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Children’s Mental Health During Family Changes

How therapy can help with blended families.


Children’s behaviour can be greatly impacted by significant changes in the family. It’s likely that they won’t understand why those changes are occurring or have occurred. Acquiring a blended family implies that the children have previously had to adjust to a family split, which would have been a significant shift to cope with. Adapting to the addition of people in the family and household can lead to unhealthy competition for attention, problems with sharing their belongings, and most importantly, their space. A child’s mental health may be significantly impacted by all of this due to increased stress and the possibility of negative and ineffective coping mechanisms emerging. This is frequently demonstrated by the child’s behaviour since it is common for them to act out or behave unusually to express their frustration and range of emotions.


How therapy could help your child


If this is happening in your family, it is possible that your child may be struggling with adjusting, or you might have even noticed a change in their behaviour already. Therapy allows a safe space for your child to express themselves without judgment but with guidance towards finding coping mechanisms that are healthy and effective. A therapist can suggest effective and gentle ways to handle certain situations of conflict or tension with other family members. Certain unpleasant feelings such as sadness, confusion or frustration can occur, and children often don’t understand that this can be verbally expressed and discussed with others in the household which can lead to a resolution, followed by pleasant feelings such as relief.


Family therapy


Therapy is a great place for your child to make sense of the feelings that they have and maybe the great amount of unsettling thoughts they have in their head. However, going back to a household where numerous things/people may trigger them can set them back and slow down their progress. Your child may gain these benefits from therapy, but if others in the house are struggling to express themselves in a healthy way, it may trigger your child and lead them right back to those old and unhealthy coping mechanisms. They can learn how to cope when they do feel triggered by attending these sessions regularly. However, family therapy might be better suited for the family in general.


One-to-one vs Family therapy sessions


One to one therapy sessions means your child might feel more comfortable in expressing and sharing their feelings. This will allow the counsellor to gain a better understanding of the situation and, therefore, be more helpful. However, family therapy allows a controlled environment for opinions, perspectives and feelings to be shared and understood, and that can be a great bonding experience. Furthermore, a controlled space where the other family members in the house show their vulnerability will promote empathy and an opportunity for your child to understand the other family members’ perspectives. 

Understanding could change your child’s perception, feelings and behaviour.

By Eva Domingos, a counsellor at My Solution Well-being. T: 0115 648 7912

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By MSWB Team on 01/02/2024 in Wellbeing

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