Focus On The Child, Not The Problem

by | May 29, 2024 | Child Counseling


When I work with families it is typically because a parent or caregiver is concerned about a problem with their child. And while the problem is what may initiate beginning play therapy, I think it’s very important for parents to understand that the relationship with the child is key. Sure, it’s easy to find challenges with our child’s behavior and think about the way we would like our child to respond but often in doing so, we lose sight of the child. And I believe this can be a slippery slope.


One of the tenets of child centered play therapy is unconditional acceptance. During play therapy a child learns that they are unconditionally accepted. They don’t have to try to earn acceptance. They are free to be who they are and work through their feelings in a safe, non-judgemental space. Most children find this acceptance is what they need to work through their challenges.


So let’s think about how focusing on the problem can influence our reactions as parents. I bet if I asked you to think of a situation with your child that bothers you or upsets you, you could easily come up with something. And if you focus on that problem, you could easily get very upset with your child. You may notice your interactions with your child suddenly change. You may find yourself in a negative mindset. You may even find yourself using negative language or using absolutes like “always” and “never”.


If we focus on the problem it is easy to feel like things will never get better. You may start to feel hopeless. You may find yourself thinking your child is the problem. And you may find yourself stuck in that negative mindset. Now we can see how this can easily bleed into our relationship and how we interact with our child.


The Relationship is Key


Parenting is never static. We are constantly changing and so is our child. So it is perfectly reasonable to expect that our child’s needs will change over time as well. When we focus on the relationship with our child, we are able to tune into their ever changing needs. Their behavior is just an outward expression of an internal experience. When we meet our child with curiosity and compassion, we are able to also find compassion for ourselves as parents.


It’s easy to feel like our child is “doing this to us”, especially when we’ve tried everything and we don’t know what else to do. So that’s where we as parents can tune into our relationship with our child and learn more about who they are. We can learn new ways of connecting with our child. We can continue to grow as parents. And if we put the relationship at the forefront, we are always going to be guided in the right direction.


If you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck, please schedule a free parent consultation for play therapy. When we work with children, we also work with parents. We give you new tools and fresh insight about your child and parenting. We’d love to partner with you.

About the author:

<a href="" target="_blank">Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis</a>

Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis

Stephanie is a licensed professional counselor, a registered play therapist, a national certified counselor and a certified school counselor. She has over 17 years of experience working with children as a classroom teacher, school counselor and licensed therapist. She founded Collective Hope Counseling in August 2020 to help serve her community. With her extensive experience in child development, she knew she wanted to work with kids and their families. Stephanie completed additional training in child centered play therapy and became a certified+ play therapy professional in 2024.