How did you get here?
You aren’t a bad parent. In fact, it seems like you’ve put more work into helping your child to overcome life’s challenges than the average parent.
You stayed awake at night, agonizing over the best decisions for your child, often times over-thinking what the best way was to handle these behaviors, and yet these behaviors have continued to get worse and worse.
You feel like you’ve tried everything and you know that you need some help, but now that you’re considering getting your child into counseling, you have this cloud of guilt and worry surrounding you.
- I’m looking into play therapy for my kid. What does that say about me as a parent?
- Is my child crazy? No one else I know is taking their child to counseling. Maybe I should just keep trying things on my own.
- I know the problems are real and serious, but I just can’t bring myself to accept that my toddler / preschooler needs therapy. Isn’t that way too young?
I’m here to tell you that you are NOT a bad parent. The challenges your child is experiencing are not all your fault and have occurred because of one of the following reasons:
Your Child Has a Unique Personality
First, it’s likely that you simply have a unique child who has a way of experiencing and responding to the world that is different than those other children who aren’t going to counseling. Your approaches so far to try to help your child to cope with those challenges and improve those behaviors have been valiant efforts, educated by the hours of research and care that you put into trying to help your child.
But ultimately, because your child has a different personality than your friends’ kids or the other kids at daycare and preschool, even though those tried and true approaches work for other parents, they just don’t seem to work when you use them.
You’re frustrated and want to stop wasting time using those discipline techniques that don’t work, and start using techniques that will actually work with the kid you’ve got (not the image of the child you thought you’d have during those pregnancy day dreams).
An Emotional Event or Experience
Another reason that your child may be experiencing some challenging behaviors is because—despite your best efforts—you were unable to protect your child from some frustrating, emotionally-draining experiences that have now resulted in your child using some challenging behaviors as a response or coping mechanism to these events.
You’ve tried everything, but despite your best intentions, you haven’t been able to help your child to get through this experience and come out on top. You’re hopeful that talking to a counselor might give your child that extra boost needed to overcome these experiences and return to a somewhat normal childhood again.
Counseling Can Help (And It Isn’t As Awkward As You Think It Will Be)
I’m here to help you and your child through these challenges. I provide play therapy to children up to 10 years of age to help children use the fun of play to develop the skills necessary to improve their challenging behaviors and work through some of the strong emotions that can be present after living through a challenging experience.
Throw out the stereotypical, stigma-laden image of “traditional therapy” that you have in your head and replace it with an image of your child running into a room filled with toys, smiling as they talk non-stop about how much fun they had playing and asking, “When do I get to play with Emily again?” throughout the week.
When your child steps into my playroom, they won’t feel like they’re at counseling. Actually, most of them don’t even know that they’re in counseling and they describe me as the fun lady with lots of toys. Your child will have fun playing, and will learn new skills to improve their behaviors, coping mechanisms and responses to challenging experiences, but will never even know that they’re “learning” anything, because they’re having so much fun.
Does Coming to Counseling Mean I’m a Bad Parent?
If you’re worried that bringing your child to counseling makes you a bad parent, don’t be. You’re a good parent, and your child just needs a little extra help learning the skills that will help them to make better choices and know how to cope with challenges better. I’ll help you both to make sure that happens.
Will Coming to Counseling Make My Kid Feel Bad?
If you’re worried about the stigma of counseling for your child, don’t be. Your child will have a blast and you’ll feel welcomed and supported while we work together to find playful ways to solve your child’s most challenging problems. You won’t leave my office feeling like you were in counseling; you’ll leave feeling like you just had coffee with a great friend.
Is My Child Old Enough for Counseling?
If you’re worried that your child is too young for counseling, don’t be. Play therapy is a research-based approach that helps young children to develop skills to improve their behaviors and learn new ways of coping with challenges. Behaviors tend to worsen over time without intervention, yet parents and even some professionals believe that they should just wait until the elementary school years because things will work themselves out. Problems rarely work themselves out without intervention and it’s a much better idea to bring your child in now, before the behaviors become even more severe.
When Is It a Good Time to Seek Counseling for My Kid?
If you’re worried about your child’s behaviors and you’ve started looking at counseling, it’s time. All children can benefit from play therapy, even kids who are showing very developmentally appropriate behaviors. Play therapy helps to accelerate the child’s development of appropriate social and emotional skills, such as understanding and managing emotions, dealing with challenges and frustrations, solving problems, interacting socially, and many other skills.
If your child is experiencing any of the challenges described below, I would suggest that you call me to get an appointment set up so that we can start working together to help your child to overcome these challenge and return to a more enjoyable childhood (for both of you!).
Encompass Mental Health provides counseling to children and their families in the forms of individual play therapy, sibling play therapy, family play therapy, family therapy, and even parenting therapy or parent coaching to improve the parents’ ability to help their children through whatever struggles they are facing.
Common Child Conditions
In young children, aggression can be a common part of life because kids have not yet learned how to manage their emotions. For some kids, aggression can get out of control and can lead to difficulties at home and school. If you have concerns about a child’s aggression, learn more about aggression and what services can be offered at Encompass Mental Health to help children manage their aggression.
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects the child’s ability to pay attention and manage energy levels to function in daily life. If you have concerns about a child’s ability to sustain attention or regulate activity levels, learn more about ADHD, including what it is, how it is diagnosed, and the treatment process offered at Encompass Mental Health.
When a child experiences the death of a loved one, the response can include emotional and behavioral expressions that affect the child’s ability to function on a daily basis. If you have concerns about a child who has experienced the death of a loved one, learn more about how children process grief and about the services that Encompass Mental Health offers to children who are dealing with grief.
When a child is oppositional and/or defiant, the child refuses to do things that an adult or other authority asks the child to do, and might even do the exact opposite. If you have concerns about a child who is oppositional and/or defiant, learn more about the symptoms associated with ODD and how Encompass Mental Health treats this disorder, and other disorders involving opposition and/or defiance.
Conflict between children and parents can arise pretty easily once children learn that their parents are supposed to be in charge. Some children will comply with little arguing because they’ve learned that this is just how the world works, but other children with strong personalities may choose arguing and defiance as a response to adult commands. If you are concerned about conflict between a parent and a child, learn more about parent-child therapy services at Encompass Mental Health.
When a child has experienced a neglectful or pathological caregiving environment in the early childhood years, symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) may develop. If you have concerns about a child’s ability to attach to a parent, teacher or caregiver, learn more about attachment-related behaviors and what services Encompass Mental Health offers to treat children with this condition.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects the way the body processes and responds to sensory stimuli. Children with SPD may experience dulled or over-amplified senses, which may cause behavioral problems, anxiety and other difficulties. If you are concerned about the way a child reacts to certain senses, learn more about SPD and what services Encompass Mental Health can offer to treat it.