7 Ways to Support Your Child in Developmental Therapy
The first few years of a child’s life are critical to their health and growth. Sometimes, speech delays, injuries and certain conditions may affect their development and physical, mental and emotional capacities. That’s where development therapy comes in to help teach essential life skills like understanding and resolving challenges, developing coping skills, making positive changes and modifying behaviors.
What to Expect From Developmental Therapy
Know that therapy is not a “quick fix.” Every child is unique, so their progress rates differ significantly. While some will progress quickly through each therapy session, others may need a little more time to adjust, which is perfectly normal. You can expect a series of therapy sessions depending on your child’s specific progression rate.
Setting goals with your child’s therapist is an excellent start to development therapy. A clear set of goals can help determine how to measure success and provide a clear progression path. Outlining goals enables you to see whether this specific pediatric therapy relationship matches your child and shows you how to work with your child’s therapist.
The journey to success takes work. A therapist can provide tools and guidance to constructively discuss family dynamics like relationships, behaviors, motivations and attitudes. Therapists help the child and their family reflect upon these dynamics. It’s the collaboration between the child and family where the real work takes place.
Confidentiality also plays a role. Depending on your situation, goals and the child’s age, therapy sessions are confidential. This sentiment provides a safe space where the child feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Some therapists may inform parents about what they’re working on or how they can help support their children at home. In other cases, parents may be present during the therapy session, which is common with younger children.
How to Support Your Child in Pediatric Therapy
Pediatric therapy works by assisting children in developing, improving or regaining physical, cognitive and motor abilities, which can raise their self-esteem and confidence. Knowing what type of pediatric therapy your child requires is essential. For example, TLC Pediatric Therapy provides comprehensive pediatric therapy support in Orlando, Florida:
- Pediatric speech therapy support: This kind of therapy helps with articulation, voice, language, fluency, feeding and swallowing challenges to assist a child in communicating successfully and securely.
- Pediatric physical therapy support: This therapy helps children overcome physical challenges and offers the capacity to operate freely and securely by increasing strength, mobility and range of motion.
- Pediatric occupational therapy support: Occupational therapy support can help with sensory integration, fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, visual motor skills and self-help abilities to help with daily activities.
So, how can a parent support their child in therapy? These seven tips can help you make the most of therapy for your child:
1. Be an Active Participant
Although pediatric therapy mainly focuses on the child, the parent also plays an essential role in their child’s healing process. Being an active participant means being organized and engaged during your visit to the therapist’s office. Limit distractions from your phone and other technology — a parent’s mobile phone use correlates to fewer verbal and nonverbal exchanges with their child.
Effective communication involves being specific with certain topics like symptoms. Giving vague and broad answers may not provide much information for the therapist. Instead, be specific with your child’s physical, speech and other sensory or cognitive symptoms and specify the length of time these symptoms appeared.
Being an active participant will show your child to take therapy sessions seriously. Consistently going to appointments, arriving on time and actively engaging during the therapy sessions is a great place to start.
2. Keep Open Lines of Communication
In the beginning, openly share your expectations and goals with the therapist to determine how you, your child and the therapist can support each other and collaborate. Honest communication can help determine how your child can best work with the therapist, ensuring a smooth experience. Establish the best way to communicate with the therapist to achieve this. Some therapists may suggest providing insight on any concerns before an appointment, while others may want you to join the sessions.
Communication with your child is also necessary. Give them opportunities to talk if they wish. Letting them know you’re there for them and interested in their progress will allow them to decide what they feel comfortable sharing. If your child wishes to keep to themselves, that’s OK, too.
3. Help Build Trust
A trusting relationship between each person involved in the therapy sessions is instrumental. Talk with your child and explain why they’ll be going to therapy. Help your child understand the goals of therapy and that your intentions are good — affirm they’re not in trouble and build that trust. In addition, acknowledge your child’s fears and concerns so you can help address them.
A solid basis of trust between you, your child and the therapist may lead to more positive results.
4. Avoid Being Judgemental or Critical
Therapy can be challenging for you and your child, and it may lead to frustration or judgment from you. Displaying these negative emotions can be detrimental to your child’s success. Keeping negative emotions in check and portraying genuine, supportive and loving emotions may make your child more comfortable sharing with you and give them more confidence in therapy.
It’s best to focus on the positives, like how your child is progressing and how you and the therapist have helped them so far.
5. Be a Good Listener
Therapy may involve open communication, but listening is just as vital. When a parent speaks during an appointment, they must ask open-ended questions, allowing the child or the therapist to respond thoroughly and thoughtfully. Listen to what is said and how it’s said — this helps you understand your child’s point of view. Listening to your child affirms you respect, support and value their opinions and thoughts.
6. Allow for Autonomy
Build your child’s self-esteem and independence by allowing opportunities for autonomy. With stronger self-esteem, your child may experience less anxiety as they grow.
Healthier approaches to life challenges are part of the therapy process. Avoid forcing these autonomous skills or getting too involved in therapy appointments — allow your child to think and speak for themselves. Parents can voice their concerns, but they need to be aware not to overstep or talk over their children. Trust that your child and their therapist will determine how to address certain things.
7. Be Honest
The therapy room is a safe space and encourages honest discussions. Some things may be hard to hear, but instead of shutting the discussion down, try to remain engaged and aware of the bigger picture, which is helping your child emotionally, physically and mentally. Be honest with yourself, your child and the therapist to increase the chances of positive results.
Find the Right Therapist for Your Child With TLC Pediatric Therapy
Increase your child’s independence, self-esteem and communication skills and help them meet development milestones through professional therapy services. TLC Pediatric Therapy boasts a network of over 400 compassionate and experienced therapists who can show you how to support your child in therapy with speech-, physical and occupational therapy services. Contact us online today to schedule an appointment.