Life Crisis Intervention
“This has been so terrible – I want to make sure my child is managing okay.”
“I have no idea what to say to help my child.”
“Is this normal after something like this? What comes next? What should I do?”
Unfortunately, crisis incidents occur in the lives of our children. Sudden deaths, accidents, illnesses, separating and divorcing parents, and being the victim of bullying and violence are some life events with which children must cope. Ideally, a child is supported through such events with compassion, their perceptions are accurate and they have all the coping skills necessary to overcome it and have it not interfere with life and development.
Hoping that children are resilient or believing that they are too young to remember will not provide the tools that children need to incorporate the crisis into life. Although it is true that children are resilient, resilience is not innate: it is nurtured and developed from infancy. Healthy development often requires intervention. This does not mean lifelong therapy, diagnoses, or medications but short term, focused, intervention may address any possible misperceptions held by the child and equip them with healthy coping skills. These skills will serve them throughout their lives and support them to thrive in the face of future challenge.
Left untreated, life crisis incidents, combined with misperceptions and the lack of coping skills, may create a traumatic response, which can stall healthy development and create fears, phobias and interpersonal difficulties. Life crisis incidents may create triggers for the child that they may struggle to avoid or find ways to manage.
Short term focused intervention empowers children. A common misperception is that giving attention to life crisis events will make children struggle more. In fact, if there are minimal issues as a result of the life crisis incident then children will experience the therapy process as a validation of their coping abilities and be provided positive feedback to build a stronger sense of self. If there are misperceptions or struggles with coping, then the therapy process provides intervention in a timely manner so that those issues do not develop into lifelong problems.
Regardless of whether or not the child is exhibiting negative signs or symptoms from a life crisis incident, it is always advisable to seek professional support, especially if there are any concerns such as:
- Sleeping and eating disturbance
- Regressive behaviours, such wetting, soiling or lack of communication
- Anxiety, fears and phobias
- Interpersonal difficulties
- Sudden change in academic performance
- Isolating behaviours such as zoning out, excessive amounts of alone time, resistance to previously loved activities
- Other behaviours that are out of the ordinary for the child