When do I know it’s getting
out of hand?

Have that open dialogue.

When you get into adolescence, a lot of just normal adolescent behaviors can mimic what some people would call mental health symptoms — withdrawing, wanting to be more isolated, not as interested in family activities as before as they’re trying to establish their own independence. And so also just kind of really acknowledging that depending on ages and stages, kids respond to disasters and grief and loss very differently.

And being really mindful of that, you know, when those symptoms outweigh or those behaviors supersede their functioning, where they’re impacting them negatively in terms of their social, emotional well-being, they’re not doing things that they were previously happy to engage with. It’s impacting their education or you’re seeing signs of self-harm, or thoughts are escalating to unsafe behaviors is when I would really encourage parents to reach out. Have that open dialog, be vulnerable with your kids, share what you’re struggling with.

I think these are great opportunities to model some of those things that we have as older adults. To say, “I’m really struggling with adjusting to working from home. These are some of the things I’m doing to help cope with that, to normalize that.” You know, we’re all missing out on things that we’ve traditionally been able to access that make us happy. And how do we model that to our kids that we’re struggling too? And this is how I’m managing it to really kind of model some of those skills, those good coping skills that we have been able to practice more than our kids have.

If there is ever a question, always err on the side of caution — definitely reach out. Primary care doctors are a great resource. Here in Pierce County, we have behavioral health navigators that may be able to assist. So if it’s something that you’re worried about, I definitely recommend reaching out to a professional to talk about it further to help you.

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