Serving the emotional needs of children, adolescents and their families
Children, adolescents, and infants have many ways to communicate emotional distress.
Sometimes children and adolescents
- feel very unhappy, worried, or frightened for reasons they cannot explain.
- cling to their parents because they are fearful about independence.
- cannot channel their energy and creativity in ways that develop their potential.
- acquire rituals or phobias because they feel helpless in difficult situations.
- do not know how to make friends or get along with others at school or in the family; sometimes they withdraw from social relationships.
- act meanly or aggressively because they cannot control their actions and cannot find other ways to express their feelings.
Sometimes babies cry a lot or cannot establish regular patterns of eating or sleeping and their caregivers cannot figure out how to help them.
Sometime children and adolescents
- can’t learn in school because they are preoccupied with thoughts or feelings.
- struggle to understand difficult life experiences.
- are restless or cannot concentrate because they have not acquired better ways to maintain confidence and calmness.
- have negative attitudes toward themselves and cannot feel good about who they are, even though others can observe their obvious talents and abilities.
- have been exposed to overwhelming, stressful situations that tax their ability to cope.
- feel confused about their identity and uncertain about their future.
- turn to drugs or alcohol to feel better because they are depressed.
- develop eating disorders as a way to manage difficult feelings they cannot verbalize.
- join gangs to find companions, community and a sense of safety.
Sometimes babies, children, and adolescents do not respond to their parents’ efforts to help them.
Such behaviors and feelings often interfere with a young person’s sense of well-being and capacity for emotional, social and intellectual development. If these problems do not resolve with time and support from parents, teachers, or friends, professional assistance can be effective.