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How to tell your child they are going to see a psychologist

Many parents find it difficult to find a child-friendly way to tell their children about coming to see a psychologist. So here are a few ideas that may be helpful to anyone who finds themselves in this position.

  • Choose a calm and relaxed moment to speak honestly with your child about your observations. It may go something like this: “Hey Johnnie, I’ve noticed lately that getting along with others at lunch times is harder than usual. I’d like to be able to help make that better for you. What do you think? Would it be a good idea to make that area of your life a little better?”
  • You may like to compare coming to see a psychologist with going to see a doctor. “You know how we visit a doctor when you have a stomach bug or a broken bone. Well there are these people called psychologists who help people with their thinking, feelings and actions.”
  • This is a good time to reassure your child that psychologists are not doctors and that they do not give injections or medicine! Unfortunately some children do think this and it can cause unnecessary anxiety. “They are not doctors because they don’t use medicine or injections they help you by talking about the things that are bothering you.”
  • Often a psychologist will recommend a few different strategies or teach a new skill. A child and their family may be asked to practice these at home. Children need to know they have a support network and that their family will be there to help them with their problems or try new ways of doing things.
  • When preparing your child for their first appointment, it is important to explain that the psychologist will meet everyone together (parent/s and child) and then spend time with the parent/s and with the child individually. For some children it is really important to reassure them that you will not be leaving the premises, and that if they really do not feel comfortable seeing the psychologist alone then that’s OK too.

Fortunately, the psychologists at Young Minds have a keen interest in children and know just how much they like to be creative, enjoy stories and play games. We know that for children to learn, they need to feel relaxed in the environment and have fun. Just for the record, most of us are incredibly good at games like UNO and certainly enjoy a good match!

If you feel you need additional support speaking to your child about attending an appointment, or your child is overly anxious about coming, please feel free to contact your psychologist to discuss additional strategies.