My son is reluctant to socialise and gets really angry at home. Should I get help for him?
MY six-year-old son is very shy and sensitive. This holds him back from participating in things like sports, summer camps and even birthday parties. He also lacks confidence and has a “glass
IF you’d like to get help for your son, then, yes, you absolutely could seek a professional who works with young children. However, an individually focused therapy may not be ideal for him. He may need some help that is more to do with integrating with his relationships with you and his dad (or any siblings, too).
As an example, Theraplay is a form of therapy that aims to strengthen and improve the security of parent and child attachments, such that a child can feel more grounded, connected half empty” approach to everything. He can get really angry and violent around the house, and afterwards he says he hates himself and how he looks, and wants to die. I find this very shocking to hear. What steps can we take to improve his confidence and resilience to help him feel better about himself? Should I get help for him?
and empowered. It can be very effective in boosting a child’s selfesteem. It seems to me, from reading your query, that anything that will help your son build his self-esteem will be good for him.
You may even find that just getting some tailored advice and guidance for yourselves, as parents, from a psychologist or other professional, may be really helpful. Such advice could be structured around how you interact with him at home, to help you help him, without him having to ever meet with anyone himself. You can do the work with him to build his self-esteem and feel good about himself.
I was struck by the way you describe your son appearing restricted and unable to get involved in things he may love to be doing, because he is too nervous to do so, and then, perhaps reflexively, getting really angry at home. Perhaps he has a subconscious sense that his anxiety, sensitivity or shyness holds him back and is really frustrated by this.
However, if he is responding to this frustration by acting out in a violent or aggressive manner, he may actually end up getting lots of negative attention and responses from you and his dad, which may, ironically, leave him feeling worse about himself, rather than better. It could even feel like a very negative spiral for him, and one that he can’t get off.
Even when children get some direct therapeutic help, it can often be hard for them to be instrumental in changing the dynamic of what happens at home. Indeed that is why a lot of my time gets taken up meeting with parents, as well as, or sometimes instead of, their children.
Parents are hugely influential in their children’s lives. When parents make changes, they tend to have a bigger effect in a family than when an individual child makes a change. So, if you and your husband try to understand and respond to your son differently, you may find that it has a big, positive, impact on him.
His negative view of himself does make a lot of sense, since almost all children feel like it is their own fault when things go wrong. Even when parents argue, many young children may believe that the row was their fault. He may feel like he is messing everything up and can’t get anything right!
So, your focus at home may need to be really warm, empathetic and understanding. He doesn’t need advice about making friends, or how to socialise. He just needs lots of time and understanding that, for now, he finds it hard. He needs to know that you believe in him and that you accept him, no matter how he is. Similarly, try to avoid being critical of his negativity. Simply acknowledging his negative perspective and gently showing him some positive alternatives might be enough to shift his thinking style.
So, while external help may be really useful, there is also a lot you can do yourselves to help him to think better, and feel better about himself. That boost to his selfesteem may, in time, help him find his confidence to take advantage of opportunities for fun and social interaction.