How do I know if my child has emotional or behavioural problems?
Among all the dilemmas facing a parent of a child with emotional or behavioural problems, the first questions whether the child’s behaviour is sufficiently different to require a comprehensive evaluation by professionals may be the most troublesome of all. Even when a child exhibits negative behaviours, members of a family may not all agree on whether the behaviours are serious. For instance, children who have frequent, severe temper outbursts or who destroy toys may appear to have a serious problem to some parents, while others see the same behaviour as asserting independent or showing leadership skills.
Every child faces emotional difficulties from time to time, as do adults. Feelings of sadness or loss and extremes of emotions are part of growing up. Conflicts between parents and children are also inevitable as children struggle from terrible two’s through adolescence to develop their own identities. These are normal changes in behaviour due to growth and development.
The realization that a child’s behaviour needs professional attention can be painful or frightening to parents who have tried to support their child, or it may be accepted and internalized as a personal failure by a parent.
Some pointers that can be considered when making this decision
• The duration of a troublesome behaviour: Does it just go on and on with no sign that the child is going to outgrow it and progress to a new stage?

• The intensity of the behaviour: For instance, while temper tantrums are normal in almost all children, some tantrums could be so extreme that they are frightening to parents and suggest that some specific intervention might be necessary. Parents should pay particular attention to behaviour such as feelings of despair or helplessness, lack of interest in family, friends, school or other activities once considered enjoyable, or behaviours which are dangerous in the child or to others.

• The age of the child: While some behaviour might be quite normal for a child of two, observation of other children’s behaviour compared to for instance a five year old might not be normal. Not all children reach the same emotional milestones at the same age, but extreme deviations from age appropriate behaviours may well be the cause for concern.

Attempts at self-injury or threats of suicide, violent behaviours, or severe withdrawal that creates an inability to carry on normal routines must be regarded as emergencies for which parents should seek immediate attention.

From what age can a socio- emotional evaluation be undertaken?
Depending on the child’s abilities, the assessment can be undertaken from the age of 3 years old until the age of 18 years. Children need to be able to communicate efficiently in order for the assessment to take place. Evaluation of younger children often take place over more than one session, whereas older children, from the age of 6 years old, can be evaluated in one session.
How long does a socio-emotional assessment take?
The assessment usually takes 2 – 3 hours. Although this is a long time for a child to concentrate, children are able to go through the process as the method used is child friendly and consist of many fun activities that are enjoyed by the child?
How do I prepare my child before a socio-emotional assessment?
Parents often feel unsure about what to say to children and/or how to prepare their child for the socio-emotional assessment. The preparation of the child is however imperative as it can counter unnecessary feelings of anxiety or fear that children may experience.
Explain to your child that he is going to visit a lady who works with kids. This lady work with kids every day and her job is to get to know him/her a little better and finding out how his heart is doing. Her job is to find out what are the things in his/her life that they like that make them feel happy and also the things in their lives what they don’t like and that makes them feel sad or unhappy – so that in the end we (you the child and the therapist) can make plans to make sure that he is happy, most of the time.
Give the message to the child that you know the therapist and trust her, and that he is allowed to tell her anything that he wants to. Reassure him that there is nothing that he shouldn’t say or that you will be angry about.
Please refrain from using the words “play” when preparing the child for the session. This often creates the wrong expectations with the child expecting to spend the time playing and thus making it difficult to get through all the “work” that needs to be completed during the assessment. If you would like to you can explain that they will be doing many different things, including drawing and looking at pictures, building puzzles ext.
If there is a specific concern, please refrain from encouraging the child to talk about that, as that can influence the assessment and without meaning to contaminate the child’s authentic information.
Please ensure that your child had breakfast before coming to the assessment. Please pack a light snack (something healthy to eat and drink) should the child become hungry during the assessment. The child is also allowed to bring a security object to the session if it is needed.
Please don’t make promises that you cannot keep. Don’t promise that you will stay with the child, as the assessment cannot continue with a parent in the room. Please don’t promise that you will stay in the waiting room, if you are in fact planning to leave while the assessment is busy.
How does the process work when visiting the practice?
When a socio- emotional assessment is considered for a child, the counsellor will make an appointment with the parents to explain the procedures that will be followed. After an agreement has been reached that the assessment will go ahead, a time is scheduled for the assessment to take place. After the information contained from the assessment have been gathered, a feedback consultation is arranged with the parents and an intervention plan is compiled.
Can I claim from my medical aid when considering an assessment for my child?
Yes, my practice is registered with the BHF (National Board of Health Care funders). It remains the parent’s responsibility to liaise with their medical aid whether the interventions can be claimed and to send in claims, as my practice is a cash practice. Payment is required in advance, where after re-imbursement through the medical aid is made to the main member.
Can I request a report for court purposes?
All feedback is done verbally. If parents require a report for court purposes a request by a lawyer or parent must be done in writing. Reports are made available at additional payment.
Please contact my practice if you have any further enquiries.