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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 3, 2001

The September 11th attack
When to consider professional help

 •  Parents' calm manner eases children's flying fears

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

You've tried to restore routine and normalcy in your household. You've tried talking about the terrorist attacks with your children. You've tried listening. Nothing's working.

Maybe you should consider seeking professional help.

"If the kid is not functioning well, hasn't returned to a normal level of functioning in school, at home, with peers, that deserves a further look," said Dr. Marv Mathews, a child and adolescent psychiatrist for Kaiser Permanente.

If after a few weeks, the child still hasn't bounced back, the problem may be clinical, he said.

"If they're still afraid to fly, get nightmares, seeing pictures of towers blowing up, that could be a clinical issue," he said.

It may be an indicator that your child is vulnerable to certain disorders such as anxiety or depressive.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents in particular can be hit hard by these kinds of events. Parents may want to look for signs of sleep disturbances, fatigue, lack of pleasure in activities they once enjoyed and initiation of illicit substance abuse.

Parents should also look for changes in the child's performance in school and behavior.

But avoid indulgence. Don't allow the child to stay at home from school, for example. "Keep a normal, routine life," he said. "We don't stay home from school."

If these behaviors persist, parents should consult a physician or mental health professional.