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On the last track we discussed depression. We discussed ways to differentiate between normal depression and clinical depression.
On this track we will discuss fear as it relates to the grief process. Three concepts regarding fear are manifestations of fear, why children become afraid, and identifying specific fears. If a grieving child you are treating is old enough, or if the parent could benefit from learning how and why death can shatter a child’s perception of security, you might consider playing this track for him or her.
Three Concepts Regarding Fear
Concept #1 - Manifestations of Fear
Robert stated, “I know why I’m so messed up. I was there for the horrible pain and suffering Jennifer went through. But I’m worried about Billy now. He seems so afraid. Billy whimpers and whines sometimes. He refuses to sleep alone, and always has bad dreams. Things Billy used to do confidently have become problems. Like going to the bathroom alone, sleeping with the lights off, or even going to the playground. The kid acts like he’s shell shocked!”
In addition to the manifestations of fear that Robert described, you have probably also experienced grieving children who regress, Robert is doing, due to this fear. Manifestations of fear regarding regression may include thumb sucking, urinary accidents, baby talk, or choosing to crawl instead of walk. Think of your Billy. Perhaps the “Coping with Fear” exercise explained at the end of the track may be of benefit.
Concept #2 - Why Children Become Afraid
As you can see, when important aspects of Billy’s sense of security were disrupted, he experienced fear. Think of your grieving client. Is his or her fear the result of an interrupted sense of security? Later on this track, we will discuss a technique which benefited Billy.
Concept #3 - Identifying Specific Fears
fears Billy had that were expressed as questions were,
However, Robert asked Billy, “Just in case I would die, who would you like to live with?” Billy selected his uncle, and Robert agreed. Billy then expressed worry that his uncle lived in another state. Robert went further and worked out a plan that Billy could follow if anything ever happened. Do you have a client like Billy who could benefit from identifying specific fears and discussing specific custody preferences and plans?
Technique: Coping with Fear
2. The second technique I suggested was the use of balloons.
3. In addition to dreams and balloons, the third technique I like to use is that of routines. As we discussed earlier, part of Billy’s fears resulted form the disruption of his routines. I encouraged Robert to reestablish Billy’s routines that took place prior to his mother’s death. These routines included discipline, chores, school, and bed time. Also, pizza night on Fridays was something Billy had stated he missed.
Think of your Billy. Does the surviving adult need to reevaluate the disruption in their child’s routine. What routines is it possible to reestablish?
On this track we have discussed fear. Three concepts regarding fear are manifestations of fear, why children become afraid, and identifying specific fears.
On the next track we will discuss involving children in change. Two
types of involvement are negative and positive involvement.
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