Although it seems the title of a story, it is not. We are talking about a case of a girl named Susan who suffered from terrible nightmares. Her experience will help us understand the importance of listening to her children and that they feel understood by us in all aspects.

We have invented the name so that in this way we can safeguard your privacy. She was a girl who lived with her parents who were separated and she started sleeping with her mother when her father left home. They were in the new apartment to which they had moved together (mother and daughter) when she divorced the father of the little girl.

separation anxiety

Little Susan had problems separating from her mother, she didn’t want to go to school just because she wasn’t far from her and sleeping alone was unthinkable at the time. Therefore, the doctor diagnosed the little girl with separation anxiety disorder. A common disorder in children who feel a lot of anguish  whenever they are separated from their reference or attachment figure.

The mother, aware of the girl’s problem, sought different professionals so that they would try to help her as soon as possible so that the girl would stop suffering. They tried to help her in both individual and group therapy, in both cases without success.

In individual therapy, different hypotheses about the girl’s condition were considered: low self-esteem, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, bad grief due to her parents’ divorce, etc. Neither treatment was successful.

therapy for the little one

Despite his young age (10 years) he was prescribed antidepressants and his case was considered impossible. Something that, of course, despaired her mother, the girl and all the professionals who tried to help her without success.

A group of psychologists who specialized in particularly complicated cases took over the case to see if they could help the little girl with her emotional problems. His secret lay in not paying much attention to psychological theory and trying to understand the emotional and individual frameworks of each patient.

Theory of Change

When you want to understand the mind of each patient at an individual level, it has to do with the theory of change, a theory that focuses on change when it comes exclusively from within each one of us.

In the second session for Susan, she was asked directly what she thought they could do to stop her from having more nightmares. The girl was very thoughtful and surprised to see that an adult, instead of helping her without asking, was interested in her opinion… she was part of the change and she had never been like that before!

Instead of telling her what to do, these professionals had been interested in hearing her opinion and knowing what she thought. The girl replied that she wanted lots of cushions and stuffed animals around her bed, and in this way, she could create a “fort” so that nightmares would not enter her head.

And the nightmares stopped…

Once the girl felt understood and listened to, she began to sleep peacefully alone in her bedroom without the need for her mother to be by her side. Why is it like this? Because as soon as she was given a little bit of room to be creative and bring her opinion and her unique way of solving problems, she felt better about herself.

She felt proud and dignified and began to have more personal coping resources and improved self-esteem. And all this was as easy as stopping for a moment to listen to her. Something that no adult had thought about because they believed that they knew best what little Susan needed… Without even asking her.

If you want your children to become confident, capable and autonomous people… stop every day to listen to everything they have to tell you.