Our Son Is in Therapy … What Next?

therapy-four-year-oldNo four year old should find himself on a therapist’s couch.

Yet that’s where Ben was this week, playing with toys while a therapist gently pelted him with questions. It’s part of our latest effort to help him process his emotions and, in turn, prevent the kind of meltdowns that have turned our summer into a disaster movie.

From the makers of “San Andreas” comes “Ben Unleashed” … in 3D.

We made the right call in scheduling the therapy appointments. It still made me want to cry. Yes, I support therapy as a way of dealing with difficult feelings. No, society shouldn’t look down on those who seek out counseling. So why did the sight of Ben, pointing to an emotion chart in the therapist’s office, leave me so crushed?

There he was, not an ounce of rage in him for a moment, connecting Lego-like toys without knowing we were prodding him for behavioral clues. How could he know? He sat there patiently, his sandy blond hair perfectly tousled, answering the therapist’s questions to the best of his ability. He didn’t understand he was under a behavioral microscope. How did we get here in the first place?

Self-Help Isn’t Enough

It’s hard to admit that sometimes parents don’t have all the answers. Nor do grandparents. My mother-in-law raised nine children, and even she doesn’t know how to prevent Ben from turning into the Incredibly Small Hulk. It’s like seeing Dr. Spock shrug his shoulders and say, “Beats me…”

That’s when Mommylibrium turned to the book store for help. Our bedroom’s end table now looks like a therapist’s library. “Raising Your Spirited Child.” “Kids, Parents and Power Struggles.” “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen.” “The Explosive Child.” “The Five Love Languages of Children.” “Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids.” “The Whole Brain Child.”

Mommylibrium has read some of them. We’ve talked about the principles that apply to Ben together. Yet when the Ben hits the fan all those guidelines fly out of mind. He’s melting down. What do we do next?

It’s why we scheduled the therapy appointments in the first place. The more sound, helpful information we have, the better. We researched the best therapist we could find, and so far we’ve gleaned some ways to make matters better. The results won’t happen overnight, and we’re told the behavior issues could get worse before they improve. Why not end summer in grand style?

I wasn’t sure if I should write about this initially. Daddylibrium lets me get personal in ways that weren’t possible pre-blogging, but I censor some material during the creative process. Still, sharing our story may help one or two other dads consider therapy for their own struggling children. That puts a smile on my face, and I could use one right about now.


  1. says

    I applaud your courage in writing this, Christian, and still reflect on the fact that Ben’s 4, which influences that decision. Were he 14 I suspect you’d opt not to write about this publicly, but I could be wrong.

    In any case, sometimes kids are strange bags of emotion and reaction and at times good parenting is just learning to “get through” the phase. Good luck with your incredibly tiny hulk. Parenting’s not for sissies, that’s for sure!

  2. Megan Anton says

    I agree with Dave, Christian! It was such a good move taking Ben to play therapy. And like Dave said, it’s not like he is 14. I was just talking with someone the other day about how awful I was as a child. I always had to have what my friend had. One day, my mother bought Debbie a 45 record of “Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care” and for some reason, she bought me a little book with a fuzzy beaver on the front. Well I got angry and threw the beaver book down and stepped on it!! I look back at that and kind of laugh because I am, thankfully, nothing like I was as a spoiled child. I am no longer a tattletale and am very giving. If it’s around my wrist and you like it, it’s yours! Ben will outgrow this little meltdown phase, I can tell you with confidence. With parents like you and Julie, you can’t loose.

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