You want your child to be happy, confident, capable, and kind. You want him or her to behave at home and to succeed in school. When something seems wrong, you as a parent can’t help worrying that the problems are your fault. Let’s say you bring your child to me, a veteran child and family therapist. No problem when I see you in my kid-friendly office. But during this coronavirus pandemic we have hit a snag: we cannot meet in person right now. We are stuck with telemedicine–therapeutic contacts delivered via Zoom, Goodle Duo, Doxy.me, or WhatsApp, all of which are a poor substitute for face-to-face sessions.
I do not recommend virtual therapy for your preadolescent child. Teletherapy is too confrontational, too confined, for this age group. There’s no room for the child and the therapist to just sit together. Your child doesn’t get to relax. Kids generally share themselves most freely when they are engaged in some activity, something that’s impossible during a Zoom session. But don’t despair. Under the best circumstances I am your consultant, and you are the true therapist. If you are willing to meet with me, a session involving one parent or two, I can show you how to help your struggling kid. You can try out my suggestions and come back to me for help fine-tuning. This approach may surprise you by being more effective than one-on-one sessions with your kid would be.
Here are just a few possible problems and possible solutions.
- If your child shows a loss of interest in favorite activities, poor appetite, trouble at school, and problems sleeping, we can find out what she is worried about. In therapy, she will learn to make requests, to negotiate solutions, and to express her feelings without embarrassment. She will then show us, with words and behavior, what she needs for greater success at home, with peers, or in school.
- If your child has problems with impulsivity, conflict with peers, and a tendency to lash out at others, we can discover the cause of these problems together, by watching him and listening. Focusing on his talents and strengths, you and I can teach him to like himself better, to organize himself efficiently, to honor his feelings, and to deal with conflict appropriately.
- If your child is withdrawing or isolating, refusing to listen to adults, and trying to play her parents off against each other, she may be worried about conflict between the two of you. If so, you and your partner can make peace, improve communication, and reassure her that her world (the two of you) is not about to collapse. You can both also learn to send her consistent messages about the behavior you expect from her.
- Sometimes a child will suddenly act babyish or exhibit nervous habits that interfere with school and social life. These problems can be triggered by transitions or major changes in his life or in your family’s situation. Age-appropriate explanations can help him understand the situation. He will also be better able to manage his anxiety if you make his life more predictable from day to day and from week to week.
These are just a few possible scenarios. Whatever the issues, when you and I sit down together, you will teach me about your child, your family, and your concerns. We will address any mental health issues together. We will jointly plan your child’s treatment, deciding where to focus our attention, how to use play therapy and other strategies, and how best to combine individual and family counseling sessions. You and I will move forward as a team. An experienced therapist can offer your child not just ways of being happier and more successful at home and at school but also an opportunity for exploration, self-discovery, sharing, and fun learning. As your child’s therapist it is also my job to provide you, the parents, with support, resources, and appreciation for your heroic efforts. You and I will meet as often as necessary so that I can get feedback and so that we can reassess the progress we are making on your goals. Call 860-231-1997 or email me today for an appointment or for more information.