Dr. Steven Lazarus is an expert child psychologist and teen psychologist in Littleton, CO. This page is dedicated to giving parents different parenting strategies in their work with their children and teenagers.

3 Ways a Child Psychologist Can Support Families Over the Summer

Summer is a time of relaxation, adventure, and family bonding. However, it can also bring its own set of challenges, especially for families with children. From transitions to new routines to managing behavioral issues, the summer months can sometimes be overwhelming. Fortunately, a child psychologist can offer invaluable support during this time. Here are three ways in which they can make a difference:

1) Transitions:

Transitioning from the structure of the school year to the freedom of summer can be challenging for many children. Some may struggle with the change in routine, while others may find it difficult to adjust to having more unstructured time. A child psychologist can help families navigate these transitions by providing strategies to create a summer schedule that balances structure and flexibility. Strategies can be developed for children who experience anxiety or uncertainty about the changes ahead, helping them feel more confident and secure as they enter the summer months.

2) Addressing Behavioral Issues:

   With the break from school comes more free time for children, which can sometimes lead to an increase in behavioral issues. Whether it’s sibling rivalry, defiance, or difficulty following rules, summer can magnify existing challenges or bring new ones to the surface. A child psychologist can work with families to identify the underlying causes of these behaviors and develop effective strategies for managing them. By understanding the root causes of behavior and implementing targeted interventions, families can enjoy a more peaceful and harmonious summer together.

3) Supporting Social and Emotional Development:

   Summer provides unique opportunities for children to explore new interests, make new friends, and develop important social and emotional skills. However, for some children, social situations can be intimidating or overwhelming. A child psychologist can help children build confidence, improve social skills, and navigate peer relationships more effectively. Through activities such as role-playing, social stories, and group therapy, children can learn valuable communication techniques, conflict resolution strategies, and emotional regulation skills that will serve them well not only during the summer but throughout their lives.

A child psychologist can be a valuable resource for families during the summer months, offering support and guidance in navigating transitions, addressing behavioral issues, and promoting social and emotional development. Contact Dr. Steve, a child psychologist in Littleton, Colorado. He can help families ensure that their summer is not only enjoyable but also a time of growth, learning, and positive memories for you and your child.

In the whirlwind of teenage years, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of school, social life, and extracurricular activities. However, amidst all the chaos, prioritizing health is paramount. Establishing healthy habits during adolescence not only sets the foundation for a lifetime of well-being but also fosters resilience and vitality. As a teen psychologist, I will discuss three essential habits that every teen can incorporate into their daily routine for a healthier and happier life.

We are what we eat

As teenagers undergo rapid growth and development, their nutritional needs are heightened. Yet, amidst busy schedules and tempting fast food options, maintaining a balanced diet can be challenging. Encouraging teens to prioritize nutritious eating lays the groundwork for lifelong health. Here are some tips to foster healthy eating habits:

 

  1. Eat a variety of foods: Encourage teens to consume a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to ensure they receive essential nutrients.
  2. Limit processed foods and sugary beverages: Encourage moderation in consuming processed snacks, sugary drinks, and fast food, as excessive intake can contribute to weight gain and various health issues.
  3. Cook meals at home: Involving teens in meal preparation can empower them to make healthier food choices and develop essential cooking skills.

By prioritizing nutritious eating, teens can fuel their bodies with the nutrients needed to thrive physically and mentally.

Stay Active

Regular physical activity is crucial for teen health, supporting physical fitness, mental well-being, and overall vitality. Exercise can help with focus and concentration and emotional stability. Being active has been shown to reduce stress and improve sleep. However, with the prevalence of sedentary activities like video games and social media, many teens fall short of the recommended amount of exercise. Here are some strategies to incorporate physical activity into daily life:

 

  1. Find enjoyable activities: Encourage teens to explore various physical activities such as sports, dancing, hiking, rock climbing, martial arts, or mountain biking.
  2. Set realistic goals: Help teens set achievable fitness goals and celebrate their progress along the way, fostering a sense of accomplishment and motivation.
  3. Prioritize movement: Encourage teens to integrate movement into their daily routine, whether it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking or biking to school, or participating in active hobbies. Have a dog, take your teen and dog for a walk a few times a week. Ask them what they’ve been up to.

Regular exercise not only strengthens muscles and bones but also boosts mood, reduces stress, and enhances overall well-being.

Prioritize Mental Health

The teenage years are a time of significant change and transition, and prioritizing mental health is crucial for navigating this period with resilience and strength. Encourage teens to prioritize their emotional well-being by adopting healthy coping strategies and seeking support when needed. A teen psychologist and family therapist can certainly help customize a plan. Here are some strategies to promote mental wellness:

  1. Practice self-care: Encourage teens to engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief, such as meditation, yoga, journaling, or spending time in nature.
  2. Foster supportive relationships: Encourage teens to cultivate strong relationships with friends, family members, and trusted adults who provide support and encouragement during challenging times.
  3. Seek help when needed: Remind teens that it’s okay to ask for help when they’re struggling. Whether it’s talking to a trusted adult, school counselor, or child psychologist, seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Prioritizing mental health equips teens with the tools they need to navigate the ups and downs of adolescence with resilience and self-awareness.

 

Incorporating these three healthy habits into their daily routine can empower teens to prioritize their well-being and lay the foundation for a lifetime of health and happiness. By focusing on nutritious eating, staying active, and good mental health practices, teens can navigate the challenges of adolescence with resilience, vitality, and a sense of purpose. Encourage the teens in your life to embrace these habits to create lifelong positive change.

When you visit a child psychologist in Littleton for your first intake appointment, you can plan to do a lot of talking. When adults think about therapy, talking is usually the first thing on their mind. But, while clients talk, the psychologist is doing the work of listening, understanding, and validating feelings. Listening sounds like an easy task, but there’s a reason adults and kids come to see mental health specialists to listen to them. Keep reading to see how you can listen, engage, and validate like the professionals!

These Active Listening Skills Help You Hear What’s Really Being Said

Your child communicates with you all day—when they’re talking, screaming, or even just sitting there quietly. The question is, are you listening to that communication? We can expect to be “listening” when someone speaks, but what about other ways that kids communicate? Your child is not only using his words, but his tone of voice, volume level, and body language to communicate with you. Show that you are listening in the same way: match your tone and volume (or direct it to an appropriate level), maintain appropriate eye contact, and turn your body toward your child. You don’t need to “mimic” motions, but moving or sitting in a similar manner as your child can help you connect—and yes, that may mean taking a seat on the floor. Listen closely—this is not the time to be checking a phone or finishing up some household chores.

Child Psychologists Communicate Understanding Through Feelings Validation

People of all ages want to be heard and understood. When we feel like we are not being heard, we “turn it up.” That could be a louder or more stern tone or could include other actions such as moving our bodies, making threats or demands, or expressing different feelings. If you’ve ever felt so angry that you cried, ever gotten so frustrated that you yelled, or ever resorted to statements like “If you do that one more time, I’ll…” you know how it feels to have to “turn up” the feelings louder. Therapists in Littleton recognize that nobody likes to have uncomfortable feelings, but they are a part of everyone’s life. You can’t “get rid of” a feeling, and if you or your child is trying to accomplish this goal, you may just end up feeling worse. When you work with a therapist, those feelings are accepted and validated. We help adults and children learn to tolerate these unpleasant feelings, understand their role in helping us recognize when something is causing a problem, and explore tools to solve the problem.

Try These Tools to Validate Feelings with Your Child

How can you validate feelings with your child at home? First off, start by listening actively and attentively. You don’t need to agree, but you need to truly understand what your child needs to say. Then, reflect it back to them—if you’re wrong, they’ll let you know. Stating a problem in a simple, neutral, and non-judgmental manner is a great place to start. “You’re really sad that you can’t play with your friend today” sends a very different message than “What are you crying for? Your friend can play another day!” Trying to quash those feelings just makes them worse—because with everything else a child can’t control, it’s frustrating to not even be able to “control” emotions. During the big feelings, don’t move to a solution immediately—just let the feelings happen. Once your child is calmer, then you can tackle the solution—“Now that you’ve cried out all that sadness, your eyes aren’t so full of tears and you can see the calendar. Let’s find the next time when you can play with your friend.” Even when problems seem “tiny” to you, remember: you’re a big, strong, capable adult who has lived through decades of challenges. That “tiny” problem may seem “GIGANTIC” in the moment. When you help them conquer these problems, you are setting them up for success in the future.

Listening to and validating feelings is a challenge for anyone—that’s why the best child psychologists in Littleton spend years learning and practicing our trade. For professional help with active listening, emotional validation, and coping with big feelings, find a psychologist in Littleton.

 

 

As a parent, you spend countless hours trying to figure out how to help your kids live their best lives. For some, that may involve working with a child psychologist in Littleton, but for many, at-home interventions can make a big difference. Whether you’re looking for some evidence-based tools to help your child feel more positive, a science-backed approach to anxiety, or a way to increase mindfulness, outdoor time might be your answer!

Time in Nature Decreases Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Across multiple scientific studies, there is a beneficial relationship between spending time in nature and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. This was first studied in adults, but as more research is done on children and adolescent mental health, the same patterns are showing up. Being outside can be as helpful for some people as popular medications!

The Great Outdoors is Amazing for ADHD

If your child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you need a lot of tools in your toolbox. These kids are often “on the go” (hyperactive type) or “in the clouds” (inattentive type), or maybe a mix of both! When you let your child spend time outdoors, you are reducing all of the “shoulds” that come with indoor activity. There’s not much you “should” look at outside, not a lot of rules you “should” follow—and there’s so much to explore! When your child goes outside, makes a plan (climb that tree!), gets the equipment (I can borrow a ladder!) and carries it out (I’m at the top!) they are building executive function skills. In coordination with behavior techniques, medication consultations, and parenting strategies, making time to be outside can be a part of your management of ADHD.

Physicians and Psychologists Recommend Free Playtime

Your kids’ schedules shouldn’t look like they belong to a CEO. Is there play time in your child’s day? Free time is when your child gets a chance to think independently, create and solve problems, direct their own course, and explore what is on their mind. Today’s parents want their children to have such a head start that we can miss free time—but your child’s self-regulation, social skills, and executive functioning can all be improved with a healthy dose of playtime. How much? At least an hour of unstructured, child-directed, truly “free play” is advised.

Promote Good Health and Vision on the Playground

Okay, this last point isn’t really a psychologist’s expertise—but outdoor time promotes good physical health and good eyesight. The next generation’s vision is predicted to be worse than ever, and they are moving less than ever—get them off screens and outside to help promote whole-body health!

Like most things in life, there is no easy fix for mental health or behavior problems. Outdoor activity and free time are powerful tools, but you and your child may need a variety of solutions to handle problems effectively and communicate feelings clearly. For expert help, call a child psychologist in Littleton for a consultation today!

 

 

When you visit a child psychologist in Littleton for your first intake appointment, you can plan to do a lot of talking. In fact, when adults think about therapy, talking is usually the first thing on their mind. But, while clients talk, the psychologist is doing the work of listening, understanding, and validating feelings. Listening sounds like an easy task, but there’s a reason adults and kids come to see mental health specialists to listen to them. Keep reading to see how you can listen, engage, and validate like the professionals!

These Active Listening Skills Help You Hear What’s Really Being Said

Your child communicates with you all day—when they’re talking, screaming, or even just sitting there quietly. The question is, are you listening to that communication? We can expect to be “listening” when someone speaks, but what about other ways that kids communicate? Your child is not only using his words, but his tone of voice, volume level, and body language to communicate with you. Show that you are listening in the same way: match your tone and volume (or direct it to an appropriate level), maintain appropriate eye contact, and turn your body toward your child. You don’t need to “mimic” motions, but moving or sitting similarly as your child can help you connect—and yes, that may mean taking a seat on the floor. Listen closely—this is not the time to be checking a phone or finishing up some household chores.

Child Psychologists Communicate Understanding Through Feelings Validation

People of all ages want to be heard and understood. When we feel like we are not being heard, we “turn it up.” That could be a louder or more stern tone or could include other actions such as moving our bodies, making threats or demands, or expressing different feelings. If you’ve ever felt so angry that you cried, ever gotten so frustrated that you yelled, or ever resorted to statements like “If you do that one more time, I’ll…” you know how it feels to have to “turn up” the feelings louder. Therapists in Littleton recognize that nobody likes to have uncomfortable feelings, but they are a part of everyone’s life. You can’t “get rid of” a feeling, and if you or your child is trying to accomplish this goal, you may just end up feeling worse. When you work with a therapist, those feelings are accepted and validated. We help adults and children learn to tolerate these unpleasant feelings, understand their role in helping us recognize when something is causing a problem, and explore tools to solve the problem.

Try These Tools to Validate Feelings with Your Child

How can you validate feelings with your child at home? First off, start by listening actively and attentively. You don’t need to agree, but you need to truly understand what your child needs to say. Then, reflect it back to them—if you’re wrong, they’ll let you know. Stating a problem in a simple, neutral, and non-judgmental manner is a great place to start. “You’re really sad that you can’t play with your friend today” sends a very different message than “What are you crying for? Your friend can play another day!” Trying to quash those feelings just makes them worse—because with everything else a child can’t control, it’s frustrating to not even be able to “control” emotions. During the big feelings, don’t move to a solution immediately—just let the feelings happen. Once your child is calmer, then you can tackle the solution—“Now that you’ve cried out all that sadness, your eyes aren’t so full of tears and you can see the calendar. Let’s find the next time when you can play with your friend.” Even when problems seem “tiny” to you, remember: you’re a big, strong, capable adult who has lived through decades of challenges. That “tiny” problem may seem “GIGANTIC” in the moment. When you help them conquer these problems, you are setting them up for success in the future.

Listening to and validating feelings is a challenge for anyone—that’s why the best child psychologists in Littleton spend years learning and practicing our trade. For professional help with active listening, emotional validation, and coping with big feelings, find a psychologist in Littleton.

 

The world is a pretty scary place right now. Child psychologists in Littleton are as busy as ever with our normal concerns including ADHD, social skills issues, school problems, divorce, and learning disorders. But what about when your kid is concerned about “adult stuff” that they might see on the news or hear others talking about? Keep reading to see how child therapists in Littleton discuss these issues with kids of all ages, and how you can put their minds at ease at home.

Ask What Your Child Already Knows

When your child asks about “adult issues” like war or politics, start by finding out what they know already. This gives you a chance to understand more about what they are concerned about, and to correct any misunderstandings. This is also a great time to ask why they want to know, and where they heard about these things from. Asking if there’s anything that they have nightmares about or “worries that get in the way of doing schoolwork” which can be signs that it’s time to meet with a child psychologist in Littleton.

Share the Facts, History, and Rules When Discussing Sensitive Topics

Most of the contentious issues on the news have at least two sides—so try to stay neutral and let your bright, capable child form her own opinions. Your role is to share the facts, history, and rules as well as you can. Are two nations at war? Instead of “choosing” a side, go on a history search with your child to see if you can understand what started it and why it’s happening today. Is your child asking if a public figure has done something illegal? Help them understand the laws that govern these public figures so they are better informed. This not only answers questions, but builds important critical thinking skills that child psychologists know are important for a healthy life.

Stay Age-Appropriate

The answers you give to a 4-year-old should be very different from the answers you give to a 16-year-old. Younger children have a more concrete understanding of the world, and are built to be self-focused. A young child asking about war is likely to be most interested in reassurance that they will be safe, that nobody will “come and get them” due to the scary things they hear on the news. An older child may be more informed, or may have a personal stake in the conflict—such as religious affiliations or personal beliefs. It’s okay to simplify things for young children, such as saying “these two groups don’t get along and they are fighting, but they are far, far away.” For an older child, knowledge is power, so head to your local library or trusted internet sources to empower them!

Plenty of adults visit a psychologist in Littleton because the news is too stressful—keep your kids focused on age-appropriate tasks and away from the 24/7 news machine. Help them learn the valuable life lessons of the adult world gradually and safely, and don’t hesitate to contact a child psychologist in Littleton for help!

Child psychologists in Highlands Ranch hear the same complaint every day: your child can’t seem to focus on his homework or chores for more than 5 minutes, but can spend endless time working toward the next level on his video game! How are video games so motivating, and what can parents, educators, and counselors learn from them?

Video Games Don’t Punish—And Neither Should You

Bad news from science: punishment doesn’t work. It doesn’t help a person learn how to do a task, doesn’t meaningfully reduce unwanted behaviors, and increases the risk of the person disengaging or becoming rebellious. If a video game punished a player for losing, more players would “rage quit” than continue to play. So what do game designers do instead? Video games today usually use the term “respawn” or “go back to a previous checkpoint.” In real life, this looks a lot like “try again.” Your child may be frustrated to hear that her character has perished and must now “respawn at the last checkpoint,” but she’s still motivated to keep trying—all day and night! You can use some of the same principles to shape behavior.

Child Psychologists Explain Intermittent Reinforcement

If you’ve played any ad-supported phone games lately, you’ve probably noticed the trend to have a “prize of the day” or “lucky wheel” to spin for a free prize. Usually, these prizes are “worth” almost nothing, but there are a few amazing prizes mixed in, like lots of game currency or special abilities. What keeps kids (and adults!) coming back to click these low-reward boxes so often? The principle of intermittent reinforcement. Much like slot machines at a casino, or winnings on lottery tickets, there is a very low barrier to entry and the chance of a very high reward. When that reward does arrive, it’s so big and exciting that it floods the brain with reward chemicals—driving the person to come back again and again. Intermittent reinforcement makes behavior more likely—so make sure you use it to reward good behaviors, not to give in to temper tantrums.

Video Games Borrow Tools From Children’s Play Therapy

When you bring a child to see a play therapist in Highlands Ranch, you can expect the therapist to start out by making each visit as fun and easy as possible. Just like the first few levels of a video game, where “leveling up” is easy and rewards are frequent, your child’s first few play sessions are geared to increase engagement and build positive associations. As play therapy progresses, you may notice that your child’s therapist offers choices and lets your child take the lead—turns out, video game designers took notice of this as well! If you get a chance, observe your child when he first starts playing a video game. Does he go to the battle or race immediately, or check out the boosters? Does he work toward daily goals, or have his own plan? No matter what he chooses, he will see progress in the video game—and he’ll feel pride and ownership because he chose his own course. Any external goals are clearly defined and come with clearly-defined rewards and prizes, so your child can choose what is most important.

Gamification (making things seem more like games) is a tool that has shown good results in the workplace, school settings, business, and marketing—any place where “hard work” can be transformed into “good fun.” Next time you’re struggling to motivate your child, ask yourself how a video game might do it. For more tips and personalized help, call a child psychologist in Highlands Ranch.

 

 

Kids cry—a lot. In fact, many parents bring their child to visit a child psychologist in Littleton because they cry so much that it gets in the way of other activities. Does your child’s crying interfere with daily routines, mealtime, school, and recreation? Is the behavior interrupting your marriage? Keep reading to find out the two words you should avoid saying—and what works better instead.

Why Do Kids Cry?

Do you remember being a child? If you can remember your elementary school years or even preschool years, you may remember crying over “little” problems, like a sticker ripping in half instead of coming up neatly, a dropped ice cream cone, or the dreaded torture of clothes that don’t feel right! As an adult, you are so fortunate to have a hundred solutions for each of these problems—including getting in the car, driving to a store, and buying more stuff to fix those problems! Now you probably only cry when you are really injured, when someone breaks your heart, or when something devastating happens to your loved ones—problems that have no solutions. Crying serves a purpose. When kids talk to a therapist about what makes them cry, they describe feeling helpless, frustrated, and powerless when they cry. Think back to before you could leave situations on your own, before you could buy your own supplies before you know how many cool things were in the world—those little things do feel devastating, and having no power to change them feels even worse.

Why This Common Phrase Usually Backfires When Managing Kid’s Emotions

If you were deeply upset, and someone told you “stop crying,” would it work? Most adults can see that if their partner responded to them in this fashion after a loss, that partner would get an earful in return! Just like you, your child doesn’t want to cry. Crying is uncomfortable and can be embarrassing in our society—and it often feels out of one’s personal control. Telling someone to just “stop crying” is like telling them to stop feeling pain after being stung by a bee—we wish it was that simple! When your child is upset and you tell them to stop crying, you’re just piling another failure on their plate.

How To Help Your Child Stop Crying

So what can you do to help your child stop crying? Figure out what the problem was and help them to solve it or accept it. Child and family psychologists in Littleton know that not every problem can be solved, but when it can, you can guide your child to that solution. Help your child externalize the problem by naming it, and don’t hesitate to have a little fun—if your child is melting down over a pair of shoes that just won’t tie, why not throw those “mean shoes” to the back of the closet to be “forgotten forever!” and choose a different pair? If the misery is about a broken item, would your child be interested in taking it to “toy hospital” or shopping online for a replacement? For problems without solutions, focus on helping your child calm down again after expressing sadness for a while. Yes, this means that you’ll have to listen to that crying for a few minutes—but you’ll live! Once your child shows signs that they are ready to listen and move on, speak in soft, soothing tones and help them to regulate their body by encouraging things like “take a deep breath,” “have a sip of water,” or asking if they would like a hug.

It seems intuitive that a direct order to “stop crying” would work, but it often has the same effect as throwing water on a grease fire. Next time your child is crying uncontrollably, remember that you need to address the cause of the fire—or emotional upset—and connect your child with the tools they need to extinguish it. If you need help with this process, or if nothing works to help your child stop crying, visit a child psychologist in Littleton for parenting tools and play therapy.

 

 

Paying attention is hard—especially for kids! Child psychologists in Littleton know just how short little attention spans can be, and how challenging other tasks of executive functioning, such as planning ahead, paying attention to detail, and multitasking can be. Whether your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or not, try these fun activities at home to help build up these important skills.

Cook and Bake To Help Kids Practice Following Directions

Do you have memories of baking cookies with grandma, or helping your parents prepare dinner when you were a child? You probably didn’t realize it at the time, but they were helping you to learn valuable life skills! Baking in particular requires careful, accurate measurements, and attention to time. Just an extra teaspoon or a few extra minutes will turn tasty cookies into a hard, burnt mess, and these natural consequences can help children realize how important it is to stay focused on the task at hand. A tip from Highlands Ranch play therapists is to “reserve” some of the materials just in case. Ending on a successful note makes everyone happier!

Explore Natural Consequences and Reactions with Science Experiments

Is your child always asking “what would happen if…?” Indulge some of those curiosities and explore cause-and-effect when you invite your child to perform some science experiments! This could be as simple as mixing slime or homemade dough, as spontaneous as mixing leftover kitchen ingredients, or as complicated as your older child would like it to be. Whether you are performing advanced chemistry or just trying to see “will more soap make even more bubbles?” make sure to invite your child to think about and predict the reactions, then to interpret the consequences. Child behavior psychologists use similar in-vivo activities to help children understand that their actions have consequences (good and bad, sometimes explosive!) and to plan for the future.

Try “Racing” To Build Time Awareness

If your child is always running late, taking too long, or feeling rushed, it can help to improve her awareness and sense of time. Turn it into a game and you’ll be amazed at the results! Proposing a “race” (either against a parent, or against your child’s best time), can be a good way to shift the focus to speed without rushing or pressure. For example, time your child’s bedtime routine to see how fast she really can get teeth brushed and pajamas on, or measure how long it actually takes to complete homework. With repeated practice, this can help your child “sense” how long blocks of time (a minute, 5 minutes, an hour) may actually be. Since little brains are still developing, your child therapist reminds you that this can take years of practice to perfect!

Some of the games, routines, and rituals that parents have practiced with children since the dawn of time can teach valuable life lessons. If everyday interventions and tips are not enough to help your child manage life at home and at school successfully, you’re not alone. Consider working with a child psychologist in Littleton for ADHD evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

 

 

Making the decision to bring your child to see a child psychologist in Littleton is an important one, and one you have probably considered carefully. After all, you wonder about your child’s future mental health, your parenting strengths, and the costs of those sessions. So if you observe that your child does not talk, or if your child reports “we don’t really talk at therapy,” should you be worried? Is it a waste of time, or is your child getting something out of those sessions? Keep reading for insight into the process of therapy and counseling with kids and teens.

Play Therapy for Pre-School Kids

If your child is very young, such as those in preschool or kindergarten, you may be working with a play therapist in Highlands Ranch, or at least a child psychologist well-versed in play-based therapy. Unlike adult talk therapy, play therapy is all about experience—just like your little one learns! Because children at this age have a limited vocabulary, your child psychologist will work to understand her needs in different ways, such as her actions, facial expressions, and reactions. Every action is communication—words are not always necessary. By celebrating successes, guiding expression, and providing new and different opportunities to approach and solve problems, your child is learning without talking very much.

Therapy for Elementary School Children

This is the age where kids often tell their parents (quite proudly) “we didn’t talk at all today!” That’s because children this age often lack insight into the deeper meanings of things, and may not see the connection between role-playing, pretend play, and other tools used by child psychologists to create behavior change. For a child who is being bullied, talking about it can feel like torture. However, playing a game where all the soldiers in the castle pick on the littlest soldier, only to have that soldier save the day later, can boost confidence and remind the client of his strengths—without all that “talking.” Children will often express their needs through play, such as repeatedly being drawn to toys representing past traumas, current hurdles, or specific emotions.

Talk Therapy For Teenagers

By the time your child is in middle or high school, they’ve probably moved past the toys and games and are ready for what looks like “adult” therapy. But parents can be frustrated to find out that their child spends the session talking about their favorite TV show, the fun they had with their friends, or seemingly “random stuff.” Once again—every action is communication. Exploring the role of feelings and relationships through fantasy (like TV shows or video games) is the big-kid version of playing with toys. It allows the child to explore those things without the real consequences, or to imagine life at its extremes.

When you bring your child or teenager for therapy in Littleton, don’t fixate on “how much” or even “if” they talk. Your child or adolescent psychologist is adept at interpreting communications of all kinds, and changing behavior through interactions. Call today to start seeing change.