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On the last track we discussed guidelines for trauma. There are three guideline topics for treating traumatized children that we discussed. The three topics are how a parent can help their traumatized children, what to say to their traumatized child, and what not to say.
On this track we will discuss hyperactivity resulting from loss. Topics we will discuss regarding hyperactivity resulting from loss include manifestations of hyperactivity resulting from loss and the five feelings technique. There are five steps in the five feelings technique. The five steps are introducing the five feelings, inventorying the five feelings, avoiding anticipating or feeding the child answers, asking clarifying questions, and repeating the technique at later sessions if necessary. As you listen to this track, you might consider how to apply the information and technique to a grieving child you are treating.
#1 Manifestations of Hyperactivity Resulting from Loss
Adam stated, "Ever since she came to live with us, Leann has chattered, fidgeted, made nonsense noises, and just never stops moving. When she’s around it’s hard to think, let alone to carry on a conversation, or to relax. Suppertime is real chaotic. Leann squirms, giggles, taps, and bangs things."
I stated to Adam, "After a loss, people of all ages may become preoccupied with keeping busy in order to avoid thinking about what has happened. As outside conditions make it harder for Leann to keep reality at bay, she may become more and more frenzied and desperate." Have you treated a grieving children, like Leann, who displays manifestations of grief through hyperactivity?
I have found that other manifestations of hyperactivity in grieving children may include a dislike of playing alone or a demand for constant company or TV to distract themselves from grief. Children may also avoid grief by immersing themselves in school, sports, clubs, or hobbies in order to feel competent and avoid grief.
Adolescents may use headphones or the telephone to fill quiet times and block internal grief reactions. Or, adolescents may begin to use alcohol or drugs to help them forget or stop caring about a loss. Sometimes, the hyperactive behavior of grieving children may manifest in more disturbing ways. When expected to be quiet, grieving children may rock back and forth, talk to themselves, or even masturbate.
Have you experienced some teachers, caregivers, or even pediatricians suggesting medicating children in this phase of grief? Differentiating between agitated grief and ADD or other hyperactive disorders can effectively reduce inappropriately prescribed medications. Would you agree that hyperactive children may simply be displaying manifestations of a suppressed, but otherwise normal, grief reaction? Think of your Leann. Could changes following a significant loss be the cause of your grieving client’s hyperactive behavior?
By discovering as much as possible about Leann’s behavior before her loss, I found that the changes in her behavior were recent. As you know, Leann was uncomfortable with her grief and became hyperactive to avoid her feelings. Therefore, in our sessions it was difficult to open Leann to discussing her feelings. If you are treating a grieving child, like Leann, who is suppressing grief and not comfortable with talking about her feelings, the following technique may help.
Technique: The Five Feelings Technique
Would you agree
that this kind of respectful checking not only avoids confusion, but also
helps the child believe that you are truly interested in understanding his
or her feelings?
Think of your grieving client. Is he or she displaying hyperactivity resulting from suppressed grief? Could the five feelings technique help you foster an open and productive dialogue?
On this track we have discussed hyperactivity resulting from loss. Topics we have discussed regarding hyperactivity resulting from loss include manifestations of hyperactivity resulting from loss and the five feelings technique. There are five steps in the five feelings technique. The five steps are introducing the five feelings, inventorying the five feelings, avoiding anticipating or feeding the child answers, asking clarifying questions, and to repeat the technique at later sessions as necessary.
On the next track we will discuss grief and explaining separation. Children
who experience grief from separation may benefit from having the type of separation
explained to them. The four types of separation discussed on the next
track may be difficult to explain to children. The four types of separation
we will discuss are parental rejection, incarceration, mental illness, and
alcohol and drug abuse.
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