How To Talk to Your Child About Treatment
Look for a calm, quiet time to discuss the matter with your child. Expect to take 5 to 15 minutes, tops. This should not be a long-winded lecture or big argument or debate. You’re expressing your caring concern for your child and explaining the steps you’re taking to get some help for recent difficulties.
Mention that you want to calmly discuss some of the recent difficulties you’ve witnessed or experienced with your child (eg., excessive crying or worrying or talking back or getting in trouble or being upset or struggling at school…). Acknowledge your child’s pain or difficulty with compassionate understanding. Also acknowledge your own difficulties (eg., times you’ve lost it, over-reacted, or struggled to figure out how best to address this with your child…).
Reassure your child that you want them to be happier and get along better. You don’t want them to experience this much suffering or difficulty. You want things to be easier for them, and for you. Find common ground where you can both agree that there is a problem, and it would be nice if it could be better somehow.
Then, introduce the idea that you know of a child doctor/psychologist/therapist/counselor (I don’t care, whatever works!) who helps kids and families with exactly this kind of problem.
You can add any positive expectations or opinions you may honestly have about me – to help reassure your child that you’ll all be in good hands.
Briefly explain the upcoming process: first the parents will meet with me (or already have) to share your concerns, hopes, and goals. Then your child will have their turn to let me know what they think! Let them know that they’ll typically have their own initial appointment with me (after yours), for us to just get to know each other, find out what’s going on, learn about things they like and don’t like, and explore how they’d like things to be different.
After the initial parent and child appointments, we will meet all together for a feedback session to gain a common understanding of what’s the matter, and co-create a specific treatment plan for how we can work together to make things better.
Simple, straight-forward, honest, and caring. That’s how I work. And that’s how we’ll work together. So, it’s very important to get started on this footing with your child, regardless of age or temperament. Of course, adjust as you see fit – you know your child best.