Common Issues


As a developmentalist Deborah is equipped to work with a full range of issues in children and adolescents. While many behaviours may appear unrelated, the pieces should fit together to reveal the child from the inside out. Making headway on problematic behaviour is most effective when you can make sense of the underlying dynamics driving it. Strategies are aimed at the root of the problem as well as in managing symptoms and behaviour.

  • Adolescence – Common challenges include technology use, drugs and alcohol, peer attachment, self harm, sexual relationships, resistance and opposition.

  • Alpha Problems – When a child or youth calls the shots and tells adults how to take care of them, the underlying issue may be an alpha problem. They can become bossy, commanding, demanding, full of resistance, alarm and frustration, which makes taking care of them a nightmare. The way through is to understand how the tables have become turned and court dependence rather than chasing symptoms.

  • Anxiety – From babies to adults, anxiety is part of the human condition. While the circumstances driving the alarm may be varied, the roots of it are not and making sense of these is the surest way to help a child rest again.

  • Attention and Agitation – Problems with attention and distraction can pose challenges at school and in the home. Making sense of how the emotional/alarm system is being activated is critical to making headway on this issue, as well as understanding how the attention system is meant to develop. 

  • Discipline – Today’s popular disciplinary approaches use separation or alarm-based strategies that are not attachment safe and developmentally friendly. Alternatives that are relationally and developmentally appropriate are important in making headway and preserving the adult/child connection.

  • Divorce, Fostering, and Adoption – When kids go through a disruption or an uprooting in their attachments, there is much we can do to help them adapt to the changes underfoot. Understanding what works with a child to help them feel rooted and cared for during these times is critical. Deborah does not do custody work but will help interested adults in building and preserving relationships with their kids and understanding the impact of separation.

  • Emotional Health– The emotional health of a child will impact overall development and maturity. If we are to make sense of their emotional well being, understanding human vulnerability is key. Knowing the difference between what is developmentally appropriate and signs that a child is stuck are key issues to consider in overall emotional and mental health.

  • Frustration/Aggression – From young children to adolescents, the expression of frustration is common but understanding what is stirring them up and moving through temper tantrums is key. When frustration turns foul, aggression can emerge with attacking energy unleashed. Making headway involves considering development, maturity, emotional health, and conditions that are exacerbating the situation.

  • Peer Orientation – Caring for kids will become difficult when they are attached to their peers more than the adults in their life. A loss of adult influence can create behavioural and attention problems in the home and at school. Reclaiming a peer attached child or adolescent is possible but must start with making sense of this phenomena.

  • Resistance and Opposition – One of the more troubling dynamics in an adult/child relationship is resistance and opposition. While it is part of natural human instinct to resist when feeling coerced, it can also become stuck, chronic and pervasive, rendering care taking a challenge.

  • School Readiness – Whether a child or adolescent is entering preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college or university, insight into school readiness can help set them up for success. Common school issues include bullying, peer relationships, as well as how to help a child who is struggling academically.

  • Sensitive Kids and Special Needs – The number of sensitive children in a North American population is estimated to be at 20%. These children can display a heightened sensorium, (e.g., touch, taste, smell, hearing, seeing), and awareness that can lead to intense reactions and/or a flight from vulnerability. Parents of special needs kids are supported in making sense of their child and in providing the conditions that will help them grow up.

  • Young Children – Children aged 0 to 6 have their own preschooler psychology and as a result, are some of the most misunderstood people around. Adults interested in making sense of a young child’s inconsiderate, impulsive, egocentric nature will learn what nature has in store developmentally, how to deal with problematic behaviour, and what parents can do to grow them up.