Therapy is an effective way to help children improve their coping skills and learn helpful thinking patterns. It can also be used to help kids learn to cope with major life changes or problems.
When deciding which type of therapy to seek, it’s important to look for a child therapist who has experience with your child’s age group and mental health concerns. There are a number of options to choose from, including psychodynamic therapy and supportive therapy.
1. Helps build self-esteem
In children, self-esteem is a critical factor in their emotional well-being. High levels of self-esteem are associated with a positive outlook on life, optimism, and social relationships [2,3].
To build positive self-esteem, parents need to encourage their children to embrace their strengths. These include being resilient, trying new things, asking for help, and practicing kindness to themselves when they are going through a difficult time.
A key factor in fostering self-esteem is encouraging your child to think of themselves as worthy of love, attention, and respect. Creating this attitude will give your child the confidence they need to succeed in the world and lead a happier, healthier life.
During therapy, kids often learn new skills that will help them cope with challenges in their daily lives. These include mindfulness, deep breathing, paced breathing, paired muscle relaxation, and guided imagery.
Therapists can also use a variety of different tools to help children improve their self-esteem. This can include using a growth mindset or working with your child to create a self-love journal that they can write in every day to celebrate successes and accomplishments.
Moreover, research has shown that school teachers can be trained to administer a CBT protocol for improving children’s self-esteem in a group setting. This has the potential to benefit a large number of children, as school-based therapy has been shown to be effective for promoting social support and self-esteem in early adolescence.
2. Helps develop social skills
Having social skills is essential for children and adults to succeed in education, friendships, and emotional regulation. Therapy can help kids learn these skills and improve their social functioning.
Social skills include the ability to initiate conversation, communicate effectively with others, and interact appropriately with strangers. These skills can be taught in a variety of ways, including in a social skills group led by a school psychologist or speech therapist.
A therapist may also use play therapy to help your child develop these skills. According to Play Therapy International (PTI), up to 71% of children who undergo play therapy show a positive response.
During play therapy, a child will act out and experience their feelings in a safe environment with their therapist. This helps them identify and process their emotions, and it can be particularly helpful for kids who feel anxious or apprehensive about making new friends.
This type of therapy can also help children who are struggling to understand other people’s emotions and perspectives, a common problem for those with autism spectrum disorder. During play, they will be given verbal or non-verbal cues to help them identify their own feelings and understand the emotions of others.
When children are able to do this in a fun and meaningful way, they will often respond better in real-life situations. For example, if a child is upset by loud noises in the classroom, the therapist can teach them to request ear protection-like headphones instead of yelling and screaming.
Learning these skills can be a big challenge for some kids, especially shy or socially awkward ones. They need a lot of encouragement and support in order to succeed.
3. Helps cope with change
Change can be a confusing time for children, especially when it involves changing schools, being adopted or entering the foster care system, remarriage or divorce, going to live with another relative, or losing a pet. Having a mental health professional on hand can help kids cope with these changes and make the experience less stressful.
In therapy, therapists use a variety of tools to help children understand their emotions and work through problems. One common technique is called “feeling cards,” in which a child lists the feelings they experience.
This process can be especially helpful for younger kids. It helps them identify and express their feelings in a safe environment.
If your child is experiencing a large amount of stress, anxiety, or depression, therapy can help them learn new coping skills and develop resiliency. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular treatment for these issues, and it helps kids learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Some mental health professionals also offer trauma-focused CBT to help kids overcome the effects of traumatic events. This type of therapy teaches kids to view trauma in a more realistic way.
Play therapy is another effective tool for helping children work through emotional issues. It can be used to help younger children understand their feelings and conflicts, as well as to teach older children how to use creative expression to process their emotions.
To get the most out of child therapy, make sure you choose a therapist who will work best with your child’s personality. If you feel like the therapist isn’t a good fit, Tyson says it’s OK to move on and find someone else. Most therapists will be willing to schedule a phone conversation or consultation for no charge, so you can ask them questions and determine whether they’re a good match for your child.
4. Helps develop communication skills
Children’s therapy can be a valuable resource to help your child develop communication skills. As they grow, children must learn how to effectively communicate with their parents and others in order to thrive.
Therapists who specialize in working with kids understand the unique challenges that children face and can provide a safe space to talk about problems. This is especially helpful for young children who don't have the words to express their feelings.
Often, children’s therapists have a background in psychology and specialized training in working with kids. They know the typical stages that children go through and how to spot the signs of trouble before it gets out of hand.
In addition, they understand the impact of certain behaviors on your child's well-being and can motivate them to communicate their needs and emotions more constructively. This can be accomplished through various techniques such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or speech and language therapy.
Another form of communication that therapists use is play therapy. This is a fun way to engage your child and help them build stronger bonds while learning new ways to communicate with other people.
One of the best things about this type of therapy is that it encourages parents to participate as much as possible during sessions. This can be a great way to show your child that you care about them and want to support their progress.
The therapist also works closely with you during the sessions to ensure that your child is making progress. Your child's therapist will ask how your child's problems are affecting them at home and at school. They will also discuss how to correct these issues and work toward a healthier life.
5. Helps develop self-awareness
Self-awareness is a key part of developing a healthy self-image and it’s essential for kids to learn how to identify their emotions. This helps them feel more comfortable with their feelings and take control of them when needed.
Children who have a hard time expressing their feelings can benefit from inner child work, also called inner child therapy, where they can be guided through the process of learning to understand and support themselves. This can help them feel more comfortable with their emotions and reduce their risk of repressing them in later life.
Another way children can develop self-awareness is through meditation, which can boost mindfulness and teach them to pay more attention to their emotions. This helps them become more aware of when they’re feeling stressed or anxious and how to respond appropriately.
Using these techniques can help them learn to manage their emotions responsibly, which in turn can improve their overall health and happiness. For example, children can learn to take deep breaths when they feel nervous or angry, which can help them avoid a more aggressive response and feel more in control of their emotions.
These skills can also help them develop empathy toward others, especially peers who have different abilities or backgrounds than theirs. This can lead to improved social skills and higher self-esteem.
Having these skills can also help them cope with big changes, such as starting a new school or moving home for the first time. This is because change can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for kids, and they need to learn how to deal with it. In addition to therapy, they can also start practicing relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and meditation to calm themselves down and prepare for the changes.