Getting your child started with a new counsellor can be a tricky parenting hurdle. Depending on your child, getting them into a counselling office can be a tough sell. Often kids are open to the experience but there are a variety of negative reactions to seeing a therapist ranging from slight opposition to flat out refusal.
Below are a few strategies you can use to set your child up for the best counselling experience possible!
· Let your child know that they are going to see a counsellor – the “surprise” approach to counselling can create a large rupture between your child and their counsellor before they even meet
· When you let your child know they will be seeing a counsellor encourage them to ask any questions they may have
· If they have any questions you can’t answer encourage them to ask their counsellor at their first appointment
· If your child is feeling nervous about seeing a counsellor walking by the office a few days before their first appointment is helpful to orient them
· Don’t use counselling as punishment or as a consequence for “bad behaviour”
· Try not to bring your child in for counselling appointments hungry – low blood sugar has been known to impede the therapeutic process
· Whenever possible, try not to schedule appointments during your child’s preferred activities – if they spend their counselling time wishing they were at soccer it can hamper the therapeutic benefits
· Be mindful not to single out your child in front of siblings or peers by pointing out that they are seeing a counsellor
· Normalize the counselling experience for your child and make it clear that being in counselling doesn’t mean they are a “bad kid”
Children can greatly benefit from counselling for a variety of challenges. If you’ve decided it’s time for your child to see a counsellor the above strategies will help set you and your child up for success.
Every situation is unique and counsellors can provide more specific information depending on what challenges your child is facing. If you have any other questions schedule a time to speak to your child’s counsellor for further strategies.
Best of luck!