My 15-year-old granddaughter was in a severe auto accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. She recovered physically; she looks the same but does not act the same. After finishing rehab, she was able to go back to school, but she now does not want to go back. She missed much of her course work and is now a very angry young woman. Is there online schooling available? I cannot afford to pay tuition. What can I do for my granddaughter?
Often, among the most difficult aspects of recovering from a trauma like your granddaughter has experienced is the mental and emotional pain. It is very possible that she is struggling with becoming “normal” again, which goes beyond the physical. She may look fine on the outside, but inside all kinds of emotional and mental pain may be churning.
To regain a sense of normalcy, she will need to manage these thoughts and feelings. This is not easy to do. It is important to note that the people around her are not in a position to say that she has attained normalcy after her experience; she is the one who must feel like her life is back to normal. This is a challenge, but with the support of those around her she will be able to work through these issues and lead a happier life than she is living at present.
In addition to her physical therapy, did your granddaughter receive counseling to work through that anger, fear and other feelings that the accident generated? Has anyone in her family gone through counseling to be more informed on how to help her? Does she have support at school?
She could be dealing with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, which would best be treated by a mental health professional. A counselor could help her work through these concerns.
Your concern about her schooling is a serious one. If you have not done so already, talk to her school’s counseling department to see if it has alternative programs that help students continue their education under certain circumstances. If so, see if your granddaughter would be a candidate. Online programs vary. If you provide Boys Town with your location information, we could help you search for services in your area. Call our hotline at 800-448-3000.
Our adult daughter and her 3-year-old son are living with my husband and me. We are concerned about her parenting and its adverse effects on our grandson.
Our daughter is very independent and does not welcome advice from us. She works varied hours, comes home tired and is irritable with her son. She is always telling him “no” and even pushes him away. When I call her attention to this, she snaps at me.
She is not willing to go to parenting classes to improve her skills. She has even left her son in our care so she could live with her boyfriend. Our grandson’s father walked out on them, but now my daughter is thinking of getting back together with him. I have discovered that the two of them smoked crack before our grandson was born and that she smoked marijuana while she was pregnant.
Our affectionate, precious grandson is now waking up in the middle of the night crying. He is not wet, hungry, thirsty, etc. We can’t calm him; it is like he is in a trance and is unaware of his surroundings. During the day, he is loving and attached to his grandfather and me, frequently giving us hugs and kisses. He loves to read and draw and has a good attention span.
Has he been hurt by his mother’s prenatal marijuana use? How can we help him through this difficult time with our daughter’s unsettled behavior?
It is likely that the instability your grandson has experienced is now taking a toll on him emotionally and behaviorally. It sounds like there is tension at home. We strongly encourage you to avoid adult conversations in his presence. Wait until he is asleep or is in another room. Children are smart. They pick up on tension and they know when adults are arguing. Overhearing adult conversations can be confusing for them.
It is also important to provide as much structure and stability as you can since this gives children a sense of emotional and physical safety. If your daughter agrees, establish a consistent daily routine. This will create predictability in your grandson’s day, which will be comforting for him. Children crave routine and respond well to schedules. This, in turn, allows him to feel safe as he navigates the world and interacts with those around him.
It is difficult to know exactly why your grandson is crying at night. He may not be able to express why he is upset because he may not even know the reasons himself. He could be experiencing night terrors. Offer him hugs and kisses. Comfort him. Tuck him back into bed and assure him that he is safe and all is well.
If you are concerned about his prenatal exposure to marijuana, have him evaluated by his pediatrician. And continue to offer him your unconditional love and plenty of praise. Hopefully, your daughter will begin to learn from your example and place her son’s needs before her own. If not, you will remain a consistent source of love and support.
My five year-old daughter is calm, generous, fun, caring and sensitive. We’ve always had a good bedtime routine and she has always slept in her own bed without any problems. After reading, I bring her to bed and spend 10-15 minutes with her, but over the last few months she is increasingly unhappy sleeping by herself and only wants to sleep in her younger sister’s bedroom. She says she’s afraid of tigers and fire. I think she’s very content and happy and secure in general but wonder if she has some underlying insecurities. Once she's asleep she sleeps all night but I don’t want the fears to escalate.
Many parents go through this exact situation. It’s so good that you are reading to your daughter and making it part of her bedtime routine. When kids are afraid of something it is important to explore what they're afraid of and why. If having the five year-old in the room sleeping with your two year-old messes up both of the children's routine then we suggest changing or decreasing the behavior.
From what you described, it sounds like reading time happens in a place other than the child's bedroom. Perhaps reading to her in her own bedroom would give her the extra 10 or 15 minutes to get comfortable with her surroundings. Another suggestion would be the increase the amount of time that you spend with her in her room after reading and before turning out the lights. This is something that can gradually decreased if her fears start to subside.
Your daughter is still exploring her world and it's boundaries. She is in a continuous state of learning, and research shows that our brains aren't fully developed until we're in our mid twenties. Her ability to conceptualize and rationalize is not at the same level as an adult. As parents the best thing we can do is teach our children and offer comfort as they try to make sense of everything. As with potty training and feeding, it can take multiple repetitions for a child to understand something. Be consistent and patient. Your daughter will outgrow this!