15 answers

Help with a Sad 6 Year Old.

I really need some advice. My 6 year old daughter is very sad. I have tried a lot of different things to make her happy including spending one on one time, new kitten, counseling. I really don't know what to do. She is on Topramax for seizure activity. She sees a counselor to help deal with the death of her father ( which sometimes I think going to counseling just keeps bringing up her grief and never lets her get past it). She is very sensitive and her feelings get hurt very easily. She is suddenly shy and gets embarrased very easily. Her academic skills have deteriorated also. She struggles when reading, writes things backwards and when I bring this up to her doctor or to teacher they say that it is common for age.
I wonder if I should stop counseling for awhile, we had taken a break for awhile and I put her back in because she sad all the time. I asked her why she could not enjoy a recent outing and she said that her brain just wouldn't let her.
I know this is long and I feel like such a failure as a mother because I just do not know what to do. Her 5 year old brother is a happy go lucky kind of kid and that is how my daughter used to be for the most part. Could this all be grief related? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Every one experiences grief differently. You may want to explore a hospice program, a local hospital. They are specialist and some have developed programs for children. Also, explore art therapy , it can work wonderful for a child.

Good luck,

More Answers

Wow, i'm reading your question and the results with tears in my eyes. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

I think counseling is a good thing to stay with, but as some other mother's said, maybe a new technique. ABC ran a story about this not long ago, I copied and pasted the online summary below. I hope it helps, good luck to you and your children.

The loss of a parent can be devastating to a child, but they can get through it. The following organizations provide resources and counseling that can help children cope with their grief.

New York City

St. Vincent's Hospital has set up a grief center that provides counseling and family support on a walk-in basis.

St. Vincent's Hospital Reiss Pavilion 144 West 12th Street, 7th floor (between 6th and 7th Aves.) New York, NY ###-###-####

LIFENET is a free referral service provided by the Mental Health Association of New York City. The service's referral specialists put callers in touch with appropriate professionals in their area who can provide counseling for grief and emotional crises.

1-800-LIFENET ###-###-#### www.800lifenet.com/

Web Sites

These Web sites provide resources for grief counseling for children:

Counseling For Loss (www.counselingforloss.com)

The Grief Recovery Institute (www.grief-recovery.com)

Barr-Harris Children's Grief Center (www.barrharris.org)

GriefNet (www.griefnet.org)

Kids Aid (www.kidsaid.com)

Amanda the Panda (www.amandathepanda.org)

1 mom found this helpful

hi D., i am so very sorry for your loss, i hope you are doing ok. it must be so horrible. thank Gd for the kids, they do keep us going. i definitely think your daughters sadness can be grief related. as for the counseling, it can be good to get her feelings out, to "take some off the top"... that's how i feel about it, like i was a shaken soda can all the time, and counseling just let me release the buildup of pressure a bit. but it never solved anything for me, there is nothing to solve. unless there are other issues to talk about, when you lose someone, there is just nothing to fix, there is nothing you can do. so maybe she is past the point of letting off steam and maybe it does just bring it to the forefront of her mind over and over. i dont know. also, remember that counseling is only as good as the counselor. they are just people, and sometimes it's just not a good match. maybe a new one would be better?
anyway, the one thing i do know is that her backwards writing IS common at this age. dont give you or her something else to stress about, just support her and gently and casually help her correct it, dont sweat it. i wish you all the very best.

My kids have been fatherless 9 yrs. Father died when son was 9 and dau was 5. Its so so hard. Dau get threw it quickly and easy. Thought son would never get past it. Dau is so so happy son was always sad never smiled. Now he has final became an teenage quite at home but a happy
person around frined. we never did counseling. Time heels
all. Hang in there. We always took a family vacation every summer gave them something to look forward too.
Believe it or not I too have moved on met someone 2 yrs
ago and just got engaged kids are no so happy about it but thats another story. You try and take care of yourself a happy parent makes kids happy. good luck.

I am SOOOO sorry for your loss! I would have to think that your daughters sadness is grief related. A year is not a very long time and a 6 year old little girl who lost her daddy is going to need time. Its such an age of understanding yet confusion too. Its probably best to keep a professional in the mix - and just try to keep her talking about her feeling and addressing them. Even as an adult when I lost my father (at age 24) that first year goes by so fast and it was just like it happened. Its been over 10 years and I still get sad, clearly not as much but it will stop me in my tracks sometimes. I can't imagine having to deal with that at such a young age. Please don't feel like a failure of a mother, you too are grieving and having to be strong for your two young children - the last thing you should think is that you are a failure of a mother or anything negative! Grief takes a long time to heal and it never fully goes away, my best recommendation though is to feel it, let your daughter feel it fully and the more you do that, the easier it will get. It HAS to be done, no matter how long it takes. Daddy/daughter relationships are unique and once that it gone, there is something lost forever. For a six year old - that has got to be so difficult to feel, understand and deal with! Hang in there, lots of love, strength and peace to you are your family. You will survive!

Every one experiences grief differently. You may want to explore a hospice program, a local hospital. They are specialist and some have developed programs for children. Also, explore art therapy , it can work wonderful for a child.

Good luck,

Dear D., First, I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure grief has a lot to do with your daughter's being sad and also her grades going down. I know when I lost my son I had a hard time with focus and I could not concentrate on anything. I hear what you are saying about the counseling but we also cannot mask our feelings or hide from them. Have you mentioned your feelings to the counselor? Your son has a different personality. Have you found someone for YOU to talk to? Yes I am sure this has been the hardest year of your life. Time will heal somewhat, acceptance maybe. If you have not already, find a support group for yourself. I could go on forever, but mostly I will pray for you. Yours truly, Grandma Mary

I wish I had some great advice, I don't...my only thoughts are don't get dicouraged and give up...look for other doctor's/counsler's...maybe the fit isn't right...and everyone deals with things differently...I don't know what the circumstances of your husband's death were(expected or not) but fear could be what's going on with your daughter...fear that you will get sick or be in an accident as well...we can't make those promises that we'll always be here because as you know to well that's out of our control. My only suggestion is find activities that you can do with her...make a scrapbook of daddy focus on the life, not the death.Tell her stories(you probably already do, but my friends daughter is afraid of forgetting her dad and my friend is an amazing women and they talk about her late husband a lot...things he did, if he would like something or not...they eat his fav foods on his birthday and fathers day...things that celerbrate him). If you don't go to church maybe finding one would be comforting. I can't imagine how hard I would be to lose a lover, but losing a father at such a young age is just tragic. I hope you find something that helps, keep up your spirits, this too shall pass!!

Kids all grieve differently. Maybe look for a bereavement group for both your kids. They can be with other kids and it may help your daughter. Also, check the side effects of her meds. NOt sure how long she's been on it, but many meds can have a side effect of depression. School always suffers when there is a major life change with a child. It is normal for her to start to do so poorly. Is there any group in school she can get involved with? A counselor at school she can talk to. You may want to take her out of counseling, but get her into a group instead with other children. I would not stop it all together. She is obviously depressed by what you are describing. She may need someone else that is more of a fit or experienced with children or with a group of kids so she doesn't feel alone in this. How many other children do you know that lost their father so young? Her brain is tired and sad. Let me know if you need any help with finding her the right help.

Hi D.
I think it could absolutely be grief-related. There is no time frame for grieving and everyone is different. I wonder if it might be worth it to talk to someone who runs a group for dealing with grief--I know that hospices sometimes run groups like these. People like that would probably have more specific information on how you could help your daughter and what to expect, generally of course.
Your daughter's counselor may not have experience in this particular issue....
You might also want to look into the Topomax more closely if you haven't already, and make sure it is not the drug that is contributing to her sadness or depression.
Wishing you the best

As someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1996, my FIRST reaction is: Have you discussed the possibility of the Topamax inducing depression in your daughter with your daughter's neurologist?

Sometimes medication that is marketed for the treatment of a symptom can cause the symptom. A paradoxical reaction is when medical treatment, usually a drug, has an opposite effect to an effect normally expected. Topamax, like many anti-seizure medications, is often used as adjunct therapy for depression or mood stabilization in bipolar disorder.

I just read this article in the NY Times a few weeks ago - about complex depresion caused by the death of a loved one. I hope it helps you and your daughter to re-gain some former happiness.


hi D.,
i have went through the same thing. not with my kids but when i was 7 i had lost my father. he was my hero and i went with him everywhere. i was the same as your daughter, happy and active. and after i was sad a lot of the time. i think that maybe it would help by talking to her about her father, and share your feelings about the whole situation. also telling her stories and memories you have of him. maybe she is feeling sad cause she can't remember him as well as she used to. at least that's how i felt.
i wish you the best of luck in everything.

Hi D.,

I agree with the other poster about possible trying a new therapist. I also would go further to say can you find more a group therapy for her. I remember when my son was young one of his classmates lost their dad. They went to a youth grief counseling group and it helped tremendously. Most times children do not know how to communicate their needs, fears, worries, etc. I think being with children like them will help them to feel more connected and not so alone in their grief. When you are feeling sad and are around people who do not understand I think it may make it more difficult, and make you withdraw even more. First, and foremost this is not your fault so please do not blame yourself. You obviously are a great mom because you are trying to help her. This however is not something you can control. The child I mentioned earlier was also a girl, her dad was killed in a robbery so it was a very traumatic time for her as well. She is now 24 went to a great college and has begun a great career. She was in second grade when it happened. I think a group situation may help her. My son went through some depression in his teens and it took 4 counselors before he would open up. So if this is not a good fit then try someone else. Good luck and I am so sorry for your loss and what your daughter is going through. I know how hard it is to see our children in pain. When my son was sad I wished it on me everyday just to spare him. Things do get better he is now 24 in a great relationship, has a job he loves. There were times I didn't think we would get through it. Just stick by her and be there as you have been and it will improve.

Wow, you sure have a lot to deal with. I am so sorry for you loss and all that your family is dealing with.
As for your daughter, she sounds like my son (who has not had to deal with the loss of a parent). He had problems with reading & writing as well. He is on Depekote (for migraines) and also had problems with anxiety & depression.
My advice is to, first, take her to a developmental optometrist. After visits with 2 different Opthomologists, who told us he was fine, I discovered a developmental optometrist who explained to us why my son was having these problems and helped to fix them (visual therapy). Look for somebody board certified in Vision Therapy, a Developmental Vision Therapist. I can call my sons doctor to help find somebody in your area if you need help with that - just send me a private message.

Also, (I feel like his is the only thing I ever tell people on this site) we started an elimination diet that takes out many chemicals from their diet. We use Feingold but I know there is at least one other one. His behavior has changed so much. The anxiety is almost completely gone and so is talk about wanting to be dead and so many of the other symptoms that go along with anxiety and depression.

I am not saying this will fix what she has going on. It won't hurt though.
Good luck to you and your family.

I wouldn't pull her out of therapy, but I agree with the others, maybe find a new tharapist. Also 2 books I recommend for you to read. Awakening From Grief by John E. Welshons (this one is for you) and Helping Children Copw With Grief by Alan Wolfelt. I am a social work student and just took a course on grief and loss this past summer. Children often suffer from compicated grief and therapy is the best place to start her healing process.

When my son was 8, his 3 yr old brother and grandmother died 2 months apart. It was a year of loss for him that included 9/11 and his dog passing away. Everything happened for him from Sept to Jan. I had him see the school psychologist and kept the lines of communication open with him and he felt safe enough to come to me and I answered him with age appropriate responses. He is now 16 and his brothers death still comes up as an issue for him. When it does, we talk about it.

I am so sorry for your loss and that your daughter is having trouble. I couldn't imagine what your family has been through. Please feel free to email me anytime. I am not religious, but my families prayers are with your family during this awful time.

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