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Mental Health check-in with Shayla & Burgess

Children’s mental health struggles and issues should are largely dependent on parenting style. 

Parenting a child with symptoms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, compared to parenting a child with symptoms of depression, has two completely different approaches. Yes, we’ve heard it all before, “If I would have acted like this, my parents would have…” Or: “That approach would be rewarding the behavior.” 

Unchanging parenting styles are detrimental to the wellbeing of the youth. Rigid parenting reinforces symptoms and the behaviors the parents complain about in the first place. A pattern that crosses the board of multiple diagnoses is negative self-talk. It will be a benefit to learn and embrace that as a parent, YOU are THE team leader in providing the tools to help your child manage their internal negative self talk. If you as a provider are rigid, authoritative and critical, you can do a lot of damage towards the child’s self esteem. Development of self-esteem is imperative to growth, because it is the framework in which the child views themselves and ultimately views their place in the world. 

Most people who commit suicide while depressed will show severe signs of feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair. Remember, as a primary source of reassurance, there is a direct link between what you tell them that is reinforcing the negative self talk—that is a common symptom of depression. A parent with a child that struggles with symptoms of ADHD has to be understanding of a child’s helplessness against their symptoms. Symptoms of ADHD include distractibility, even more so related to overall attention span. Other related cross symptoms include irritability and lack of focus. 

One of the benefits of therapy is that through learning new parenting techniques, there is an opportunity to learn insight towards symptoms and ways it can manifest behaviorally. Undermining individualized symptoms is easy. It is easy to see and label the child as not listening or as defiant. The goal should be minimizing the misinterpretation of these behaviors and creating a path of understanding your child’s mental health struggles. Your awareness is a direct link towards their understanding of grasping and learning about themselves. 

“But I have to say it over and over. Why don’t they get it by now.” 

The fact that you will find yourself repeating the same rules a lot can appear to become mundane over time. Not being able to see immediate behavioral progress can lead to a parent feeling and having thoughts of discouragement. Parents’ negative self-talk can include statements about how the child “knows better” and is “just doing it on purpose.” Repetition is a tool that is encouraged because it is directly attached to the method that will provide the youth the tools for effective development of coping skills, both now and in the future. 

When we naturally become exhausted from the day-to-day aspects of life, it is quite a common practice to lose patience. Consequences for a child struggling should reflect the attribute we are trying to strengthen. Remember, a child is helpless against their symptoms. Punishment is not the same as negative reinforcement. Wanting to use punishment as a mainstream method to minimize behavior would be like punishing a single mom for being tired or stressed out. That does not seem very fair or make sense to us either.

Taking a “Dora the Explorer” approach can be beneficial, with daily tasks such as getting a child ready for school. Routine is an essential habit for effective living. Here are a few tips to help with preventative burnout: Acceptance of analyzing/re-analyzing a guiding routine, acceptance that repetition will be a part of the child’s MO, and being an advocate for the child’s learning style in multiple settings, now and as they get older. 

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