|Telling Children Bad News It is not easy breaking bad news to a young child. Parents often ask for advice as to the best way to do it, and wonder what they should expect in terms of a reaction from the child. If we are telling a child about a death, or impending family separation, it is important to remember that the child may have difficulty grasping what this information means. It can be extremely difficult to comprehend that someone we love will not be with us anymore. Or that Mom and Dad will not be living together in the same house. We have a tendency to want to sit down and explain the situation, because it is important. But children have short attention spans, and they are shorter if what we are saying makes little sense to them. They also pick up on our sadness or anxiety, and that makes them uncomfortable, so they would rather just go and play. Consequently, it works better to give children information in small doses, and to allow them to go off and have a break if they need to. Sometimes it is puzzling, because children may seem to have no reaction at all. This only means that at this point, they have not been able to process the information, or that they are in a type of shock or denial. It is best to take a relaxed approach, realizing that it will take time for the child to really understand what is being said. They may only receive the message that Dad is going away and forget the part about his still being an important part of their lives. It is very difficult for them to visualize a situation that seems incomprehensible. Think of it as you might if you were teaching someone a new language. At first you don’t expect them to understand everything, but as you go over things, gradually they pick up more and more. They may ask you to repeat things again and again. It should go without saying that information about separate or divorce be handled without making either parent the bad guy. Even if only one wants the separation, it is best if parents sit down with the children together, and tell them this is what Mom and Dad have decided. This can be so hard if there has been infidelity, or if one is devastated by the decision. This is one of those times when we must put the needs of children ahead of our own. Be careful when speaking to friends or family about your feelings when children are around. They are listening, even if playing on their devices. Remember also, that the child may be experiencing a wide range of feelings but may not be able to express them verbally. We might find some regression in the areas of toilet training and language development in younger children, as well as changes in eating or sleeping patterns. The most important message you can give to your child is that you will be there for him, and although things may be difficult, that everything will be all right. This might be hard to do in the midst of crisis, but we must reach down to find that inner well of strength. The little ones depend on us for that. Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.|
How To Know When Someone Is Struggling With Depression And Anxiety
By: Stan Popovich
Do you ever wonder if somebody you know may be struggling with depression and anxiety, but you are not sure?
If so, here are some things to look for when someone you know may be having a difficult time with their mental health.
• Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
• Feeling sad and depressed on a regular basis
• Trouble concentrating
• Change in eating habits
• Talks of suicide
• Loss of interest and social withdrawal
• Lack of energy and persistent tiredness
• Feelings of guilt and regret
• Changes in their appearance and behaviors
• Increased use of drugs and alcohol
• Easily agitated and always irritable
• They seem out of touch of what is going on around them
• Their physical health starts to go down hill
• Frequent mood changes
• Excessive fears, worries, and anxieties
One or two of these symptoms alone can’t predict a mental illness but may indicate a need for further evaluation.
If you think something is going on with someone you know or care about, then try to talk to them and encourage them to seek some kind of help if they need it.
Here are five tips on how you can convince the person you know to get help for their fears and anxieties.
1. Talk to the person instead of talking at them: Nobody wants to be lectured or yelled at. The person who is struggling is scared and they need some encouragement in overcoming their fears and resistance to getting any assistance. Treat the person the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
2. Find out why the person won’t get help: Ask the person who is struggling to list the main reasons why they will not get assistance. It might take a few tries, but try to find out what is stopping the person from getting treatment for their mental health problems. Fear and frustration are huge factors for not getting help.
3. Address the fears that the person may have: Once you get the reasons why the person is hesitant to solve their problems, the next step is to find the ways to help address the concerns the individual may have. Addressing one’s fears and concerns may convince the person to take some action that will get their life back on track.
4. You can’t manage your mental health all by yourself: A person’s anxieties and other mental health issues can be difficult to manage and more than likely he or she will need some guidance. Remind the person that going it alone or making excuses will only make things worse.
5. Offer to go with them: It can be very scary for the person to seek the services of a counselor for the first time. The fear of the unknown can be very intimidating. Offer to go with the person as they start the process of getting treatment.
Stan Popovich is the author of the popular managing fear book, “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear”. For more information about Stan’s book and to get some free mental health advice, please visit Stan’s website at http://www.managingfear.com