Trying to determine if kiddos need therapy can be tricky...given that the emotions of most toddlers to teens resemble the latest amusement park ride. Keeping in mind that every situation is different and professional advice can be helpful in particularly tough scenarios, here are the 5 common questions I ask parents when they ask, "Does my child need counseling?":
Is it medical?
Sometimes the behavior that is showing up can be attributed to something medical. It's not a bad idea to talk to the child's pediatrician about what behavior is being seen and experienced to determine if it could be a medical condition that can be treated.
Is it affecting their functioning?
Observe the kiddo's functioning in the world. If they aren't able to function in school, social situations, at church or in the community it would be fair to consider some kind of therapeutic intervention.
Is it affecting relationships?
Family relationships, friendships, educational relationships are all very important in a child's development. Kids are going to be emotional (dare I say dramatic at times??). Kids are going to not get along with you, siblings, coaches, leaders, and teachers. It's only when their emotions about those relationships or their behaviors in those relationships are placing a significant strain on themselves or others that they may need a therapist to help them navigate those waters.
Is it affecting their perception of self?
Saying that being a kid is hard is an understatement. Sometimes, it is downright excruciating! With school, friends, extracurricular activities, involvement in sports and the community children are bound to have some rough patches while wading through all of that. Rough patches give kids the opportunity to be resilient. If rough patches begin to affect how a child sees themselves, feels about themselves or perceives themselves that may need to be taken into consideration.
What does the "parent gut" say?
My kids have an AMAZING pediatrician. One of the reasons why I absolutely adore him is that he always checks in with my "mom gut" when I call about something or take my littles in for a visit. Because he's done this regularly, he's trained me how to check in with myself about what is going on and ultimately eliminated some unnecessary visits. If the "parent gut" says the child needs counseling, there is something to be said for that…even if everything else seems fine.
Asking these 5 questions can help determine what a child may need to be their best self and reach their greatest potential. A lot of times, kids are just fine. In the times children or parents may need some extra guidance, a therapist can be a valuable asset.
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