The following are some questions that are often asked of Educational Psychologists. Although each individual child is unique, with unique circumstances, there are some general responses that can be given to each scenario. Here are some common situations:
I think my toddler might have special needs, what shall I do next?
Firstly, try not to panic! Initially, a discussion with your health visitor or GP can guide you towards the next steps. If your child is at pre-school, a chat with the pre-school’s designated SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator) may lead to some assessments or an appointment for an Educational Psychologist to meet you, the pre-school staff and your child. Generally, discuss your concerns with someone who is knowledgeable about special needs.
My 2 year old has just started biting a lot. Even though I tell her to stop, she just carries on. She will bite people and objects and seems to do it for no apparent reason. Why is she doing this and what can I do?
Generally, biting is a very common behaviour which can serve a number of purposes. It can be an expression of a strong feeling, such as frustration, it may be a means of communicating a need for personal space or possibly a need for oral stimulation (such as biting, sucking and chewing objects). Your toddler may also be overwhelmed by the environment she is in (eg by the lights or sounds), teething or overtired. What you do will depend on the possible cause of the biting behaviour. Overall, as you watch your child at play, try to build up an understanding of her pattern of biting behaviour so that you can anticipate when the biting might occur. If, for example, your toddler has a need for oral stimulation, offer crunchy, healthy snacks at regular intervals across the day. Saying ‘No’ firmly to biting, can also help. On the whole, you need to respond immediately, focus on the victim of the biting (if it is a child), encourage your child to communicate in a different way and look at the environment in which the biting occurred, in order to manage this situation.
My 3 year old has just started pre-school and since then, I have noticed changes in his behaviour for the worse. He’s having more tantrums and is not eating as much. Sometimes, he cries on the way to pre- school. Why is this happening and what should I do?
There can be a number of reasons as to why your son is behaving this way. As a starting point, the various behaviours, collectively, may suggest that your child is having problems with the pre-school environment and that his behaviours are a response to his distress and anxiety about attending there. If this is the case, then it would be helpful to have a chat with the pre-school teacher. If your son is able to articulate, then an exploration with him about his feelings about the pre-school and any potential issue with his peers, would also be a good starting point. If you find that there appears to be no concerns surrounding your child’s pre-school, then you will need to investigate each of the new behaviours separately. This may involve looking into the triggers to his tantrums. The reduction in appetite maybe due to the type and amount of food, or time of eating. Alongside this, his journey to the pre-school may be due to the mode of transportation, the time of the journey, mobility issues, tiredness etc. In any case, his changes in behaviour require your immediate attention.
My 2 1/2 year old seems to be lagging behind in her speech and language when I compare her to my friends’ children of about the same age. Are there any activities I can do to encourage her development in this area?
The focus of your activities will depend on whether the concerns are about your child’s expressive (spoken) or receptive (understanding) skills or if both areas are an issue. At her age, you would generally expect your daughter’s understanding to be up to 2400 words, ask 1-2 word questions and use 2-3 word phrases. You can play simple games when in the car, in the park or in the supermarket, using language age appropriate to the environment. Playing with toys, looking at and sharing books, all give rise to developing adjectives, verbs, prepositions, nouns, listening and social skills. If you continue to have concerns, consider involving a speech and language therapist, via a health visitor or GP.
Geeta has focused on the needs of pre-school and school aged children and young people, over a period of 23+ years. She has been a Primary Teacher, a Senior Educational Psychologist, managed behaviour and education teams, worked in a Child and Family Consultation Service, contributed to national research on parents, delivered professional training and has worked on aspects of hate crime and domestic violence. Geeta enthusiastically and passionately applies psychology to help improve the lives of children, young people and their families.
For individual advice you can contact Geeta direct at: Greatvine.com/geeta-dhir
Speak to me on 0800 063 1532
Consultations priced from £15 for 10 minutes