Guardian Frequently Asked Questions
Children go through very difficult times in this period of life, presenting both unprecedented and emotional changes. Thus it is important to be close to them and observe any arising symptoms (that last for days). Only a specialist can offer help.
Some symptoms are the follow...
- The child feels guilty for the patient's hospitalization
- Finds it difficult to follow his daily routine
- Is isolated from family and friends
- Want to harm himself/herself
- Becomes aggressive
- Presents sleep difficulties (insomnia, frequent nightmares)
- He/She refuses to accept the situation and finds it difficult to trust anyone
- Presents eating changes (e.g. decreased appetite)
For some parents, such discussion is stressful. For this reason we suggest some tips you can follow to prepare your child:
- Before arranging the meeting with your child's Psychologist, tell him/her what's going to happen and explain the reason you want him/her to meet with the Psychologist
- If your child is a teenager, encourage him/her to attend the first meeting and discuss directly with the psychologist his/her thoughts and feelings. Reassure your child that all information shared with the Psychologist will be confidential
- If your child is at preschool or primary school, try to explain what a Psychologist is and prepare him/her the night before on who he will meet (stating the name of the Psychologist) and what he/she can expect from the meeting (for example, discussion, drawing, game, etc.)
- It is important to answer all your child's questions and when you are unsure, talk with the Psychologist
- If your child is stressed or anxious about the meeting, reassure him/her by saying that you will be present throughout the meeting or you will wait outside the Psychologist's office at the waiting room.
- Sometimes, children are more comfortable if you allow them to bring along a favorite toy or object
- If your child feels uncomfortable or appears to behave "differently" because he/she is going to meet the psychologist, explain that many people-including children and adolescences- present similar difficulties when their loved one is hospitalized. So they go to a Psychologist to help them cope with the situation
If you agree to your child's participation in Ariadne Project, you will be asked to sign a consent form for his/her participation. The signing process needs to be completed before the first meeting with the Psychologist.
- During the first meeting with the child, the Psychologist will conduct an interview to collect sufficient information on the child's feelings and what he/she knows about the patient's condition. In addition, a small assessment will take place using a questionnaire with standardized questions
- Throughout your child's psychological support, the Psychologist will inform you and guide you, through regular parental counseling, on how to best handle your child
The Psychologists will implement a number of methodological interventions which are evidence-based practices related on how to handle children whose loved one is hospitalized in the ICU. Therefore, your child receives the proper psychosocial support based on the situation and his/her needs.
There is no specific time limit or number of sessions required. The period depends more on his/her and your needs and time. Psychologists are here to help you as long as you need it.
Many parents worry because they do not know how to explain to their children about the critical situation of a family member. We are sure that you want to protect your child and not hurt his/her feelings during your attempt to discuss with them such a sensitive topic.
Experts child Psychologists ...
They believe that young people are better able to cope with such situations if they know what is happening and have the opportunity to receive answers to their questions.
Young children, since early age, can sense when something changes in the family. Children who are protected from the truth, are those who usually worry more, mainly because the knowledge they have depends on scattered pieces of information they receive from different adult discussions. Thus, they try to make a story or create their own story in order to understand the unusual behaviors they observe around them.
Research has shown...
The sooner you talk to your child about the patient's condition the better as the difficulties that may later arise are minimized. Thus, children are better to be informed as soon as the parent receives the final information from the doctors.
When discussing with your child...
- Sit close to your children and in a familiar place where you will feel comfortable
- Although it is difficult to know, in advance, how to start the conversation, it is important to be honest with them. One suggestion is to transfer part of the information you were given by the physicians, eg. "The doctors have told us that dad is very sick, but will ensure that he is comfortable and not in pain"
- Explain to them what happened to the patient, if you know, and tell them what they can expect
- Give them time to express themselves and ask questions, while observing their behavior
- Focus your attention to their feelings that are arose from the discussion
- If you are not sure on how to transfer this information to your children or if you cannot talk to them, then you have the opportunity to ask the Psychologists from Ariadne Project to help you
Certainly it is very difficult to focus your attention on your healthy child when another family member is in a critical condition.
It is worth noting that...
- You should spend some quality time with your child without being distracted from other factors
- Try to discuss about the patient's condition, the changes in routine that may occurred and "explore" the feelings and thoughts of your child
- Recognize your child's feelings (anger, sadness, jealousy, anxiety, guilt, etc.) and understand that children cannot talk about their feelings. Instead, most often they are expressed through their behavior, e.g. they can become more sensitive or attached to their parents
- If your child wants to somehow help the patient, you can, for example, suggest to prepare a card for wishing quick recovery
- Think carefully if your child is able to visit the patient in the ICU
- Keep the child's routine as stable as possible and prepare the child for any changes in the family or daily routine
- If It is challenging for you how to help your child cope with a critical situation of a family member, Psychologists of Ariadne Project are here to guide you on how to support your child during a critical situation
Most parents find it difficult to give an answer to this question because they are unable to know, in advance, if the child in ICU will have positive or negative effect on their emotions and whether he/she will be stigmatized from the images they will have from the clinical setting.
Your decision depends on many factors, including:
- The child's age
- The patient's condition
- The child's desire to visit the patient in the Intensive Care Unit
Research has shown that...
Children over 4 years old find the visit to the ICU helpful, because they understand better the situation and their role as family members. Also, feelings of separation and fear are reduced.
- Under no circumstances you should push your child to visit the ICU, if they do not want to
- Whether your child will visit the ICU or not, is absolutely your decision
- Psychologists can help you decide and guide you regarding how to better prepare your child