Children are highly susceptible to emotional health issues because they are not as capable as adults to process stress or personal issues. Stressors such as abuse and bullying can affect a child’s development. Leaving these issues unattended would only result in more inner turmoil.
Children can also experience the same internal turmoil that adults experience. As much as we value the mental health and well-being of adults, we also have to value the well-being of children. Luckily, there are ways to address children’s mental health issues, and one of those is child counseling.
What Is Child Counseling?
Child counseling provides mental health support to children, up until the adolescent age, who have mental health problems, are victims of abuse or neglect, or live in a stressful home environment.
Child counseling aims to help children understand their situations and process their emotions better and healthier. This therapy aims to teach children to manage emotional distress and build healthy coping mechanisms effectively.
What Kind Of Issues Does Child Counseling Address?
One of the main goals of child counseling is to address issues in a child’s life that affects their mental well-being. Some events in their lives may trigger strong emotions that children are still not capable of processing.
Children undergoing counseling are helped to cope with situations and feelings like the following successfully:
A divorce is an event that can be emotionally and mentally distressing for a child. Some children may think that their parents’ divorce is their fault. Because of this, they might have feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness.
Child counselors can aid children in this set-up to cope with strong and confusing emotions. They can introduce ways of releasing stress through art, journaling, music or talking to a companion about their feelings and thoughts.
Abuse can come in different forms: emotional, physical, sexual, bullying, and neglect. Child abuse can cause physical, mental, and emotional damage to a child. These can have a life-long impact on children, especially when left unaddressed.
Abuse can destroy a child’s capacity to build lasting relationships with others. It can also affect how they express their feelings and may lead to trust and relationship issues in the future. Children who have survived abuse often struggle with anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness.
Child counseling provides a safe space for children who went through abuse. During sessions, they can open up and share their feelings without judgment.
More importantly, therapy can help children reframe their experiences and see themselves as survivors rather than victims of abuse.
Significant changes in life like moving to a new house, losing a loved one or a pet, changing schools, divorce, and remarriage can also affect a child.
As adults, we can adapt more easily to new environments and situations. However, children are not yet capable of this. They can easily be overwhelmed by the sudden newness in life, leading to outbursts of emotions.
Child counseling helps children to cope with change and make them understand that change is natural. Therapy can also teach children to be open about their emotions concerning these changes in their lives.
While adults have the necessary tools to process loss and grief, children are far from an understanding loss. Going through the grief process is already difficult for adults, making it more difficult for children to process. Children may be trapped in the cycle of denial, sadness, rage, and anxiety.
Child counselors can help children understand that grief is a long and natural process. They can help them develop better ways to cope with the feeling of loss. They can introduce tools that will help them channel their emotions like music, art, writing, and journaling.
Anxiety And Depression
Anxiety and depression in children are often tied with traumatic events in their lives. A child who has anxiety may appear irritable and angry. They can also experience sudden intense fear, difficulty in breathing, and dizziness. Anxiety attacks may interfere with a child’s daily activities.
Meanwhile, depression makes children feel unmotivated and, in the worst cases, may push them to have suicidal ideation. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness are also caused by depression. However, children might not talk about these feelings and appear completely fine.
Child counselors will encourage children to be open about their emotions. They will also help children who have anxiety and depression develop better coping mechanisms and process their emotions more effectively.
Signs That Your Child May Need Child Counseling
A child experiencing mental health issues may show different signs that warrant a visit to a child counselor. Some of the signs include:
- Constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness
- Inability to control strong emotions like anger or outbursts of emotions
- Increased irritability and aggression
- Preferring to be alone rather than being in the company of friends/family
- Sudden decline in academic performance
- Loss in appetite and weight
- Anxiety attacks or panic attacks
- Recurrent nightmares and other sleep difficulties
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Hearing voices in their head
- Expressing suicidal thoughts or having suicidal ideation
- Engaging in self-harm practices
As an adult, you have to be keen on these signs. Children tend to hide what they’re feeling, and some of these may be hard to notice. If you notice that your child is acting unusual and is showing any of these signs, you might want to visit a child counselor for professional assistance.
Why Is Child Counseling Important?
Childhood is an important part of anyone’s life because our identity and how we behave later on in our lives are anchored upon our childhood. However, children are often exposed to internal and external factors that may affect their childhood and, ultimately, their development. It is in these times that child counseling comes into play.
Child counseling is important because it helps children regulate their emotions and better understand their situations. This form of therapy equips children with a more positive outlook on life and can have effective coping mechanisms.
With the help of child counselors, children can effectively manage distress and strong emotions by themselves. They can learn how to speak their feelings instead of keeping them on their own. More importantly, children will develop a healthier sense of self and be competent individuals in the future.