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Granddaughter Needs Help Before I Send Her Home

Question:

My granddaughter that is 11 1/2 years old, still sucks her thumb and has potty accidents several times a week. She only sees her father and me for about 3 weeks in the summer. I have asked her mother what she is doing about these problems so we can all be on the same page. She said she has given up. There has to be some kind of underlying problem for this to continue for so long. I am very reluctant to send her home before I get any information on what is going on with her. She did make the comment she could not tell me anything because I would tell her Dad and he would "freak out." What should I do?

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Answer:

There is little doubt that your granddaughter is exhibiting some serious symptoms considering her age and stage of development. Given her age, 11 1/2, she could be experiencing social rejection and stigmatization at the hands of other children in school. Unless she is able to get control of these things, her social problems will worsen, if they have started, or will start and become a major issue that could leave terrible emotional scars.

It is impossible to know why she is behaving in this way. It could be that some of this is genetic in nature but, it is most likely that she is experiencing an extraordinary amount of anxiety caused by something unknown.

I want to very much stress to you that your granddaughter is NOT doing these things deliberately and that she HAS NO CONTROL OVER THIS.

You will need her mother’s cooperation for this but, what needs to be done is for your granddaughter to be referred to a child psychologist. The child psychologist will evaluate the problems that she is experiencing and recommend a course of action to help her. It is important that all of you act cooperatively and jointly. She is still young and has every opportunity to resolve whatever problems are going on with her.

I want to urge that you, her father and her mother work jointly and cooperatively and refrain from engaging in angry and accusatory conflicts. I say this because she is already worried that her father might "freak out." Who knows what is in her imagination. All of you should work together to get her help and I am sure she will recover just fine.

Best of Luck

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