Taking Your Child to Therapy: Making the Decision

4 minutes Written by Sydney Armitage

Being unable to find out what your child needs or how to help them can make any caregiver feel overwhelmed and powerless. However, admitting to yourself that your child may need therapy is a huge step. That’s why you’re here. By visiting this page, you’ve already done one of the hardest parts in seeking help for your child. 

Although therapy has become more normalized in recent years, you might be worried you’ll be judged by family or peers for taking your child to therapy. Or maybe you’re worried that your child will be judged for attending therapy, or both. Society puts so much pressure on caregivers to know everything and never make mistakes. That’s impossible. You can’t know everything. Taking your child to therapy allows you to learn about them and about yourself. Therapists spend years studying how our minds and bodies respond to our environments so that we can share this knowledge with you and give you tools to help your child. 

Here are a few things you will learn in taking your child to therapy: 

1. How the brain and body react to different situations and emotions

Many children who “act out” are often experiencing anxiety or exhibiting symptoms of trauma. If you have been told your child may have behavioral problems, taking them to therapy can help you learn what is happening in their mind and body in these difficult moments. Too often, children are labeled as “bad kids”

when they are simply responding to the signals their mind and body are sending them.

2. How you can best support your child when they are experiencing difficult emotions

This is one of the most important things you will learn in taking your child to therapy. Your child will learn different tools to regulate their emotions. They will need your help implementing the tools in moments of high stress. Children often want their caregiver to engage in the tools with them. When children are angry and upset (often with their caregiver), many caregivers believe that they should leave them alone to calm down. However, many children I have worked with say that their caregiver is who they want to be within moments of high stress.

3. How you can communicate effectively

When your child is upset about something, it’s natural to want to solve the problem right away. What children often need, though, is to be validated and feel like they have been heard. Therapy can help you and your child determine the best way to communicate in times of stress.

4. How you can regulate your own emotions

You’re human. You have emotions. That’s okay. Taking your child to therapy can help you better understand and regulate your own emotions so that you can support yourself and your child.

5. How to develop compassion for your child and yourself

No one wants to admit it, but it can be hard to demonstrate compassion when your child is screaming, throwing things, or saying hurtful things to you. Understanding what’s going on beneath the surface can help you find that compassion for your child. Self-compassion is also incredibly important (here’s one of my favorite resources to help caregivers develop self-compassion). Being critical of yourself in difficult moments only makes it worse. Finding ways to be kind to yourself can be relieving and liberating.

As a therapist, I’m not here to step between you and your child and point out what you’re doing wrong. I’m here to stand beside you and your child, giving you both the tools you need to help your child understand their emotions, communicate their needs, and live a joyful life. Therapy takes time, patience, and commitment. Things are not going to change overnight, but I think you’ll be surprised that simple changes can make a huge difference. 

There’s no shame in needing help, and you are showing strength and compassion by taking these first steps.. If you want to learn more about what therapy would look like for your child specifically, feel free to reach out and schedule a free 15 minute consultation

 

Avatar Sydney Armitage

Written by Sydney Armitage

Sydney Armitage is a therapist in Maryland who specializes in family and individual therapy.