For 3-years old through School-Aged Children
Are you concerned about your young child’s behaviors or emotions? Perhaps you’ve noticed an abrupt change in your child, or maybe this is something that’s been building for a long time. You may know the underlying cause of the change—family dynamics, school pressure, or trauma. Or your child may have been feeling anxious or depressed for a long time, and has lately become increasingly overwhelmed, shut down, or out of control.
You know your child, and you know when your child is struggling. Signs of struggle are different for each child, but could include any of the following:
Fighting with peers or family
Avoiding school or social situations
Fear or anxiety about the future
Striving for perfection, obedience or conformity
Stomachaches, headaches, or other body-based complaints
Self-harm, such as head banging, scratching, or cutting
Children may also need support in processing and exploring their identities. I work with transgender and adopted children. While identities themselves are not problematic, the culture we live in often holds biases or prejudices that negatively affect children.
When children don’t know how to cope with a challenge, they feel upset—a natural human reaction—which can show itself in the form of a meltdown, anxiety, or a physical outburst. For some children, symptoms may not be as apparent. When distressed, they may repeatedly strive towards perfection, obedience, or conformity. They may seem disinterested in the world around them or activities, yet they’re doing enough to get by. During these times, it’s easy to forget that children are working hard to navigate through a complex world, and they’re making their best efforts. But sometimes they need help.
You want to help your child through these struggles, and you’ve tried everything you can think of, everything you’ve read about, and everything that’s been suggested by your child’s teachers, coaches, or doctors. You’re at a point where you need a new strategy.
I hear your concerns, and I’m here for you and your child.
I’ve worked with young children for over a decade. In that time I’ve found that what children really need to overcome challenge is a mix of mindfulness, coping skills, and authenticity—getting in touch with one’s true self. Confidence is also key, as when children believe that they can handle a challenge, they’re better able to navigate through it.
So how can we teach mindfulness, coping skills, and authenticity to young children—even as young as two years old?
Play is the language of children.
It’s how they naturally learn about themselves and the world around them. Play is how children build relationships, develop their brains, and explore life's challenges.
Play therapy meets children at their developmental level. It helps them to learn in ways that they can understand and embrace. It gives them a more comfortable way to express themselves when words aren’t easily shared.
I am a Certified Synergetic Play Therapist and a Registered Play Therapist (RPT). I have extensive training in using the therapeutic powers of play to work with children’s brains and nervous systems. I teach children to connect their mind, body, and emotions—in other words, mindfulness. Through play therapy, I help children learn how to access their whole brain during hard times.
What can children learn through play therapy?
Instead of being overwhelmed by their emotions, children can learn to experience their emotions. Instead of shutting down in times of stress, children can learn to express themselves and ask for help. Instead of having an outburst or meltdown, children can learn to breathe deeply and regulate their reactions. Instead of feeling out of control, children can learn to think clearly, problem solve, and navigate through challenges.
I give them the coping skills they need to regulate and stay connected to their body during times of stress or struggle. When they can connect with their bodies and regulate, they can more easily access their authentic self. They can make choices about what they truly want to do or say. They can embrace authenticity. And they can do all of this in a way that feels comfortable, natural, and safe to them—through play.