I recently split up with my wife and our five year old son is living with me. His mum has been unwell with depression for the last year or so but he does have weekly contact with her. Over the past couple of months, my son has started having nightmares and wetting the bed. I was hoping it was just a phase but I think he’s getting worse. Can you please help, I don’t know what to do?
Dear Worried Dad
Fears about our children can be overwhelming, especially if we feel they are unhappy in some way. You have had a lot to deal with in the recent past and I suspect there are a lot of uncertainties for you. First of all, although it is possible that some element in his life is upsetting him, a quick visit to the GP to rule out any physical causes is a good idea. Having done that, you can begin to look at what he may be finding difficult in his young life.
You mention his weekly contact with his mother and I wonder if this is something the two of you should be looking at together. Our experience at AVENUE tells us that, children who don't live with both parents, are very relieved to know their parents can still work together to keep them safe and well.
Are you and his mother able to communicate? Do you feel that his contact isn't as good as it should be? Is it overnight contact?
You say this has been happening for the last couple of months. We know that younger children can often react to family separation by reverting to younger babyish behaviour, including bed-wetting. Could his troubles tie in with a big change such as starting school? Young children are usually pretty good at opening up with some encouragement. Doing an activity together can make it easier, especially for boys.
Check with other people in his life who have insight about him, for example, how he is settling into school.
You and his mother deserve all the help you can get to support your son and each other as parents. AVENUE offer Play Therapy for children from five years old.
Good luck, I wish you all well.