Deciding what to do if a child has an emotional or behaviour problem

The following guidelines may help you to decide what to do if you know a child or children with emotional, behaviour or mental health problems.

Parent or Carer

Does the child have an emotional or behaviour problem?
  • No - allow the child plenty of time to play
  • Yes - how severe are the problem(s)?
Slight or Mild
  • Is the child under 3?
  • Between 3 and 14?
  • Consider filial play
  • Consider therapeutic play or play therapy
Moderate or a number of mild problems
  • Over 3 years?
  • Over 14 years?
  • Consider play therapy
  • Consider counselling - talking therapy
  • Over 3 years and under 14
  • See your doctor for a referral to a child psychotherapist etc

How to identify the severity of a problem (Guidelines)

If you work with children

Do you wish to acquire therapeutic play skills or become a play therapist?

If you manage a school, home, social services or a centre for children?

If you work in: Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom or the United States contact your local PTI organisation. For other countries contact the PTI Head Office for advice. 

Ask PTI about ways of introducing or extending an emotional support service to supplement academic and behaviour support services. See also professional support services.