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Can Children in Proximity of a Crime Benefit from Therapy?

The morning of September 15, 2016, was like any other around the Beverly Lodge motel in South Lake Tahoe.

The quiet was ripped apart as local law enforcement tore into the roadside motel and arrested Andrew Adams, 25, of Suisun City, California.

Adams was wanted on a robbery which led to the murder of 40-year old Dennis Wright in January 2016.

Both the murder and subsequent arrest — 10 months later —  rattled the otherwise peaceful community of   24,000 residents.  It scared the Tahoe Valley Elementary students across the street waiting for the bus when the take-down happened.

School authorities have indicated they may provide counseling for the affected children.

But what if they don’t. What can a parent do to make sure their kids stay mentally healthy and “untraumatized” in the midst of events like these.

 

When Should a Child See a Psychologist?

Sometimes, children, like adults might benefit from therapy. Therapy can assist kids to develop problem-solving skills and help teach the value of seeking help.

Therapists can help kids cope with stress and numerous emotional issues.

Sometimes, it is not transparent what causes children to become suddenly withdrawn, worried, stressed or tearful.

Nicholas Wooldridge, a Las Vegas Criminal Defense attorney who works with children and their parents who have been victimized, points to six signs that children may benefit from seeing a psychologist, or therapist, including:

Sudden behavioral problems like excessive anger, acting out or eating disorders

  • A significant decline in grades
  • Unexplained episodes of sadness or depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Decreased interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Mood swings

Some parents believe that by always being there, their children won’t be affected by the ugly events happening in the world — and their neighborhood.


Don’t Bubblewrap

There are many “helicopter parents,” around. Maybe too many.

The new normal in parenting appears to be a growing pattern of overprotection. Parents who want to overprotect — or bubblewrap — their children as being seen more by therapists as one of the thorniest clinical issues.

Instead of insisting that parents change their behavior and supervise their children less, therapists focus on how parents can speak with their children and provide kids the opportunity to encounter manageable measures of risk, responsibility, and stress.

Those questions are:

 

  1. When you were growing up, what risks did you take and what responsibilities did you have?

 

  1. What did you learn from the experiences?

 

  1. How helpful were those lessons later in life?

 

  1. How will your child learn the same life lessons?

 

These questions, particularly the fourth one, move the focus from the clinical world to the real life help for parents who want to stop overprotecting their kids.

When parents bubble wrap their children, they deny the kids the opportunity to experience “antiphobic play.”

“Free-range children” are more apt to experience the exhilaration of overcoming situations that they’re biologically hardwired to fear.

Riding a subway, at 9 and alone, and climbing a tree both offer kids the same opportunity to experience adventurous play and prepare for progressively larger opportunities as they collect building blocks for psychological well-being.

Almost every day, media outlets carry accounts of children perpetrating acts of violence — frequently against other kids.

Research shows that violent and threatening behavior is picked up early. Parents and family members can help kids learn to deal with emotions without using violence.

Parents may play the key role in minimizing violence by raising kids in safe, loving homes. A few suggestions to help include:

 

Consistent Love

Every kid needs a loving relationship with a parent to feel safe and develop the sense of trust. Behavior problems are less apt to show up in kids whose parents were actively involved during the early stages of life.

 

Model Appropriate Behavior

Kids pick up by the examples in their lives. Ethics, preferences, and perspectives of parents have an influence on kids.

Respect, honesty and family pride is an important source of strength for kids; especially if they are faced with negative peer pressure, attend a rough school or live in a violent neighborhood.

 

Consistency

When you, as a parent, make a rule, stay with it. Children need structure and boundaries. They want plain expectations for their conduct. Setting rules and then not enforcing them is confusing and encourages kids to “see what they can get away with.”

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