My name is Erin Carlo and I am the School Social Worker for the Robert C. Wood, Sr. Early Childhood Center. I have my Master’s Degree in Social Work and am licensed by the New Jersey State Board of Social Workers. I grew up in Little Egg Harbor, so this district is near and dear to me. I began my “social work” journey during the Fall of 2012, a couple weeks before our community was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. I worked as a disaster relief caseworker and although it was some of the most trying days I have had, it gave me a strong desire to work toward a greater good within a community I care about. I also have worked counseling young children who have experienced trauma, loss and anxiety, and provided counseling through play therapy, specifically Sand Play Therapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
At the ECC, our students may be little but have BIG emotions! I currently work with students on an as needed basis to help with ongoing issues and ones that arise throughout the year. This includes, managing strong emotions/anxieties, social skill building and learning about feelings. Parents play a HUGE role in my ability to support students so I always extend help to families who may be experiencing a hardship or a family change. This may include expecting a new sibling, financial difficulty, experiencing a new move or a loss in the family. Connecting families to local resources is also something I do and have helped families in the past receive help from many places, including local food pantries, utility assistance programs and in-home counseling support. I am confident this school year will be exciting and fulfilling where my biggest teachers will most definitely be your children!
How to talk to Preschoolers About Divorce/Separation.
Counseling Corner - Erin Carlo, MSW, LSW
How to Talk to Preschoolers about Separation/Divorce
- beginning to develop independence, but still highly dependent
- limited ability to understand cause and effect; still unable to think ahead to the future
- understanding of the world revolves around themselves
- line between fantasy and reality is sometimes fuzzy
- some ability to think about feelings, but limited ability to talk about them
What to watch for: Signs of distress in preschoolers include fear, anger or emotional instability, which may be expressed indirectly through clinginess, anxiety, whininess or general irritability. Preschoolers may also lose ground in their development. If they were sleeping through the night might start waking up more often.
With their limited cognitive ability, three- and four-year-olds can develop inaccurate ideas about the causes and effect of divorce. If Dad’s the one who leaves the home, they might think, ‘Dad left me,’ rather than ‘Dad left Mom,'” Children need to understand that the decision to live apart is an adult decision. It’s difficult for preschoolers to understand that.”
Parental priorities: Consistent care and nurturing give children a sense of stability and reassurance. Their lives need to be anchored by their normal routines (meals, play, bath, bed) in the presence of a parent who is “there for them.” This, of course, is important to all children, but especially after the separation. If things aren’t going well at home, preteens and teenagers can escape by going to hang out with friends. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers can’t.
Preschoolers need simple, concrete explanations. Stick to the basics: which parent will be moving out, where the child will live, who will look after him and how often he’ll see the other parent. Be prepared for questions; provide short answers, then wait to see if there are more. Don’t expect one conversation to do the job; plan on several short talks.