Are Emotional Outbursts Creating Obstacles In Your Parent-child Relationship?
Do you have a child age 3–11 who is struggling with ongoing anger issues, meltdowns, or tantrums? Are you concerned that your child doesn’t have the tools or strategies necessary to effectively regulate their emotions? Has a feeling of failure pervaded your sense of confidence when it comes to parenting your child during distressing periods and outbursts?
You may feel at a loss for how to help your child as they navigate the many challenges that come with childhood and early adolescence. Perhaps you have noticed a dip in your child’s academic performance, or you may be concerned about their social development when it comes to friends or peers.
It may be that your child’s issues stem less from difficulties at school and more from events that have taken place at home. Perhaps you are the parent of an adoptee or a child that suffered some kind of disruption in forming healthy attachments during infancy. Or maybe your family has undergone a difficult transition—like a death, divorce, or blending of families—and your child is having a difficult time adjusting.
As a result, your child may be displaying common symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as emotional outbursts, anger, sleep issues, and heightened sensitivity to their environments. It may be that your child becomes overly worried about having to separate from you for even short periods of time, or they may have begun to withdraw or isolate themselves. Perhaps you are concerned that your child is developing perfectionistic tendencies, putting unnecessary pressure
on themselves to perform and achieve.
We know that children tend to unleash their biggest emotions onto their safest attachments—usually in the form of mom or dad. However, withstanding this distress and anger can lead you to feel drained and insufficient as a parent. Most importantly, you are likely concerned that these ongoing behaviors are affecting your relationship with your child. While you may feel disconnected or at a loss now, it’s important to remember that therapy is an opportunity for both you and your child to understand their emotions and learn the strategies needed to regulate them.
Children Are Given Fewer And Fewer Opportunities To Express Their Feelings
Growing up is never easy, and every child experiences periods of sadness, frustration, and confusion as they adjust to the ever-changing world around them. Oftentimes, such periods are temporary and manageable by parents and caregivers who can effectively de-escalate tense situations. But if these periods become increasingly frequent and emotionally charged, it may be time to enlist the assistance of a play therapist who can help your child to identify, explore, and process their feelings.
Because children express themselves through creating, imagining, and having fun with their surroundings, play therapy can be incredibly effective in helping them to heal from depression, anxiety, and trauma. However, in today’s tech-driven, busy society, opportunities for play have dwindled. Less and less value is placed on tactile toys, pretend play, and the use of one’s imagination as there was before constantly available handheld entertainment became the norm. Moreover, funding continues to be cut from creative activities at school, like music and art, in which students are encouraged to express themselves.
As emotions pile up with fewer opportunities for healthy outlets, we as parents can quickly become targets for outbursts and aggression. And when inundated by these strong emotions, it can be easy for us to lose sight of where our reactions come into play and color our perception of the situation. Emotions between parent and child can become so intertwined that it is difficult to find resolutions to the ongoing conflict.
However, therapy is precisely the opportunity to gain an unbiased perspective and work together with your child to develop meaningful and sustainable solutions during moments of emotional distress.
Therapy Gives You And Your Child A Chance To Reconnect Through Play
Children maintain their own unique language, fostered through play. Because play creates distance from the reality of a situation, children are likely to feel safer and freer while expressing themselves through play. As such, play therapy is an opportunity to learn your child’s unique language and develop skills to relate to your child through play.
Our therapists will cultivate an open, warm, and inviting space—full of fun toys and activities—for your child to explore their emotions. Giving them the opportunity to voice their experiences through a piece of art, a made-up character, or by creating a world in a sand tray, your child can gain the ability to identify distress and strategies for reducing its impact on their daily life.
Beginning with a parents-only session, our team will learn more about what your child’s world looks like and the reasons why you have sought out therapy for them. Once we understand more about the needs of your child and family as a whole, we will be able to tailor our play therapy and treatment methods to meet the needs of your unique situation. You will also be invited to participate and learn more about how to incorporate therapeutic play outside of your child’s counseling sessions.
Over the course of counseling, your child will have plenty of opportunities to use their imaginations and locate strategies for self-soothing and de-escalation when situations become increasingly intense or emotional. By practicing deep breathing techniques through the use of blowing bubbles, for example, your child will be better suited to regulate their breathing and lower their reactivity when emotions become dysregulated. In other instances, we might use Play-Doh or other creative methods to build something that represents your child’s fear or sadness before crushing it to provide them with a sense of empowerment and control over their feelings.
At Carbajal Counseling, we believe that therapy is most effective when the child is directing the process throughout treatment by engaging in the play and creativity that is most meaningful for them. Most of our therapists and counselors are expertly trained and prepared to help your child using play therapy. In fact, our practice’s owner, Stephanie Carbajal, is one of just a handful of registered play therapists in Northern Utah. Her child-centered approach has informed the techniques of other team members.
There is magic in play and we have seen this magic in action while watching children from all walks of life heal from abuse, trauma, and divorce. This form of therapy allows children to access their natural talents and unique gifts to overcome challenges. By incorporating the tools and strategies provided through play therapy into your child’s daily life, you will have the opportunity to speak and understand the same language.
We know you are eager to pave the way for healing and restore the peaceful relationship you once had with your child. Play therapy at Carbajal Counseling can jumpstart that process.
Maybe you are considering counseling for your child, but you have some questions…
My child has other support systems (sports teams, church, etc.)—why do they need therapy?
Therapy offers your child an uninterrupted, individually-oriented opportunity to navigate and “play through” their challenges. Moreover, a counselor can pick up on nuances and symbols during playtime sessions that may go unnoticed to the untrained eye, providing newfound insights into your child’s emotions. While other activities help kids to socialize and build certain skill sets, play therapy targets specific mental health issues that can allow your child to regulate emotions and heal.
My child doesn’t want to go to counseling.
First and foremost, Carbajal Counseling is an inviting and warm place for your child. Our team aims to make play therapy sessions as fun and as individually tailored as possible, creating a space that your child will feel safe in and want to return to. If you are still struggling with getting your child to agree to therapy, let us know. We will help you develop strategies to make therapy appealing to your child. As long as you can get them in the door, we are certain that we can help them want to stay!
Can I be in counseling sessions with my child?
We will work with your family on a case-by-case basis to determine the therapeutic approach that will be most effective for your child, fostering the environment in which they will feel safe, at ease, and free to explore. Depending on the needs of your child, we will either debrief you after each session or invite you into the therapeutic space. If you attend therapy sessions with your child, you will be treated as an active participant—engaging in play alongside your child’s therapist.
Learn To Speak Your Child’s Language
If anger, emotional outbursts, and ongoing conflict have impacted your relationship with your child, therapy at Carbajal Counseling can help them express their emotions more effectively. To learn more about our team, check out our therapist bios or call (801) 989-3488 to schedule an appointment today.
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