I will try my best to keep the background brief, but we're dealing with a split family situation with an absent father. He moved out of country last year, and while he was gone he had little to no contact with his children. About a month after he left, my son started stealing. Little things, trinkets really, and nothing of value. It was suggested to me that he may have begun stealing to fill the empty feeling after his father left. My partner and I worked hard with him, giving him extra attention and natural consequences for the stealing (ie: making him return the items, however small, and apologizing) and the issue was quickly resolved.
Aside from that, the only other symptom of his father's disappearance was the sudden inability to emotionally deal with anything. I get it. I do. But it's incredibly difficult to deal with. For example, if something doesn't work - like a toy or a game - he just crumbles. "Welp, guess it doesn't work anymore", and then the waterworks start. He never used to be like this. He doesn't even try to fix whatever it is, or ask for help. Just a total end-of-world reaction anytime anything goes wrong.
I have tried just hugging him, I have tried talking him through it, explaining logically that if he's having a problem with something, all he needs to do is ask for help. I don't expect too much of him, I don't think. I just wish I could get through to him. He totally emotionally shuts down and shuts me out. He won't even listen when I try to cheer him up. It's like he wants to just mope, and sulk. I don't think it's for attention, because he rejects any sort of attention this behavior attracts.
Now his father has returned to the country, and took them recently for a weekend. I braced myself for their return on the Sunday, because I know from experience that anytime they return, there are a few days of adjustment before they're back to themselves. My daughter is fine. My son...I just don't even know what to do. He has spent most of the time in his room. His father said he would call him and still has not called. Told me that he would "be in touch", presumably to set up the next time to take them, though I have no idea. My son has just shut down. He hides in his room, under his blankets, clinging to this stupid broken watch my ex-husband gave him in this big dramatic show "to remember him" when he first left.
My daughter told me that her father made a big deal of taking my son alone into a room to have a talk with him, and my son - who has a memory of a goldfish - has no recollection of what was discussed. So I really don't know if anything was said to trigger this, or if he just simply misses his dad.
I just want to cry when he emotionally shuts me out and won't let me help him through this. I don't know how to do it, I really don't. He's only SIX. I shouldn't have to tip-toe around him to keep from setting him off into another emotional roller coaster, or check on him to make sure he's not harming himself in any way. He is six. And it's not fair that he needs to be going through this, and I just wish I knew how to help him.