Children and Guilt

Children lack the appropriate skills for coping with guilt. They often begin to act out when they feel they've caused some harm to befall a parent, .
I have an eight-year-old daughter who has gone through a difficult experience. Her dad got sick and was in a coma from the chicken pox that she brought home. We did get her help and have repeatedly told her that it wasn't her fault. She's been acting out ever since by being rude and violent. We've tried to punish her, take away things, and even compliment her on good days. We are at a loss. All this is rubbing off onto our other daughters, who are doing the same things. It's a mess. Any suggestions? No she isn't in therapy right now. I think we need to be but I'm not sure if we can afford it.
Your daughter and your entire family could benefit from therapy. Your pediatrician or the counselor at her school can refer you to a therapist in your community who could help. Therapy does not have to be expensive or long-term. Many health insurance policies will cover therapy sessions, and there are many sliding scale and low-cost services available through local mental health agencies.

While you are waiting to get that started, talk with the school counselor about resources on positive discipline that would be helpful to you. Choose one or two of your daughter's behaviors that you would like to change, then set up a plan by which your daughter can earn stickers or check marks for good behavior. The school counselor can help you structure this system for your children.

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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