The purpose of therapy is to help an individual better cope with the circumstances of his life. In the case of families, a system is in place that effects each person’s role in it. In many cases, individual treatment requires the participation of the whole family in order to address the underlying patterns in a person’s life.
Some children are born with an anxious temperament and seem to be anxious of many situations. Most young children experience fears of the dark, monsters, separation from parents, animals, and strangers. Other sources of anxiety for children arise from normal life and family transitions. Children go through many changes and transitions as they and their families grow and mature. In addition, difficult or even traumatic events that are out of the ordinary can happen to a child with the likelihood that anxiety will increase for that child.
At the start of therapy, information regarding the family’s background and relationship dynamics is needed to identify potential issues and problems. Having family members bring in meaningful photos is one technique used to gather information as to how each member perceives the others. One other technique involves having family members draw up floor plans of their home. This exercise provides information on territorial issues, rules, and comfort zones between different members.
A family operates like a system in that each member’s role contributes to the patterns of behaviour that make the system what it is. Certain therapy techniques are designed to reveal the patterns that make a family function the way it does.
More often than not, it’s a family’s communication patterns and styles that lead to conflict and division. Communication techniques are used to build skills that allow for effective communication between family members. Some of these methods include reflecting, repeating and conflict resolution. Conflict resolution techniques focus on attentive listening and expressing feelings and concerns in a nonthreatening manner.
Children have a set of in-born traits, together called temperament. We cannot change temperament, but we can affect how our children express or use their traits. How temperament traits interact with environment determines personality. How well their temperament fits with the environment and how well they are received by the people in the environment will determine how a child sees himself and others. Helping your child to positively manage his temperament is a huge gift!
Every kind of temperament trait can be used in good ways if we learn how to use it effectively. By understanding our children’s traits, we can help them better understand themselves. This awareness improves learning, behaviour, and happiness.
- Activity Level – Many parents define the activity level as the key difference between an easy or difficult child.
- Distractibility – This is the degree to which a child focuses on a task that he is not very interested in.
- Intensity or Strength of Expression – A child who is very expressive may yell or cry over seemingly small things.
- Regularity or Need for Physical Routine – A child who prefers more regular routines wants to go to bed and eat around the same times every day.
- Sensory Threshold or Sensitivity to Senses – This spectrum has a child who is painfully sensitive to stimulation on one end and a child who seeks more sensory stimulation on the other.
- Initial Reaction – A child who enjoys change moves into new situations with ease.
- Adaptability (resilient and flexible) – How easily does your child adapt over time versus react initially?
- Persistence or Tenacity – This refers to the length of time a child continues with an activity in the face of obstacles.
- Usual Mood – Positive or negative outlook.