When children are in dire need of mental help due to depression, there’s no easy way to relate to them that psychological therapy is a must because most of the time, for various reasons, these kids are apprehensive to get mental treatment.
Breaking the news gently to your depressed child is difficult because you are anxious about his or her reaction to the scary notion of therapy.
Is your child going to be angry or defensive? Or will your son or daughter form this idea that you see him or her as somebody who’s broken and needs fixing? How do parents let their children understand the concept of therapy and how should it be introduced in a way that won’t offend them?
Introducing Therapy To Your Kids
Usually, children who are dealing with depression, who are aware that they are going through a dark tunnel, are easier to convince than those who don’t believe or are in denial that they are in emotional pain.
“Some parents experience grief and loss while their child feels abandoned or unloved,” says Támara Hill, MS, LPC. “Some kids become very angry with their parents and may resent them.”
Before diving into the unknown, parents must first expect the worse. And what that means is that parents should be prepared for whatever reaction their kids might have. So how do parents introduce therapy to their depressed children without being seen as aggressive or domineering and without being offensive?
- Timing Is Important
Wait for things to calm down; don’t tell your child that he or she must be sent to counseling during heated or chaotic moments. Wait for situations to calm down then raise the concern. Children who are experiencing depression may become riled up and might immediately become upset.
- Confess The Problem
Children appreciate it when they are not lied to. Once you get the chance to talk to them, you should first air out that you’re merely concerned and worried about their condition. Divulge your observations calmly and soothingly.
- Explain The Solution
As parents, you wish you could be enough for what your child needs and magically make the condition disappear. Unfortunately, life’s not like that. There are still problems that are entirely out of your hands unless you’re a licensed therapist. The moment you’ve elaborated the depressive symptoms and offered compassion, inform your child that there is a way out of the condition. If children show the willingness to listen, grab the opportunity to thoroughly explain what therapy is. Also, provide information on why it is needed and how it can help in dealing with their depressive symptoms. “Therapy is kind of like going to a personal trainer. The two of you develop goals and a plan of action, the professional guides and supports, and you do the heavy lifting to reap the benefits,” says Ryan Howes, Ph.D.
- Don’t Give Up
Being turned down is part of the therapy introduction process, but the important thing is that you’ve aired out your concerns and have placed the solution on the table. It will take some time for your child to digest the reality that there’s something deeply wrong with him or her and psychological help is required.
“It takes time to see progress. Everyone moves at different paces in therapy,” says Helen Nieves, LMHC.
So don’t give up just yet. Allow the truth to sink in; eventually, children will realize that you are only doing this for their good. Don’t get discouraged and continually be comforting and understanding.
Remember that therapy is just the start of successful treatment. Once your child agrees to see a therapist, the parents must follow and support the therapeutic plan all the way through. Always offer encouragements and make your children feel that they are not alone in their battle against depression.