Often in response to challenging situations, children can experience a variety of mental health concerns as they grow. Some common mental health issues for children include:
- Anxiety: fears, worries, or panic that can cause children to avoid certain situations, activities, places, or people. Anxiety can also cause children to be overly rigid, clingy or to lash out aggressively.
- Depression: sadness, loneliness, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, low self-esteem, sleeping and eating problems that can interfere with concentration and cause children to withdraw from others.
- Behavioral Problems: aggression, distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, difficulty following directions that can lead to significant conflict with peers, teachers, and family members.
- Adjustment Difficulties: distressing feelings or behavior following a significant life change like the move of a best friend, the arrival of a new sibling or the divorce of parents.
impact of trauma
Additionally, exposure to traumatic events like bullying, a car accident, the death of a family member, community or domestic violence, and abuse can have profound impact on children. These adverse experiences can cause the problems described above and make it difficult for young people to meet expectations at home, school, and in the community. When these problems go unaddressed, they can hurt a young person’s development and create further struggles that follow them into adulthood.
My work with children often focuses on helping them develop skills in these areas:
- Affect Regulation: identifying, understanding, and coping with feelings
- Cognitive Processing: recognizing the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and adopting helpful ways of thinking
- Problem Solving: brainstorming possible solutions to problems and trying them out
- Communication: practicing useful ways to express needs and build relationships
- Meaning-Making: identifying activities and ways of thinking that foster understanding, healing, and growth after a distressing event