Deciding to get outside help for your child’s behaviors can be a surprisingly difficult decision. Not only do we worry about the stigma of seeing a therapist or psychiatrist, we also worry about placing ourselves under a microscope to be evaluated and judged as a parent.
I would like to let you know that you are not alone in this regard. No matter how confident you may have been in your parenting skills in the past, once your child starts struggling, you begin to question every decision you have ever made as a parent. We have been so bombarded with information about best parenting practices that we feel as if we have to be perfect or else our children will grow up unhappy. So if our child is struggling it must be our fault.
Let me relieve some of this guilt for you. Studies show that mental illness has a genetic component. This means that your child may have inherited the illness (if there is one). The belief is that some people are predisposed to developing a mental illness. Although, it is still believed that there has to be an environmental trigger. But this could be anything that the person’s mind considered traumatic. For my child, the trigger was the movie the Mummy. Now do I believe that if he never watched the Mummy he would not have developed the illness? No, I think that for him, there were already signs developing along the way. This was just the inciting incident for him, but it would likely have been something else later.
I strongly encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional if you even suspect there may be something going on. Time goes by swiftly and therapy and finding the right medications (if needed) can take up a lot of it.
When seeking a therapist, counselor or psychiatrist, try to find one that specializes in pediatric care. There is a huge difference between children with a mental illness and an adult. You will also want to make a list of any concerns you have. What behaviors have you seen that are concerning to you or others? Are they sad or anxious? When or where are these behaviors occurring? Is everything okay at home but they struggle with school or vice versa? The more you can document what has been occurring and for how long, the better the doctor or clinician will be able to help.
This may be a long road you are embarking on. But with proper support and education, the road can be a lot smoother than it has been for many of us. I hope to be able to provide some of that here on my blog. So please come back to find more information to help you along the way.