A child’s mental health can be impacted by stress, especially if the stress is long-term, sudden or accompanied by other life-changing events. Here are some mental health crisis points that can impact children that you should know about.
A Death in the Family
It doesn’t matter if it is a parent, grandparent or sibling who has died. This is a time of major stress for children. They have lost a mother, a brother, a father or a sister. They may not be old enough to fully understand the permanence of death. The family will be busy trying to make arrangements and dealing with their own emotional fallout, especially if the death was sudden and unexpected.
Children are very sensitive, and as such it’s important to keep a close eye on them. They may show signs of regressing and may return to a simpler time in their young lives. What’s Your Grief recommends, “If you begin to notice problems or shifts in a child’s activities, make sure to try to create a sense of order in their lives. Shifts will occur, but helping a child feel safe and secure in their habits and lives is a top priority.” Signs of regression could include bed wetting, thumb sucking and even a refusal to speak.
Children caught in the middle of even the friendliest divorce are still children that are going through some very deep emotions. Even further distress can occur to children if serious domestic violence led to a restraining order between spouses. Regardless of the circumstances, your child may be questioning everything that they thought they knew about their lives after their parent’s divorce. They may be blaming themselves and wondering how they can fix things. It is important to reassure your children that the divorce will make Mommy and Daddy better people in the long run and that it had nothing to do with them. If there is going to be a move, it is important to explain the reasons to children because they have just lost their family and now their home. It can be extra difficult for children in situations where one parent stays in the area and the other one doesn’t.
This very scenario occurred in my family after going through child custody court proceedings. In fact, it was worse than I ever imagined. It wasn’t until a few years after court that my oldest child went through a mental health survey while in his high school gym class. It was at this point that I learned of my son’s thoughts of suicide over all the stress of knowing that his Mother and Father were in court and fighting over visitation time. He did not want to be the reason for any upset we had. So, it’s very important to talk to your children about the situation and reassure them that there is nothing wrong with them. They are not to blame for anything!
Sometimes losing a job or other major form of income loss occurs due to business failings, the economy or other circumstances. You don’t have to spell out everything to your children, but you certainly can’t hide it all either. They know that something is wrong. Family Education emphasizes that you need to be honest with children. “Telling them proactively what’s happened is probably the best thing to do, because they’re going to see that Mommy’s not getting up and going to the office, or Mommy’s mad at Daddy. What happens when you say nothing’s wrong is that they’ll perceive the truth anyway, and then they won’t trust you at exactly the point they need to.” Let them know that things will be different and how, but try to remain as positive and upbeat as possible.
It’s always good to help kids see the blessings in everything! Even what we perceive as bad can one day turn into a blessing!
While many wouldn’t consider the act of moving to be a crisis point, it can have deep and lasting effects on children if not done correctly. Uprooting everything they’ve ever known can certainly be hard on children. They will not understand nor will they care that a move might mean a bigger house, a nicer neighborhood or other amenities. They are losing their yard, their friends and their favorite places. Moving Company Reviews explains, “It is important to include your children in the decision making process in regards to homes, schools, and more. Children can begin visualizing their ‘new life’ and how exciting having new friends and new play areas can be. You might even be surprised by their observations about homes or schools. It’s essential to show your child new, positive things they can associate with the move, so they have something to look forward to.” It’s also important to allow children to grieve for the loss of the familiar and realize how stressful moving can be for a child.
If you’re looking for help with children or an adolescent who is having a mental health crisis, then please know that you are not alone. We offer (NAMI Basics) courses to help with this exact circumstance. As always, you can simply give us a call at: 847-716-2252
Children’s mental health services near Chicago: Skokie, Niles, Glenview, Des Plaines, Lincolnwood, Deerfield, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Evanston, Norridge, Morton Grove, Northfield, Wilmette, Glencoe
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Kathy says:February 21, 2019 at 6:57 PM
Excellent article. Thorough, substantive, very helpful.
Worth noting that adults who experienced a trauma in childhood may have been unable to process their trauma then and therefore, may live with unresolved emotional issues as adults.