It’s not easy for any parent to accept that their child needs to see a therapist. But it is better to recognize the need in time than leave it for too late. I would like to propose a few pointers that can make the course of therapy easier, both for the parents and the child.
Identify the problem.
Once you feel it in your gut that what your child is going through cannot be handled by parenting alone, you must start the search for a good therapist. Be clear in your mind as to why you want to consult. Better still, from the day you recognize the problem, start a journal recording the concerned behavior of the child (when he does it, what exactly does he do, how does it start, are their any particular environmental triggers etc.). This will give you a clear picture of your child’s profile and help you explain the problem to the therapist precisely.
Don’t create fear.
Never say to the child, “if you don’t stop doing this, I’m taking you to a therapist!”. A therapist is his friend, not some ogre that’s getting ready to eat him up! You will not only aggravate the problematic behavior by threatening him like this, but will also make him averse to positive therapy, which will make it that much more difficult for him to improve.
Explain the process.
Don’t fib to the child about going to the therapist by making up things like “it’s us who are going to the doctor”, or “it’s just a general doctor for your cold and cough”. Lying never helps. Instead, tell him that it’s a nice lady/gentleman who just wants to ask him some questions and maybe even play with him. A child therapist will always have crayons, art supplies, puppets and toys in the clinic so you can mention these things to the child to make him look forward to the appointment. But don’t say anything about the behavior you’re taking him in for. Leave it to the doctor.
Get online and look for parental groups where people like you have taken children to therapy. Try to read the positive feedback on the process. Read up on how therapy works and communicate with other parents who have been through it. They will be able to give you an open-mind perspective to the whole process.
Once you have zeroed in on a therapist, make sure you inform the child’s teachers and other caregivers (like daycare staff etc) that they may be involved in the therapy process too and request them to keep this confidential and not let it reflect in their dealing with the child in class and school.
Get ready yourself.
Before you put your child in therapy, you first have to understand and accept that it is actually family therapy when it comes to a child. You can’t just take the child in and think that you’ve done your job and the therapist will take it from there. A child’s therapy involves reforming and restructuring his entire environment right from home, to school to even his playground. So be prepared to be involved in his therapy every step of the way and work hard.
Finally, do not feel ashamed that you have to consult a therapist. Your scorn will rub off on your child and he will recede further into his shell. In fact you should be proud that you have taken a step towards your child’s betterment that many parents shy of. You’re progressive and moving with the times. With the new media age it is almost impossible for parents to be able to tackle every issue alone. So if you have recognized the need for a therapist, more power to you. You’re a good example for the society!
If you can prepare yourself thus, you would be the ideal parents for any therapist and will be able to participate in your child’s progress with a worry-free heart!’