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How do I help my daughter?

My husband is having a relapseat the moment. This has been going on around five weeks now. My seven year old daughter was aware of his MS but never really paid much attention to it until now. This relapse has hit us all hard. Its like we finally have to sit up and take notice, and we are discussing making plans and adapting our lives to make things easier (as well as negotiating the benefits minefield etc)

However, in amongst it all, my daughters behaviour has gone downhill.Shes been moody, full of attitude, and just downright nasty at times. She refuses to talk about anything, and it all came to a head the other day when her teacher asked to see me after school. Apparently the teacher had noticed her behaviour deteriorating too and it had all blown up when my daughter was said some awful things to another child in her class.

This did seem to open the floodgates, and my daughter has been inconsolable since. She keeps asking if her dad is going to die, and I try to reassure her. We have read the book from the MS trust, and have had a few chats about it.She thinks its unfair and why him. All the questions, thoughts, and feelings that even I as an adult find hard to understand, never mind her wee seven year old mind!

My question is, how do we move forward? Im finding it hard enough to hold it all together as well as to try and support her as much as I can without going to pieces myself. She knows to ask questions when she wants, and to talk as much as she wants about it, but her personality is such that I feel she needs more to help her through this. Is there some place she can go for support, or people she can speak to in the same boat? I have no idea how this works for her. I worry that we will go through it all again when her little brother is old enough to understand, and there are so many questions that I just cant answer.

Thanks in advance.

Hi Fluffster, I am so sorry you are going through this and with young children to it must be very scary. Does your husband have an MS nurse who you can contact who might be able to point you in the direction of helping children deal with this? Either that or contact your GP and see if there is anything locally that your child can go to to talk to someone who won’t get upset as I know from experience (not MS related) that my own children were scared to talk to me about something as every time they mentioned it I cried so they learned to bottle things up until they couldn’t anymore and I managed to get them into a counselling programme where there were children going through the same thing and they could express themselves safely and learn coping techniques. I hope you find something to help them. Lx

Thanks Lindy. We are due to see the MS nurse soon , so will ask him where we can get some more support for her.

Its hard to try and encourage your children to talk things over, when you feel that you cant let your own guard down for fear of looking vulnerable in their eyes. Im supposed to be their tower of strength.

are you absoloutely certain your daughter’s behaviour is related to your husbsnd’s m.s?

There are some good MS publications and a DVD that might help. On children in need there was a group for children whose parents had cancer to help them deal with it. The MS Therapy Centre near me (Warminster, Wiltshire) mentioned something similar for my 10 and 6 year old. Do you have a therapy Centre near you? Otherwise, the school nurse service (ask class teacher or SENCO to refer) are very good at helping children with anxiety and the acting out this can lead to. To me, the relapse and behaviour would seem incredibly likely to be related. Hope one of these can help. xx

Annelda and the others have given some very sound suggestions. When helping some of our foster children understand their family situations often just talking was not enough. We employed the services of play therapists and art therapists. They would spend a couple of hours a week privately with the child/children and work through issues. I would not be told anything unless the children wished me to know then the therapists would sit down and run through things with me in private. I am sure education welfare or the MS society can help you find what would help your daughter. I would say that by acknowledging the problems you are halfway there. Children need firm boundaries and more so when the life is a little more challenging as they need to know that their life is not totally falling apart it is just a little different. I do hope you and your daughter find the help she needs. Please keep us posted.