Should I have my 9 year old seen by a therapist?

Tracy - posted on 09/06/2012 ( 21 moms have responded )




Hi, I'm quite new at the forums but this is my last resort. Any input would be helpful...thanks. My daughter is 9 yrs old and she is in the 4th grade. Her dad went to prison approximately 8 mths ago. (We divorced when she was 2). Since then, she has become irritable, angry, and she is slacking in her school work. Her school work has always been slacking but more so now than in the past as well as her attitude. I know pointing fingers at her dad will do no good and I refrain from making any comments negatively about him in front of her. I have tried grounding her, but the more I do the less she cares about anything. So I am basically at a stand still. Should I make an appointment for her to see a therapist? She will not vent to me. She just says. "I'm angry!"


Carlie - posted on 09/07/2012




If you have not done so already, I would speak (privately) with her teacher FIRST, about the possibility of having your daughter be seen by the school guidance counselor. I believe this to be a better option, as it would not further disrupt her life too much. She would also be in a safer (she would think so) environment and one in which she is already familiar.

I would also suggest to her teacher, that your daughter be allowed to speak with the guidance counselor, at HER request. Meaning, DO NOT set a certain day, date, or time. Allow your child to be seen on her schedule as long as it does not interfere (too much) with her schooling.

DO keep in mind however, that your daughter's schoolwork WILL suffer at first. DO NOT make this an issue, as your child has other things to worry about presently.

I would also inform your daughter that you are aware it has been a stressful time for her as well, and that even though you do not understand how SHE feels, you will always be here for her is she needs to talk-about anything. STRESS ANYTHING. You don't want to put undue pressure on her to speak about her father, and especially if she is not ready. She may come to you to speak about "why the sky is blue" or some other unrelated an unexpected topic initially.

Don't question her. DO what you said you would-LISTEN. She may behave this way at first, to see if she can trust you. But you're her mother, why wouldn't she trust you right?

Well check it out. She had a father too. And he left. For how long? You may know. She may have been told how long. But then again, what she knew for so long, no longer is. You see?

Why then would it not be possible for her to expect the same of anything else in her life?

If there's one thing your daughter knows for sure right now?

That ANYTHING can change her life in a moment's notice.

I applaud you for YOUR behavior towards her father. You are doing the right thing: being the bigger person. You want to instIll and foster hope in your daughter, not take it away. Because in her mind, it has been. I also applaud you for loving your daughter enough to accept that even though you may not be enough to help her (at this time), someone else may be able to. It's not an easy thing to admit, and most parents are offended.

I would CEASE with the punishment at this time. You mention that the more you do, the less she cares. That's your answer. SHE DOESN'T CARE. Because the worst has already happened.

I would only explore outside aid if it does not work out with her guidance counselor.

If your daughter agrees to meet with the guidance counselor, DO NOT pressure her to speak about what she chose to reveal. Instead, reassure her again, that you will always be here for her should she wish to speak to you about ANYTHING. TRUST......that's where it starts and ends.

Good luck. :)

Ashley - posted on 09/08/2012




A therapist will definitely help. It will give her a "safe" person to vent to and they have many tactics that can help get to the root of what is going on with her. I don't know what your routine with her is, but you may also want to try to do some "mommy and me" time with her at least once a week where it is just you and her where you do her nails or whatever. Ask her to tell you about her day each day. Her father being in prison may be a big part of it, but she may also be being bullied, or she may just be going through hormonal changes at that age too. Also try rewarding good behavior with a trip doing something she enjoys, like putt putt golf or skating once a week or month when she does well in school, etc. Sometimes rewarding the good behavior and motivating it is the best thing you can do. Promote what she enjoys when you can. Since she has had trouble with school work in the past a tutor or tutoring program may help her too. Find ways to make her homework fun and different and that may help there too. Definitely take her to the psychologist as they can give you many insights to her emotional state and can really help you determine strategies on what you can do to help her.

When I went through a divorce my daughter was 5 and she was being clingy and acting out a lot. I was constantly disciplining her and didn't know what else to do. When I took her to the psychologist they told me that my daughter was a well adjusted child and that her behavior was out of fear. Her dad had never really been much of a father even when he lived with us and she was scared he wouldn't come see her anymore because she knew he wasn't happy. Once we discussed her fears and she knew I wasn't going anywhere her behaviors changed. The therapist helped me to focus on her positive behavior and taught me ways to redirect her negative behavior to the behavior we wanted to see and things have been great ever since. I was lucky and we only needed 3 visits before we got me and my daughter into a routine that helped her and the therapist said she didn't need any more right then, but to come back if I ever got concerned again. It was a great experience and my daughter is really happy to know that she has a person she can talk to anytime that can keep "secrets" from mommy... It helped her to know she had a safe place to talk that wouldn't judge her and she is now much more open with me too. Hope this helps and good luck...

Michelle - posted on 09/06/2012




Yes a good child psycologist can help to get her to talk about her feelings and maybe help her sort through things before the little problems she has at 9 become major problems at 17

Kumari Ghafoor - posted on 09/15/2012




Yes. She may need to grieve the relationship with dad, and his absence. She may not understand why hes gone. Yes a therapist is a good idea and you can look into programs in your community that may support her. There are programs for children with incarcerated parents. Good luck to you.

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Julie - posted on 10/22/2012




Yes, she needs talk therapy with a professional that she feels safe and comfortable with. The catch is it will be confidential even though you are her parent. Therapist also hold workshops for kids to learn tools on how to manage anger, anxiety, depression and more. Hope she can work through her pain and learn how to manage the anger from it.

Nancy - posted on 10/22/2012




Hi there,

My 9 yr old has been in therapy off and on for about 3 years. I am her step-mother, but have been with her father since she was 2, and we have had full custody of her since she was 4. She has not spoken to or seen her biological mother in over a year and a half.

She has a lot of anger due to her mother's drug and alcohol abuse. She usually does well with me, and considers me her mom, but still lashes out when I ask her to do something she doesn't want to do, especially homework, or chores.

I think therapy helps, but it helps more when I am involved in it as well, her therapist talks to me at every session, and tries to involve her father as well, although he isn't around all that much. (Works 2nd shift)

We used to have a therapist that didn't communicate with us as parents, and that got us nowhere. Find someone you are comfortable with, don't be afraid to interview them, and change counselors if it doesn't seem like a good fit.

They do a lot of "play" therapy, the office has a lot of action figures and a sandbox, and she tells her therapist stories, usually that involve a family, it give her great insight into what is truly bothering my daughter.

Ana - posted on 10/20/2012




No more grounding her..she sounds a bit depressed. Grounding her won't train her if she is depressed...

User - posted on 10/07/2012




Yes, she needs a therapist. It would also be good to get family counseling so that the two of you can learn how to communicate better. If she says your angry, it will help her talk if their is a third party. Let her know that you are not angry and that you understand the pain. It is ok to just cry with her and hold her. Good luck!!

Deepti - posted on 10/05/2012




Try spending more time with her buy daily need at a store or shopping for girly things she may like, try to talk about good things of your life and about ur bonding with your parents or a family member. go for a movie or a play togather so that bonding between u and ur daughter becomes better. give her some time and encourage her to paint or write or dance, whatever she likes, creative arts is a great way to vent out feelings, meanwhile do not push her to perform better at school; at the most just tell her that u r there if she want help in her school work or any other thing that troubles her!

hope this is helpful for you!!

Julie - posted on 09/23/2012




I see nothing wrong with a trained profession, bias third party to speak with your daughter. My son sees a therapist, and he always feels better. I do not force it, but highly encourage it.

Joanne - posted on 09/23/2012




Hi Tracy,

I went through depression as a child. My family meant everything to me, but when depression overtook me I gained apathy towards them and my life in general. Despite my overwhelming need to please them, I was suddenly incapable of caring about what anyone else wanted. It had NOTHING to do with my parents or friends. YOU are not doing anything wrong and unfortunately you do not have the keys to unlock the emotional turmoil your daughter might be in.

A therapist is simply a person who can teach your daughter the skills she needs to manage her emotions and can be the unbiased ear to listen. It wouldn't hurt for you to have someone to talk to as well. I know how draining it is when you see your child suffering and don't have the answers.

Good luck, and hang in there. It does get better.

Pamela - posted on 09/18/2012




Wouldn't hurt. A child psychologist is best...NOT a psychiatrist.....just a psychologist. My sons went through therapy with a child psychologist when we went through a divorce. I think it helped them a lot.

Gabrielle - posted on 09/16/2012




If she's angry, then a therapist can help her understand why and how to deal with it in a better way. Her feelings are valid, it's jus her expression of those feelings that she needs help with.

Tracie - posted on 09/15/2012




Yes. There is clearly something major going on with her (understandable) and if she doesn't want to let loose to you, she needs to let loose to someone. It's the only way she'll be able to process and then control these huge feelings that she's dealing with.

Best of luck to you and your precious daughter!

Nishana - posted on 09/11/2012




Listen.. getting her in with a family therapist can be a life saver. I made my ex do this with his daughter. She was struggling with leaving her mother (he got custody) and I felt like she would open up more to a therapist...she did and boy what a different kid she is now. She is less meek and is able to speak up about her work and self esteem improved tremendously.

Crystal - posted on 09/06/2012




Definitely a great tool to help her deal with her feelings. And work through why she may be acting out. Good luck!

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