Friday, March 27, 2009

Who would put their 10 year old into counselling?

*puts one hand in the air*
That would be me.

*put up other hand*
And my husband.

It's been an interesting few weeks, we've been delving into 'causes' of our weight gain, and looking at our lives and the things that have caused our bodies to gain weight. A lot of the recent weight changes is just 'coping' with the changes in our lives due to have a child with special needs, and the personal guilt, anger, disappointment, resentment and so on through to the point of being 'ok' with it and continuing on with living in a good frame of mind rather than a guilty one.

So with all of that we have been looking at Daniel and what 'could' have caused his weight gain. We went back through the family photos and discovered that when he was in grade one, he was skinny as.. then from around the middle of grade two onwards he started to bulk up.

When we looked at the photos we realised a catalyst for him in his life has been his grade 2 teacher... she used to yell at the students and he would come home around once every 6weeks saying that she was shouting. At the time we didn't think a great deal of it, and tried to tell him perhaps the kids where being naughty. Wether it was that simple or not, it had a massive effect on him. So much so that when he started grade 3 he was so amazingly scared of going to school, we talked it through and we thought it was dealt with and we all moved on...

This year, with looking back at his life in photos, and talking to him about it we realised how much bigger this was for him. Then Sarah started saying that her teacher yelled at the kids and they would all get scared. Mommy Bear awoke at this point raised her head and decided to take it straight to the authorities... the school principal.

The night before I met with the principal I was talking with my Mother-in-Law about life and talked about this latest realisation we had. In discussion she talked about the chances are that Jono has also had a large impact on Daniel and told me about the times Daniel wasn't coping and would clench his fists in anger about things that jono was doing... At the time I was not able to see what was happening with him and I wasn't even aware of this going on. I've since seen it and talked with him about it.

So... in the principal's office we discussed the grade 2 teacher, the challenges of having a special needs child for us as a family and the difficulities that could be there for Daniel. She said that the school was going to have a counsellor once a week to the school to help children with things like this and would I like Daniel in the program. Half of me said yes, and half of me said 'what am I doing?'. Regardless, I booked him in. The counsellor was due in 2 days after I saw the principal... talk abut timing.

That night at dinner we talked with Daniel that he could have this person to talk to about 'anything', about his teachers, about his family life, about Mummy getting sad, about Daddy getting frustrated, about him getting frustrated, everything was open for him to talk about, and that this person can give him ideas and suggestions to help him out both at school and at home.

He was really interested to understand all about the counsellor and wanted to know everything I talked about with the principal. A few days later he had his first session. When he got home we asked him how it all went. He enjoyed it and was really happy to go, so much so that he asked to go again the next day. I don't know how much he really got to discuss that first day, or if he's just excited to be missing out on school, but I'm happy he's happy with it, and that he has an outlet and an option for him.

We all need support, and sometimes it turns up in unexpected ways.


  1. My young son has been in and out of counseling since he was 8 or 9 years old. I thoroughly recommend it.

    There is such a stigma against getting mental health help, and yet, if our child ran a fever for more than 24 hours, we would not hesitate to take them to the physical health doctor.

    With all the understanding and advances science has made regarding the human brain, how we think and interact, I still find families desperately needing help, but not seeking it. It happens because of fear and denial of a problem to not wanting to admit any mental weakness. And, yet, you put it so eloquently: we all need support.

    I applaud you for your decision and writing this post. Perhaps I will also write a post regarding this subject. The more people hear stories like this one, the less fear and denial will rob people and their child of their mental well-being.


  2. Hi Judielise, I so appreciate your comment.

    It's very true how we are about physical health, and yet are as a society so hesitant about mental health. For myself, it has definitely been a case of *breathe in* Oh no, another label? *breathe out*.

    I had those thoughts for a few moments while with the principal, but very quickly dismissed them, especially after talking with my husband and he and I both talked about times we had counseling as we were growing up, and I realised it's not 'that' big a thing for us as a family.

    I also think about the good hearing about things like this can do for us as parents, so we can care for all of our kids needs.

    You're comments have encouraged me as a mother and I thank you for that.


  3. the greatest gift I gave my now-15 yr old is her therapist, at age 9. I truly believe she is doing as well as she is now because she started early. Highly anxious, perfectionistic and rigid... a combination for trouble.

    She has her therapist to talk to, and I am so glad.


  4. Hi T,
    thankyou as well for your feedback. I 'know' this is going to be good for him, but in the back of my mind I'm questioning the decision. It's good to hear another Mum has had a positive experience with it. :)

  5. Hi Kaz,

    We struggle so much to admit that WE need help, yet we are always the first to give others whatever they need to help them with whatever they are going through (remember high school and later when our parents split up? U were there for me & I hope I was there for u). A counsellor gives Daniel an independent outlet, and he doesn't have to worry if he complains about his siblings - there is no consequence. Better he deals with everything now than bottle it up until it explodes.

    Good on you for recognising this for him - and for you as well.

    Thoughts always with you - and always remember that you are doing an awesome job.

  6. Heya KF,

    Thanks so much for your insight, it's true we struggle to see when 'we' need help let alone when others around us need it.

    It is a good thing for him to have an independent outlet, andwith all the feedback here, I feel more secure about the decision... he's been asking for the past few days when he gets to go again, he's quite enjoying it to start off, so that's great :)