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What should I do if my child refuses to go to their appointments?

The good news is, they’ve been seeing someone. Half the battle can often be convincing your child they need help. But now they no longer want to go to appointments. This could be for several reasons, and your first step is to understand why.

Here are some suggestions: 

  • Be curious and ask your child why they don’t want to go to their appointments. If you know what's in the way of them going, you might be able to come up with some other solutions. For example:
    • Did they have a bad experience with this one particular health provider?
    • Do they trust them?
    • Are they anxious when they leave the house?
    • Could it be the time or day of the appointment? Maybe they don’t want to miss school, or find the appointment too long.
    • Are they worried about their privacy? If your child is attending appointments on their own, you can reassure them that their conversations are private and encourage them to ask the health provider to explain details.
    • Do they not want to go alone? You could offer to attend the appointment with them.
    • Try and respect your young person's choice. Being curious, asking questions and listening to their answers helps young people feel heard and have some control over what is happening for them. Sometimes the timing is wrong for counselling and that's ok.
  • If it just doesn’t seem like a good fit for your child, allow them to have some say in who they are seeing, if possible. You could look through the Directory of BC Counsellors
  • Encourage them to connect with a youth peer support worker (at Foundry, or elsewhere). Young people ages 12-24 can check if peer support is offered at a local Foundry Centre, or find out more about Foundry virtual peer support check-ins. Sometimes hearing from a “peer”, who understands the benefits and concerns of going to appointments, can be helpful.
  • Discuss your concerns with your child’s health care professional and ask for advice.

No matter why your child decides not to continue appointments, it is just as important that you get help yourself through this process. A good starting point might be to connect with our parent peer support here at the Kelty Centre.

Remember, safety comes first. If you believe your child needs immediate medical attention and is refusing to go to a doctor or the hospital, call 911.

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