The first three steps to helping your child with behaviour and emotions so
that you know how to get started and how to keep going!
Step 1.Know that you are not alone, although you may feel it, and that help is
there to be found.
Trust your instincts that you can help your child when armed with the right
information and right support. It’s easy to feel that other parents have their
shit together and know what they are doing. It’s a lie, most are making it up
as they go along, most have days they are totally overwhelmed and feel like
they are not doing a good enough job, as the demands of parenting and life
are high. It’s it’s the brave insightful parents that admit they need help and actually go
out in search of it. So reach out, ask around to others to see if they can
recommend someone to you, or just book that appointment with an attitude
of ‘it’s just an initial appointment to see if they are a good fit’.
Like all things in life, not every therapist will suit every individual, so if the first
professional you come across does not make you feel at ease and that you
are in a safe place, trust that instinct too and find another. Because when
you have that person, you can really start to get the support you and your
Step 2 is be prepared to put yourself under the microscope as well as your
child when you attend therapy. Which just means be prepared to look at
your own mindset. As parents are the biggest and most important influence
for our children, exploring our relationships with them, our reactions to them
and our beliefs about their behaviour, their capacity and your expectations
will come up. This is usually anxiety provoking for everyone, so expect it and
think about how you will manage it!
There is also temptation that once you get to therapy and feel that sense of
relief that you’ve gotten to the ‘professionals’ to believe that the
responsibility for change is now in their hands.
Unfortunately nothing so complex as learning skills to better our thinking and
feeling is changed by just one influence that quickly and easily. The interplay
and relationship between parents and children is quite vital to good mental
health and wellbeing. Regardless of regular therapy, children will continue to
need parents to be their guide, their support and their model for the skills
they are looking to acquire.
Even with regular input, there is a huge chunk of time between sessions that
needs to be seen as moments and opportunity for practicing the skills.
So resist the temptation to hand over control to others completely and if you
notice yourself feeling that way, it might mean that you are still overwhelmed
and likely need more support, just for you. Sometimes your child’s therapist
might be able to provide this and sometimes they may not and you may
need your own parent coach and support person for the journey.
The third step towards helping your child with their wellbeing is to set small
goals and celebrate the small wins and achievements along the way.
There will always been new challenges in parenting, there are likely to be
new stages, new demands and certainly new developmental periods that ask
more of us. The big picture is that parenting can feel relentless at times and that the goal of harmonious family life or ‘mental health and wellbeing’ can
sometimes feel like it stays just out of reach.
So set small goals for you and your child and celebrate these in a big way.
For example if you have a child that is a reluctant school attender and you
have a goal to get them to attend most days during a week, make sure you
make a big deal when they attend one day more easily, then have a bigger
reward for you both when you achieve this-make it a special outing or family
time or acknowledging how proud of them you are and what it feels like to
seem them achieve something difficult. When we do this, it creates joy,
enthusiasm and this creates energy to keep moving forwards onto more
The families that I have seen do this along the way, are actually enjoying the
process of therapy, can enjoy time with each other even during challenging
times and it’s like I’m watching the the bonds between parents and children
grow stronger before my eyes!
So no matter where you are in your parenting journey with your family, I’m
hopeful that one of these steps may help you towards the future that you all