Why Bill Gates Saw a Child Psychologist
Many, if not most, parents aren’t completely comfortable with sharing the fact that their child is seeing a mental health professional. This is unfortunate as even the brightest and (otherwise) well-adjusted kids can benefit from professional help navigating the challenges of adolescence.
Recently, Bill Gates grabbed headlines by mentioning that his parents sent him to a child psychologist at the age of 12 because of his “disruptive” behavior. Of course, that same rebellious spirit would push Gates to drop out of Harvard after one year to found one of the most important companies in world history. But a virtue at 19 is still a vice at 12.
Gates needed to get through jr. high and high school in order to use his gifts, and professional mental health care helped overcome an issue he was facing. Often, parents don’t consider professional help until the problem the child is facing is drastic.
WHEN IS IT TIME TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP?
If your child is engaged in self harm (cutting or burning the skin, or something similar), pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with a mental health professional immediately. The same goes for substance abuse, behavioral disturbances (aggressiveness, extreme defiance or legal issues), suicidal or homicidal thoughts, psychosis (auditory or visual hallucinations, delusional thinking, paranoia).
Every kid is going to have ups and downs at different stages, but it’s important to know the difference between a “phase” and a problem that requires immediate medical attention.
THE WHOLE FAMILY BENEFITS WHEN YOUR CHILD GETS HELP
If your child is facing one of the challenges listed above, you will likely find that the whole family benefits from your child’s time with a mental health professional. Understanding the disease that has disrupted the harmony in your family is an important step in the healing process for everyone involved, and should take the anxiety felt in your home down several notches.
Also, your child, and possibly your whole family, will learn new ways to see and solve longstanding problems. The bottom line is that professional care fosters communication and helps to rebuild the trust that may have been damaged.
A WORD ABOUT THE UNIQUE PROBLEMS OF HIGH IQ KIDS
It’s not uncommon for a high IQ kid to struggle in the classroom, with organizational skills, or with paying attention. (The latter may be a result of ADHD, but that’s not always the case.) If any of those are true, your child may be incorrectly overlooked for gifted programs.
There are no definitive signs that can tell you for sure whether or not your child falls in the “gifted” category. Gifted kids have denser neural connections than the general population and although you can help put your child in situations for enrichment and learning, you can’t raise a child’s IQ by the sheer force of your will.
Despite what the Baby Einstein DVDs imply, you are not in charge of your child’s success. Your job is to raise a healthy, stable, loving adult, which sometimes requires help from a mental health professional.
If you don’t want to take our word for it, feel free to ask one of the world’s most brilliant inventors.