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Is this "just a phase"? Or is it time for therapy?

Four Questions to Ask Yourself When Parenting is Difficult

As a children’s counselor, a certain question rumbles under the surface in many initial consultations: “Is this normal?” Most caregivers understand that some behaviors and challenges are to be expected in kids for a season. So it’s tough for parents to know when a child needs professional support.

Here are a few guiding questions to ask yourself.

What’s your level of parenting stress?

If your child's problems affect the relationship between you and your child, how you feel towards them, or if you feel incapable, then maybe it is time to consult a professional.

When you look around a group of kids the same age, is anyone else sharing this struggle?

If your child differs significantly from peers, then maybe these concerns are not part of the “typical” course of developmental challenges.

Does your child ask to meet with a counselor or special helper?

I’m excited every time I meet caregivers who honor this request from their kid. Even little ones could hear a friend or family member talking about therapy. And older kids or teens may need a new counselor even if they’ve worked through other concerns in past therapy.

Have you seen worsening of issues or behaviors?

Especially if you are the primary caregiver then I’m guessing you know this child better than anyone else. And you may be the first to know when your go-to maneuvers don’t help your kid return to their usual self.

Finally, you don’t have to be certain before you reach out. Lots of counselors offer a free initial phone call. Let the expert talk you through more questions like the ones above. If I can be of help to you, please contact me for a consultation.

About the author: Joy Cannon is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Play Therapist and National Certified Counselor providing group, individual and play therapy in her hometown of Austin, Texas. Her specialties include young children ages 3-7 years, caregivers of people with chronic illnesses or mental health diagnoses and intuitive, misunderstood women.

Disclaimer: The above information is intended to provide a general overview of mental health topics and child development. This information is not a replacement for professional psychotherapy or diagnosis. Seek consultation from a licensed professional for personalized treatment planning.

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