Work with Children & Young Persons
This covers children from about 7 yrs old for normal development - through to 18.
These present with a wide range of difficulties which tend to reflect developmental stages. In younger age groups, habits like nail-biting, 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, can develop into difficult behaviours or even full blown disorders.
Transitions at school between classes, levels and establishments compound the competitive pressures of peer groups and exams. Parents’ insecurities, ambitions or anxieties for their children may lead to a frenzy of organised activity - often competitive - where it isn’t entirely clear who is trying to win what for whom.
Though often considered as relatively unformed beings, children can become quite depressed or exhibit extremely difficult behaviours with no apparent cause. These may result from unexpressed difficulties, harassment, cyber bullying or hyper-sensitivity to situations or expectations at home or school or in other facets of their developing world. Parental stress can distort the parent role and children’s perceptions and expectations..
Very mobile careers or frequent absence of one or both parents, may cause difficulty in balancing the child’s needs for stable attachment and developmental strivings for individual identity. This can create withdrawal, clingy behaviour or erratic testing in the young perhaps escalating into blatant disaffection in older children and young adults.
Difficult pressures may arise as a young person encounters the complexities of different cultures, whether or not this is a first or second generation experience. These problems are commonly accentuated by the stress of puberty and the transition to teen age. In a multi-cultural society, many differences can be imagined, misinterpreted, be suppressed or go unrealised. Learning to assert constructively is a useful skill for a young person.
Sometimes children meet untimely tragedies such as violent family split-ups or the death, illness or incapacity of a parent, sibling or schoolmate. But less dramatic events may have impacts that are difficult for a parent to comprehend. Sometimes parents unwittingly give children unhelpful messages about themselves.
Feelings may be complex and difficult to articulate. Sometimes young people find matters too personal, upsetting or embarrassing to address directly with parents. Sometimes a child feels so different from parents that they share little understanding. Young people may be struggling with issues of gender identification. Some differences may have result from neurological difficulties which also need very careful attention.
The young frequently test boundaries and challenge carers quite provocatively. A neutral party with calm and experience can enquire sensitively and respond with imagination to the young person’s individuality in order to help them to explore and negotiate their difficulties, express their own cause and adjust resourcefully to realities.
The pressures of an image-ridden, media-driven & 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 disturbing fall-out which can emerge at any age.
Serial partnerships & complex family arrangements can generate internal conflicts for children which can develop into severe stress or even serious mental health problems.
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 understand, address and resolve difficulties.
Contact Keith Bibby copyright Keith Bibby © December 2009