February 4th 2019 marks the beginning of Children’s Mental Health Week, a national awareness campaign championed by children’s mental health charity Place2Be. To get involved and help spread the importance of child mental health issues we asked RHCP Child Therapist Sacha Jackson 5 key questions to provide an insight into the world of child therapy.
1) What Are the Main Reasons Children Under 10 Access Therapy?
The three most common reasons younger children attend therapy is due to anxiety, recovering from a traumatic event & disruptive behaviour.
The pressures that modern society places on us to look a certain way or be a certain way leaves many children wondering whether they are good enough just as they are. Anxiety is inevitable and unfortunately younger and younger children appear to be struggling.
Sadly, we cannot protect children from all the unfair and unfortunate events that occur in the world, and many of the children who seek therapeutic services do so after things have gone wrong. The loss of a family member, family breakdown or serious accident being amongst the most common.
Children frequently use behaviour to express emotional turmoil rather than talking leaving parents and teachers confused and uncertain. A trained therapist can help the child find more productive ways to communicate and understand their own feelings.
2) How Can Parents Support Their Children When They Are Struggling Emotionally?
Firstly, parents should always aim to communicate a whole-self acceptance of their child and invite their child to do the same. Non-acceptance of ourselves is one of the key factors in creating low self-esteem and confidence issues. It is only by accepting ourselves as we are that we can develop into all that we can be.
Parents should also give attention and effort to developing communication strategies that are transparent. Communication does not always need to be talking, it can be verbal or non-verbal, as long as both parents and children find a common language it will support the young person to know they are understood and the family are there for them.
Also importantly, modelling age appropriate behaviours within the family home. Children observe others in order to learn so demonstrate respectful interpersonal relationships.
3) How Does Social Media Impact Teen Self-Esteem?
Social media presents young people with an edited and unrealistic image of life. Most people post their best or most dramatic moments of life and leave out the mundane and unfulfilling. Along with air-brushed editing teenagers are left with unrealistic perceptions of perfection that they have no chance of ever living up to. A sense of being ‘not good enough’ is not only inevitable but it also attacks the self-esteem at a core time in the development of identity.
Modern media has hugely changed the way in which we communicate, and teen social relationships are almost unrecognisable from those of just 15 years ago. This means interpersonal skills in real-life interactions may remain underdeveloped which can lead to avoidance of face-to-face relating and social anxiety.
4) What Are Your 5 Best Tips To Manage Anxiety in Children?
- Develop broader communicational mediums e.g writing mood journal, make worry boxes/jars etc
- Teach the child to recognise and understand their anxiety and its triggers
- Relaxation techniques e.g. Breathing exercises
- Distraction techniques e.g grounding exercises
- Develop open dialogue around emotions for all family members where anxieties are shared and explored together
5) What Positive Outcomes Can A Child Expect From Accessing Psychological Therapies?
Children frequently respond positively and usually very quickly to therapeutic interventions that are flexible and creative in nature. In therapy children learn acceptance, not just of themselves but also the variety of emotions and behaviours they experience which aids them to understand the uniqueness of all they have to offer.
Children can also expect to learn and develop better communication skills which enable them to feel autonomous and capable leading to growth in their self-esteem. They can also take new skills to handle challenges and situations which were previously a source of distress boosting their self-confidence.