How do parents know when its time to ask for strategies from a professional?
Recently I’ve witnessed some really stressed out parents who are constantly on their children’s case nagging and correcting them continuously. All appear miserable, the mother is in this world of ‘I need to keep them in line’ and the kids continue to misbehave. Usually I think, if only….. that person asked for some strategies from a psychologist they could change their whole lives around. Interact differently, enjoy being with each other and above all relax, no more nagging.
However we live in a world of D.I.Y. were we need to be the expert on everything and if we’re not then all we need is a bit of D.I.Y. information. For example, if we’re feeling sick? We look up our symptoms on Google and diagnose ourselves. Need to learn how to manage your portfolio then we buy a self-help book on shares and financial management. Now what about parenting? Yep, just look up the topic you need to know more on or the behaviour problem you want to solve on Google and Bingo….out comes a stream of information about bedwetting or sibling rivalry. Problem solved? Not necessarily.
You end up more informed and with a vast array of information or facts. The missing link in all this information is experience. This is what you “pay” a professional for.
You may have pages upon pages of information from Google that you dutifully read and feel the expert, but are you? Does it solve your problem? The difference between google and an expert is all the hours and hours of experience, they can tell you practically what will actually work and what doesn’t. They have seen a mirad of different situations with the same problem and can save you many attempts at trying to solve the problem.
So then when do we seek professional help and when should we? A lot of the parents I see tend to leave seeking help until the ‘problem’ has continued for quite a long time, they tell themselves that their child will grow out of it, they just need to give them a bit more time. It is usually when a deadline comes up or they can’t avoid it any longer. Like mum needs to go back to work in 3 weeks and their baby still is awake 6 times a night. Their child needs to go on school camp and their anxiety needs to be addressed. A preschooler needs to start prep and their issues need to be sorted. It’s then that parents are motivated to act and solve the issue at hand.
When should we seek professional assistance? In my opinion as soon as you have been making excuses for a child’s behaviour for more than 3 months, or pretending that it isn’t really a problem. It might help to ask yourself these questions and If you answer ‘yes’ to any - it’s time to google an appropriate professional.
- Has this behaviour / problem been going on for more than 3 months?
- Do I tell myself they will grow out of it in a bit more time?
- Have you tried lots of strategies but the problem still persists?
- Are you unhappy with your current parenting approach?
- Do you put off seeking assistance because of cost?
Most parents I deal with only need a couple of appointments and the problem is solved quickly, seeking a psychologist’s assistance does not involve months and months of appointments.
As for cost, today all consultations are claimable on private health funds or Medicare and you probably only pay half the initial fee.
Remember that you are the hard-working parent, not the expert on ‘children’s behaviour’ and that a little help will make you a better parent.