Are you looking for a child psychologist or child therapist to discuss a concern you’re having about your son or daughter?

Growing up is a difficult task riddled with various challenges. As a parent, you may not know if your preschool or elementary school aged child is just going through a normal stage of development or if there is something more serious going on. Never ignore your parental intuition! You know your child best, and if you think there may be a problem it is always best to get support and guidance from a professional. Appropriate evaluations and assessments lead to diagnoses and treatment recommendations that guide you and as appropriate your child’s teachers, pediatrician, educational therapists, physical and occupational therapists, and psychotherapists. Counseling can help your child acquire practical life skills and know their emotions and develop trust for the caring adults in their lives.

Kentlands Psychotherapy is an excellent place to turn for understanding how to provide healthy support to your child as they continue along their individual paths. Our psychologists and child therapists are highly trained and have been trained and employed at some of the best DC area and Montgomery County institutions such as Children’s National Medical Center and The Katherine Thomas School.
To speak to someone about your needs and which therapist might be the best fit for you, please contact Gail Groboski, LCSW-C, our Senior Young Child and Parenting Clinician at Kentlands Psychotherapy at 240-252-3349 ext. 811.

young children psychotherapyFrequently Asked Questions

I’m at my wits end with my daughter’s temper tantrums. What can a child counselor do to help us, . . . me?

Do you have a highly emotional child? Do her melt downs embarrass you in public? Do you feel judged by other mothers or your in-laws when they witness one of her emotional storms? Everyone’s been there, but maybe you’re feeling like you are “there” more then most.  And maybe you are. Maybe you have a more passionate, highly spirited, spunky kid. We feel for you. The early years with kids like this can be rough. But take comfort in the idea that someday she may very likely be able to tap into her innate determination in ways that will serve her well in the future. I know, you are probably thinking, “Great. But I need help now!” Right? Call us. Support from a qualified child therapist can help your child learn to “tame the dragon” of her emotions and channel that energy more productively.

How can I tell if the behavior my child is expressing is a typical “high energy,” scattered, day dreamer, or something more? When does, “He’ll grow out of it,” become “I better get on this?” 

If you believe you are seeing, or if a teacher tells you they are seeing, symptoms of ADD or ADHD it’s smart to have your child evaluated sooner then later. There are many compensatory skills you and your child can use at school and at home that can help. While medication may be an appropriate option for an older child, many if not most most younger children can do very well with well-thought out behavioral plans that incorporates cooperation from the parents and the school. We can help with the assessment, plan development, and 504 or IEP advocacy with your Montgomery County Maryland school. We understand how to navigate the system and can support you in your vigorous advocacy for your child with the public school system.

Learn more about ADHD diagnostic criteria in this video.

Video Credit: Osmosis.org

Do you work with children with Asperger’s Disorder (PDD)?

If you are concerned that your child may have Asperger’s Disorder, now considered part of the Autistic Spectrum, we can help. We have extensive experience identifying the symptoms and making an accurate diagnosis. Often if we suspect that your child has PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder which includes Autism and Asperger’s) we will help you to gather as much information as possible to make an accurate diagnosis. This would include parent feedback as well as teacher reports, and observing your child in different settings. Most likely we would recommend neuropsychological testing be done to complete the process and rule out any other psychological condition.

We offer therapy to help children with PDD with the mood dis-regulation and anxiety issues they may be experiencing. We can also help with peer relationship problems, including bullying and making and keeping friends. Although we do not currently run social skills groups for children/teens with PDD, we can refer your child to a place that does. Finally, we offer parents behavioral strategies to best address their child’s special needs and challenging behaviors.

Have you had concerns about Autism Spectrum symptoms? Watch this video to learn more about this diagnosis category.

Video Credit: Osmosis.org

Now that my child is getting older, how can I transition them to their own bed?

Sharing a family bed is a common way to encourage bonding between parents and their children. We find many Montgomery County families are doing it. You’re definitely not alone or out of the norm. The other thing we are often hearing from our Gaithersburg/Potomac parents is that what starts nightly as 10 minutes of snuggling in the child’s bed with them, more than half the time leads to co-sleeping because the over worked and sleep deprived parent simply falls asleep and fails to make it back to their own bed. Also common is the often-traveling professional parent who’s absence creates an opportunity for a “treat” night of sleeping with mom or dad because of the empty space made available.

Co-sleeping that is thoughtfully chosen based on a commitment to the values of attachment parenting can be a beautifully thing that smoothly transitions to separate sleeping at an age-appropriate point in your child’s development.

Unfortunately, it does not always work this way. 

What we have heard from our Kentlands families is that in many cases what started out as a lovely bonding experience devolves into a fraught custom that carries with it the baggage of poor sleep for some (usually a parent), resentment from a spouse (often displaced to a couch or guest room or weary of the impact on their marital relationship), or a nightly battle of wills over the grown-ups ‘ insistence that the kid return to their own room.  If the parents don’t agree with each other on the family bed “policy” it can really take a toll on the marriage.

Sometimes the child’s insistence on staying in the parent’s room (in their bed or on a cot or sleeping bag on the floor) can be driven by a larger anxiety issue or recent trauma that needs to be addressed. Counseling with a child or adolescent therapist is critical in these cases.

In more routine cases, for the transition to be successful, the young child should be involved in the planning process – from picking out new bedding, to rearranging the furniture in their bedroom to helping to paint the walls. When a child feels like their space is their own, it will be a large step in the right direction. If these and other online suggestions do not prove adequate, working with a child therapist to develop an appropriate reward system that is specific to the unique circumstances of your family will help make the transition a permanent one.

kids psychotherapy mdMy kid’s preschool teacher keeps bringing up concerns about my child’s development, when should I take their concern seriously?

As parent’s we believe that we know our child best. And we do! There is a solid basis for parent’s intuition. When your child enters pre-school, they are now being exposed to different environments, both academically and socially, that a parent is not present for. The preschool teacher may have needed insight in to how your child functions during these newly acquired skill sets – making friends, following directions, trusting an adult that is not a family member, and more. Additionally, your son or daughter’s teacher sees your child’s behavior as it compares to a good size sample of his age-matched peers. Listen to what your teacher has to say and compare it to your own experience, discuss it with your pediatrician, and consider seeing a child psychologist or other developmental specialist if you’re still concerned. Resources like Montgomery County’s Child Find can be a good starting place. If a formal assessment identifies a deficit or delay, specific recommendations will guide you in your next steps.

How can I tell if my kid is shy versus having social difficulties?

Children go through definite periods of social anxiety that is attributed to separation anxiety. This can be developmentally appropriate at early developmental stages. The main difference between shyness and social difficulties is the ability of the child to overcome the nervousness. If your child seems persistently uncomfortable around others, this could be a sign of social difficulties or early signs of social anxiety rather than the more benign period of childhood “shyness” or what might eventually develop into an adult introverted personality style. Counseling with a child therapist can be tremendously helpful in giving your child the support and specific skills needed to overcome his or her nervousness around others. We have done quite a bit of this sort of work, we have many strategist to offer that will help.

How do I help my child deal with all the bad “stuff” in the news?

Great questions. Media is such an integral part of our lives it’s nearly impossible for most families to shelter their kids from the traumatic events that go on in the world. Here is an article from a former Kentlands Psychotherapy clinician with 5 Tips for parents on how to deal with bad things in the news. If your child appears to be particularly trouble by events that they have been exposed to on the news, and it does not seem to be “passing,” speaking with a child psychologist is appropriate to nip whatever seems to be developing in the bud.

Is the teasing my daughter is telling me about at school “bullying?”

If your child is troubled by teasing, criticism from peers, pranks, shunning/rejection/isolation you are right to be concerned. If you’re wondering if something “counts” as bullying, read further here. It’s our job as parents to be our kids primary advocate. Often the question is, “Should I advise my child in how to deal with the issue or should I take action directly with another parent, school administrator, team coach?”

Our philosophy is coach your child first (unless the bullying requires immediate attention) and intervene second. By following this order, you show your child that you have faith in his or her ability to handle problems with other kids and in life in general. You also avoid possible embarrassment and additional harassment and social rejection that can come from a parent swooping in prematurely. When the behind-the-scenes approach does not seem to be enough, counseling is an excellent resource for both you and your child in a few ways.

  • First, your child has another adult with whom they feel heard, supported, and validated.
  • Second, a skilled child therapist is a pro at coaching your child on navigating with peer relationships, including bullies.
  • Third, child psychotherapists can advise the parents on when to directly intervene (and how to diplomatically and effectively intervene with other adults) verses when to hold off and pull back.