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Typical child development, as explained by developmental experts, is characterized by significant increases in novelty-seeking, risk-taking and peer-directed social interactions, which foster the development of adult independence, but generally occur more rapidly than the development of executive and regulatory skills. The Mayo Clinic refers to the brain as the most complex organ in the human body and will not reach its full development until age twenty-five, at the earliest. The pre-frontal cortex is the area of the brain that governs one’s reasoning, ability to problem-solve, plan, and control impulses. When the frontal cortex is fully developed it helps a person think before he or she acts. The pre-frontal cortex also happens to be one of the last areas of the brain that develops, often continuing to change and mature well into adulthood. Therefore, a child must rely on the amygdala to solve problems, make decisions, and process stimuli. The amygdala is the area of the brain that is associated with emotions, instinctive behavior, impulsivity, and aggression. The amygdala is also responsible for activating the fight-flight response when feeling threatened and/ or afraid. There are a variety of reasons why a child may be reluctant to engage in the mental health rehabilitation process. 

In responding and working with a reluctant child one must consider the stage of brain development and adopt a non-blaming approach. Facilitating rehabilitation through this lens can help the clinician remain open-minded, avoid being controlling, authoritarian or punitive, and promote a cooperative stance. It is important to bear in mind that most children are doing the best they can to manage and are not deliberately trying to be difficult, manipulative, or challenging to assess and treat. Young people usually want to be treated as if they can make decisions for themselves, but some struggle with asking for assistance, or reject help when it is offered. This can be partly attributed to the fact that children experience a disparity between fundamental drives and self-regulatory skills. Mental health rehabilitation for children aims to help young people learn an array of skills and strategies needed to effectively manage their emotions, cope with stressful situations, promote a higher level of self-esteem and self-confidence, enhance social skills, and ultimately provide tailored support in navigating the series of socio-emotional and physical changes that occur throughout adolescence. 

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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