Child Behavior and Development
Child Behavior and Development Therapy is a practice that looks at how a child is developing during a specific time period. Rather than concentrating on one specific area, a psychologist in this discipline will instead evaluate a child’s cognitive and fine motor skills, their ability to communicate, and social and emotional skills, and monitor their behaviors. Once all of these areas are taken into consideration, the therapist can identify whether the child’s behavior is due to developmental and neurological delays or if it caused by their environment, and modifies the treatment plan based on this information.
Psychologists believe that emotions and feelings drive certain behaviors. If those emotions and feelings are negative, so is the behavior. This is true for both adults and children. When a child acts out in inappropriate ways, it could be a sign that they are struggling with behavioral or emotional issues. Each child develops at a different rate. It is important for those looking out for a child’s best interests to know what is “normal” and what is not when it comes to certain behaviors that could necessitate therapy.
One key factor that parents should keep in mind is that the type of behavior that is appropriate in one family varies from the next. A child’s behavior may be considered appropriate for a particular situation if it is based on family values and expectations. However, if that behavior goes against these factors, it should be addressed.
This means that if a child’s behavior causes problems, it’s a problem.
It is helpful for parents to know the difference between appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior as they are deciding if therapy is a proper course of action.
Approved behaviors are often actions that deserve compliments and praise, such as being respectful and following certain rules at home or school. These types of behaviors are normal. However, it is also normal for children to behave inappropriately because of certain situations that have caused disruptions in their daily routines, such as a recent trauma, divorce, or other significant change.
Parents also need to realize that some behaviors are out of the child’s control, due to the onset of emotional or developmental issues. These could be caused by certain mental health disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), chronic anxiety, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Other behaviors may be due to autism, which affects how the child processes information and eventually results in delays in intellectual development and the rate at which children mature. In this case, therapy is highly recommended to guide the child through the changes in a constructive manner.
When a child exhibits behavior that cannot and should not be tolerated because it is forbidden by both their parents and society as a whole, parents should consider looking for professional help. Some of these behaviors could include aggressive or destructive behavior, overt acts of racism or prejudice, stealing, truancy, smoking or substance abuse, or failing out of school. Other actions that should be considered forbidden and addressed immediately include behaviors that cause harm to the child or others, or go against certain ethics or religious values or is simply against the law.
Child Behavior and Development Therapy often involves an approach to address the issues at the cognitive level to help the child identify any negative thoughts and replace them with positive and productive ones. This allows the child and their family to work through tough times in order to move toward happy and healthier times.
For younger children, therapists may incorporate “play therapy” into a treatment plan. This research-based approach allows a child can act out their issues through role playing or interacting with sensory objects that can alter how they process their emotions in a way that is acceptable by society.
Research shows children who engage in certain talk therapies are allowed to gain insight into how their behaviors affect others in a safe environment in which everything is kept confidential. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works because this approach allows the child to express themselves without consequences in order to teach them why they behave in a negative way, and to have an opportunity to address those issues once they arise.
Parents often see progress within a few sessions because their child is learning how to deal with things in the moment and address certain pressures and triggers on a daily basis.
This is when family therapy could be initiated to help improve communication skills between the child and everyone else at home. This is especially helpful when members of the family are not getting along because of the behavioral and developmental issues one of them is struggling to overcome. This type of treatment focuses on problem solving techniques and helps parents re-establish their role as an authority figure and someone who can show love and affection toward their child, especially in troubling times.
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