Pre-Teens (9-12 Years Old)

If your Pre-Teen is struggling with anxiety, depression, self-loathing or serious problems with behavior, motivation, healthy peer choices or other serious mental health concerns, I provide effective evaluation and psychotherapy for this age group including close coordination with parents, school counselors or other professionals, when approved of by parents. Individual, Family, Group and Experiential Therapy is available for young clients. I am also adept at coordinating medication evaluation with psychiatrists and/or pediatricians, if indicated. I work with school problems, learning problems, assessment of ADHD and other learning difficulties as well as emotional and behavioral symptoms expressed either at home or in the school setting. 


Issues for Pre-Teens

Parents encounter conflicts with Pre-Teens both before and during the onset of puberty due to rapidly changing brain, hormonal and cognitive changes occurring during pre-adolescence. This is a very vulnerable period for children of this age. Often it is difficult for parents to know exactly how to respond emotionally to their children and how to communicate effectively. Pre-Teens may be quite hyper-sensitive and “reactive” to seemingly everything happening in their lives. Brains are developing a new and expanded capacity to think abstractly, and to apply new critical thinking to present life experience.  

Validation and feelings of industry and competence are very important for healthy identity development with children at this age. 


Risk Factors

Research on Pre-Teens in the past decade has shown significant increases in sedentary, non-physical activity for some children in this age group. Activities that are sedentary may include excessive video gaming or internet use, to the exclusion of other healthier physical activities in the community; particularly those activities involving cardiovascular exercise for Pre-Teens. 

It is estimated that Pre-Teens need a bare minimum of 45 minutes of this daily physical activity. Obesity and an unhealthy weight gain (as evidenced by an increased BMI) may (or may not) be associated with these sedentary activities; but is a risk factor for Pre-Teens ages 8-12.  

Precocious involvement with sex, drugs and other high-risk behaviors, in addition to not coping with school or social demands, is another area of concern during this transitional period from childhood into early adolescence and on to High School. Popular media may focus inappropriately on messages of sexuality, mood-altering drugs, impulsive relationships, unhealthy habits and/or instant gratification. These problems, all too familiar to families, negatively influence our children in a consumer-driven culture. Pre-Teens seem to be seeking independence at an earlier age due to a variety of developmental variables converging with media influences.

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