Helping Children and their Parents
We conduct the first session with parents alone. The purpose of this meeting is for us to listen to you thoughtfully in order to fully understand your concerns. We will ask questions regarding development, family, medical history and if appropriate, academic functioning. We try to understand what the problems are, how they have been handled in the past, and what you expect to achieve in order to successfully move forward. Our goal is to uncover the underlying causes of your child’s difficulty. This is an important first step for you as a parent to gain trust in our ability to help.
The second session will be conducted with your child and geared to his or her level of development. The focus will be on interactions with your child. Depending on the age of the child, the parent may or may not be present in the room (see special considerations below). We will provide a comfortable environment for your child to express his/her difficulty so we can gain a deeper understanding of the issues. This is the time when trust between your child and the treatment provider is established.
If necessary at this point, we may ask to speak to other providers involved in the child’s care such as teachers or pediatricians. We will do this if we feel that additional information is needed to complete a full assessment.
Third, coming full circle, we will discuss with parents privately our impressions and what we think will be most beneficial moving forward. Together, we can create an effective plan, outlining what to expect and what may be accomplished during a designated time frame.
In some cases, we may recommend other child specialists to become involved if there are concerns beyond our areas of expertise. It is our job to understand your child’s development inside and out so we can best guide you in every aspect of your child’s functioning.
Once the assessment is completed and treatment starts
All of our sessions follow a pattern.
During each session, we will be teaching your child new skills and then bringing you in at the end of session to share them with you so you can guide and coach your child during the week.
Before the next session, we will ask you to let us know how the strategy has gone so we can start fresh at the next session. Over time, you and your child will develop confidence and pride in being able to handle situations on your own.
As the sessions proceed, problem behaviors begin to fade and the parent/child relationship grows.
As a parent you will feel stronger, competent, and more successful.
Your child will exhibit more healthful, positive functioning.
Special Considerations – Preschool Aged Children
A preschool child’s world expands to include relationships with playmate peers and teachers. Young children have learned to master symbolic play, and it is through this play that they communicate their interests, pleasures, worries, disappointments, anger, and general understanding of themselves and others. Whereas adults communicate primarily through words, young children communicate best through play.
With you in the room to observe and learn, we will utilize play to support your child in working through a range of feelings that are contributing to concerning behaviors, as well as enhancing their perspective taking and social/emotional development.
Special Considerations – Toddlers
This developmental stage presents behavioral challenges as the child learns to assert their needs, express their dislikes, and venture away from their parents in order to function more independently. During this development phase, it is normal for feelings of insecurity and ambivalence to arise in both the toddler and parents.
With you and your child in the room, we work to set appropriate limits, while balancing your toddler’s circle of security: allowing him/her to confidently venture away from you and seek comfort when needed. At this stage some parents start to wonder if their child is delayed. Part of our work with parents is determining whether there is a need for further evaluation, and then providing the parents with appropriate referrals.
Special Considerations – Infants
Difficulty with sleep, feeding difficulty, and extreme crying can lead a new parent to feel overwhelmed and helpless. At Tompkins and Associates, in addition to trying to rule out the underlying causes of the difficulty, we work with mothers and fathers to build their confidence in parenting as they help their infant to sleep, feed, and self-regulate.
We guide you in understanding your infant’s cues and work through a myriad of feelings that can come with being a parent. We explore the parents’ family and cultural values, build on their strengths, and develop new strategies to further support them. We also process Ghosts and Angels in the Nursery, which are false perceptions, images or beliefs from the past that either seem to hinder or foster their parenting now with their own child.
Due to age differences and developmental course, treatment with adolescents usually takes a different course. Learn more about our work with adolescents.