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Re: Looks like an 'A-' to me... DaisyM

Posted by fallsfall on February 17, 2004, at 7:15:19

In reply to I got an F on my Homework, posted by DaisyM on February 16, 2004, at 23:29:11

The way that I understand the grading in therapy, your session would get an 'A-', not an 'F'.

You get points in therapy for being honest and telling it like it is. You get points for admitting things that you think are shameful, but are true. You get points for not avoiding things. You get points for answering the questions that your therapist asks. Your little kid did all of these things, and I would give her an 'A+'. She looked into herself and told what was in her heart.

Now the adult in you did make that grade go from an 'A+' to an 'A-'. The adult looked at it from a practical standpoint and said that the kid could never get what she wanted. That may be true, BUT, that doesn't mean that the kid doesn't still want (and need) that. The adult was also concerned that it was asking too much - was the adult concerned that the therapist wasn't "strong" enough to give the kid what she needs, or was the adult concerned that the kid's need was unreasonable (that the kid isn't important enough to warrant such attention)? In either case, this is not what the therapist asked. The therapist asked the child what she needed and the child answered. The adult didn't need to step in at that time. The conversation was between the therapist and the child.

And, note that the therapist was NOT surprised by what the child said (nor was he surprised by the adult's shame). The fact that he was NOT surprised should indicate that BOTH reactions were fairly normal.

The child will not ALWAYS get what she wants. The adult is wise, and knows that. But the adult needs to recognize that "reality" doesn't change what the child needs - it only changes whether she'll get it or not.

Now that the therapist and the adult know what the child needs, they have a job to do TOGETHER. The child needs to gently be taught that while this may be what she wants, that reality and practicality say that she won't always get what she wants. Sometimes, she will get what she wants. But sometimes the therapist will "fail" her. This is where the adult comes in. The adult needs to support the child through the failure so that the child can come out the other side and realize that even though there WAS a failure, that the child survived. The first time this happens will be terrifying for the child. But if, most of the time, the child's needs are met, and occasionally (not too often, not too seldom - optimally) there is a failure and the child learns that she can survive the failure, then she will learn that she can depend on herself for short periods of time. This is called growing.

This is how our parents were supposed to teach us. When we were days old, they were with us all of the time and took care of our every need. But every once in a while they couldn't get to us immediately (maybe they were in the bathroom), and we had to cry for a minute - but then they came and it was OK again. As we got older we learned that if they didn't come immediately that we would cry and they would come (always). So after a while, we would cry to let them know that we needed them - and then we would stop crying for a minute because we had faith that they would come. If they STILL took too long, we might start crying again - just to remind them that we needed them. But we knew that they would come.

Somehow, Daisy, you (and I) didn't learn this lesson when we were very, very little. We didn't learn that they really would come - and we are still afraid that someday they won't come. That is tragic.

In therapy we have the chance to learn that "they" will always come (but we may have to wait just a little). This time the "they" is our therapists, not our parents. Our therapists will go through the same teaching process that our parents should have done - just a little frustration, then a little more, until we can tolerate the amount of frustration that the real world gives.

But, Daisy, if the adult in you won't let the child need and cry, then your therapist CAN'T respond (because he doesn't know that your child is needy). This proves to your child that he WON'T respond. That is not what you want to learn. You need to let the child be heard so that she can experience these "optimal frustrations" - so that she can learn to tolerate the world as it truly is. She will learn and adjust and grow - but only if she is heard and responded to.




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