Growing up is a natural part of life, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how stressful it can be for children, who are still discovering and learning about themselves and the world.
My specialist area is counselling children, and I also work as a freelance in-school counsellor in primary schools across Kent from year 3 to year 6.
I have seen children suffering with all kinds of psychological, social and educational difficulties, and often they are remarkably good at hiding signs of stress and anxiety until it has reached critical levels.
Changes in family dynamics, such as separation of parents or loss of a grandparent, bullying, making friends, coping with body changes, moving house, and just “fitting in” at school can all create stress and self esteem issues in children.
And just like adults, children can react in many different ways.
They may become angry, distracted, forgetful, or violent. They might start getting head or stomach aches, become more accident-prone, start wetting the bed, pulling hair or biting their nails.
They may start “acting up” at home. They may start to dislike school or start getting lower marks. They may start trying to avoid situations, such as talking in front of the class, or start worrying about failing exams and disappointing everyone.
Health problems, such as asthma, stammering and allergies may become worse. Fears, phobias and obsessive worries can start to appear. They may start fearing the dark, obsessing over dirt and germs, avoiding certain animals or insects, worry about death or separation, become more superstitious or insist things are done a certain way.
Of course adults have the same issues. The difference is that children are already in a state of rapid learning and change, so issues can be more easily resolved before they become ingrained, provided that the problem is not rooted in the parents or other significant influencers of the child’s upbringing.
My approach is very adaptive and I am happy to see any child over the age of 8 with any type of emotional, social or behavioural issue.