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Five tips for taking your child to therapy

I remember the first time I took my son to see a complementary therapist. He was just four years old, and I really did not know what to expect.

Here is a list of my top tips for visiting therapists with children:

1. Either talk to the therapist / doctor etc BEFORE the appointment by phone, or type and print out information that you do not want to talk about in front of your child, ready to hand over when you walk in.

Despite the fact that my son used to zone out, he always picked up on conversation, so I felt that it was inappropriate to talk about him in front of him.

The worst appointment I have ever been to was with a paediatrician, who really should know better. He talked about my child as if he was not in the room. As a consequence, my son did not want to engage, as was scared of this man, who had made all sorts of outrageous comments in front of him. I complained and was told this was the norm in paediatric appointments, so please be aware! (I am sure it is not the norm at all).

When I see parents with children, I ask them to call me beforehand for a pre-appointment, and get the catching up part out of the way before the actual appointment. This reduces time in clinic, which is usually better for children anyway. My initial appointment time is 90 minutes, but if I can spend half an hour or so on the phone with a parent in advance, that reduces the time physically sitting in clinic to around an hour. No matter what parents report back on follow-up appointments, I can see for myself whether there has been change, the extent of the change and what has changed. This is because I keep accurate notes in order to track progress and work a way forward.

2. Communicate with your child in advance to explain who you are going to see and why

When we used to go to see a neuro-developmental therapist and an osteopath, we used to tell our son that this was to help him think and move better. Because I used to see the same neuro-developmental therapist and osteopath myself, this was even easier for me to explain, because I normalised it by going myself. Now that I AM a neuro-developmental therapist, it’s even easier to explain why we do what we do – in the case of RMTi, I’m training the body, and training the person to know what movements to use in order to cope with “stuff” in life.

3. If your child has no rapport with the therapist, please follow your gut instinct

When we go to see any kind of specialist in a field, we have GOT to feel comfortable and safe with that person. If we don’t, we are not going to make any progress – especially if the objective of seeing a therapist is to alleviate anxiety!

Please be honest with yourself and with your therapist. If your child hates going, please don’t drag them back time after time! You won’t get anywhere. Your child – and you – have to find sessions enjoyable, or even tolerable. You have to want to cooperate and you have to want to move forward with your therapist. Please do not think a therapist will take it personally if you go elsewhere. After all, it works both ways, and a therapist will be reluctant to work with you if they notice such resistance.

4. If your child refuses to cooperate during a therapy session….

Please do not worry! This is SO common, especially in the early stages of neuro-developmental work.

You will have to pay for an appointment that someone else might have taken, yes. But do not feel it’s been a waste of time. Neuro-developmental therapists can pick up exactly what needs to be done during a session, even without testing reflexes. They can devise a programme based on what they see, and if you can manage to do this with your child, you will see a difference.

If a child is refusing to engage or cooperate, it is very likely that they will have a very strong fear paralysis reflex, which causes extreme anxiety and demand avoidance. Do not stress! We have seen it all before. We can show you how to do the movements yourself, and then you can do them with your child when you get home. If your child sees you working with us, it usually helps immensely.

5. Make time for yourself

My number one tip (even if fifth on the list) is to please look after yourself.

As a parent/carer, you are the cement that is holding the family together. You are trying to make a better future for your child, and enabling them to cope in life. That is a massive responsibility, and it is ok to take time out for yourself too.

I like to involve parents in therapy, because often, they need the movements as much as their children. It also helps engage a child with the therapy better if their parent/carer is doing the same, and normalises the therapy.

I remember the first time I took my son to see a complementary therapist. He was just four years old, and I really did not know what to expect. Here is a list tips for visiting therapists with children:

Good Luck!

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