I often hear this from parents. It is so difficult to bring a child into meet a therapist for the first time. I have so much respect for the parents who let me be a part of their child’s lives. These families are strong and brave and willing to do anything to help their child. We parents want to feel that we can provide children with all the security, comfort, confidence, good sense, and regulation that they need. Of course, we can’t. We all learned that the first week of their life. Sometimes we can’t make them feel better. Sometimes all we can do is hold them and protect them from any more insults. We can’t settle them down or calm the emotional storm. As they grow, they have their own ways of thinking and acting. Most of the time, we can shape that thinking we can manage how they act. Sometimes, we can’t.
When a child feels frightened in a safe world, they suffer. He can show that fear by avoiding school or sleeping with his parents. She might cry over everything or keep repeating the same useless behavior again and again and again without any ability to stop. Some children become so caught up in helplessness that they wonder if they might just die. When you child asks about that, it is terrifying.
I’m here to tell you that it will also likely be okay. It will be okay because your child told you. Now you can do something. You can listen to how they came to feel that we. You can get them help from a psychologist. You can talk with their pediatrician. It will be okay because there is treatment. And, better yet, that treatment can be short and straight forward. You can learn how to support a child in the throws of despair. You can learn some techniques for managing a child’s defiant behavior.
The American Psychological Association’s Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology has a number of material to education families about child mental health problems and common effective treatments. If your child has behaviors and feelings that are causing problems for you, your child, or others, there may be some mental health problems. Treatment can be straightforward for common problems. Children find the 1 on 1 attention fun and enjoyable. Parents feel like they will not succeed but they almost always do. Together we find a way to help their child change so that everyone feels better.
I have worked with some very young children who, at the end of therapy, had a very sophisticated understanding of fear and worry. I have treated teens who by the end of therapy had made dramatic changes in they way they thought about food and their bodies. Parents start therapy nervous and sometimes defensive. By the end, these experts in their children’s lives feel empowered and proud of the ways in which they were all able to change and get back in balance.
I wish we could all be more open about treatment for problems. There are so many differences in children and teens who are suffering from mental health problems. Nonetheless, there is almost always something that can be done to help. There is a website that has a number of videos in which experts in child psychology talk about therapy. If you know anyone who has any questions, you can learn a lot about treatment. Take a look — it’s not threatening or painful. Therapy is designed to empower you and your children to get better than you already are!
These are some wonderful resources for parents and caregivers! Video Resources for Parents