Work with Children & Young Persons

This includes children from an age of  reasonable understanding - about 7 yrs old for normal development - through to 18.

Children and young people present with a wide range of difficulties which reflect the many developmental stages they go through.  In younger age groups  anxieties, nightmares or embryonic phobias are common.

There are also developmental and adjustment problems such as eating fads or peculiar dietary preferences and aversions which, handled wrongly, have the potential to develop into full blown disorders.

Transitions at school between classes, levels and establishments also couple with the competitive pressures of peer groups and exams. Parents’ insecurities, ambitions or anxieties for their children may also emerge in a frenzy of  social activity - often competitive - where purposes are not at all transparent and where it isn’t entirely clear who is trying to win what for whom.   Stress on parents - particularly mothers - can distort both their parental role  children’s perceptions and expectations and become quite damaging.

Though they are often thought of as relatively unformed beings, children too may become considerably depressed or  exhibit extremely difficult behaviours with no apparent cause. These may result from real or imagined stresses, harassment or hyper-sensitivity to situations or expectations at home or school or in other facets of their developing world.

Very mobile careers or frequent absence of  one or both parents, children may cause difficulty  in finding a balance between the child’s needs for stable attachment and the developmental  strivings for  individual identity - whilst  avoiding the pain of unexpected rupture.  This often creates clingy behaviour or erratic testing in the young perhaps escalating into difficult disaffection in older children and young adults persons.

Some pressures can be particularly difficult as a young person encounters the complexities at the interface of different cultures, whether or not this is a first or second generation experience for them.   These problems are commonly exacerbated by the normal stresses of puberty and the transition to teenage.  In a multi-cultural society, many differences can be imagined, misinterpreted or go unrealised.  Learning to assert these constructively can be useful skills for a young person to acquire.

Sometimes children meet untimely tragedies such as violent family split-ups or the death or incapacity of a parent, sibling or schoolmate.  But much less dramatic events may have impacts that it can be difficult for a parent to comprehend.

The feelings may be complex and difficult for a young person to articulate. Sometimes they find matters too personal, upsetting or embarrassing to address directly with parents. Sometimes a child feels or is so very different from the parents that they seem unable to understand or be understood.  Sometimes, too, there are personality differences with a neurological basis, where very close attention needs to be paid to communication patterns.

In the teens it is common for the young person to test boundaries and mount  challenges in quite provocative ways. It can be very helpful to have support from a neutral party with calm and experience who can enquire sensitively and respond with sympathy and imagination to the young person’s individuality - but who also helps them develop the skill to explore their difficulties, express their own cause and adjust resourcefully to their own realities.

The pressures of an image-ridden, media-driven and work-pressured age and the shifting nature of many familial circumstances may also disturb a child's feelings of security or self-confidence. There may be more profoundly disturbing fall-out which can emerge at any age.

Serial partnerships and complex family arrangements can also generate disturbing internal conflicts for children which can become a source of severe family stress or even serious mental health problems.

Sometimes, with the best will in the world,  there are clashes of personality or parents unwittingly give children unhelpful messages about themselves. Whilst being able to offer guidance and to mediate with adults where appropriate, the aim is to help the young person into a place from which they can address and resolve their own difficulties.

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