All parents want to believe that their children can cope well with a divorce or breakup. Feeling guilty, parents usually start questioning their competency as a parent. The questions, "How do I know if my children are not coping with the stress?" and "How do I know if my child needs professional help?" are worries for most parents. To help you, we have tried to offer you some guidelines below. If you have serious doubts or worries about how your children are doing, seek professional help.
How do I know if my children are not coping with the stress?
We have listed below specific behaviors and problems that will give you some idea about how your child is coping with stress. To understand how your child is doing, you must begin by remembering how your child handled past hurts and disappointments. This will give you a baseline or reasonable idea about how fast your child bounces back from other disappointments and hurts. Remember that all children are different. Some children brood for months while others perk up in a couple of days. You should not use your own capacity to bounce back as a standard to compare your child with. Instead use your child's history as a standard for what is reasonable to expect.
How do you Know if Your Child is not Coping Well?
Below are red flags that suggest that your child is not coping well with the breakup or, for that matter, any significant source of stress.
- You child loses his spontaneity. His speech is flat, he or she displays poor eye contact, and appears sad.
- When you contrast how your child has bounced back from other hurts, you notice this time it is taking a lot longer for him to return to his old self.
- After a few days, your child should still want to participate in fun activities and socialize with friends. Any withdrawal should not last for more than a week.
- Your child should continue to be an active participant in the family.
- Your child should be able to express remorse or guilt when they have calmed down after misbehaving. After regaining composure, your child should be able to have some insight about his or her inappropriate behavior. Sometimes your child should be able to laugh about how ridiculously he has behaved.
- During this period of adjustment, your child should continue to show a need for emotional closeness and support from the family. Preteens and some teenagers may not want physical closeness, like a hug. You should not interpret this as a rejection or their not wanting to be close. Some children get uncomfortable with close physical contact. Your past experience with your child will tell you better how to interpret the repulsion.
- Your child still needs and should still respond to praise and encouragement. After a time, your child may need help if you can't get a smile.
This list is not all-inclusive, but it should give you some idea about what to look for. Again, if you are worried, get professional help from a therapist that has experience with children and teens.
How do you Know if Your Child Needs Professional Help?
Not all children going through the breakup of the family need therapy. Unfortunately, some do need help. Knowing how or when to make the decision about getting your child professional help can be extremely important to your child's overall welfare and to your own ability to cope.There is less risk by being pro-active and getting your child help too early, rather than waiting for your child's world to crumble. The guidelines below will help you make an informed decision about when it is proper to seek professional help: