Our kids mental well-being

OUR KIDS MENTAL WELL-BEING.

In part two of my series why are we mentally ill? I discuss why I believe there is a rise in mental health conditions in children. How can we fix our kids mental well-being.

First off, I want to preface this by saying this; One of the reasons we may be seeing an uptake in mental health concerns in children could be because of better educated adults. Teachers and parents have gotten better at seeing “problem children” differently. For example, when I was growing up, the adults in the room saw “problem children” and determined them to be delinquent and thus the appropriate thing to do was use punishment. But where they actually bad kids? Maybe there was more going on just below the surface?

Today, it’s better. We are starting to look past what our eyes are telling us. Because of this, we are getting better at understanding that behaviour always happens for a reason. Therefore, we are seeing is an increase in diagnoses as a result. If this is true, then It’s reasonable to assume that the numbers of children being diagnosed are a reflection of this.

But is this the only reason our kids mental well- being is suffering?

While I’m certain that the above is true, I am not convinced that this is the only reason we are seeing an increase. So, If this isn’t the only reason, why then are we seeing a rise in mental health conditions amongst our youth?

In part one, I talked a bit about how a lot of our children appear to be spending more time with people we don’t even know and way less time with us; their parents. A good example of this is Daycare providers. For many, this scenario is disproportionate, unbalanced and frankly, unfair. For those who haven’t read part one; you can go here: Our mental well-being.

So then, why do we do this? Because we, in many cases are forced to. Whist this is reality for many families, other parents believe that working hard and longer hours to give their children everything they want is the right thing to do. Whatever the reasons, our children are missing out on the one thing they want most; time with their folks. This is especially true when they are young.

What role does our “work comes first” mentality play in our kids mental well-being?

Simply stated, because parents work so much, children don’t get to experience the connection and cohesion of the family unit as a whole. This is especially important in their formative years. Our time with them, or lack there of, can make or break them mentally.

Of course, this is not true of every child; however, the data suggests that mental health condition in children and teens is on the rise. Sadly, our culture has put the priority on bankable hours and less so on the psycho-emotional needs of our young people. I suspect, because of this, those numbers will only grow.

Here are some questions worth asking

  1. Working too much: When we are not at work, we are taking calls about work or answering work emails. This leaves our children with what for guidance and normal social development? Is having 8 days off out of thirty-one really good for our families collective well-being?
  2. Our own addiction to our devices. What impacts does tech have on our kids mental well-being? If we commit to a day with our children, what does that mean? Does it mean we get to scroll through social media while they run around at the park? Furthermore, how do our children feel about it?
  3. Introducing them to tech. Is this good for our children’s mental well-being? If we are wired for human connection, hoe does unplugging from said connection affect them psychologically, socially and most importantly, can we build the parent-child relationship our children need?
  4. Furthermore, do we need to continue a society where strangers raise our children? Where good parents are denied custody of their children in court? Where we place higher value on plastic and microchips?
  5. Last but not least, Will working longer and harder for things they want help our hinder their development? What does a focus on materialism do to their mental health? Does it cause an increase in behaviour, depression etc.

Here’s a question for ya; If our kids are glued to tablets, TVs and smartphones, who’s raising them? Scary to think about this; but What are they learning. Perhaps the best question to ask is, what are they not learning?

baby touching woman s face
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Family connection and children’s mental health.

Thanks for stopping by. My goal is to help as many people as we can through my blog and other projects. Your donation would be wonderful as it would help me continue to help others. Thank you — Jonathan. (About Me).

From my perspective, we are creating an ever-widening gap between the sacred bond between parent and child. We all know, on the surface at least, that parents are at the helm of child development, yet our future leaders are seemingly being pushed to the back of the line.

If our modern day societal structures weren’t bad enough, kids still have to compete with domestic duties like bill paying and housework.

On the house cleaning front, kids may being subjected to some people’s definition of clean. Some people have higher standards in this regard. Could our demand for a totally clean house also be impacting our kids mental well-being? After all, these things take time, time we already don’t have.

The no, wait and not right now phenomenon

Child: “Dad, can you play outside with me?”

Dad: “No, not right now honey, sorry, I have to do the dishes; maybe later.”

Child: “Mom, can you play cards with me?”

Mom: “I’m sorry, I am busy sweetheart I’m answering work emails, later though, okay?”

What psychological effects do the No, wait and not right now phenomenon have on their mental well-being? In my view, when the maybe later and after a bits never come, that’s when it’s most hurtful.

Another important question is; what is our busy lifestyle doing to children who have a ” target=”_blank” aria-label=”undefined (opens in a new tab)” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>predisposition for mental illness? In modern times, we are unintentionally isolating our little ones by giving them devices, constantly, getting them to wait or telling them not right now and here’s my phone go sit down. What sort of impact is this having?

The potential for exacerbating depression is high in these incidences of isolation; isolation is synonymous with an increase risk of depression.

Moreover, we are leaving them with devices that are linked to higher rates of depression in children. In my view, this is a very dangerous and precarious position to leave a child in, little lone one with a predisposition for a mental health condition like depression. Please read the study below.

Smartphones increase the risk of depression in children and teens.

My takeaway? Our kid’s need us to reestablish connection with them. Make time; go on hikes together, establish a game night, get active and get involved. One of the best ways I have found to do this is through one on one time. Personally, treat my own kids like I would my friends or coworkers, I would never yell at a person on the job, I do my best not do that to my kids.

We need to do better at establishing rapport and communication skills. But above all, we must understand that we are our children’s teachers, their moral guides and the people the look to, to find balance and security in their lives. If we as a society continue to sidestep our responsibilities to our cherished children, our kids mental well-being will continue to deteriorate. It’s time to fix this.

To-do list

  1. Work
  2. Clean house, wash car, play video games, stare at my phone. (put them in front of the TV)
  3. Answer work email, calls and texts on my days off. (tell kids to wait).
  4. Get the kids to their 5 different activities during the week.
  5. Partake in my own hobby. (Give kid my iPhone)
  6. Pay bills, do everyone’s laundry, cut the grass. (Distract the kids with tech).
  7. Get together with friends.
  8. Spend “Quality time” with children. (Scroll through social media).

Ah, they very things that are supposed to make our lives better are leaving our kids at the bottom of the list. The final question that comes to my mind is, what have we done?

Checkout the book I helped to write

Created by Josh Rivedal and Kathleen Myre, Lemonade Stand: Vol. III is a compilation of 20 stories from those who have served in the emergency services and the military.  In it, the authors talk about their battles with PTSD, a debilitating and for many, a life-long mental illness.  So, if you are from the military or emergency service’s, perhaps this book can help you combat the feelings of isolation and fear that frequently comes with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, just knowing that there are others out there, just like you, can provide you with the strength and courage to speak up and or get the help you need. The intention of this book is to help with that…. You’re not alone.

Also, Lemonade Stand: Vol III was written to help combat the stigma that often accompanies mental illness, best of all, it attempts to give all you served their countries and communities a voice… Which is amazing!

Military and emergency service workers tell their share their of PTSD.
Pre order today

If you are struggling please go here for help: Crisis Services Canada

OR

Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

Contact me on my Facebook page: The Road To Mental Wellness

a moment of disassociation.

A Moment of Disassociation

Yesterday, I had a moment of disassociation. I awoke to a pounding headache and a huge weight of dread made me unfocused and slow to move. Despite this feeling, I sat in front of my computer and did my best to write a blog post; but the screen remained pure white.

This dread, it powered me down into safe mode, protecting my brain from overproducing too much emotion. So, what lye at the core of this emergency shutdown? My kids, I haven’t seen them in weeks so sometimes, it’s gut-wrenchingly difficult. I had a micro panic when I thought about the potential length of time would go by before I saw them again. Could this have been the catalyst?

Be kind to yourself, ok.

Moreover, my track record for handling new pain and old alike has been, well, let’s just say if I was being graded, I would have a solid D. With that said, my old brain has to cope somehow and because I am far from mentally robust; a moment of disassociation was its only defence.

How to cope while in the middle of a pandemic

Hardly a superpower, I found myself looking at the computer screen but not. I was somewhere else, gone and lost in a sort of protective mental safe space; my surrounding environment closed in on me like walls in an ancient pyramid. I likened it to a small child hiding in the perceived safety of a closet.

Want to hear the stories of others battling mental illness? Go to A New Dawn.

a moment of disassociation

As to how much time went by, I can’t say, all I do know is something brought me back. Something, whatever it was, lifted the trance. From there, I started taking inventory of all the things around me; this was in an effort to fully restore me to reality.

Hey, you’ve made it this far.

Mindfulness was a lifesaver in this case, as it often is; I am grateful for the skills I have acquired that help me zero in on the present especially after such a moment of disassociation.

I think its perfectly natural to have your mental health condition buzzing at high alert given the times we’re in, so be kind to yourself, ok. We are in fact in uncharted waters with this outbreak, you will be triggered, depressed, anxious and yes, some may even have a moment of disassociation. What’s important is to use your coping skills and understand that mental illness can be all about riding the wave. It will wash over you and you will come out the other side of it to fight another day. Hey, you’ve made it this far.

Want to help make my book a reality? Donate here: GoFundMe

Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness

Like what you read? Check out Medications – At an Impase.

How I Parent with Mental illness

Parenting is a never-ending adventure of what’s around the corner. It’s comprised of scaled-down versions of yourself, a little you that often fail to recognize that you are only human too. Most days it feels like you are a home invader, operating in stealth just to go to the bathroom for a moment of peace. One little noise and you’ll have little knuckles tapping at the door, and if not responded to promptly, you’re sure to hear a tiny voice coming from the space between the door and the floor; “Daddy”. Do you ever freeze when you think you hear little footsteps just outside the door? Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change being a parent for anything in the world it has been a wonderful experience and in a lot of ways has been my saving grace. It has been without a doubt the greatest adventure I have ever been on.

Any parent can tell you that it is the most difficult thing they have ever done. So how does one handle the never-ending duties of parenting when they are stuck with mental illness when they wake up to find themselves full of dread fear and anxiety? How do parents or a parent minimize the impact that these darker days have? 
For me, the days when my mental illnesses flare up like arthritis on a damp and rainy day, makes dealing with myself a tall order, fighting with the inner voice that tells me to “stay in bed and don’t you dare go to the gym today”! This internal a**hole also likes to whittle down my self-esteem on these days like a schoolyard bully, always putting me down to the lowest; saying things like “You can’t do anything right?” Or, “Nobody likes you.” It’s a hell that is the equivalent to having your most hated song being put on repeat for the entire day. When my mind works against me I want nothing more than to be alone in the quiet, sleeping the day away.
Because I have children, this is not an option for me, it’s a little better now that they are older but nonetheless, they still have to get to school and extracurricular activities, get to their friend’s place etc. More challenging still are the moments when they are having a tough day mentally too. They need me! It’s not optional therefore, I had to come up with ways to swim through my own mess to help them with their everyday life.
Fortunately, I am self-aware enough to see that there is something not quite right with how I deal with the outside world and understand that the war within is not normal. Irrational thinking and fear were unfounded. I finally concluded that living in a headspace that was almost always unpleasant wasn’t the way it should be, I was then able to realize I needed help. Through getting help, I was able to understand that what was going on with me was real, and I learned that this was being produced by one or more of my disorders. Then I was able to help my children understand and get through it too. 
When they were smaller I would tell them that daddy doesn’t feel good inside his tummy and in his head. I took the time to explain to them that daddy’s body can’t handle really loud noises when he’s not feeling well. I set up a scenario where it would feel as though we all had to work together to make the best day for everyone. Like; “What are the things we can do today that are quiet activities”? It was always a huge priority for me to make sure they understood that when I am not feeling well and when they are noisy, that they weren’t doing anything wrong, just that my sickness would worsen when they were being loud.
Most of the work I do with my kids is concentrated on my good days, this ensures that they know they are loved and that we can work together to get through all of our difficult moments. Our one on one time is super important and has always been a top priority. All my kids ever wanted was my time, so I would give it to them, not every five seconds of the day, but they could earn the one on one time for good behaviour. Once I taught them what good behaviour was and what was expected from them, it became easier and easier. This one on one time alleviated the bigger behavioural issues and allowed me to build a relationship, a bond that set the stage for mutual respect. Mutual respect goes a long way in sponsoring a cooperative relationship. This relationship-building became an essential tool for getting through the times when mental illness consumed me because they had enough understanding knowing when daddy wasn’t well and that we had to work together to get through it. I worked hard to also respect the times they were experiencing difficulties of their own. Lead by example. 
Also, I realized that doing every little thing for them and running to their beck and call turned me into their butler, chauffeur, and unpaid personal assistant. This was hell on my anxiety and compounded my depression because I was a slave to my children, not a loving family member. So in order to sponsor their independence and help me get through the days when I was sicker, I took every opportunity to teach them how to be independent. 
At first, it was a lot of work because it required my participation, teaching them skills like cleaning their room. I would help and teach making common sense statements as we went like, “We put things away, so we don’t step on and break our favourite toys.” I walked through every life task, step by step. I taught them to do laundry, going through the entire procedure a few times, then I left them to it, helping them out only if they had questions. Eventually, much sooner than I expected they were doing many things on their own and were happy to do so. This work paid dividends, not only for the kids independence and happiness but for my illnesses as well. It allowed for a far less chaotic environment which in turn helped and still helps me on the darker days, the result being that I can slug along and help them with their needs and enjoy their company much more.
As they get older they are able to understand better what anxiety, depression and PTSD are. I am an open book and invite them to ask me questions, I explain to them what the symptoms are and I tell them when I have days when I am struggling to make it through. They may not completely understand, but they understand enough that we all engage our mutual respect for one another to make the day go as well as it can. Having a very supportive partner has been a lifesaver. She helps me with the kids on my bad days with understanding and compassion. She is the glue that holds our family together.

So, if you’re struggling with mental illness and are trying to parent your way through the tough days, you can try some of these things that work for me. My position on parenting is this: We are their parents, not their slaves. (How anxiety-producing is finding yourself in this position?) I feel like when they are old enough to carry their backpacks, tie their shoes and fasten their seat belts, teach them. Doing everything for them will act as the fuel that makes your angst worse, makes your symptoms worse, and robs you of the moments with your kids that you will always regret. Independence is what we, as parents, should be striving for with our children. Its personal benefit to you is that you get to be left alone more with a little more room to breathe. This, in turn, helps you navigate through the tough days and helps you raise your kids too.

For tips on how to parent with mental illness: Psych Central



You may also enjoy: The Mental Carbon Monoxide And PTSD

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