Growing up and experiencing change isn’t easy for kids to deal with. As a parent, you may also struggle with communicating with your child about the challenges they face.
Mental health providers can bridge this gap by working with your child through these difficult emotions, helping them express themselves in an appropriate and respectful way. In addition, a counselor can also give parents insight into what their child is going through and improve communication with them.
The help of a counselor can foster social-emotional learning (SEL), which is an ideal method for improving emotional intelligence, fostering empathy, self-management, and self-awareness. Our post on “5 Examples of Emotional Intelligence That Start in Pre-K” shares that exercising these skills is an important lifelong practice that helps children build good relationships.
Why are mental health providers important?
Over the last few years, changes in society have made it even more difficult for children to socialize and express themselves. A study on “The Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in the Context of COVID-19” found that children who have been socially isolated have more negative emotions to handle. In most cases, parents have helped them cope with the adverse situation by building up resilience and self-management. However, sometimes professional intervention is needed to better tackle these mental health issues.
When should you seek counseling for your child?
As a parent, it can be difficult to feel that nothing seems to remedy your child’s social and emotional issues and distress. Having a mental health provider step in can help both you and your child find the right ways to cope. Counseling can identify any underlying issues that affect your child’s overall well-being, so that your family can effectively work together to better their situation. A study by the American Psychiatric Association has identified a mental health stigma attached to children and adolescents, which in turn has worsened their mental health problems. As a parent, you should overcome this stigma and prioritize the development of your child. If you’re not sure whether your child needs counseling, here are some signs you should consider:
- Regression – Is your child returning to younger behavior they had already overcome, like bedwetting? This may happen if a major life event happens, such as a divorce or a new sibling being born.
- Loss of interest in things they used to like – Are there any changes to your child’s interests and habits? If these behaviors happen consistently for more than two weeks, it’s good to consider professional help.
- Defiant behavior – Has your child been having more outbursts and arguments with you? Do these behaviors continue in school?
How to find a counselor?
There are multiple avenues where children can get professional help in dealing with tough emotions. Many mental health providers are now available through telemedicine, particularly when they have a multi-state license. Insights on multi-state licensure from health platform Wheel notes how this process allows behavioral health professionals to reach more people in rural communities or treat clients outside their state of licensure. To get their license, they have to go through the national board exam and must complete a minimum amount of work hours. These standards ensure that the mental health providers are well qualified to guide children through SEL.
In turbulent times, it’s important as a parent to guide your child by teaching them how to deal with their emotions. Sometimes outside help may be needed, so hiring a mental health provider can improve the situation. By giving your child the opportunity to have external help, they can learn healthy coping mechanisms to share their feelings.
Article contributed by Rhyslinn Johannah