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Counselling for DS?

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dindy posted 10/28/2013 05:07 AM

My 3.5 year old DS seems to be having a hard time lately. Every Sunday when ex gets him and our DD ready to bring them back to mine he gets really upset and doesn't want to leave.

He's also started saying at night time that he wants to live by himself. I think that he is struggling as he sees that his daddy lives alone.

This is breaking my heart, and making me feel angry at xWS as he has no idea of the fallout of his actions.

Has anyone got a child at a similar age who went to counselling and did it help?

I constantly reassure DS that both mummy and daddy love him very much and I've bought two copies of 'two homes', one for me and ex to read to him but I don't know what else to do.

Deeply Scared posted 10/28/2013 08:30 AM

^bumping^ in case someone here can relate and give you some advice

dindy posted 10/28/2013 09:00 AM

Thank you Deeply Scared. :)

MrsDoubtfire posted 10/28/2013 09:55 AM

I have no words of wisdom but would think your DS would probably benefit from a few brief sessions with a child psychologist.

If you don't want to go down this route then continue to talk to your son about the fact that mommy and daddy do love him so very much and- whilst you no longer live together- will both work together to see that they children stay top priority.

It sounds like he now has some separation anxiety at leaving your exWS's if he starts this when he is due to come home to you so you might be able to reduce this by asking your ex to call your children during the days when he isn't around so they get some more contact with him inbetween visitation?

Sometimes we see these things in children and worry more about them than necessary.

Yes- the children are affected when couples S/D but with your love and guidance this can stay a temporary measure and not become a protracted anxiety.

(((Hugs to you and to your DS)))

[This message edited by MrsDoubtfire at 9:56 AM, October 28th (Monday)]

dindy posted 10/28/2013 15:45 PM

Thank you MrsDoubtfire, you're post has made a lot of sense.

Ex does phone DS every evening before bed to talk to him. The majority of the time DS doesn't want to talk to him but at least he know his dad is contacting him.

I did email ex earlier about this and suggested counselling for DS. Ex thinks that DS is just good at playing us as he said that DS always wants to come home to me at bedtime and when ex tells DS that he can come to mine but DD will stay the weekend with him DS changes his mind.

So ex has said maybe we should keep an eye on it for another few weeks.

I don't like my son being described as 'playing us'. I feel that his feelings are valid and I'm sure he is struggling with not having his parents together anymore. Though ex is not much of a deep thinker so I doubt he'll even think about how DS is really feeling.

I am going to give it a few weeks and reassess. I do also want to make sure I'm not projecting my concerns onto DS.

painfulpast posted 10/28/2013 15:56 PM

What a tough spot. I think youíre doing the right thing in watching for a few weeks and reassessing.

Kids will Ďplayí their parents, but at 3 Ĺ? That seems awfully young for that. Iím more inclined to think like you than like your ex.

I wish I had answers for you regarding the counseling. Unfortunately, all I can offer is support for your actions. Its obvious how much you care about your children, and yet you are waiting to be sure you arenít over reacting. As an outsider, I commend you Ė very well done.

There are other boards that may be able to answer your questions about counseling and a very young toddler. I have doubts as to it being very effective, but I donít have the experience others do. I was a toddler when my parents separated the first time, and my sis and I were sent to counseling. As I recall, I hated it, but I donít think it did any good for either of us. I canít say for certain, but my mother says it just made us more anxious because we didnít like going.

solus sto posted 10/28/2013 16:45 PM

I'd take him in to talk with an IC. (Or, rather, to putter around with the IC's toys while you talk--that way the IC can observe him while gathering info.)

It may be that IC is NOT recommended (and I'll tell you why in a minute), but it's best to let someone qualified help you decide.

It wasn't related to infidelity, but we had a trauma when my kids were in preschool and fourth grade.

In a nutshell--their father had a very nearly fatal MI, and just as he was recovering, a truck drove INTO our house. Like, through the garage obliquely (totalling one car and damaging another) into the house, before parking in our living room.

(Alcohol and drug-impaired teen with her license only 2 weeks.)

My daughter's bedroom floor wound up resting atop the truck.

VERY VERY scary--middle-of-the-night, bitter, bitter cold, and of course, immediate chest pain for WH (who was, in fact, a WH then, though I didn't know it).

We were homeless (albeit briefly), with few resources, and two flipped out kids----whose father was in ICU as a result.

I called our pedi (who was my pedi when I was a kid) the next day. I wanted to pre-emptively address fears, etc.

We took his referral to a psych in his office, and I took both kids in.

She very strongly felt that focusing on the trauma (or any trauma) in IC can magnify it for little ones. (My son was 3.5.)

It was recommended that our daughter keep in close touch with her school guidance counselor (and the IC communicated with her), but that we just observe our son, and take him in if he became contrary (um, he was 3.5--I clarified THAT one because "contrary" was his middle name at that point! what the IC meant, really, was combative and really difficult in his contrariness).

Her rationale made sense. By focusing on the bad stuff, it's possible to elevate it in importance when kids that age really are very me-centric, and just don't assign as much importance to it.

Yes, Daddy living somewhere else is a BIG deal. But it can be approached and reframed in a way that makes it almost like a fun adventure. I know that this will likely chafe (and I understand this because being positive about my kids seeing their unfortunately-still-alive father and absorbing the brunt of their angst when they get home quite frankly can suck). But that's the tack I'd try to take.

My son now tells me that the night the truck drove into the house was the coolest night EVER. He got to sit in a firetruck in the middle of the night. The firefighters gave him cocoa and hen Diet Pepsi.

Seriously. Diet Pepsi (something he NEVER got), in the middle of the night in a fire truck. What could be better?!

In a similar vein, my daughter and I came across her journal from that year. I almost died laughing when reading her account of her father's (again, NEAR-FATAL) heart attack. OMG--preteen drama. "Dear Diary, the most horrible thing happened! My dear father had a heart attack. But you'll NEVER guess who sat next to me at lunch! OMG, it was TAYLOR. I think he LIKES me!"

Yeah. Truly, we have to be careful not to magnify issues to be greater than they are. At this point your son's difficulties may just need gentle and loving redirection.

I'd ask a professional for guidance, but consider holding off to see if you can work together to ease the transitions. It would be a shame to make a mountain out of a molehill (not that it really is, but again, small children are very egocentric) if his primary concerns are things you can address on your own.

I hope that made sense.

Nature_Girl posted 10/28/2013 18:31 PM

At age three IC is usually a version of play or art therapy. It's not like it is for us BS, where we sit in a chair or couch & spill our guts.

I think an IC isn't a bad idea. It gives your DS another safe adult to interact with. You don't have to go weekly, and it can be a valuable resource if things get ugly in your little one's spirit.

solus sto posted 10/28/2013 19:20 PM

Even play therapy can magnify trauma, if not conducted by a therapist very mindful of the suggestibility of children. As with all ICs, skill and expertise vary wildly.

Definitely get a referral from a trusted source.

Talk to your pedi. Ask what types of behaviors you should be watchful for. If he thinks the current behavior warrants evaluation by a child psychologist, then by all means schedule an appointment.

But don't make the mistake of believing a "little play therapy" can't impact a suggestible preschooler negatively. Even the best-intentioned IC really can magnify the trauma of a situation. Worst case scenario occurs when false memories are formed due to suggestibility.

And it happens. Sadly, kids' pain can be magnified a thousandfold--not maliciously, but by people who simply do not understand how vulnerable children are to this.

I'm not saying therapy is bad. I'm saying that it's important to make sure, first, the child is traumatized and, secondly, that the therapist is very skilled. Because kids who are otherwise coping pretty well can circle the drain in the wrong hands.

dindy posted 10/29/2013 02:55 AM

Thanks for your very reassuring and insightful responses.

I do worry that IC might create tension for DS and make him feel worse. So for now I will closely monitor him.

Ex and I have been communicating about this and he is going to keep an eye on him too.

I feel that more positive associations in showing DS that it's cool to have to homes and two sets of toys etc will help him deal with any difficulty for now.

Though if his behaviour worsens then I will talk to my gp.

Thank you all so much.

MrsDoubtfire posted 10/29/2013 05:43 AM

Dear Diary, the most horrible thing happened! My dear father had a heart attack. But you'll NEVER guess who sat next to me at lunch! OMG, it was TAYLOR. I think he LIKES me!"

This quote sums it up well. Kids are far more resilient than we give them credit for.

Waiting and then deciding whether your DS needs additional help is a good choice. Just remember to keep talking to him and offer loads of hugs and reassurance as kids respond well to love (as we all know already).

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