as a well-seasoned mother of three children, i know the healing power of a Band-Aid. as an adult we understand that the Band-Aid is intended more to give attention to both real and imaginary problems, and it works. the child identifies a harm and moments later the child has physical proof of a remedy. it works. what happens when our babies are crying out for an emotional Band-Aid. they’ve had their feelings hurt; they’ve been disappointed; it could be an unexpected move to a new school; the loss of a friend; a misunderstanding at the play ground; divorce; or just the drama of life.
each year i take my children in to see their pediatrician for their wellness checkup. each year the report is good. no signs of illness, problems with their growth, their intellect and/or diet. then there was one wellness visit that struck a cord with me. during the time of my separation with my ex-husband, i informed all of my children’ teachers – mainly because i needed eyes on my children during this fragile time. so anyway, at this wellness visit the doctor asked if anything at home change? oh what a deep sigh i had. after explaining what had changed, she asked if i’d ever thought about talk therapy for the children. instantly at that moment a lightbulb came on!
true enough my children are straight A students, well-mannered and just overall great kids, but after playing around with the thought i finally made an appointment. to say the least, i was excited for my children to be embarking on a different type of journey that would help with their health mentally. i’m always thinking about how my children are processing their thoughts. i often find myself hesitating to interrupt their conversations among one another for the fact that i’m observing their reactions and/or responses.
i’ve always associated a visit to see a therapist with some form of mental illness – but that’s not always the case. with my children, there were no signs of mental illness, but they had experienced trauma. although my children were much younger when their father and i divorced, their world was torn apart. if divorce is a traumatic experience for the two adults involved, can you imagine what the child(ren) are feeling? my daughter went from being a chatty and energetic little girl with the most elaborate imagination to a soft spoken, mild mannered reclusive little girl. my middle child, who was the easiest to potty train, self feed, and joyful little toddler all of sudden cried and whined non-stop, began wetting the bed and found himself not wanting to play or talk. lastly, my then 5 month-old found himself without the presence of his father coming home to him everyday, not knowing his dad’s scent and being able to familiarize his voice. it wasn’t until he was about three-in-a-half years old until he really connected with their dad. for me as their mother, i considered this traumatic.
there were times people would tell me that my children will be “okay” and that children are resilient. even if that were true, it never eased my concern. see, my children couldn’t articulate what was going on with them emotionally, but i could see it. and even though i tried to keep life “normal” for them, it just
wasn’t any longer. through their lens what had been a normal life had now turned into sadness and confusion. I’d like to consider myself as a very good communicator to my children and i most definitely show and express love to them. however, i too had to collect my thoughts on how to restart our lives
again. yet i had the luxury of venting my frustrations and releasing the pain onto my friends and my sister, but my children were left to bottle up what they could not articulate from themselves.
a couple of weeks before they met their therapist, there were a few key points that i felt the need to express to my children. for starters, i made sure that they knew that nothing was “wrong” with them. even though i’m present in their lives and i have a solid bond with them, i still don’t know their every thought. i can’t possibly understand everything that their minds have process each day. however, i needed them to know that this was okay. secondly, a trained professional can have a different scope on their emotions and could aid them in articulating exactly what they’re experiencing 0END.0. i also reassured my children that their therapist is a safe person who will not abuse their information that they are willing to share. once their sessions begun, i could see a bit of release from the two oldest immediately. with my youngest, he enjoyed having “his time” alone and started looking forward to it each week.
naturally, i care about my children’s well-being so much so that i would place them in the care of a child therapist. clinically nothing is alarming with them, but there is no harm in preventive measures. which means, there is also nothing wrong with speaking to a therapist. my main goal is to make sure their spirits don’t get contaminated from their internal misconceptions. also, having repressed emotions could comeback to haunt them later in life. i have come in contact with so many people who are angry, who have been molested, heart-broken, upset with family, and a host of many of their mental 3 that it amazes me to see how they have been able to mask it throughout their life spans.
if i can assist my children in their individual journeys of healing, discovery, reconciliation, grief, forgiveness, understanding, triumph and recovery in their youth, then it’s worth the effort. the world has so many rules pertaining to the roles of girls and boys and what they should and should not express emotionally. i refuse to train my boys to withhold their feelings – they are human, we all have feelings! i also think about the type of men i would like to see my boys grow into. ideally, i know what i want for them, however whats important is for them to be able to communicate effectively and know how to manage what they’re feeling. for my daughter, she too needs to be comfortable with her voice, her body, her walk and her choices. she needs to always know that her presence matters and that she is more than enough how she is. we can lose our girls during their teens due to the lack of self-awareness and esteem. i refuse to overlook her by assuming that she “looks fine”.
moral of my story is that therapy should always be an option for your child. i’ve noticed that with my children, talking about things gives that “thing” shape. it has helped them to be able to wrap their little minds around it. also, they’ve become more aware of what is making them feel anxious, sad, angry or frustrated. the reward has been that they have become freer to decide how to manage these feelings or take action to alleviate them by using their words and being present in the moment. so just as you take your child in for their physical wellness checkup, having a mental wellness checkup would not hurt either because – it works!
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