It's difficult to describe what it's like to watch your child struggle with their mental health. It made me feel so helpless. It wasn't until I went to therapy with my daughter, that I really started understanding what was going on in her amazing mind and what she needed from me to feel better (or at least to know I was in her corner). It taught me so much about her and myself, so it's safe to say going to therapy with my kids has seriously changed my parenting for the better. Seriously.
Sending my daughter to therapy felt so weird and uncomfortable, at least initially. It's funny, I have personally found therapy to be seriously helpful in my life, but I guess it never occurred to me that my kids could benefit from therapy, too. It was hard for me to admit that I didn't have all of the answers and that I didn't know how to make things better. When our family doctor recommended therapy for my daughter, I was more than a bit afraid and ambivalent.
I can honestly tell you that going to therapy with my kid has not only made a huge difference in her confidence, self-esteem, mood, behavior, and ability to focus, but it's made me a better parent in so many ways, and has given me the tools to help all of my kids cope and navigate life when things are hard or don't go as planned.
I Understand What's Happening
When it was clear that my daughter was struggling, I had no idea what was going on. Why was my child behaving this way? Was it something I did? How could I help?
Going to therapy with her allowed me to hear from her what was happening, how she felt about it and perhaps, most importantly, how she was interpreting life and emotions in her tiny sparkly shoes. Perspective.
I'm More Patient
A wise person once told me, "Kids don't give you a hard time, they are having a hard time." Therapy has given me patience and empathy for my daughter. Now that I understand what's motivating her tantrums, anxiety, and defiance, I am way more patient with her than I was when I thought she was acting out to punish me.
I Have More Tools In My Tool Box
Her therapist has given me a lot of strategies and ideas for how to weather emotional storms. They don't always work, but I have things to try in moments of crisis and an objective person to offer ideas and help us plan for what to do and how to cope.
I Don't Freak Out As Much
Now that I am more aware of how my daughter is feeling and how her psychology is impacting her behavior, I am way more calm in situations when she is in crisis.
At least, I try to be.
I'm More Confident
I am way more confident in my ability to parent a child with special needs now that we have assistance from a knowledgeable professional. It helps that he reinforces this confidence by telling me that I am not alone and that I am doing the best that I can.
I Am Able To Give My Kids What They Need
Going to therapy with my daughter has given me many more opportunities to learn about what she needs from me. It's also helped me give my other kids what they need, too. I am a way better listener and more perceptive.
We Have More Fun
Life is so much happier now. I don't know if it's that we understand each other better, communicate better, like each other more, or all of the above, but whatever it is, it's working.
I'm A Better Advocate
I now feel so much better able to work with their school, teachers, and health professionals to advocate for my kids and make sure their needs are met.
I Am A Better Communicator
My daughter and I have a much more open relationship and talk more and more often about how we feel and the events, fears, and worries behind those feelings. It's weird, I love the one-on-one time we spend in the car together when we can talk about what we want to cover at therapy and then review the things we covered afterwards. I've started to try to have one-on-one time with my other kids, too, each day. It's honestly awesome.
I Learn When Things Go Wrong
Things go right so much more often now, but when things go wrong I learn from them rather than feeling helpless, angry, and sad all of the time. It helps to be able to review an event with my kid and, later in therapy, to figure out what went wrong and how we can potentially change things so they don't happen in the future.