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
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