After witnessing his granddad have what looked like a stroke at the lunch table on Wednesday and the frantic call to 911, I was worried about how our 5 1/2 year-old son was processing everything. He hadn't really said much about it at all. He and I were having some bonding time together reading books and watching "So You Think You Can Dance" later that evening when we talked about it:
Me: "How did you feel about what happened to Pop Pop today?"
His answer: "I felt mean."
Me: "You felt mean?"
Me: "What do you mean, "you felt mean?"
Him: "I felt mean because I couldn't stop it."
Me, trying to hold back the tears for his sake: "Honey, Mommy, Daddy and Grammy were there, too. We're grown-ups and we couldn't stop it either. We just all helped in our own special ways until the ambulance got here to help Pop Pop. Mommy called 911. Daddy checked Pop Pop's breathing and heart beat, Grammy talked to Pop Pop, and You showed Pop Pop your beautiful drawing to help him smile. Then you went out and watched for the ambulance. When the ambulance pulled away, we prayed for Pop Pop, remember? We all did what we could to help, but nobody could have stopped it from happening."
I'm not sure how to help him through all this, but I think talking about it helps. I never expected him to say he felt mean (responsible). He really took it all on himself and never said a word until I asked him about it. Since then, he's had some angry outbursts over little things: a painting that didn't turn out the way he wanted, he refused to go to his children's program, then he got sulky and mad when we had to leave a friend's house after lunch (even though I gave plenty of warning). I think I need to come up with some ways to give him more control, but still stick to the schedule as much as possible. Any ideas?
He loves to do art, and I know therapists often use art as a tool to get kids talking, but I don't know how. Does anyone know of a good book or have some advice for us on how to handle this?