You feel like someone turned the lights off inside your family. As if something that once looked so bright and brilliant has suddenly gone dark.
The hope that came from raising a happy child has suddenly shifted and it’s as if you and your little one are just trying to get through the day.
No matter what you try, you can’t figure out how to get your child to listen and behave, and you’re struggling to get back to the place where your family used to thrive.
Before your child started preschool, she was a joy. You’d spend hours together laughing, making up stories, and playing funny games. You knew this time was limited and soaked up every moment just you and her. But you also believed your child would thrive when it was time to start participating with her peers. You pictured dropping her off for her first day and hearing nothing but praise from her teachers at how well she behaved and how successful she was.
You spent hours planning the school projects you would do together and the “homework” you would develop to make sure he was practicing everything he learned at home. Pinterest became your best friend and you totally thought he’d be ready to start the school year. And when the day came for you to drop him off for the first time, you both dressed your best and headed off for your new adventure. You’d been looking forward to this for this for a long time and your heart swelled as you walked into the school.
But here you are, only a few short months after the semester started and you haven’t gone a single week without a report home.
Every school day feels like the Twilight Zone as you head out the door with your well-behaved angel and return home with your menace. Your child isn’t following directions, listening to his teachers, or sitting down when it’s time to pay attention. It feels like everything you’ve done for the last several years as a parent has been a huge waste of time.
That’s not to say you thought your child would never have issues. All children have their good days and their bad days and yours is no exception. But you never thought you’d have a “problem child.” In fact, you always thought she was the opposite. You know there are things that will come more easily than others or things she will find difficult. You believe that all children are unique and have strengths and weaknesses that shape them into individuals. And, you want to help your child capitalize on her exceptionality and thrive.
What you didn’t expect was how your child would react to a new environment and new stage of life. You never predicted how hard it would be for her to focus in a structured setting. You had no idea she’d have a mean streak toward other children. And you certainly didn’t her expect to feel anxious or afraid.
So now you find yourself
Frustrated, overwhelmed, guilty, and extremely worried.
It hit you last week…
You had just pulled up to the gym and were about to head in to work out when the phone rang. Normally you wouldn’t answer, but you recognized the phone number. When you picked up it was the preschool director calling to let you know your child had acted out in class – again. She reminded you that this was this 2nd time this month and that your child’s outbursts were becoming more frequent. At the end of the call, she hinted it might be time for you to help your child find a different school.
Immediately you felt sad and ashamed.
Right then you knew in your gut it was time to get some help. You knew your family couldn’t keep going on this path or you would start to feel completely out of control. But you realized you didn’t have any clue about what was really impacting your child’s mood and behavior. You sat there doubting your ability to raise your child in a happy and healthy way.
You told yourself:
“I’m so lost for what to do to help my child.”
“She is so bright and loving, I don’t understand why she isn’t thriving.”
“He seemed so ready for new situations, I can’t imagine what’s making him act this way.”
“I’m a terrible parent because I can’t figure out what is wrong with my child.”
But when your mind cleared and when your shame disappeared, you realized:
“I need some help to understand my child’s needs.”
You thought you were doing everything right, but when you’re honest with yourself
Your child is acting out.
It’s hard to see your child struggle when you try so hard to make him happy. There is so much pressure to reach certain achievements and hold certain standards and you don’t know how you’re going to meet these requirements without getting him on the right track.
But the truth is, there is no “right” track and kids don’t come with an instruction manual. It’s a daily fight to try to identify the best ways to reach your child when you’re unsure what the exact problem is. You are not the only parent to worry if your child will feel secure and thrive without you. We see this every day at Sunshine Child and Family Counseling. The key is continuing to focus on your child’s strengths and developing a plan to address any deficits.
You’re ready to make sure your child is the happiest and most functional he can be, and we’re here to help.
Why Play Therapy?
When you connect your child with one of our licensed play therapists, he will learn to better regulate his emotions and establish a calmer, more stable mood
The benefits of play therapy are many. Your child will feel comfortable expressing her anxieties about her place in the world
Your child will have the confidence that comes from interacting with his environment in ways that feel most comfortable and natural
You will feel relief knowing your relationship with your child can flourish despite his emotional and behavioral struggles
How Does Play Therapy Work?
Under the supervision of a licensed play therapist, Play Therapy helps young children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Together, we will identify the reasons behind your child’s emotional struggles.
We’ll meet together weekly for 50-minute sessions at our play therapy center. Typically, Play Therapy sessions continue for several weeks as it is an in-depth process to explore the complexities that contribute to your child’s struggles. There are certain sessions parents and children will attend together and other times where the parents and/or child will meet alone with the therapist. This allows the entire family to reap the benefits of counseling.
Here’s what to expect:
WEEK ONE: Intake
During this initial session, the child, parents, and one of our licensed play therapists work together to define the counseling relationship and discuss the details of informed consent. I gather information about you, your child, your family members, and your child’s biological and social history and how this is impacting the current situation. We also discuss the goals you have for your parenting relationship going forward.
WEEK TWO and Beyond: Play Therapy
Together, in each subsequent session, we will use evidenced-based psychotherapy models to treat the problems your child is experiencing. This normally includes a combination of Adlerian Play Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Play Therapy, Child Centered Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, and Child-Parent Relationship Therapy. Through these models, we will allow your child to lower his barriers and express himself naturally through play.
Each session is designed to discover how your child experiences her current distress and how she communicates it through her interactions with others. Together we will process the current state of your family relationships and set goals for where you want them to be. For example, if you are wondering how to get your child to listen better in school, we will assess the current situation and discuss the progress you’re hoping to see.
We will use methods that make sense to young minds rather than treating your child like a miniature adult.
TERMINATION: 1-2 Final Sessions
In our final sessions, we will review the goals you had for your child to ensure you are satisfied with your counseling experience and that our work together has met your expectations. We will also outline a plan going forward so that your child is able to retain what we have worked on together and implement all she has learned outside of session.
More About Sunshine Child and Family Counseling
As mental health professionals, we help kids be the best version of themselves. We combine three decades worth of experience in child-centered services to make sure that children, and their unique perspectives, are the focus of treatment.
Sunshine Child and Family Counseling is dedicated to dedicated to trying to understand the world through children’s eyes.
It is our passion to work with kids, educate our community about young peoples’ mental health, and help the world see that change comes from understanding.
Sunshine Child and Family Counseling is the place for people who are looking for an authentic, casual, laid back, and fun approach to therapy where you will often find counselors on the floor with kids.
Our founder is a registered play therapist supervisor (RPT-S), and the counselors under her supervision are licensed play therapists. You can read more about our training and specialties here.
The Effectiveness of Play Therapy
Play Therapy is best for those who are wanting to create a more relaxed and enjoyable family dynamic. Play Therapy helps children make sense of their environment and their emotions so that they can feel free to be themselves without worry.
Your child will benefit from Play Therapy sessions if:
- He behaves erratically at school or at home and has difficulty settling down
- She struggles to control her big emotions and has outbursts regularly
- He has a diagnosis of ADHD and you’re looking for additional support beyond medication
- She has anxiety and worries that the family can’t manage on their own
- He has a hard time in social situations and lacks the self-esteem to make solid friendships
- She has not responded to your parenting style no matter what you have tried
There are certain situations where your child might not be ready for Play Therapy sessions with Sunshine Child and Family Counseling. These situations include, but are not limited to:
- A current or undiagnosed serious mental health condition
- The need for acute or inpatient treatment
- Ongoing divorces where counseling is needed to determine custody
If your child is currently experiencing any of these issues, Sunshine Child and Family Counseling will provide your family with appropriate referrals.
What Does Play Therapy Cost?
Sunshine Child and Family Counseling is a fee for service play therapy center and accepts all major forms of payment.
Each session ranges between $100 – $140.
Certain clients may be able to use insurance benefits for therapy services. Please contact us to determine if we are in network with your insurance.
We do offer reduced rates upon need. Please talk to your therapist further regarding details.
Your Next Steps
It is entirely possible to have a happy child who thrives in her environment. Your child will be able to openly express her feelings and interact well with peers and authority figures. Your child will feel secure knowing she has the problem-solving skills to navigate the challenges and demands that come up in her life.
Right now, normal behavior and a happy family dynamic feels far off, but that does not mean you and your child can’t relate in a positive way going forward.
Ultimately, working together will help your child emotionally adjust and modify his behavior so that everyone in the family can experience a happier and healthier home life.
To schedule a therapy session with Sunshine Child and Family Counseling’s play therapy center, call 678-740-3990.