I’m not going to give them a grade either!
It’s a special environment, a healing environment for children, and a specialty of mine. It’s something that I really enjoy doing.
If your little one — and for me the earliest is about 4 or 5 — is troubled, they might need a little extra help. Maybe their grades are failing, or they might be having behavior problems at school or at home.
They might be having regressive behaviors; for instance they’ve already given up sucking their thumb or wetting their bed, and now they’re doing it again.
There’s something going on there. They’re kind of troubled. They might cry a lot more, be clinging, or be waking up a lot at night with night dreams, night terrors. Those are some indicators.
When you get a few extra indicators like that that your child is maybe having difficulty, then you might just want to seek professional help for a little while, just to help your child have a means to express some of those things that might be under the surface.
They might just not be finding a way to get some of that out.
That’s when it’s a good time to bring a child in.