ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT CHILDHOOD AND CHILDREN

Children really do need our maximum caring and involvement. It is better to become overly involved and to over respond than to run the risk of under involvement and neglect of potentially serious problems and difficulties.

Children are multi-dimensional. The child has a physical dimension, an emotional dimension, a moral dimension, a social dimension, a sexual dimension, a cognitive dimension, and an environmental dimension. Each of these dimensions individually and all of them collectively hold potential for problems and difficulties. When working with children in crises, the physical, emotional, and social dimensions receive assessment and intervention priority to the extent that a child's being in crisis is almost always manifested through problematic functioning and/or destabilization within these three dimensions. If the physical dimension is understood as including the general physical behavior and performance of the child, e.g. the child's general development and progress in terms of learning and academic growth, the physical/emotional/social dimensions may be thought of as the core triad with respect to reciprocal adaptation between the child and his/her environment. Here, both assessment and intervention must be informed by a thorough understanding of the core triad, the child's environment, and the interaction between the two.

Helen is a child who may serve as an example of the core triad in operation and the interaction between the core triad and the young persons environment. As can be seen, she experiences clear emotional and social difficulty and may also be experiencing underlying physical difficulty. These problems within the core triad are, however, compounded and exacerbated by likely difficulties that have occurred within her environment. It will help to think about the interaction of these various elements as a way of emphasizing the interactive nature of this approach.

Helen is a very unresponsive child who tries to avoid both verbal and visual contact. She has an extreme aversion to being touched and gets very shaky and frightened when someone tries to get close to her. Her mother reports that Helen is very spontaneous and affectionate with her and that their relationship is very healthy. At school, Helen's behavior is very controlled and all of her actions are precise. At times she has almost a mechanical quality about her as she does her work and participates in classroom activities. She seems very aware of what is going on around her and unusually alert even to minor happenings in the classroom.

Learning is a multi-sensory, multi-function process within which children are involved. Within this complex process, there is movement from opportunity to discovery through experimentation to mastery or the acquisition of personal control and power within the child's environment. Children are, thus, always moving toward the development and acquisition of power. During times of crisis, the child's ability to maintain control or power is threatened. This threat constitutes one of the significant crisis drivers and is one of the central risks involved in the crisis. Without effective intervention, the hidden risk is that the child will permanently be less able to develop and maintain control and power after the current crisis has passed. If the crisis is not carefully managed, the long term jeopardy for the child is very real. The jeopardy to the child involved in not effectively managing the crisis is especially high in crises involving suicidal behavior and child abuse. The child is always learning; and what he/she is learning during times of crisis needs careful and continuing attention.

Gus is a child who, although not involved in a suicide related crisis, lets us see an example of how a child's power might be jeopardized as a function of the crisis and as a function of how the crisis is handled. As you consider this interesting child, focus on how his power, control, and influence are jeopardized each time he loses control and unsuccessfully deals with limits, confrontation, etc. The explosive behavior tends to reinforce itself, with the real possibility of his coming out of the crisis less able to deal with the next stress or tension point. Also, it is easy to see that responding to Gus by 'overpowering' him during times of crisis does little if anything to increase his power, his ability to manage stress, tension, confrontation, and difficult situations. Gus is a youngster who very much needs an intervention approach that will serve to enable him to deal with life situations in a more healthy, more personally positively powerful manner.

Gus occasionally has temper tantrums at school but the major problem is that he soils his pants two or three times a week, sometimes on the playground and sometimes during class. He is fairly bright and very verbal. He seems quite interested in his school work and classroom activities, plays with the other children, and it seems difficult for him to pay attention and sit still, and there is some problem setting limits for him. If you approach him in a very gentle, asking way, there is usually no problem. If you are firm, abrupt, or somewhat arbitrary with him, he will react quite intensely, screaming, waving his arms, wandering about, and generally behaving rather peculiarly. For example, when his teacher took hold of his arm to slow him down one day he immediately began screaming, hitting and kicking at her, and tried to pull himself away. She tried to hold him more firmly, which only seemed to make him worse. During the episode it seemed as if Gus found it impossible to calm down. Once the episode was over, he became rather quiet and cooperative and was the best-behaved child in the classroom for a while.

It is tempting to assume that we really do understand at a fairly high level of certainty most of what goes on with most children. The reality is that most of what goes on within their active minds and imaginations is beyond our access or understanding. 'Alice really does still spend a lot of time in Wonderland.'

It is equally tempting to assume that all or almost all children really do have serious or significant problems or difficulties in one or more of their dimensions. The reality is that most children do not have significant difficulties in any of these areas at any point in time.

There is a very wide 'normal' variation and variability within the growth, development, and adjustment of children. For example, all children tend to have good days and bad days, days when they are more involved and days when they are less involved, days when they feel better, and days when they feel less well, days when they are more interested in school and days when they are less interested in school, days when they are more active and days when they are less active.

Children really do outgrow or spontaneously get over most problems and difficulties. Even if they will outgrow or spontaneously get over the problem, though, the real issue is what happens to them while they are in the process of outgrowing it or getting over it.

Attention: It is not the case that some children have a greater need for attention than others. The reality is that all children have a nearly insatiable need for attention. What we find is that some children have developed better, more effective, more acceptable ways of getting attention than have others. For example, children do occasionally attempt suicide with getting attention being one of their primary motives. The drastic nature of their action only speaks to the extreme desperation they are feeling and the extent to which their attention getting, adaptive capacity has failed them. The same point holds for less drastic but equally maladaptive ways children sometimes try to get attention.

To say that a child is immature tells us nothing about whether the problem exists. In reality, this label is a disguised attempt to blame the child for the problem. Also, the label tends to be used as a rationale for doing little if anything about the problem.

Expectations:It is initially better to expect too much from a child and to run the risk of frustration than to prematurely and inappropriately expect too little. If we expect too much, the child may become frustrated and upset. If we expect too little, though, the child may become permanently unable to achieve and produce due to the lack of clear expectations. This general point is specifically at issue when dealing with a child involved in a crisis. Frequently all of the discussions, plans, and interventions are managed as if the child were simply an object or variable within the situation. It is felt that the child cannot handle direct involvement or is not capable of understanding what is happening. The idea is to protect the child. It is, however, appropriate and necessary to directly involve the child, let him/her know what is happening, and to understand that he/she is and ought to be an active participant in the process. Whether or not the child can handle what is happening is actually not an issue, although it seems like it might be. The fact is that the child is handling what is happening insofar as he/she is an active participant in the crisis. The issue is understanding how well the young person is handling the crisis and doing all that can be done to be sure that he/she is receiving the information, support, and awareness that are available to others. Excluding the child from parts of the process has the effect of neglecting the opportunity to be involved with the young person at highly significant learning points in his/her life.

Abilities:We should always start with the assumption that a child's real abilities are at least equal to those of other children. We should only come to the conclusion that a child has low or limited ability after very careful, thorough, and sensitive evaluation and observation over time, combined with a very careful, caring, and sincere effort to help the child do better, achieve more, and learn.

Children with relatively high ability tend to achieve relatively higher than other children in most areas, while children with relatively low ability tend to achieve relatively less well than other children in most areas.

Limitations:Labeling a child as limited, deficient, having problems, etc., runs the high risk of setting up the self-fulfilling prophecy, 'I am limited therefore I will grow, achieve, and develop in limited ways.' This risk, especially in small children, is critically real.

Recognition and acceptance of a child's limitations must be combined with focus on the child's potentials, capacities, skills, abilities, and real growth potential.

With all children, but especially with young children, it is critically important to avoid assuming that they cannot do something when the reality is that they have simply not yet learned how to do it.

Nothing is quite so inexcusable as to not believe a child when she tells us that she cannot do her work or cannot do something else. At that point, it is literally true that she cannot do it. Our first step must be to understand 'why' in multi-dimensional terms. With that understanding, we can then begin to help. Here, the importance of competent physical, psychological, social, and educational assessment is central. More often than one might ever imagine, children are blamed or held responsible for the effects of their being involved in a crisis. The functioning, adaptation, and performance of the young person become seriously impaired as a result of being in the crisis. The child is unable to explain what is happening but presents a strong feeling that he/she is doing as well as he/she can do. The problem is understood as existing within the child. The young person is understood as having limited social, emotional, and/or physical abilities or capacities and focus is developed in terms of these limitations. The traditional pattern then leads to the child's receiving a diagnosis with treatment preceding in terms of that diagnosis. Had focus been developed and maintained in terms of the problematic adaptive fit between the child and his/her situation, understanding would have been developed in terms of the pattern of adaptation with intervention directed toward the task of improving the adaptation as opposed to 'treating' the child. During times of crisis, the importance of directing intervention to improving the adaptive fit and avoiding directing intervention to diagnosis and treatment of the child is of the essence when using the social interaction approach to crisis intervention.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH CHILDREN



Without exception, the relationships the child has with professional caregivers are (or at least ought to be) one of the best things the child has going for him/her.

Importantly, we do not have an infinite variety of relationship styles or ways of relating to children. We do, nonetheless, have several general ways of relating to and dealing with children which we can manage on a child by child basis. For example, some children need more emotional closeness while others need more emotional distance, some need a somewhat quicker and more immediate response to their problems while others need a slower more thought out response, some need a more directive and firmer response while others need a somewhat more gentle and permissive response, some children need more active enthusiasm, while others need more quiet acceptance.

Although we cannot make up for the bad life experiences and life situations of a child, we can provide a healthy, supportive, encouraging, positive relationship and environment for the child while he/she is involved with us. At least healthy adult/child relationships can be available to and modeled for the child while he/she is with us.

As we relate to children, the tone we give the relationship should be determined by the needs, problems, difficulties, strengths, and capacities of the child. The relationship should be basically 'child determined.'

All relationships which children have with professional caregivers should be relationships within which the children can experience warmth, security, and involvement, and within which the child can develop a real sense of participation and caring.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT RECOGNIZING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DIFFICULTY IN YOUNG CHILDREN



Recognizing problems or difficulties within one dimension or dimensional combination is a somewhat different proposition than recognizing problems or difficulties in other dimensions or dimensional combinations. For example, alertness to and recognition of possible physical/organic problems is a somewhat different proposition than being alert to and recognizing emotional difficulties; recognizing problems which represent a mix of cognitive difficulties and social difficulties is a somewhat different proposition than recognizing problems or difficulties which represent a mix of social and environmental signs and symptoms. Many signs and symptoms may be associated with problems and difficulties within more than one dimension. The ability to recognize and respond to the multi-dimensional nature of many signs and symptoms seen in young children is key to effective crisis intervention. We need to simultaneously explore the multiple causes or drivers of symptomatology along with assuring that intervention is complex enough and powerful enough to positively influence and/or manage those drivers.

Within the multi-dimensions of children, it is better to be a little too quick to label a sign or symptom as a 'problem' than to ignore or overlook it, running the risk of neglecting something potentially quite important.

It is not possible to helpfully deal with the problems and difficulties of children unless we are able to 'recognize' a sign or symptom of difficulty when we see it. It is important to be aware of what particular signs and symptoms look like, how they tend to become manifest, and what 'normal' looks like, thus increasing our ability to recognize minor to serious deviations from normal.

Of specific importance is the fact that some signs and symptoms are quite serious even if they only occur once while others only become serious insofar as they persist or recur over time. 'Severity' and 'frequency' are both central issues in recognizing significant difficulties in children.

Some signs and symptoms seen in children are only significant relative to the age of the child, while others are not age related. For example, social, emotional, and cognitive related difficulties tend to become more significant as the child gets older. Physical/organic and environmental signs and symptoms tend to be significant regardless of the age of the child.

If you want to know whether a particular child is experiencing problems or difficulties, ask him/her. The child is our best initial source of information about how things are going for him/her. This is true relative to the child's adjustment and well-being within each dimension. Implied in this is the fact that we initially take the complaints and expressed concerns of children seriously- If the problem is not a potential emergency, we can make a point to observe the child and the problem for a while to see what happens. If the problem is a potential emergency, though, we will respond accordingly. At worst, we have been inconvenienced. Of course, we will always avoid the risk of the child becoming the victim of our neglect and unconcern.

Rita is a child who might have been ignored or who's symptoms and explanations might have been discounted were it not for the fact that her teacher was willing to recognize the symptoms, accept Rita's explanation, and pursue the situation, including involving Child Welfare Authorities. Note that the discovery of Rita's difficulties was indirect and based on observation, listening to Rita and other children, and sensitivity to the problems and vulnerabilities of youngsters.

One of the children in Mr. Markowski's second-grade class told him this morning that Rita, a nervous little girl had big red and black bumps on her back and legs. The story is not very pleasant. It started whet Rita's grandfather wanted to give Rita her bath. The details are not particularly important, but this bathing apparently led to Rita's being sexually abused.

It seems that Rita was eventually able to tell her mother what was going on. Instead of trying to deal with the situation, Rita's mother did not believe her and angrily told Rita's dad about it. He apparently was drinking heavily as usual on the weekend, and the beating Rita received was the culmination of the family blowup. Somehow, the family saw the whole situation as Rita's fault.

With very young children and with children who have noticeable difficulty communicating verbally, asking the child what is wrong requires a high level of skill on our part to hear what the child is saying to us through his/her appearance, behavior, pattern of adapting within his/her environment, consistency with developmental expectations, and through other ways he/she communicates to us. Children always tell us what is wrong, what they need, and what we need to do if we know how to listen and do in fact listen.

When children express the feeling that they are inadequate or are having problems relative to other children, always seriously consider the possibility that they are inadequate or experiencing real difficulty relative to other children.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT UNDERSTANDING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DIFFICULTY IN YOUNG CHILDREN



It is important to understand what is going on with the child, what is causing the problem, or what is happening before attempting to do something about it. Implied in this is the need to see if the problem gradually improves, the difficulty gradually becomes resolved, and things gradually get better over time with 'teaching,' encouragement, support, and through involvement in the relationship with you and with other caring professionals. Most problems and difficulties of young children should first be seen in terms of 'normality' and as responsive to teaching and caring relationships.

If problems and difficulties are not responsive to good teaching and caring relationships, develop understanding in terms of most likely causes and gradually expand out from there. Develop understanding on a 'probability' basis.

Any time a child is having a problem, consider the possibility that it has something to do with something going on in the environment, something relative to the situation, something about the particular circumstances, or something related to the particular people involved in the situation. Remember that most children really do not have anything really significantly wrong with them. When we see a child experiencing difficulty or a child who has been having some degree of problematic adjustment experiencing increased difficulty, then, we need to begin to think in terms of what might be exacerbating or driving this worsening of the adaptive fit between the child and his/her environment. The likelihood is that we are observing a minor to major crisis in progress. If we keep in mind the fact that a child who becomes involved in a crisis has likely experienced crisis involvement in the past and will likely experience similar involvement in the future, we will be more alert to any signs of maladaptation. At any point we observe a deterioration in the adaptive fit experienced by a child or adolescent, the likelihood is that we are observing a crisis in progress warranting our assessment and possible intervention.

As we go beyond these general areas to better understand the specific problem or difficulty of a specific child, the first causal area to consider is physical. Next, we want to consider the possibility of social/interpersonal difficulties and then consider the possibility of emotional difficulties. After we have evaluated and understand these areas, we want to then look at possible difficulties within the child's environment. It is tempting to reverse the order in terms of starting by giving blame or responsibility to parents, family, living situations, or other home circumstances.

One of the cruelest things that we can do to a child is to attribute his difficulties to emotional, social, or environmental problems when they actually represent physical/organic or cognitive/learning related difficulties. In addition, almost any type of cognitive/learning related difficulty may have physical/organic origins.

It is important to remember that almost any physical, emotional, social, environmental, or cognitive/learning related difficulty a child may have can have implications from minor to extremely serious. It is, thus, better to initially over estimate or over evaluate the 'seriousness' of a sign or symptom than to run the risk of under estimating the seriousness and consequently neglecting or overlooking something potentially alarming.

Butch is a child who's difficulties might appear to be easily understood in terms of home and family difficulties. Typically, children who manifest these types of problems are understood as having behavior problems that are in turn understood as being a function of discipline, supervision, relationships at home, problems related to family instability, and so on. The types of difficulties Butch is experiencing represent a combination of physical, emotional, and social difficulties and may only be more or less related to family and home difficulties. The case is presented here to emphasize the point that understanding of a child's difficulties should always move from the physical dimension through the emotional and social dimensions and then to the environmental dimensions including both home and school.

Butch is a child who may test all of our crisis intervention and crisis communication skills. Although it makes little difference which one of the numerous types of difficulties in which Butch finds himself in terms of the specific presenting problem shared with you, let us simply assume that, along with his teacher, Butch's mother also finds herself figuratively pulling out her hair and has gone to her family doctor. The physician has, in turn, referred Butch and his mother to you on an emergency basis. How do you understand the content? What is your understanding of the crisis within which Butch finds himself? What would your initial intervention hypotheses be and what type of crisis intervention strategies and techniques would you employ?

The teacher's lounge is the only safe haven from Butch. Not only does Butch have his teacher pulling out her hair, but he is also pulling out his own hair, literally. He becomes upset and his anger grows so intense that he starts pulling his hair, and occasionally succeeds in pulling some of it out by the roots. During these intense emotional spells he inflicts pain on himself, he picks at himself or his nose, bites his fingernails, or scratches. And if that were not bad enough, he frequently annoys other children to call attention to himself.

At times, all of this anger and frustration gets out of hand. Butch is frequently downright cruel to other children. He injures other children intentionally and seriously. If there is not another child around to hurt, he finds a bug or cat or some other animal to be the victim of his cruelty. This behavior is not simply limited to the halls and playground. Butch constantly gets in trouble on the school bus; and when he is made to walk to and from school he gets into even more trouble.

Butch's temper tantrums are a regular occurrence, and occasionally he runs away from school and no one can find him. His mother says that he does the same thing at home; it is not at all unusual for Butch to run away from home and have his family and half the neighborhood in a tizzy. Somehow Butch does not seem to learn from previous experiences. He almost never follows school rules, and he frequently defies authority and acts as if no one can make him do anything. His stealing compounds the problem. It is beginning to seem as if he will take anything that isn't fastened down.

Somehow, Butch is a walking paradox. He can be totally exasperating and infuriating. At other times it is clear that he wants love and attention but does not know how to get it. He is very affectionate, in fact, quite indiscriminately affectionate toward adults. It is really sad, though, because no matter whether he is angry or loving, he somehow seems unlovable.

The more situations within which a particular problem or symptom is seen, the more serious the problem tends to be. Similarly, the potential seriousness of a problem or difficulty tends to increase as symptoms combine and accumulate. This is true within and between all dimensions of childhood.

As we try to understand what is going on with a specific child, we should generalize out within each dimension and among the several dimensions to see if other potentially related problems or symptoms may be present which might have ordinarily been overlooked had we not specifically checked to see whether or not they exist.

When a particular child seems to be having a problem, watch carefully to see when it usually occurs, where it usually occurs, under what circumstances it most frequently occurs, and what else seems to be going on when the problem occurs. This will be very helpful in terms of understanding the child and the problem and interpreting the significance of the problem and its implications to the child, to the child's family, and to others working with the child.

If several children are having the same problem or are having problems at the same time, one should strongly suspect that the difficulty has something to do with the situation or is a function of the adult supervising or responsible for the children at that time.

If we are clever enough, thorough enough, persistent enough, and caring enough, a thorough explanation for and response to the problems and difficulties of each child can and will be developed. Once it is developed, then, it is critically important to carefully and caringly follow through with the plan.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT DEALING WITH SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DIFFICULTY IN CHILDREN



The best, most sophisticated help in the world is only helpful to a child if she receives it.

Understanding why a particular child has a particular problem at a particular point in time does in no way eliminate the need for assuring that the child receives that mix of services, resources, and opportunities that will help the child actually work through his/her difficulties.

If it was initially a good idea to help with or deal with the problems or difficulties of a child, it is still a good idea even if doing so is difficult or problematic.

In the final analysis, help, special assistance, remedial programs, extra services, individualized programming, crisis intervention, and so forth are only helpful for a specific child if they do, in fact, help that child.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT PARENTS



Most children live in nice homes with good parents; and the occasional problems and difficulties which they experience represent very temporary situations, behavior or situational anomolies, or other minor to significant variations in adjustment, growth, or behavior.

When parents do not follow through with a child or deal with a child in ways consistent with your ideas and wishes, consider the possibility that they thoroughly understand your ideas and point of view, and just simply and honestly disagree with you.

Are there ever parents who are absolutely uncooperative, disinterested, and unconcerned? Yes, but they much more reflect the exception than the rule. Usually the problem is that the professionals involved have simply not yet developed an effective way of eliciting the cooperation and involvement of the parents.

Initially approach parents in terms of their child's accomplishments and achievements, very gradually bringing up any problems and difficulties. Once you begin talking with parents about problems and difficulties, the parents should always be approached in terms of the child's problems, the child's difficulties, the child's limitations, and never (at least initially) in terms of the parents' problems, the parents' difficulties, what are perceived to be irresponsible actions on the part of parents, mishandling things on the part of parents, and so forth.

Ricardo is seventeen and has been talking with you about his situation and his feelings. He indicates to you that he is an only child, has no really close friends but gets along okay with most young people at his school, is somewhat of a loner, and is quite interested in computers although not in much else. He usually gets A's and B's at school, gets along well with his teachers, and usually prefers to stay home and 'just mess around' when he is not in school. He watches TV a lot, spends a lot of time listening to music, plays the guitar some, and likes to work with the fairly sophisticated computer equipment his parents have purchased for him.

He sees his folks as nice people who do not hassle him much and who are very busy. His mother is an executive with a local company and his father is a practicing attorney. These activities keep them very busy and do not allow much time for Ricardo.

Ricardo calls you on the phone, indicating that he was bored and just wanted to see if anyone would actually answer this number. You talk with him a while and experience him as very emotionally flat, not having much energy or enthusiasm related to any of his activities, relationships, or involvements. He wonders what it means to be happy and says that he guesses that it really does not make much difference. After asking you if many guys his age call this number, he goes on to talk about thinking a lot about how other people feel, why they seem so happy, and whether or not there is something wrong with him. You supportively continue the conversation and Ricardo says, 'Life does not show me much. I'm not sure what the big deal is supposed to be all about. I don't t think it really makes any difference whether we are here or not.' He then chuckles in what might seem to be a somewhat lighthearted manner and says, 'I shouldn't be saying what is good for other people. I just know that it doesn't make any difference whether I am here or not.' As you pursue his feelings and thoughts, you gradually come to understand that Ricardo may be suicidal.

Toward the end of your conversation, you ask Ricardo if he would like to tell you who he is. He shares this with you, tells you where he lives, and gives you his phone number. You ask about going over to see him or his coming in to see you. He says, 'Don't make a big deal out of all of this. I was just putting you on. You know, I was just having fun. Kids probably do that sometimes with you, don't they?' He then rather abruptly hangs up. You try to call him back and find that the line is busy. The phone company confirms that the receiver has been left off of the phone at Ricardo's house.

Of course, your first response is to call the police and ask them to stop by Ricardo's house on an emergency basis to check out the situation. In addition, you know where Ricardo's mother works and are able to get her on the telephone.

'Hello Mrs. Gomez. I am the worker from the Crisis Center. We received a call from Ricardo and are concerned. He seems like a really sharp young man. He may have just been putting us on a little but we are concerned. When he finished talking with us, we were not real sure what his plans were. I tried to call him back but he had left the phone off the hook. I did ask the police to stop by just to make sure everything is okay and am calling you to be sure that you know what happened. He told us about his computer interests and had some positive things to say about you and his father. He did seem a little down to me and did not seem to feel real good about himself today. We did talk for almost an hour; and I got the impression that he was really struggling with a lot of difficult feelings and with how well he was handling them. I would like to stop over and talk with Ricardo. I am concerned enough that I could meet you at your house if you have time to leave work to check on Ricardo.' -Keep in mind that the police are already headed to Ricardo's house. The key at this point is to engage his mother in a way that is supportive toward her, reflects a positive opinion of Ricardo, and moves toward engaging her in a proactive alliance with you for Ricardo's benefit.

We should always keep communication with parents, 'child focused.'

Encourage parents to express their ideas about how they think things are going, how they think their child is doing, what kind of difficulty they are experiencing, if any, etc., before expressing your ideas.

When talking with parents, it is important to listen for their attitudes about the child, situations in which the child is involved, the child's friends, the child's general functioning and activities, and so on. If their attitudes and feelings tend to be positive, they will tend to convey this to their children. Similarly, if their attitudes and feelings tend to be negative, this negativism will tend to be conveyed to the child.

Thus, parental and professional expectations for the child should be based on a real understanding of the child's abilities, limitations, potentials, capacities, special talents, and so forth. It is critically important that these expectations are directly related to what is really going on within and with the child.

If getting in touch with or working with a child's parents was initially a good idea, it is still a good idea even if it is difficult or inconvenient to do so.

Young people are who they are, do what they do, think what they think, feel what they feel, and are in the process of becoming whomever or whatever they are capable of becoming within the environment within which they live. Most children will experience at least five or six crisis points or periods of moderate to severe difficulty as they pass through their growing years. These crisis points represent times of high risk and potential jeopardy for the youngster. If the crisis point is managed in a way that minimizes the damage to the child and disruption in his/her growth and development and maximizes the extent to which the child develops increasing skill and capacity for handling crises and difficult life situations, the child will be better off for having shared the crisis with us. If not, the opportunity to contribute to the long term welfare and well being of a young person will be lost.




By Gary A. Crow, Ph.D. March 23, 2017