Long are the days when going to a counselor was seen as odd or abnormal. Nowadays kids talk about their therapists at the lunch table and as a kid that I see said recently, “You know a girl in my class. You’re her therapist too!” When I asked how she knew this she simply said, “the pick-up line,” like I should have known. Second graders are now talking about their therapists in the pick-up line – when did this start happening?
It’s been happening for only a short while, it seems. Counselors used to be considered to see only those with “problems” or “when something was very wrong.” Now adults and kids are seeking help when there is a bump in the road – rather than waiting for a 10-car pileup to occur. Is this good? Yes. Most definitely. Especially for kids.
Kids have this unique ability to fall and get up hundreds of times without getting hurt. They trip, stumble, crash…only to get up, wipe themselves off and say, “I’m fine.” Why is this? Because, literally they are. Their bodies are agile. Their bones are strong. They don’t get sciatica (like I do) when they sit for too long. Their brains are very much the same. In Why Smart Kids Worry, I talk about Neuroplasticity (a term you should definitely check out if you already haven’t) which suggests that our brains have the ability to change, and this is even more so for kids. Kids are able to make giant leaps with the right type of counseling, assistance and help – so why not? Why not help kids while they are still kids. It makes perfect sense.
What many people haven’t considered is that counseling, while it provides tools, guidance, support, etc., it also provides a bridge between home and school. As a parent, you know the difference between your “home” child and your “school” child. “Home Devil/Street Angel” is what it is often referred to. It’s as if you go to a parent/teacher conference and learn about this wonderful, darling child (whom you’ve never met because you’ve never seen him!) and you go home to find that same wonderful, darling child throwing a temper tantrum in the floor because his sister got more ice cream.
Does this mean your child has split personalities? Is there something wrong with your perception of him or her? No. It’s that your child feels safe at home and where there is safety there is often disruption. Counseling allows a bridge to form between the behavior at home and the behavior at school to become a more congruent existence for your child. Counseling can help you learn how to handle those difficult moments at home while helping your child become more authentic at school. When these two dynamics merge, kids get better. And as I always say, “happy kids behave.”
In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. If you think of your child and/or your parenting in this way, you wouldn’t just think about your child’s behavior now or how it’s affecting him this year. You would ask, “How would this affect him in Middle School or High School? What will this look like at 16?”
The good news: There are plenty of good counselors out there – thanks to all of those kids in the pick-up line talking about their great experiences in therapy. Where their is demand, their will be supply. Kids, after all, are our best marketers.