William Butler Yeats wrote that “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” In a variation on that theme, the same applies to parenting.
Parents with Questions can:
- Join or form a parenting discussion group online or locally. Every parent has questions about how to respond to particular developmental phase, but then at times feels alone with the doubts and worries endemic to parenting. Tap into the wisdom of people thinking together.
- Ask for a well baby or well child mental health visit. Ask a social worker, psychoanalyst, psychotherapist or other mental health professional if you can schedule an appointment for a simple chat about your child's development, just the way to do with your pediatrician.
- Set up a consultation when you have specific concerns about your child's development. This can be particularly helpful if they have just recovered from a serious illness that required extensive treatment, if there have been changes in the family due to divorce or illness, or if your child's teachers have specific concerns about your child's ability to perform academically.
- Then, if you feel all of the above hasn't resolved the questions you have....
you may want to consider treatment for yourself, or your child or both.
Children and Therapy
Many parents worry about bringing their child to therapy. They feel that it might harm the child in some way, so they delay, losing time when the child’s difficulties could have been alleviated quickly. Worse, the child’s development lags even further behind. The sooner the better is the best decision. As soon as you have a question. As soon as you feel that your child is behaving in a way that you don’t understand, that is the time to get some help. Even if your pediatrician says to wait. Wouldn't you rather bring in your two year old for two sessions, rather than wait until your child is ten, and have to bring them in for two or three years?
But how do children perceive therapy? Prior to five years old, they love it! I’ve had two and three year olds who come in to see me tell their parents, “call Kim!” when they are having a difficult moment. They aren't self conscious about needing help, they expect that grownups are around for the explicit purpose of helping them.
Sometimes, older children can pick up on their parents’ dread of needing help and they cry for the first few sessions. I find that if we pay close attention to addressing the child’s concerns, they soon settle down to work. The rewards are then enormous for the child. It’s a powerful lesson in seeing that things that are feared at first can be mastered. That’s a lesson that they can carry with them for the rest of their life.
Teens may feel ambivalent about therapy, but still are able to benefit from treatment. One teen shared his perspective. "I heard that if you struggle with something earlier in life, it can make you stronger. So if I figure this out, I may end up being ahead of all the people I feel are ahead of me now."
Do you think that if you bring your child to therapy it means that you failed? Whatever it does mean to you, avoiding the issues that drag on your family won’t resolve anything. Calling to ask some questions could clarify a muddle sufficiently to move on without needing any further assistance.