When a Child's Troubles Don't Go Away
Children often puzzle or worry their parents and teachers.
Most worries disappear in a short time as the child matures and finds
solutions to his or her difficulties. When worries continue, it is time
to consider expert help. These worries might be social, when a child alienates
his or her friends by being bossy or superior and critical. The worries
may be about academics when a child appears to be underperforming at school.
Reading difficulties and the negative consequences of poor reading skills
are often a trigger for seeking help. Parents ask themselves why this
is happening. They worry that they have failed their child in some way.
When parents call me for help, I generally ask the parents to come and talk with me, so we can meet, get a look at each other, and establish a sense of trust, mutual cooperation and hopefulness. Sometimes we meet a few times and agree to check in later and see how things are going. When we agree that the child should be seen for evaluation, I meet with the child several times, using play therapy and developmentally appropriate interview techniques, and then meet again with the parents to talk over my views of their child's difficulties and make treatment recommendations. Once we agree, I meet with the child once or twice a week (rarely more) and meet with the parents once or twice a month depending on what we agree will be most helpful.
Treatment of children often moves very quickly compared
to adult treatment. Children, especially young children, can often quickly
make use of treatment to get their worries on the table and begin to tackle
them. Individual treatment, in addition to my collaboration with the parents,
is the best treatment for many childhood difficulties. When I think that
family dynamics are a contributor to a child's difficulty, I help the
family find a specialist in family treatment. The goal of child treatment
is to dissolve the roadblocks that are hindering a child's ordinary development
so that he or she can get on with the jobs of childhood, to learn through
play, to establish good relationships outside of the family, to establish
a solid intellectual foundation through a good use of school and teachers.