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Mina, Clinical Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 188
Experience:  Working as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist in NHS. Experience in both children and adults
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My grandchild aged 6 self harms and threatens to kill

Resolved Question:

my grandchild aged 6 self harms and threatens to kill himself-we dont understand this and want to try to help him-his home environment is fairly chaotic-we live 400 miles away-we have just returned him and his brother aged 4 back home. whilst with us he never mentioned it or hurt himself. they stayed with us for 4 weeks during the summer hols. My daughter and her partner split some months ago-but this happened while they were together also-we have no legal rights in relation to the children but need some advice to try to understand and help
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mina replied 6 years ago.


I am sorry to hear about your grandchild. This must be very worrying to you. And it is indeed worrying for a 6 year old to say that he wants to die. It is possible that the child has been emotionally traumatized by a certain situation and/or he could be depressed. I am just wondering how his mum feels about his threats. Does she take them seriously?If she agreed with you, then the best place to take him would be CAMHS which is the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services. A GP could easily make the referral and urgently if he spoke to his mum. Unfortunately, as you know yourselves you could not take a similar action as you have no parental rights. However, if you feel that your daughter cannot cope with these difficulties, I would definitely suggest that you rang your local social services and explain the situation in details. They would have to visit your daughter for an assessment as they are obligated to investigate into the matter and protect the child. If they were involved then they could involve the mother in therapy and the child referred to CAMHS and support the family through monitoring and helping them access the relevant services.

I can imagine that calling social services would not be the easier thing for you but if you feel concerned then that would be the best move for you. They have a very supportive role and they do everything in their power to keep the child within the family safe and well.

I hope that helps.

All the best


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Our question was what we could do for him-we explained he lives in a chaotic household-of course we have spoken to his mother-she ignores concerns-I have spoken to Social Services who are aware of the difficulties.We are also in consultation with our solicitor but we need to know how we can help him when he is with us
Expert:  Mina replied 6 years ago.
I see. It sounds like you are already a very positive influence on him as you said he does not state any threats while staying with you. This could mean that you are containing his anxiety in a way and you are already giving him the support he needs when he is with you. You could try and engage him more possibly through play or drawing and he could then open up more and talk to you but I am afraid that since you are not a steady influence as you live far away, your love and care is not enough in this case. He is also far too young to be able to verbalise all his difficult thoughts and feelings to you and when he goes back to his home then the bad influence continues. For the level of anxiety/depression that you described, your grandson would need specialist care and a steady environment. You could also approach a child psychologist where you live and arrange a meeting to discuss the situation in more detail and possibly arrange for your grandson to meet the therapist but again stability of environment is really important for any therapy and that should be the focus. At this point as I said you can try and engage him to talk through play or drawing and be very supportive, accepting and non judgmental. Avoid critisising his mum to him as he would most likely have mixed feelings about her and basically provide a loving environment for him when you see him. At this point he needs people he can trust and contain his pain.

It would be ideal if you could monitor the situation and pressurised the social services to act in order to protect him while he is at his home. It would also be important to avoid confrontation with his mum so you can have as much contact with him as possible.

I hope this helps

All the best

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