Your kid’s life is one big balancing act. Your child is trying to keep up with the demands of school, find personal passions, manage parental expectations, mature in peer relationships and face the challenge of developing an individual identity.
Growing up is hard whichever way you slice it, and for kids who struggle with mental health disorders, there’s even more to balance. If your child is currently undergoing mental health treatment, it can feel extremely overwhelming for you and your whole family.
In this article we’ll look at some ways to help your child thrive in all aspects of life so you can offer support while encouraging your child’s independence.
Model an appropriate stress response
One of the key tools to help your child through mental health treatment is to model healthy and constructive behaviors. Your kid will notice a dramatic, angry or anxious response to life’s events. Even when you think your children don’t notice, they are learning from your actions.
In order for your child to have the tools to balance mental health treatment with school and a social life, you need to model an appropriate stress response. You’ll need to develop skills to respond to problems from a place of peace. There’s no faking it either, so it might be appropriate to seek therapy or counseling on your own or practice calming or mindfulness exercises.
Learn about mental illness
Another important tool to helping your child thrive in school and mental health treatment is keeping yourself informed. There’s a wide world of research and multiple schools of thought on treating mental illness, so knowing where to start can be tricky. Use the resources below as a launch point to learning more about your child’s mental health.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has numerous resources to help you navigate your child’s mental illness, including pages for an overview of children’s mental health, anxiety and depression in children and facts and statistics about childhood mental health.
- Child Mind Institute has a variety of resources and up-to-date articles about adolescent mental wellness. Check out the 2021 Children’s Mental Health Report to learn about the impact of Covid-19 on youth or this guide to managing problem behaviors.
- For teen-friendly articles and resources, check out Teens Health. This site has age appropriate content for learning how to manage stress, talk about depression with your parents and cope with a divorce.
- The National Institute of Mental Health has resources that are more clinical in nature. If you’re looking for diagnostic criteria, disorder specific information or research publications, this is the site for you.
- The Children’s Mental Health Network offers education and connection to resources for children who struggle with mental health disorders or learning disabilities. If your child struggles in school, this organization is helpful for advocacy.
These and other sources can make an important difference in understanding and responding to mental health struggles.
Teach time management
Helping your child to be successful in mental health treatment means you’ll need to focus on time management, and teach those organization skills to your child. Treatment will be more stressful if there’s a pile of homework waiting at home or they’re rushing in after practice. Try to eliminate stressors in the schedule.
As a parent, you can do your part to plan treatment at a time that won’t induce anxiety. Then, teach your kid some tips to stay on track that are developmentally appropriate. Encourage independence with a planner for teens. Younger kids could use a wall calendar or white board to stay on track.
It’s likely that stress is aggravating your child’s mental wellbeing, even if your child does not have a clinical diagnosis. Stress affects us all, so encouraging self-care is constructive for you, your child, and your whole family.
Self-care can be as simple as a quiet hour after school to nap, snack, play or read. Try to keep screen time to a minimum and encourage physical activity as an outlet for feelings. Mental health treatment will also be more effective if your child has time to practice stress management skills he or she has learned in sessions.
Use the school’s resources
If your child’s mental health disorder is impacting school performance, you are entitled to free and professional assistance from the school district you reside in. School-based services are effective because they treat the child within the context of their daily routine and use real-life challenges to build important life skills.
Services may differ by state, but most schools are equipped to provide an evaluation to determine whether a student is eligible for social, emotional and education support. Teachers, social workers, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists and others all provide services under the U.S. Department of Education’s Free and Appropriate Public Education for Students with Disabilities Act.
Your child is most likely to find healing in mental health treatment when parents and caregivers are supportive and encouraging. Embracing treatment with positivity is one way to help your child thrive in life. Start services as soon as possible and stay consistent and mental wellness will be within reach.
Getting professional help for your child could change his or her life. Embrace treatment today with High Focus Centers. With programs for adults and teens, your whole family can find meaningful recovery. Start now by calling 800-877-3628.