Parenting is not for the faint of heart
Parenting a child during their middle and high school years can present unique challenges in normal times. Throw in a global pandemic, social justice reckoning, climate change (insert your kiddo’s stressor) and it certainly doesn’t get any easier. If you are the parent of a tween or teen, you don’t need to have read the recently published Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health to know that the past couple of years has taken its toll.
What to do if you feel your child needs mental health support
So, what is a parent to do when they suspect something more than “normal” teenage moodiness and drama is impacting their child? As a therapist we often hear, “I knew my kid would be moody but they just can’t get out of bed some days no matter what I do”…or, “they used to be so engaged in the activities they loved, but now never seem to want to do them”. Sometimes it’s even, “I have this feeling my child may be hurting themself”, or “Maybe I’m making too much of nothing, but some of the things they say have me worried they are thinking about suicide”.
- First – Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way – this stuff is SCARY! Take a minute to breathe. As hard as this is, the good news is that you are seeing your child exactly where they are. Not every parent can do that so pat yourself on the back!
- Second – talk to your kid. I know…. it’s hard, but how can you know how to help if you haven’t tried to ask what is going on? If you truly suspect they are hurting themselves or thinking about suicide it is important to know that asking about either of these topics will not increase the likelihood of either one happening. It seems counterintuitive, but this is what all the research shows.
- Third – get some outside help. As parents we all have blinders on when it comes to our children. And, let’s face it – they are not always going to tell their parents everything. Reaching out for extra help early is important, especially due to the increased mental health issues our systems are facing. Whether it is a hotline, local community services board (CSB) or therapist, resources are not always available when we are ready to use them. It’s always better to start early.
If your child is struggling know you are not alone, and it is not your fault! Breathe, talk to them, and get early intervention so you both can work towards thriving again.
About Alice McGuin:
Alice is a Supervisee in Social Work with Healthy Minds Therapy. She helps clients of all ages navigate the stressors and transitions that are inevitable in everyday life. She recognizes the most important factor to positive therapy outcomes is the therapeutic relationship. Alice strives to provide a safe, warm and even fun environment where her clients feel heard and understood. Alice knows that anyone who has the desire to change can do so and wants her clients to lead healthy and thriving lives.