The Importance of Childhood Experiences and Relationships

Children
are made up of their experiences and early relationships are pivotal
to their personality and character development. As such, it is
important to understand these early experiences and relationships in
order to make sense of why a child might be behaving in a certain way,
reacting to some things in a particular manner, seeming very sensitive,
having trouble managing his/her emotions, struggling with peer
relationships, experiencing anxiety in school, etc. 

Sometimes
things happen in a child's life.  The child may experience a loss
(through death, divorce, etc.),  rapid change (e.g., premature birth of a
sibling, unexpected move or assimilation into a new community or
culture, etc.), trauma, physical health problems requiring repeated
medical intervention and separation from parents or physical abuse and
neglect. The child  may have been witness to parental discord or have a
caregiver struggling with personal issues (e.g., alcoholism, depression,
health problems, etc.).  In some cases, there hasn't been a significant
harmful event in a child's life; instead there's a mismatch between
what the parent is able to give, emotionally and psychologically, and
what that particular child needs. Even the most well intentioned parents
cannot always control or predict how varied circumstances will come
together and have an impact on their child's developing sense of self
and, ultimately, the child's behaviors and relationships.


What
parents can do, however, is recognize when their child is struggling
with something and be open to seeking help. Parents shouldn't feel they
have to go it alone.  With therapy, children have an opportunity to
process and work through their feelings in a safe, consistent
environment without concern that they might be worrying their parents
and parents have a chance to better understand their children and
themselves in relation to their children.

Denise Duval, PhD, LCSW
ChildTherapyChicago.com

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