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. Additionally, these behaviors can make it difficulty to parent effectively without resentment. If these problems do not resolve with time and support from parents, teachers, or friends, professional assistance can be effective.