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Dear David Coleman: My middle child has meltdowns and said she wished she was dead

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Adapting and accommodating to parents separating is a process that may need ongoing emotional support for children

Adapting and accommodating to parents separating is a process that may need ongoing emotional support for children

Adapting and accommodating to parents separating is a process that may need ongoing emotional support for children

Q We have three children aged 12, 11 and 9. The older two are girls and regularly fall out, with the younger of the two having huge meltdowns recently, screaming abuse at her older sister. In the last two meltdowns, she got so upset she also said she wished she was dead. We don't know how to deal with her. Myself and their dad are separated for the last year or so, and, on the whole, the children seem to be coping okay with no change in school performance, sports, friends etc. How should we be responding to our middle child?

David replies: Whenever I hear about children whose behaviour seems to have changed, I am always intrigued to know what may have contributed to that change. Often times, changes in their environment, their home dynamic or their school dynamic can have a big impact.

While the fact that your two daughters have some sibling tensions may not be new, the extent to which your younger daughter seems to be now reacting does seem new. The added layer of appearing so distressed she is talking about killing herself is also new.