When To Get Help

Grief counseling for children...

Grief counseling for children...

Gosh, there you are, all balled-up with your own grief. Yet, in the back of your mind, you know that you need to look out for the kids as well. They may be clingy, or have nightmares, or be acting out horribly in school. Common sense tells you that some misbehavior and regression to infantile behavior would be normal, given the emotional turmoil in your household.

So how do you know when things have gotten serious, and you might need the expertise of a professional to help guide your kids through their own bereavement?

We may be able to help. First, we present: 

Normal Symptoms of Grief in Children

These should be temporary and gradually improve:

  • Regression to bedwetting, thumbsucking
  • Numbness or "shock"
  • Whining, crying or clinging to you
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Major changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Roller coaster ride of emotions--- highs and lows
  • Hyperactivity and "acting out", temper tantrums or aggression
  • Poor school grades, bad behavior in class.

Warning Signs

These are some warning signs that may indicate a need for professional counseling for your child:

  • Chronic health problems related to the stress
  • Behavioral problems at home or in school that do not gradually improve
  • Suicidal intention or fantasies, other than fleeting thoughts.
  • Withdrawal, lack of interest in formerly enjoyed activities that doesn't improve.
  • Bad dreams that don't gradually decrease in frequency or intensity.

How to Get Help

Start with your child's school. Make an appointment, then go in person and talk to his or her guidance counselor. Let them know what has happened, and your concerns about your child's behavior and needs. Inquire whether the county school board provides psychological services (most do, free of charge).

No luck at school? Then have a talk with your primary care physician. He knows your child and would best be able to recommend an appropriate child psychologist to help unravel your child's problems.

You can also call your nearest hospice, cancer center, or funeral home to inquire if they know of someone in your town experienced in grief counseling for children.

If your insurance doesn't cover psychotherapy, and you can't afford it, most counties fund a mental health center that provides counseling on a sliding-fee scale, based on your income. Look in the yellow pages under "Mental Health".

Attend the counseling sessions with your child. The counselor may want to talk to him or her alone at times, but you want your kid to know that no matter how sad you are about the tragedy, you still love and care about him.

It is most important that a child not feel forgotten and fear that he has to fight his demons all alone. Be there for him.

Return From Grief Counseling for Children to Help the Kids




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