What should I do if my teenager says he/she does not want to meet with anyone at Wonders & Worries?

It is not uncommon for teenagers to be resistant. There are several possible underlying reasons. First, they may want their parents to see their strength and know that they can be relied on. They may also feel self-conscious about meeting with an unfamiliar adult or joining a new group of peers. It is possible, too, that they may just want to avoid focusing on the illness.

We encourage parents to seek to understand their teenager’s perspective and then give their teenager the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. For some parents, it helps to ask their teenager to meet with the Wonders & Worries Child Life staff member for only three sessions to determine if this type of support is even beneficial. We encourage you to trust your instincts. After all, the most important thing is your relationship with your child. If your teen still does not wish to receive direct support from Wonders & Worries, we can provide parenting support for your family and conduct consultations with other support people in your teen’s life.

Remember that Wonders & Worries is always available. If your teen initially declines support from Wonders & Worries, we recommend periodically extending the offer for support throughout the remainder of your illness.

What is a certified child life specialist and how is a Child Life specialist different from a licensed therapist?

Child life specialists are professionals trained to help children and their families understand and manage stressful health care experiences and challenging life events. Child Life specialists utilize play, recreation, education, and expressive activities to connect with children and teens. They are guided by theories of child development, and they help promote the psychological well-being of children who are faced with these stressful situations. Visit our Child Life Profession page to find out more about what a child life specialist does.

There are several common differences to a child life specialist’s approach, which differs from that of a therapist or guidance counselor:

  • All children and teens can benefit from support. Child life specialists focus on prevention – an emotional or behavioral problem does not have to be identified for a child life specialist to work with a child or teen. The goal is to provide support to children and teens as early as possible so that they can cope positively.
  • Play is important. Child life specialists use play and activity as their primary means of interacting with children and teens. A child or teen does not need to talk about their thoughts and feelings in order to receive support or benefit from their time with a child life specialist.

Child Life specialists can help parents recognize if their child or teen is in need of additional support. Their goal is to help children and teens continue on a normal developmental path in the midst of illness and stress.

How do I know if my child/teenager needs additional support outside of Wonders & Worries?

Our services focus on your child. At some point, you or your primary child life staff member may realize that your child has additional needs for support that are not directly related to the illness or exceed our expertise. Your primary child life staff member will talk with you about his or her assessment and recommendation. We will do our best to provide you with referral information when possible. With your permission, Wonders & Worries staff is happy to collaborate with other professionals in support of your child.

Some indicators that your child may need additional support include:

  • your child or teen indicating verbally or otherwise that the illness is not a primary concern;
  • your child or teen regularly focusing on other concerns and stressors unrelated to the illness during their sessions at Wonders & Worries;
  • your child or teen begins to experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of emotional or behavioral problems, even with Wonders & Worries support in place.

What if a parent or caregiver would benefit from emotional support for himself/herself? Can Wonders & Worries help?

Wonders & Worries does not provide counseling support or therapy to parents or other adult family members. We do, however, encourage parents and caregivers to seek emotional support for themselves. We know that a parent’s or caregiver’s ability to cope has a strong impact on a child’s ability to cope. Your primary child life staff member is available to talk with you about your support needs and to help connect you with resources you need.