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Reasons why I don’t work with children

Sometimes I receive calls from parents who ask me to consult their child. In such cases, my recommendation to them is to contact a child psychologist, because I do not work with children.

What can a child psychologist do for you?

Child psychologists will give you the most accurate information on whether your child’s psychosocial, motor and cognitive development meets the so-called age-appropriate norms. Typically staff members at the daycare will alert you if they notice abnormal behavior in your child.  They will refer you, most likely to a speech therapist, since early problems are predominantly related to difficulties in speech development. Seldom will you hear a recommendation to see a child psychologist or therapist. Rather, they will tell you  that your child is aggressive, or withdraws from others and does not participate in shared activities, or that he or she kicks, bites, hits other children. A child psychologist will consider all these behaviors as symptoms and assess whether present a developmental disorder.

The source of children’s problems

The reason why I have no interest in developmental psychology is my belief that children are not born with problems. I see problems as coming from the early environment. Roughly speaking, children’s problems are caused by their parents. This doesn’t mean that as a parent you don’t put all your effort into providing the best for your child. You probably try hard. But sometimes these efforts do not meet the needs of the child. Sometimes they may be marked by your own difficulties.  Sometimes your communication with the other parent doesn’t imply the same message as the one you consciously send to your child. These are all factors that can prevent you from achieving the desired result – a calm and adaptable child.

Alternatives to consulting a child psychologist

Depending on the age of the child, I can work either in a family format – counseling where all members of the household are present (yes, even grandmothers if they are part of the immediate environment in which the child grows up) or in an individual format – with the primary caregiver.  Most often, but not always, this is the mother. In a growing number of families, fathers take the leading role. Regardless of who cares for the child, a change in the environment leads to a change in the child’s own behavior, the so-called “healing”.
A very small percentage of children’s problems are due to biological causes, such as mental retardation, for example. In such cases, we are not talking about treatment, but about managing the condition. Here, too, the work is individual, with the child’s caregivers.

When to seek professional help

If you notice something alarming in your child’s behavior at home or at the daycare, don’t count on the likelihood that the child will simply grow out of it. Yes, sometimes that happens, but it’s a risk that many parents avoid taking. Maybe things are within your control. Professionals can help you identify what changes you can make that would have a positive effect on the environment in which your child grows up.

 


You can see more about me and the cognitive-behavioral approach.

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