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Why Transitions are Tough for Children, Pre-teens, and Teenagers

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Your child, pre-teen, or teenager experiences a transition when they move from one activity to another. For example, arriving at an educational setting from home, transitioning from dinner to playtime, finishing playtime and cleaning up, brushing teeth and then taking a bath, and transitioning from bath time to bedtime are some examples of daily transitions. Transitions also happen when they experience their parents separating, as they go through puberty, and so on.

Transitions are challenging because they can be upsetting and cause them anxiety. This may result in you noticing your child, pre-teen, and teenager exhibiting challenging behaviours. Children, pre-teens, and teenagers also have difficulty transitioning when they have communication delays, limited social and emotional skills, or intellectual disabilities. If you find that your child, pre-teen, or teenager has just experienced a big transition and is exhibiting some tough behaviours that you are struggling with, Play Therapy can help bridge the communication gap and help your child regulate their emotions.

Often in our modern world, children are given screens to pacify their "loud" feelings or emotions. Every time these feelings or emotions arise, they are unable to regulate themselves, as they grow older you find your child, pre-teen, or teenager glued to their ipads, phones, and computers. By arming your child with the right tools to tackle their "loud" feelings or emotions, you set them up for the future. When they themselves lose their jobs, get divorced, or experience an unexpected death in their family instead of spending hours and hours watching tv, they just might actively regulate themselves to continue to function.

How Play Therapy can help?

If you're wondering how "play therapy" can help your child, the first thing you would need to recognise is that play therapy is not about having some toys in a therapy room or encouraging children to draw or play with blocks as they talk with a counselor or psychologist. Your child, pre-teen, or teenager will be doing a lot of "work" in the therapy room.

Play therapists are trained mental health practitioners specializing in helping the youth. As a play therapist, I work with parents to develop goals before starting therapy as it allows us to assess change and monitor behavioural outcomes. Play Therapy begins by helping children express their feelings and assume responsibility for all of their behaviours, in doing so teaches them how to develop their problem-solving skills.

During each session, your child, pre-teen, or teenager learns to assume responsibility for their decisions, parents begin to recognize that what occurs in the therapy room becomes very helpful in addressing issues arising at home and school. In our sessions with your child, we gain insights into understanding the underlying issues that cause undesirable behaviours in the first place.

Its also important to get a sense of the themes your child is experiencing as they grow. For example, in the

1. Preschool Years: Initiative vs. Guilt.

Children at this stage are beginning to learn about social roles and norms, their imagination takes off, and the defiance and tantrums from toddlerhood will likely continue. The way trusted adults interact with the child will encourage them to act independently or to develop a sense of guilt about any inappropriate actions. You want your child to act independently instead of experiencing guilt.

2. School Age: Industry (Competence) vs. Inferiority.

At this stage, your child is building important relationships with peers and is likely beginning to feel the pressure of academic performance. Often mental health issues may begin at this stage, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other problems. Connection with your child is key as they progress into teenagehood.

3. Adolescence: Identity vs. Role Confusion.

Your adolescent is now reaching new heights of independence and is beginning to experiment and develop their identity. Problems with communication and sudden emotional and physical changes are common at this stage. It is important to recognise your child's need to be independent but also be able to develop their critical thinking skills as well as address any trauma to set them up for success in adulthood.

Do you think your Teen or Child could benefit from therapy? Speak to a qualified Play therapist to learn how your Teen or Child could benefit from play therapy, Click here to get in touch today, or if you want to know if Play Therapy could be suitable for your Teen or Child, click here to take our quiz!

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