ADHD is one of the most common learning challenges affecting people today. Children often begin to show signs of it between the ages of 3-6. It can cause emotional and behavioral challenges that affect them at home and at school.
The most prevalent symptom of ADHD is the inability to focus. When you ask your child to do certain things, you expect them to listen. The child with ADHD doesn’t mean to be defiant. They simply don’t have the ability to pay sustained attention and follow through on your request.
In addition to inattentiveness and distraction, children with ADHD may have problems with impulsivity and hyperactivity. They can be impatient, inappropriate, interruptive, and fidgety. This naturally causes frustration for parents, teachers, and others. Families of children with ADHD often live with increased stress, depression, and conflict.
Therapy can help children as they cope with this challenging condition. It can also help parents learn new techniques to better assist their children to thrive.
Anger can be a scary emotion. An angry child acts out, sometimes to a degree that frightens peers, teachers, and parents. When you’re dealing with such a child, it can be challenging to remember that it’s equally as scary for the child. They can’t handle their emotions and anger is the only way that they know how to express themselves.
Anger is a surface emotion. It usually covers up other underlying emotions including anxiety, fear, confusion, stress, and distress. Children may be unable to express or even access those emotions. They get frustrated and then they get angry.
The more frequently a child gets angry, the worse it can get. That’s because there is an addictive component to anger. Anger is a powerful feeling. It may not feel good, but it feels better than those other underlying feelings. Realizing this, even subconsciously, a child may be quicker. to turn to anger.
Therapy can help children with anger management. It can improve coping skills, reduce behavioral outbursts, and teach emotional regulation. It can also help resolve the underlying issues.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems affecting children and teens today. Children can experience one or more different types of anxiety including:
- Generalized anxiety which is characterized by constant fear and worry
- Performance anxiety related to sports or school
- Separation anxiety which manifests when the child is fearful of being away from their parent or primary caregiver
- Social anxiety including extreme shyness and fear of speaking in public, being in crowds, peer groups, etc.
- Specific phobias such as extreme fear of dogs, germs, or thunder
- Panic attacks, which may be a symptom of one of the above types of anxiety but may also specifically be a panic disorder
Anxiety affects children at multiple levels including:
- Cognitively, with racing thoughts which can cause insomnia and problems eating
- Emotionally, with feelings of fear and lacking a sense of safety
- Physically, with headaches, stomach aches, restlessness, and nausea
As your child tries to deal with their anxiety, they may act out emotionally or behaviorally. Therapy can help children learn new ways of thinking that reduce or eliminate anxiety.
Along with anxiety, depression is one of the most common mental health issues affecting children, teens, and families today. In fact, it often runs in families, so if one person has it then there is a chance that someone else is coping with it as well.
Depression exists on a spectrum and can show up in many different ways. On one end of the spectrum is major depression, which is a deep form of unipolar depression. It lasts at least a week but can last over a year, particularly if untreated.
At the other end of the spectrum is bipolar depression which is characterized by mania. In between, there are many different types of depression. For example, some people experience seasonal depression, with symptoms only appearing in wintertime (or less commonly, only in the summer).
Depression symptoms manifest in your emotions, thoughts, behavior, and physical body. You may experience a lack of interest in activities, irritability, feelings of worthlessness, trouble concentrating or remembering things, headaches, body aches, trouble sleeping, and many other symptoms.
Depression can feel like an endless dark hole. However, there is light. Therapy can help you find that light.
Equestrian Sports Anxiety
Athletes in competitive sports often have to cope with stress. After all, if you’re competing, then you want to be the best at what you do. In order to be the best, you have to keep pushing yourself. The irony of this is that no matter how well you do, you want to do better, which means that you never feel good enough. That constant feeling creates anxiety.
There’s also the element of performance anxiety. It’s one thing not to do well when you’re practicing by yourself. Even then you may experience anxiety and put pressure on yourself to do better. However, it’s a whole new level when the crowd is there watching you. As you go are about to go out and perform in front of them, you may feel sick to your stomach. You might even go into a full-blown panic attack.
People competing in equestrian sports deal with this stress and anxiety all of the time. You have to do each step perfectly in order to succeed. When you enter the ring, all of the arena’s eyes are on you. Add to this the fact that your horse is uniquely tuned into you; if you feel anxious then your horse will get anxious and may not be able to perform well. Therefore, you may actually get anxiety about the potential of getting anxiety.
Therapy can help with all types of sports anxiety including the unique challenges faced by equestrian athletes.
Your child needs to go to school. In fact, it’s the law. You want your child to go to school. And yet, every single day there’s a fight because your child flat out refuses to go. You beg, cajole, threaten, bribe … but nothing works. Your child just gets increasingly distressed and so do you.
School refusal comes in many different forms and degrees. At the extreme end, a child may stop going to school despite all of your best efforts, missing days or weeks at a time. However, school refusal may be subtler – coming home “sick” frequently, taking half days, or just constantly complaining that they don’t want to go.
There are many different reasons for school refusal, and your child can’t always articulate them. They may have anxiety including separation anxiety, social anxiety, or performance anxiety. There may be social issues such as bullying and peer pressure. Your child may have underlying learning or mental health issues.
Therapy can help you and your child identify, manage, and resolve the underlying issues so that school refusal becomes a thing of the past.
Selective mutism is a type of anxiety that manifests in some children. They become partially or entirely unable to talk as a direct result of their anxiety.
It can be extremely distressing when your child simply stops talking. You know that they can talk. You might even take them to a doctor who confirms that there is no physical or neurological reason that your child is unable to speak. And yet, you can’t convince them to talk. It’s overwhelming.
Remember that it’s also overwhelming for your child. To be so anxious that you feel like you can’t speak at all is a very scary thing. Occasionally, a child’s inability to speak may be accompanied by a physical inability to move. It’s as though their entire body freezes up, voice and all.
Usually, but not always, selective mutism coexists with social anxiety or a social phobia. Children find themselves unable to speak in social settings. That may mean that they can speak comfortably with family members and selected peers but go mute in restaurants, classrooms, and larger family gatherings. Some children may even be able to whisper or speak in short sentences although mute most of the time.
Therapy provides your child with a safe space to practice speaking at their own pace. As they do, they can work through underlying issues and learn skills to resolve their selective mutism.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disorder. It used to be called juvenile diabetes because it showed up at a young age, but there are also many people who get diagnosed with this form of diabetes in adulthood. No matter at what age you (or your child) receives a diagnosis, it can be a scary thing.
Upon diagnosis, people deal with many different feelings. Parents may feel guilty that they could have passed this along to their child. Individuals may experience depression and or anxiety as they come to accept the diagnosis.
Challenges can also arise over time, even after living with Type 1 Diabetes for years. Managing the symptoms and risks of diabetes is a lifelong task. It can get overwhelming or exhausting. You may wish sometimes that you could just be done with it, but you can’t. As a result, you may feel frustrated or angry.
Many people don’t think about going to a mental health provider when dealing with physical health issues like diabetes. However, there is a strong mental health component to this disease. A therapist who understands can help you work through all of the challenges as you go through the different stages.