Home Family & SocietyFamily Dynamics Helping Your Child When They Won’t Tell You What is Wrong

Helping Your Child When They Won’t Tell You What is Wrong

Emotional Crises Are Scary When They Involve Your Child. Here Are Some Tips.

written by Dr. Erin Leonard December 10, 2018
Helping Your Child When They Won't Tell You What is Wrong

“She won’t tell me what’s wrong, but she’s been crying for hours and she can’t catch a breath,” said Lisa, the mom of one of my adolescent clients. The client, Anne, lived out of town and was unable to attend an emergency office visit, so a phone session was the only option.

I asked if Anne was suicidal or if she had tried to hurt herself. “No,” Lisa said, “but she won’t calm down. She’s hyperventilating. She refuses to talk to me. She won’t talk to anyone. I don’t think she’ll talk to you,” Lisa said tearfully.

“It’s okay. Put the phone on speaker, and place it by her door,” I instructed.

My first intervention was to empathize.

In a gentle, slow, and compassionate voice I said, “You are hurting. You are hurting a lot. It feels really bad. I can tell.” Anne’s crying softened. “I bet you feel helpless and hopeless. I get it. I’m here,” I said softly. Her sobs slowed down. “I bet you are scared, huh?” Anne muffled, “Yes.”   “I know. It’s hard right now,” I said empathically.

To access the rest of this article, please register for a free membership


Related Articles

Log In

Lost Password


The first step to becoming a member of the RD&T Community and the beginning of your personal Journey to Ultimate Success:

Join Now

Click the button below to register for a free membership and have access to unlimited articles.