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Worried about my 6 yo, should I look into getting him counselling? (long).

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm wondering what leads moms to seek counseling for their elementary-aged child? Or in the least a visit with the school counselor? I have growing concerns for my 1st grader, and I'm not sure when I should look for outside help.

 

His behavior has changed in the last few months- moody, withdrawn, not as talkative. Spacey. Me and DH have to remind him of things over and over and a lot of times I will say something directly to him and he won't hear me. He is super distracted, and gets really frantic and hyper playing by himself or with his toddler brother. As much as I dislike a lot of TV watching, he won't even watch cartoons anymore, and one of his only preferred activities is playing minecraft (I do not thin Minecraft is the issue in and of itself, I think it's an escape mechanism he is preferring). He used to be really into art, playing outside, goofing around, reading books (a lot), and now it's like pulling teeth to get him to do any of that. He paces around, won't engage well, has trouble "finding something to do".

 

Here is what has happened in that time period: His dad has a history of being abusive (mostly mentally and emotionally) to women. His live-in girlfriend of 3 1/2 years (like a mom to my kids) finally left him in May of 2013. It was really dramatic for the kids and DS was really torn up about it, but also kept it to himself a lot. His dad said a lot of untrue, mean things about his ex GF to DS, and I know it was confusing for him. they moved in June into a roommate situation in a partially finished basement and that situation did not go well. My other son has autism and a lot of behavioral needs/issues, and is also non verbal. The situation just caused a lot of tension. Ex started regularly attending a new church (he'd never been a regular church goer) that turns out is really small and I've heard it's kind of weird. They have no sunday school and so DS sits through the whole service and it's very serious. Then out of the blue, in November, Ex has a new GF. Then like a week later he's back with old GF! She begins going to new church with ex & bible study.Then in December right before xmas Ex moves into a new apartment without any warning- the kids were at my house- and so he "surprised" them by taking them to the new place, never to see the old place again. The new apartment, while better because there's no roommate, is a basement apartment with CONCRETE FLOORS. Last week, Ex eloped with GF at the courthouse, and new wife moved into the apartment, while boys were at my house, again "surprising" the kids. And me. I found out through fb before ex even told me. Ex has a very happy go lucky attitude about all of it, I don't think he understands how intense these situations are for children. The new church had a celebration for them after service on Sunday, I asked DS about it and he just shrugged his shoulders and said "I dunno. There was food and cake. That was about it."

 

I asked his teacher how he was doing lately and filled her in on some of the details (move, marriage) and She said his schoolwork has been good but that he has been really distracted/ spacey/ withdrawn. She is going to keep me updated. She also expressed concern over him not sharing with classmates about moving and his dad getting married because usually students can't keep stuff like that to themselves. (Also, at his conference at the end of November the teacher was surprised he lived half the time at his dad's, because he had never mentioned him! She said he always referred to our family in school activities and conversations.)

 

I have always tried to have non-leading conversations with DS about his dad and home life, because I don't want to get manipulated information from him or have him feel like I'm pressuring him. I always ask him if he wants to talk, and ask him how he feels about things. I never talk about his dad negatively in front of him, and I always have a good attitude at exchanges. Still I get the vibe that he is trying to be loyal or something, by not talking about home life. I'm not sure what to do, or how to open up more communication, or if it would be wise to seek help from someone else? Should I just try to be more comforting and talk more? I'm not sure what I should or shouldn't be doing in regards to talking about his life at dad's :(

post #2 of 12
I don't know mama. I might try to process with him but if you feel you cannot reach him then maybe a counselor of sorts
Hugs to you and your son. How difficult this must be for both of you.
post #3 of 12
I would definitely find him a good therapist. He's been through a lot and it sound like he needs some additional support. My kids have both gone to play therapy and generally enjoy it, and have benefitted from it.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you Tracy & Polliwog. His teacher is going to have him see the counselor and she will let me know if she thinks he should have ongoing sessions or give me pointers on what to do for him. I just want him to feel comfortable saying how he really feels. He is definitely a kid who likes to please, so the downside of that is I think he hides what he feels like may worry or disappoint someone. I talk to him often about his feelings being ok, or wanting to talk about things that are hard for him at his dad's house or our house, or feelings he may have about his brother with autism etc.  He just shuts down all the time, or tells me everything is fine. 

post #5 of 12
My DD's school has "Sibshops" for siblings of children with special needs. She likes it a lot.
post #6 of 12
Do you have suspicion of abuse from father or anyone? That's what I first thought when I heard he was suddenly withdrawn and then you mentioned the dad having a roommate. Not to expect the worst it's just something to think about.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Apeydef I really don't think so. The issue with his dad is that he treats women poorly but is very protective/ gentle with his kids. Obviously the situation is still unhealthy for them if they are witnessing domestic abuse, and what's disturbing of this reuniting/ marriage is that they are still totally in the "honeymoon period", and my ex is convincing new wife he is a changed man because of church etc. Two months of church does not cure a lifelong cycle of abuse. I hope for the best but I really don't think much will change in the long run. I do not think roommate could have been abusive, i know the person, and the withdrawl etc happened after they moved, and when GF started spending more and more time at the new home (knowing my ex, he demands constant attention from his partner, and because he was trying to get her back I'm sure his attention really focused on her and off the kids.) I have talked to a lot of professionals about their opinion on custody and surprisingly I've been encouraged to let it be unless I thought they were in immediate danger- He "wants" to be part of their lives, he mostly provides for them (meaning he has a roof over their heads and feeds them), and pays child support more months out of the year than not. He's one of those people that are a bigger problem if they feel threatened, and I'm honestly scared of what his reactions would be if I tried for more custody. I told myself in the past that i would draw the line if i started hearing stories of abusive behavior from his household, and when it started I was getting geared up & then she left. Now they're back together, not sure what will happen. Or what I should do. it's all hearesay, you know? 

post #8 of 12
Well maybe he's just getting see and realizing stuff with his dad is not right! I would definitely get him some counseling. I grew up in a divorced family and witnessed abyss and has anxiety as a young child. Good luck, I will say a pray for your sweet boy and your family.
post #9 of 12

I would take him to a therapist in a heart beat! That is ALOT of intense stuff for a kid that age.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by quirkylayne View Post

I would take him to a therapist in a heart beat! That is ALOT of intense stuff for a kid that age.
Ditto!
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you quirkylayne & curebaby (& apeydef!) I had a few emails exchanged with his teacher and he will see the school counselor some time this week. I talked to him about it, that they are there to listen to him and help him with his feelings or if he is having a hard time, and that it's safe to talk to them and he doesn't need to worry about getting in trouble for any of his feelings. 

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamakitsune View Post
 

Thank you quirkylayne & curebaby (& apeydef!) I had a few emails exchanged with his teacher and he will see the school counselor some time this week. I talked to him about it, that they are there to listen to him and help him with his feelings or if he is having a hard time, and that it's safe to talk to them and he doesn't need to worry about getting in trouble for any of his feelings. 

Hope it went well. I was just writing to say that I have a child of that age and that is a lot. :Hug

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