By Jaime Wyant
As our children grow, they pass certain milestones, many of which are physical or mental.
When children go to kindergarten, they have a physique. There’s another one in college. They get shots at certain times, they start seeing the dentist, and girls start menstruating at certain ages. All of these things are considered normal and part of growing up.
What about mental health checkups? We cannot forget that our children are also going through emotional changes.
A friend of mine told me that they had recently started asking their children to go for a “brain check” once a year. Basically, children will see a counselor/therapist at least once a year now that they are in their pre-teens.
It is then up to the child to decide if they want to come back more often and talk about more things or wait until next year. Their family has an open dialect all year round on this subject.
I’ve thought a lot about this conversation and I love this idea. Yes, therapy is not always covered by insurance, but many school districts in Omaha pay for some therapy sessions for children. My child’s district pays two per child, but I’m sure it varies, so be sure to talk to your school to see what may be covered.
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I think by teaching our kids that it’s okay to talk to other safe adults and that it’s okay to talk about their feelings, we can create more confident kids who know how to come to us if things such as bullying, depression, or eating disorders occur.
I am not naive, however. I realize that some children don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about embarrassing things. So if we give our kids another safe adult to talk to, it’s a win-win no matter the relationship.
I think that by setting a fixed age, it becomes less threatening for the child. Even at age 10, my daughter might think I’m worried about her or that something is wrong with her if I ask her to see a counsellor. However, by approaching it as a brain check and then giving her the option to continue or not, I think she will be absolutely comfortable.
There are certain situations where kids (and adults) absolutely need help getting to a good place mentally and that’s okay and shouldn’t be optional. I hope that by getting into the habit with my daughter while she is doing well overall, she will understand the benefits and not be so nervous or reluctant if a situation arises and she needs to talk to someone because it has become serious business. .
I know it might take us a few tries to find someone suitable for my child and that’s okay. I think just opening the conversation will be good for our whole family.
Ring below. Do your kids see a therapist as a preventative or confidence-building exercise? How have you noticed that counseling affects your child?
Jaime Wyant is a stay-at-home mom who was born and raised in Omaha. She enjoys reading, travelling, being outdoors and spending time with her family.