Monday, February 20, 2012

How to Explain Death to a Child

By Christine Hammond, MS, IMH

One of the hardest realities to explain to a child is death especially when it is the death of a parent, sibling, beloved grandparent, close friend or even a favorite pet. As a parent, you try to protect your child from things that might harm them or protect them from things that are too difficult to understand for their age but unfortunately sometimes this is not possible. When you are faced with the reality that you need to have a conversation with your child about death, keep the following ideas in mind.

Don’t lie. Whatever you do say, make sure that you are completely honest with your child. Telling them that a person went to sleep for a long time does not help them and can confuse them later when they do find out the truth. Don’t say anything that would cause your relationship with your child to be in jeopardy later because of a lie, even if it is just a little white lie.

Keep it simple. Long winded explanations may make you feel better but a child will only hear the first couple of sentences. Remember the teacher on Charlie Brown and how the kids just tuned her out? You don’t want your child to turn you out during a difficult conversation so be clear and simple when you start.

Answer only the question they ask. As a parent, you may be tempted to reinterpret your child’s question or answer more then they ask. Resist the urge and instead repeat the question they ask for clarity by saying, “You want to know…” followed by their question. If they say yes, then answer it simply; if they say no than ask them to ask a different question.

Don’t expect an emotional response. Children need more time than adults to process what has happened because this is a new experience for them. So if your child seems unemotional at first, don’t worry, just give them time to process what has happened. Your child may also have inappropriate emotional responses such as laughing instead of crying; allow them the freedom to respond as they know how. They may be laughing because that is the only way they know of releasing the stress and tension they feel.

Explain as often as requested. You may find that your child comes back to you several hours or days later with the exact same set of questions they asked at first. They are doing this to process better what has happened and refusing to answer a question because you have already answered it is not helpful. Rather, be consistent with your responses and answer the same question in the same manner. Again resist the temptation to over explain, they are not asking the same question because they need more clarity, they are just trying to understand.

Invite them to ask more questions in the future. As your child ages and has more experience to draw from, they may have additional harder questions later. While they may have seemed like they are processing the grief well shortly after the death, problems may surface several years later as they learn more about life. Look out for disruptive behavior at school, defiant behavior at home, or destructive behavior with friends as warning signs that your child may have more grief to process.

Get help not only for your child but for you as well. Grief of close family members can take well over a year to process for adults. For children, they seem to postpone aspects of their grief for later and sometimes it is not fully processed until they are adults. As a parent, you need to get help so that you can better help your child first by example and next by experience. Your child will be far more likely to ask for help in a productive rather than destructive manner if they have witnessed you asking for help. The idea of being strong for your child and not getting help may be counterproductive for your child who may feel weak compared to you.

It is a tough to have a conversation with your child about death. Before you begin, pray and ask for the right words to say then review the above suggestions rehearsing answers to some of the anticipated questions. But if your child is resistant to the conversation, don’t force it on your time table but rather be patient and sensitive to their time table. This will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your child.


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"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dr. Mark Laaser's 12 Hidden Signs of Male Sex Offenders

1. Is a loner, has no accountability, meaning that he has no one who really knows his struggles. He may have hundreds of friends but no intimate relationships. He doesn’t’ know how to share his feelings and needs in healthy ways (Accountability Principle #2).

2. Spends “special” time with certain people (boys). He takes them on special outings or to special events. Engages in horseplay or any opportunity to touch the boys.

3. Outwardly he is seen touching them, not publicly inappropriately, and touching them often.

4. He is charismatic and very likeable. Therefore, everyone has a very hard time believing that he is doing “awful” things.

5. Uses his charm to form special relationships. He seems more friendly with certain boys than a grownup should be.

6. Gives out his private phone number. Meets at strange times.

7. Uses sexual humor or teasing.

8. Women might experience him as angry. This is because he has a great deal of repressed anger at women. Men experience him as a good old boy.

9. So likeable that there is a broad level of systemic denial. “How could such a man do anything like that?”

10. Certain boys seem suddenly to be more reserved, even depressed.

11. The system of boys “knows” that stuff is going on but is embarrassed to talk about it to grownups. Every one of the group “knows” that there is something weird or different about the man. The system learns to avoid him.

12. The whole system, including sometimes parents, get pulled into the problem because to them it seems so “wonderful” that such a great man is willing to spend special time with some of the boys. A systematic denial develops because it is so hard to believe that such a good guy could do such things.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Big Lessons from the Loss of a Big Tree

By Dwight Bain

The Big Tree burned up last week and I’m still sad. A mysterious fire brought down of one of the world's oldest cypress trees, estimated to be 3,500 years old. The 118-foot-tall bald cypress was the fifth largest tree in the world… but it’s gone now. The fire investigators believe that a fire was sparked in a hollow part of the tree, so it slowly burned up from the inside out. By the time fire fighters were called to save one of the oldest trees in North America – it was too late.

Hearing the news of a landmark I first visited as a child made me feel sad, but it also reminded me of how often people do the same thing. Think about it for a minute. How many times do you see someone who has a great career, but then they self-destruct from the inside-out. Dr. David Uth describes it this way, “You never see the fall in a person’s life – you only see the crash.” Because we can’t see what is burning in people’s lives there is a tendency to believe they are doing well when in fact there are two dangerous emotional reactions we need to be aware of... emotions that can destroy everything good.

Burning up –
This dangerous behavior is easy to spot. Someone is angry, moody and irritable all the time. When someone is burning up with emotion they need a healthy way to vent, so these toxic emotions don’t get dumped on the people they love the most.

Burning in –
This is the slow-burn, like the one that destroyed the Big Tree. Resentment, bitterness or revenge are common emotions that slowly burn inside of a person, and eventually can destroy them and the relationships they cherish at home, or work.

So how can you manage these intense emotions without destroying yourself- or others? A better approach is to remember the words of King David in Psalm 34…”This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him and delivered him from all his fears.” When you learn to voice the emotional pressure you feel, it can be pointed toward productive behavior, and can bring much good. (Much like a fire in a fireplace can warm, comfort and soothe a person.) How can you express emotions without dumping a “Fire” onto others?

1. Pray it-
Taking your fears, frustrations, anger and hurt directly to God is the single best way to manage major emotions. Little children learn to take their burdens to God, so they don’t have to carry them alone. As adults we can do the same thing.

2. Write it-
Expressing painful emotions on paper is a simple way to relieve pressure. The odd thing is that it’s so simple most people won’t take time to do it. When you take a pen and paper and just vent out the frustrations you now can actually ‘see’ more of the problem, so it’s easier to sort through your options and find a solution.

3. Talk it-
Finding a trusted friend, pastor or counselor to talk through issues is another positive way to manage major emotions. It’s also a safe way to sort through the best way to respond to protect the relationship- instead of letting pressure build up that will ultimately destroy it.

4. Read it-
To spend time in God’s word studying the biblical response to managing emotions is another positive way to sort through the normal emotional pressures we all feel. Small children can learn from simple stories that show how to deal with others, (like “Veggie Tales), and adults can benefit from the insights of popular authors who focus on counseling themes. Reading to gain new skills is another way to seek out new options to manage major emotions. Remember – you always have options.

Do you see the difference? To let pressure build up inside can lead to the dangerous situation of a tiny spark igniting a major fire of emotion. Wisdom is to keep the risk of internal fires away by spending time in healthy skill development, instead of continually being at risk for a major burn.

The relationships in your life are important… protect them by keeping the risk of fire away. Every step you take and every skill you develop will protect the beauty of God’s design for you, and those you care about.


About the author: Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He partners with the media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his life management blog with over 400 complimentary articles and special reports at

Thursday, February 02, 2012

2012 – The End of the World?

2012 is projected by some to be the year that the world ends; and Christian Coach Dwight Bain hopes they are correct… to a degree.

If people are stuck in habits and routines of the past then Bain says they should live every day as if it was their last... to maximize the moments and make a positive difference for Christ.

Bain has identified the top trends in 2012 that will affect the Baby-Boomer generation, their families, businesses or ministries.

More importantly how you can benefit from making some little changes to achieve big results in this year so that you maximize your potential and experience greater success. These are the top 5 areas that will radically change this year and never be the same:

1. Digital Technology increase across all generations, especially seniors, (Kindle, iPad, mobile banking, DVR, texting)

2. Healthy lifestyles to avoid health crisis and nursing care, (organic everything, gardens, bankruptcy of “Twinkies” parent company – Hostess)

3. Personal Economy focus more than worrying about the national economy with people focusing on saving over spending, (greater gap between those with financial stability and those in financial crisis)

4. Families are re-structured with Grandparents heavily involved in parenting grandkids, single parent homes increase and women being more empowered to confront issues instead of waiting on a passive husband to get involved

5. Spirituality over traditional Church membership, (deep search for God, just not on Sunday morning, more people open to discussion about faith but not religion)

No matter what the year brings, meditate on this scripture…

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

~ Proverbs19:21


Bio- Dwight Bain has dedicated his life to guide people toward greater results as an Author, Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984. He has been interviewed by hundreds of radio stations and quoted in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Atlanta Journal, and Bain has spoken to over 3,000 groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress. He is passionate about positive growth and is quoted in over 30 books