How to Get My Child Down for Counselling
You find your son is using the computer quite excessively. You think it’s problematic and you want to set him right again. Hence, you call up a counselling centre to arrange for a session – but your son is resistant. He doesn’t like the idea of going somewhere to be “straightened up”. He could be thinking this: “What if they make me quit gaming?” “This is my mother’s way of controlling me.” “If I change, my controlling parents will think their methods are effective, so I must never give in.”
Perhaps you are hoping counsellors will have a way that will get your child to listen to you.
However, counselling is about advocating for the clients’ best interests, and not about persuading them to change. What we can do is: analyse with them, weigh out options, identify alternatives, or even facilitate more effective family discussions. You see, sometimes advocating change for another individual requires us to first flow with his/her resistance, then find common ground for wanting change. Forcing our way into another’s will is counteractive.
Here’s what the counsellors at TOUCH Youth Intervention have for parents to consider before sending their child for counselling.
- Counselling is not where you fix your child.
Who wants to enter a place where people are waiting to change their will? “Change” can be an off-putting word to children who have heard it many times within the context of “how lazy, or irresponsible, or bad they have become”.
What was your intention to send your children for counselling? As parents, we want to protect our children from every possible bad consequence of their choices. We can’t.
Excessive gaming is a vice to clients who need an outlet for their lack of real-life esteem, motivation, peace of mind, etc. Is there a need in their lives we are not listening to enough?
Counsellors will be telling our children: “You are not here as a problem to be fixed.” Are they echoing you? The problem is the problem. And the problem has robbed us of our focus – what we really want in life.
- Your child needs his/her own buy-in.
Problem awareness has two aspects in addiction-counselling. 1. Does the Identified Client (IC) think he/she is using the internet too much? 2. Does the IC think his/her excessive usage is causing problems or leading him/her to place he/she wouldn’t want to go?
You can have a conversation with your child to talk about his/her internet usage. Talk to him/her about the effects of his/her current usage. Ask him/her if these effects are what he/she wants in the long run. Assure him/her you are not trying to control or make him/her stop completely. Be fair-minded about their wants and needs, but also be firm about what boundaries should never be crossed.
If the family has been fighting over this issue, let him/her know how you feel about it and propose the need for family therapy. Explain to him/her what counselling is and isn’t.
- Your child wants you to work on something too.
Assure your commitment to the change you all want to see. Assure your openness to the therapy, that should you realise your shortcomings you would too be putting in effort to adjust yourself.
Perhaps you have been a very conscientious and fair-minded parent to a very unappreciative child. Hearing out what your child wants and have the counsellor facilitate a discussion between you and your child is a good way to advocate for both sides.
Be involved in the counselling journey and let your child change you too.
Counselling is the family’s opportunity to iron out issues, navigate more effective interaction patterns, and build stronger bonds. These considerations are a good way to kick-start your family’s counselling journey. You may approach one of our counsellors through our helpline for a consultation or to enquire about available counselling services.