For a year, we’ve worried about our kids’ mental health as they cope with social isolation, remote school, health anxiety. Now, a return to in-person classrooms and the resumption of some kind of normal life carries fresh concerns: How will kids actually re-acclimate? We might be excited for our kids to go back to school (and get out of the house!) — but are they ready?
The transition is especially worrisome for adolescents and teens, who are adjusting to puberty and have been grappling with normal issues relating to social development in an abnormal bubble.
“One should expect it will be an adjustment, even if parents are really excited about their kids going back. Kids are going to feel — at the very least — mixed emotions. Kids are really nervous about seeing classmates they haven’t seen in a full year; now they have acne, braces, weight gain, or are just more self-conscious,” says Chessie Shaw, a middle school counselor in Somerville.
According to new data from Boston-based Common Sense Media, nearly 4 in 10 teens and young adults report symptoms of moderate to severe depression, up 25 percent from two years ago. The CDC reports that adolescents ages 12-17 accounted for the largest proportion of children’s mental-health-related emergency visits during 2020. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for kids ages 12 to 18.
Parents I heard from for this piece reported frustration with homework; social isolation; the sense of missing out on rites of passage like the Prom; issues around weight gain and self-image; and intense anxiety about returning to school and fitting in.
“As much as we’re hearing kids say that they want this to be over and can’t wait, we’re also hearing a lot of anxiety about what the future holds. How do we conduct daily business in a post-COVID world?” says Dr. Jonathan Jenkins, a clinical psychologist with Massachusetts General Hospital who specializes in adolescents and teens. “There’s this worry about a performative aspect. How will I perform, and how will I be perceived? But there’s also the anxiety of not knowing what [a return] will be like, what it will look like, and what it will feel like.”
Here are five things to keep in mind as we teeter on the edge of normalcy.
Grief is real and persistent. Kids are still mourning a missing year, and parents need to treat that grief as real.
“We’ve been asking youth to make a ton of accommodations and suffered losses. When we think of losses, we often think about death and something ‘serious.’ But losing Prom, losing your sports season, losing your concert season, and physical contact with friends and coaches” is just as real, Jenkins says. Don’t assume that they’ll snap out of it as soon as they go back to school.
Be open about your own anxiety or trepidation. “Teenagers don’t want to talk to their parents or tell them exactly how they’re feeling. So talk casually,” says Shaw. Instead of probing them about their feelings, work it into casual conversation: Talk about how you’ve heard that many kids are nervous about going back to school — or share how you might be feeling anxious about returning to your own daily grind. “Try to depersonalize the issue for your child,” she says.
Pre-process with your child. Lots of things could have changed over the course of the year. Social groups have morphed and shifted. Kids who once loved video games now might want to play basketball. Life won’t look the same.
Jenkins recommends “pre-processing,” which is basically the opposite of a post-event debrief. Sit down with your child and discuss their thoughts, misconceptions, or fears relating to returning to school. Ask about what they’re excited or fearful about. Talk about what their new schedule will look like: Will they return to sports? Go back to music lessons? Do they even want to? Interests can evolve over the course of a year, so check in before plunging back into your old routine.
“Offer a general roadmap for potential outcomes so they can better navigate the situation,” he says.
Lower the bar. Think about how drained you’ll be during your first full week back to work, making small talk with coworkers or sitting in traffic. Your kids will be tired, too.
“Go gradually. Think about what would be a low bar to start at and then go ten percent lower. That way, you reduce the activation energy that it takes to get started and reintroduce yourself to the habit or routine,” Jenkins says. “Kids need to be able to build the physical and emotional and social stamina and endurance to weather a full day of practice and a full day of in school. People will judge them on previous competency; how well they performed pre-pandemic. We need to wipe the scoreboard clean and start over again. Give them grace and compassion and the ability to really allow themselves to get readjusted — or else anxiety and negative self-talk will increase.”
Be attuned to warning signs. Jenkins says that teen suicide doesn’t get enough media attention, and in the rush to resume our old routines, we might overlook danger signs.
“Suicide rates were high during the pandemic because people were isolated and removed from their supports that kept them persevering. People assume because the world has reopened that those resources and foundations will now still be available and provide the same sustenance, and that might not be the case. We need to be watchful during the transition,” he says.
Be alert to any deviation in behavior — even if it’s a sudden increase in energy or euphoria, which can be misconstrued. Maintain multiple points of reference in your child’s life.
“Establish good relationships with people they love and care about: aunts, uncles, older cousins, coaches, mentors,” Jenkins says, especially since teenagers might not want to open up to parents.
If you’re worried about your child, don’t hesitate to go to your local emergency room. For longer-term help, Jenkins recommends investigating group therapy practices that have multiple clinicians and therefore more availability.
Most of all, trust your intuition. “If you feel like there’s something going on, bring [your child] to the ER or call your pediatrician. You don’t want to assume your kid’s OK when they’re not. I’d rather you assume they’re not OK and they are,” Jenkins says.
For suicide resources in Massachusetts, visit www.mass.gov/suicide-prevention-program. A Samaritans 24-seven crisis helpline can be reached by calling or texting 877-870-4673. People experiencing a crisis can call also the Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or the Crisis Text Line: Text CRISIS to 741741.
Mindset is a set of attitudes, says Carol Dweck, a world-renowned Stanford psychologist, who discovered after years of research that dedication, hard work and resilience are much more important to growth and success than brains or talent. When we change our mindset to one of growth, we change the course of our lives.
We can do these simple steps every day, quickly and easily, to improve our mindset:
1. Just breathe. (5 minutes)
Studies show that just a few minutes a day of quiet can open our brains and make it available for our most innovative ideas. Sit or stand in a quiet spot, feet on the floor, and hands by your side or on your knees. Now just quiet your mind—picture a place that is your idea of peace, such as a beach or a mountain. Just breathe, consciously and deeply from your belly. If your thoughts start to intrude (the project is due today, a late bill, etc.), just notice, then go back to your picture. You don’t have to be a meditation expert to do this. Five to 10 minutes of quiet, deep breathing during the day can also help us get back on track when stress levels get high, and clear our minds to come up with a better solution or next step to our challenge.
2. Check your thoughts. (5 minutes)
Have you ever gotten up in the morning when the weather is lousy and said, This is going to be a bad day? I have. More times than not, it guaranteed a day that finished the same way. Our thoughts are powerful. They create feelings, which leads to actions and behaviors that determine whether our day goes well. Learning that we can choose our thoughts is one of the most powerful things we can do to take charge of our lives. Taking five minutes to make sure our thoughts are positive starts the day off with the right mindset.
3. Write your grateful list. (3 minutes)
Set the timer and write down five things you are grateful for every day. According to research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, keeping a gratitude journal contributes to a positive life attitude, and makes us feel better, sleep better and even have stronger immune systems. Try for a different list each day, and at the end of the week you will be surprised how this helps your mindset.
4. Set your intention for the day. (5 minutes)
Before you leave in the morning, set an intention of how you want the day to end. How do you want the actions you accomplish today to make you feel at the end of the day? How do you want to feel about your relationships, and what can you do today to move that forward? It doesn’t have to be major. What is one thing you can do that will make you feel better at the end of the day?
5. Turn off the noise. (2 minutes)
Just for today, find something else to listen to when you begin your day. Do your morning commute without listening to the news (it’s never positive), talking on the phone or checking social media. Listen to your favorite music, a lecture you’ve recorded and have been wanting to get time for, or just observe what’s happening around you. There will be plenty of time to find out what’s happening in the world when you get to your destination. Do this for a week and you will find yourself arriving at work in a calmer, more positive and relaxed mindset. Best of all, you will discover you haven’t missed a thing.
That’s it—just 20 minutes and you are well on your way to a more positive mindset. Practice this for just two weeks. You will see a tremendous difference in your productivity and your attitude.
The human brain is remarkably malleable. It can be shaped very much like a ball of Play-Doh, just with a bit more time and effort.
Within the last 20 years, thanks to rapid development in the spheres of brain imaging and neuroscience, we can now say for sure that the brain is capable of re-engineering. In fact, you could say that we can facilitate these changes.
In many ways, neuroplasticity – an umbrella term describing the lasting change to the brain throughout a person’s life – is a beautiful thing.
We can change our brain for the positive, so we don’t have to feel “stuck”. We can increase our intelligence (our “I.Q.”). And, we can learn new, life-changing skills. In some instances, a person can recover from brain damage. Finally, we can choose to become more emotionally intelligent by “unlearning” harmful behaviors, beliefs, and habits.
But, there’s another side of the coin, we can redesign our brain for the worse! Fortunately, thanks to our ability to unlearn harmful behaviors, beliefs, and habits, we can right the ship again!
BOTH GOOD AND BAD BELIEFS CHANGE THE BRAIN
Donald Hebb, an early pioneer of neuroplasticity and neuropsychology, famously said:
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Dr. Michael Merzenich, now recognized as perhaps the world’s most renowned neuroscientist, built on Hebb’s work, proving the relationship between our thoughts (“neurons that fire”) and structural changes in the brain (“wire together.”)
Among Dr. Merzenich’s numerous discoveries, this one may be the most important:
“Your experiences, behaviors, thinking, habits, thought patterns, and ways of reacting to world are inseparable from how your brain wires itself.”
Negative habits change your brain for the worse. Positive practices change your brain for the better.
NEUROPLASTICITY AND ILLNESS
Alex Korb, Ph.D., and author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, said this profound statement,
“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”
Neuroplasticity can be both the problem and the solution.
COMPLAINING AND BRAIN CHANGES
We’re going to get a bit more specific now, discussing the effects of negative behaviors – specifically, complaining – and how these behaviors alter the brain’s structure.
Negative people are almost always complainers without fail. Worse, complainers are not satisfied in keeping their thoughts and feelings to themselves; instead, they’ll seek out some unwilling participant and vent.
Undoubtedly annoying to their friends and family, these complainers aren’t to be chastised but understood.
Of course, we all complain from time-to-time. In fact, researchers from Clemson University empirically demonstrated that everyone grumbles on occasion. Some just do so much more often than others.
COMPLAINERS GENERALLY FALL INTO ONE OF THREE GROUPS:
These are people who seek attention through complaining. They dwell on about how they’ve got it worse than everyone else. Ironically, rational people are apt to ignore outright the person rather than waste mental energy, focusing on their negativity.
These folks live in a constant state of complaint. If they’re not voicing about their “woe is me” attitude, they’re probably thinking about it.
‘E.Q.’ is short for emotional quotient, and constituents within this group are short on E.Q. What I.Q. is to intelligence, E.Q. is to emotional understanding.
These people aren’t interested in your perspective, thoughts, or feelings. You’re a sounding board – a brick wall. As such, they’ll dwell and vent at every opportunity.
SO IS THE BRAIN TO BLAME?
The answer is (mostly) “Yes.” You see, most negative people don’t want to feel this way. Who truly would? Truth be told, it may not consciously be their fault.
Harmful behaviors such as complaining, if allowed to loop within the brain continually, will inevitably alter thought processes. Altered thoughts lead to altered beliefs, which leads to a change in behavior.
Additionally, our brain possesses something called the negativity bias. In simple terms, negativity bias is the brain’s tendency to focus more on adverse circumstances than positive.
Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist, and author of Buddha’s Brain, explains negativity bias:
“Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly.”
Repetition is the mother of all learning. When we repeatedly focus on the negative by complaining, we’re firing and re-firing the neurons responsible for the negativity bias.
We’re creating our negative behavior through repetition.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE CHANGING YOUR BRAIN TO STOP COMPLAINING
It’s not possible to be “happy-go-lucky” all of the time – and we shouldn’t try. It’s crucial to process feelings naturally as they come in. We should, however, take concrete steps to counteract negative thinking.
Research has repeatedly shown that affirmations, meditation, and mindfulness are perhaps the most powerful tools for combating negativity.
Positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina showed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions than those who do not.
Following a three month experiment, Fredrickson’s team noted that “people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.”
After learning the basics of meditation, which involves a focus on breathing, create a daily meditation schedule that works for you. Indeed, just 15-20 minutes of daily meditation may just make a massive difference in your life and increase the capacity of your brain. And, you’ll be better equipped to resist the temptation to complain.
Depression and social anxiety are both sadly common disorders, and they’re often comorbid with each other. Their symptoms of social anxiety and depression link closely together. Unfortunately, both can make them a big handful to manage and get under control.
It can be challenging to find ways to handle these disorders’ results, but learning some management techniques will give you an excellent fighting chance at overcoming the worst of those symptoms. Here are five ways to reduce the effects of social anxiety and depression.
1.BE KIND TO YOURSELF
People often overlook the power of self-compassion. When you’re kind to yourself, you give yourself the positive thinking that can help you better manage and handle the effects of depression and social anxiety. You’ll learn to trust yourself and feel confident in yourself, even when your disorders have you feeling down. Here are some specific ways you can start being kind to yourself:
·BE YOUR BEST ADVOCATE – KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
You are the person in charge of your life and fate, and it is your responsibility to collect knowledge and information regarding any disorders or that you may have. While you should have professional help, it’s also worth noting that few things are as empowering as becoming your advocate. Please read up on depression and social anxiety, learn how to manage them, talk to those you trust about it, and request accommodations from school, work, or other places that you need it from.
·CONGRATULATE YOURSELF FOR GOING ON
Life is tough when you have depression, social anxiety, and any mental illness or disorder. Yet, life goes on, and you do your best to keep up with others and put your best foot forward, even when it’s hard. You continue to survive and even learn to do well for yourself, and that’s something worth congratulating. Stop being so hard on yourself and start showing yourself the understanding and compassion you need!
·REWARD YOURSELF FOR PROGRESS
All progress is good progress. Sometimes, progress is little, or barely noticeable, or nonlinear. But all progress deserves to be celebrated, no matter how small or inconsequential it seems. Give yourself rewards for the positive changes you see at regular intervals to motivate yourself to keep going. When you see the fruits of your effects, you’ll be more inspired to manage your disorders better.
One of the expected effects of depression and social anxiety is that you may find yourself opting for the “safe” routes in life. But the “safer” you stay, the less likely you are to ever come out of your bubble and learn to manage the effects of the difficulties you face.
Challenging yourself regularly is an excellent way to improve continuously. Leaving your safe bubble and comfort zone, little by little and in small, manageable ways, will often reward you. The positive effects of such challenges will encourage you to take more risks in the future. Here are some ways to do so:
·DEVELOP AN EXPOSURE HIERARCHY
Rushing into difficult situations headfirst works for some people, but most with depression and social anxiety, that’s not the most positive way to go about things. So develop a hierarchy of what scares you the least to the most, ranking them on a scale of 0 to 10. Write down a whole list of things that affect you across multiple situations and organize them in a hierarchy. Once you understand what concerns you most, you’ll be able to prepare yourself for the emotions and impulses involved with each situation, and you’ll know how to challenge yourself and watch yourself climb the fear ladder.
·SET GOOD GOALS FOR YOURSELF
Reducing the effects of depression or social anxiety typically involves learning to manage them or overcoming certain hurdles and setbacks that neurotypical individuals may not face. Instead of holding vague goals above your head, write down and set clear, measurable, specific goals for yourself with reasonable expectations and workable deadlines. Then, take a step towards those goals every day, even if they’re small ones. Track your progress and watch yourself grow.
Even when you feel overwhelmed and can’t imagine challenging yourself, all it takes is one little change to see some positive changes and effects. For example, you can participate in a group text once a day, buy bread to make yourself sandwiches instead of not eating anything, or read the news after lunch, so you stay informed on the outside world.
3.PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
Anyone with social anxiety knows that the concept of “putting yourself out there” is a momentous and often terrifying task. But that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish it! The trick is to pace yourself, steel up with positive thinking, and be aware of your absolute limits. Here are some ideas on ways to put yourself out there:
·TAKE A CLASS OR JOIN A CLUB
There’s undoubtedly something that interests you out there, whether it’s something you currently already do or something you’ve always wanted to try. Depression can make it tough to want to do fun things, and social anxiety turns all those fun things into solo activities. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Join a small club related to an interest or take a class on something you’d like to learn. There’s no pressure to socialize openly with others, so use these as opportunities to broaden your horizons while getting a little human interaction in.
Routine is comfortable for those with social anxiety, and it’s easier to fall into for those with depression. But the constant humdrum of the same old again and again isn’t right for you, as it keeps you even more stuck in unhelpful habits. You don’t need to take up an extreme, exciting routine to change this – all you have to do is go somewhere new now and then. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never tried. Take a different route home. Try a new shopping mall. Watch a show outside of your preferred genre. Get comfortable with the unknown!
·DO YOUR SOLO ACTIVITIES OUTDOORS
You can stay in all day, curled up and reading a book or binge-watching shows. Or you could do all of those same things, but outside! Putting yourself out there in this way lets you stay comfortable and within a safe personal bubble, but in such a way that you get to train yourself to feel more accustomed to the world beyond your four walls. Go to a library to work, watch your shows in a coffee shop, or do yoga in a park!
4.CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK TO OVERCOME THE SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY
How you think dictates how much your depression and social anxiety can control you. Altering the way you think and behave challenges what your mental illnesses tell you, allowing you to take power over them and better manage their effects.
Here are some tips for doing so:
· PAY ATTENTION AND BE AWARE
Mental disorders can be so challenging to manage because the negativity they spawn feels normal and natural. You become so used to the horrible things your social anxiety and depression tell you that you allow them to run, untethered, in the background. Start paying more attention to the thoughts that mull around in your brain, slowing down to concentrate on and address them. You might be surprised by how little positive thinking you have, but your newfound awareness will let you act to circumvent this trend.
· STOP ASSUMING NOTHING WILL WORK
Depression often involves feelings of hopelessness, and social anxiety will tell you that you’ll only fail or make a fool of yourself. These thoughts aren’t real, and they’re not rooted in reality. Though positive thinking can be hard to muster, you need to stop dismissing all possible solutions because you assume nothing will work for you. You’ll never know until you give it a try.
· REPLACE NEGATIVITY
People with depression and social anxiety tend to get stuck only looking at life through the lens of cloudy negativity. Replacing negative thinking with positive thinking is very tough for people with neurodivergent traits, but it’s doable! When you begin a negative thought, counter it with something positive, and when you’re in a bad situation, crane your neck to seek a silver lining.
5.PRACTICE YOUR SOCIAL SKILLS
You don’t have to have perfect social skills. After all, the symptoms of social anxiety can make it very difficult for you to read others and function in groups of people, and depression can make you feel a little too down to be welcoming towards others.
No one’s saying you have to become a silver-tongued charismatic casanova, though! All you need to do is have a decent level of social ability to enjoy positive results. When you handle social situations in better ways, you’ll feel less anxious in similar situations in the future. Here are some ways to practice your social skills:
· GREET YOUR NEIGHBORS
People with social anxiety often do their very best to hide or run away when they see an acquaintance. But what better way to begin building social skills than by merely offering a “hello” to your neighbor, who you see regularly and are expected to greet now and then? A little pleasantry will get you used to small talk and interacting in simple ways without overthinking things.
· GIVE GOOD HANDSHAKES
Social anxiety may make it tough to speak, so show your strengths through physical action. Practice giving firm, friendly handshakes, with eye contact if possible. You’ll set a good impression from the beginning and give your social anxiety less reason to pipe up.
· LOOK FOR SUPPORTIVE SOCIAL SITUATIONS
Hang out with friends who you feel comfortable with and engage in social interaction with them. Take a social skills class where you’ll have to interact with others in a similar position to you. This puts what you’ve learned into practice in the real world, so you build your social ability even in the face of social anxiety.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SOME WAYS TO REDUCE THE SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Living with the symptoms of social anxiety and depression at the same time can make everyday function very difficult. But you can learn to reduce the severity of their symptoms over time. If you need further assistance minimizing the effects of social anxiety and depression, reach out to a mental health professional for advice and other treatment.
Worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Half of all illnesses in mental health begin by the age of 14 … If untreated, these conditions severely influence children’s development, their educational attainments and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives. ~ World Health Organization
A mental health disorder can be a terrible thing to live through, no matter what age. Unlike adults, however, children often lack the awareness, coping abilities, and resources to acquire treatment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as two in ten children suffer from a mental disorder. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top five mental disorders for children aged 3 to 17 years are:
Suicide, according to the CDC, “can result from the interaction of mental disorders and other factors.” Relatedly, suicide is the second-leading cause of death in adolescents.
There tends to be some commonality between young people who suffer mental health problems. As such, there are distinctive signs of mental health disorders in children and adolescents.
HERE ARE FIVE SUCH SIGNS:
1. THEY’RE MORE AGGRAVATED
Just like adults, children get stressed out and aggravated. In most cases, child aggravation is triggered by school or peer pressures; however, noticeably intensified aggravation may stem from an underlying mental health disorder.
Children who are developing a mental disorder often make excuses to not go to school or study. Their nerves may trigger headaches, stomachaches, or other pains. Children who appear aggravated and withdrawn may be experiencing bullying or some other issue with a peer or peers.
Relatedly, bullying is quite possibly becoming the number one issue facing school-aged children today. As such, bullying is a severe threat to a child’s mental health
Childhood is supposed to be a relatively carefree time in one’s life; so when a young child begins displaying anxious behaviors, it may be a cause for concern.
Here’s a typical story of a child diagnosed with an anxiety disorder:
“Ella was a worrier. Every morning, she worried that she wouldn’t make the bus on time, even though she hadn’t missed it once all year. And every afternoon, she worried that she wouldn’t get her favorite spot at the lunch table, or that she might have a pop quiz in science class and wouldn’t be prepared…”
3. THEY ARE DEPRESSED OR WITHDRAWN
Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five teens experiences a bout with depression; 8 percent suffer from a major depressive disorder (MDD).
Dr. Charles Raison, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine provides his simple and straightforward advice: “I think you should start worrying … anytime there’s enough of a change when you go, ‘Oh, my God, they don’t seem like themselves.’”
Raison recommends that parents intervene should their child display depressive or withdrawn behavior for longer than two to three weeks. It is also common for children suffering from depression to experience dramatic changes in sleeping patterns.
4. THEY’RE ABUSING ALCOHOL OR DRUGS
Substance abuse research shows a direct, causal relationship between mental health disorders and drug abuse. Researchers estimate that approximately 70 percent of high school kids have tried alcohol; 40 percent have smoked or used tobacco, and 20 percent have an ongoing prescription drug addiction.
All of the abovementioned (and other) substances are especially dangerous when combined with a mental health problem. Abusing drugs or alcohol may become their go-to coping mechanism, drastically increasing the risk of deteriorating health and even death.
5. THEIR PERFORMANCE IS SUFFERING
“Americans are inundated with messages about success – in school, in a profession, in parenting, in relationships – without appreciating that successful performance rests on a foundation of mental health.”
The above statement is courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Per one HHS study, “there may be four or five adolescents” in some classrooms that suffer from serious mental illness.
Mental impairment almost always negatively affects performance. Considering that two-thirds of adolescents do not receive mental health treatment, the negative repercussions on an individual and societal level are vast.
Columbia University cites the following as academic issues resulting from mental illness:
– Frequent absenteeism or tardiness – Lack of self-esteem – Difficulty concentrating – Poor performance in reading, writing, and math – Repeating a grade level(s) – Recurring disciplinary problems
Early detection of childhood mental health problems and access to appropriate services is crucial. Studies show that prompt treatment leads to improvements in both mental disorder symptoms and school performance.
Most importantly, appropriate treatment can spare the child or adolescent – and their loved ones – unnecessary pain and suffering. For information and resources related to childhood mental health, please visit the following website: https://kidshealth.org.
One new challenge that many parents are facing is naviga4ng a new world of working from home, with a child home as well! Whether it is the inability to find a quiet place to work, constant interrup4ons while working or maybe trying to find the 4me to work when there is so much to be done for your child, it is not an easy task! With some planning, scheduling and prepara4on you can avoid noise and interrup4ons and be focused and produc4ve at your new work environment.
• Consistency is key! Whenever possible, make your work from home time the same time every day. Teach your child that between these hours you are working and are unable to entertain them.
• While you want your child to know you are unavailable during the time you are working, you also want them to feel safe and know that you are available for emergencies. Just make sure to outline in advance what an emergency is, otherwise, you may find yourself with an interruption over a missing video game or lack of fruit snacks!
In addition to feeling safe, you also want your child to feel important. Let them know that their needs are still being met, even though you are working. If possible, set them up with a planned activity during the time you are working, so they are busy independently and not feeling left out having “free time”.
A great way to reinforce their behavior while you are working is to establish a reward system when you are done with work. For this to be most effective, the reward needs to be given immediately after you work time is complete. Do not honor the reward if your child interrupts your work for a non-emergency. One of the best, effective and free reward you can give your child is one-on-one time with you.