Seeking counseling can carry a stigma. When we finally decided to seek counseling with our 4-year-old, I’m sure people thought we were nuts. Getting help was something recommended by Springling Therapy (see my post about how amazing it is here) and I decided to follow through with the suggestion. Our darling Josie was angry, violent, impulsive and could throw screaming fits up to 2 hours long…multiple times a day. We called her “the difficult child”, although my cousin suggested a better and more positive term, “the passionate child”. After settling on a Social Worker at a wonderful children’s clinic, we dove in. I learned so much and I’m so glad that we went. Here is what I learned in counseling with my child:
- Shop around for a good counselor. We looked into a Psychologist specializing in children, but after 2 sessions and no suggestions or real interaction with my daughter, we decided on a Social Worker who involved play therapy. Everyone’s situation is different, so shop around, read reviews, and test the waters for a session or two until you find a good fit.
- A child’s prefrontal cortex is not yet developed and can be significantly immature in some children. Until that prefrontal cortex matures, some children have an impulse-like nature. This just takes time, but training the brain with consistency is key. It is important for children to be taught coping mechanisms. My daughter’s social worker was great at helping us come up with lots of ideas for this!
- Current and past events in a child’s life can have a profound affect. My father is going through a very devastating and swift-taking illness. My daughter, who had previously been quite involved with her grandfather, was now watching him disintegrate. She started going through extreme separation anxiety and the counselor helped us figure out that her little mind associated grandpa dying with the thought of me or her dying if we weren’t together. Together we came up with some great solutions that have almost completely dissolved the issue. Really everything a child goes through affects her life.
- Punishments are often ineffective. The counselor helped me realize that sometimes my child really just needs a hug, some attention, or to tell you something. There are certain acts that may require a punishment, but most can be corrected in a more effective way.
I have wondered throughout this process if taking a child to a counselor is really more for the parents than the child, but either way, we have seen such wonderful results and are glad we followed through! Have been to any type of counseling with your child? Did it help? I’d love to hear if your experience was a good as mine was when I went to a counselor with my child.