Even more challenging than watching your child struggle with a mental health disorder might be admitting them to residential treatment. Parents often feel out of control or lost as to how to support their child while the child participates in residential treatment.
Research the Facility
When selecting a facility for your child, find out as much as you can about the facility. Read reviews written by former patients and their families. Next, explore the treatment options offered. Also, tour the facility, and create a list of questions as they come to you. At your child’s admission appointment, be sure to ask questions of the treatment team to ensure you understand the process and know what to expect. Educating yourself can relieve unnecessary stress and position you to support your child.
The majority of treatment centers offer family therapy as part of your child’s treatment. Depending on the program, this might be an intensive program for parents, family counseling sessions with your child’s therapist, and/or phone or video calls. Because the child is so impacted by the family system, it only makes sense to include the family to increase education and support.
Trust the Staff
Assuming you have researched the treatment facility, allow the staff to guide your child’s care. As your child becomes involved in treatment, the treatment team will use rewards and consequences to shape your child’s behavior, which may be an uncomfortable change for your child. Most family members will get unhappy phone calls from loved ones in residential treatment centers, so plan for this. Some children have implemented unhealthy behaviors to avoid consequences and may use these phone calls to get parents to rescue them. If you receive an alarming call from your child, reach out to the staff for guidance. Keep in mind, parents are contacted by staff with significant concerns as they arise, so unless a staff member is calling, your child is safe.
Be a Role Model
Are you familiar with the saying, “do as I say, not as I do”? Children don’t typically ignore your behavior and take your word alone. Indeed, children look to the adults around them to determine what’s normal and acceptable. Model the behavior that you would like to see from your child, and work toward being your healthiest self. Seek out treatment for any undertreated mental health or medical problems, and get support from other parents. Taking care of yourself is ultimately the best thing you can do for your child.