When Your Child is Struggling

Mind Your Mind; When Your Child Is Struggling

Episode Description

Are you concerned about your child's mental health but aren't sure what to do? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, Therapist Jesse Lamm, as they discuss ways you can support your child through a difficult time.

What to Expect

  • Find out what to look for to determine if your child is struggling.
  • Understand your child's reluctance to talk to you about their worries.
  • Discover ways to open up the conversation.

Resources: Learn More

Things to Think About

  • Are you paying attention to what your child needs?
  • Have you noticed any behavior changes in your child?
  • If your child doesn't want to talk to you (which is very normal), would they be comfortable sharing with other adults in their life?

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When Your Child is Struggling

Featuring Jesse Lamm, LPCC, Therapist

Host Tim Unsinn (00:00):

Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic, located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and wellbeing, and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to mind your mind.

TU (00:31):

Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind. Our guest is Jesse Lamm. Jesse is a therapist on our Fargo campus. Jesse, it's great to have you on Mind Your Mind. Our topic is how to support your child through a difficult time. However, before we get to the topic, there's a question I ask all of our guests, and that is why do you do what you do?

Jesse Lamm (00:53):

Yeah, thank you for having me. I'd say why I do what I do is just that overall understanding of how important mental health is in our life, our overall health, our daily functioning, and being able to take that knowledge and help people that are struggling, whatever they're struggling with. Just being able to talk about those things and give them healthy coping skills and just improve their overall health and functioning.

TU (01:18):

All right. Thanks Jesse. Our topic, how to support your child through a difficult time. So how can we tell that our child is going through a difficult time first off?

JL (01:27):

Yeah, I would say that just being able to tell that our child is going through a difficult time, probably look for any changes in behavior, you know, whether it's loss of interest in activities that they normally enjoy, changes in their eating or sleeping habits, whether they're becoming more isolated, hiding in their room a little bit more, not wanting to interact with you as a parent or their friends. Just overall, any noticeable change in behavior, I would say, would be one of the main things that you're looking for.

TU (01:57):

So how do we talk with our child about what's going on with them?

JL (02:00):

Right. And I think that's the big question, because so many parents, they see that their child is struggling and that sends them into like an anxious, like, "Oh my gosh, I need to fix this. What do I need to do? I need to do this and this and this and this and this." And I would say a lot of that's not necessary. Us just being able to stop and open the door for a conversation with our kiddo. So not asking them a ton of questions, not pressuring them to talk about it. As a parent, that's probably really, really hard because we're, again, anxious. We wanna ask the questions, we wanna know what's going on so we can fix it. But just being able to ask open questions like, "Hey, I've noticed this change in behavior. Can you tell me what's going on? Or if you're comfortable telling me what's going on." So just approaching it in a non-threatening, non placing blame way, you know, just being able to open up that conversation and just let them know that you're there to care, let them know that you would like to help them, and approaching it in that way.

TU (03:01):

Yeah. Not nosy, but caring.

JL (03:03):

Right. Not nosy, not pushy, not too investigative. Like just asking a question and seeing what your response is.

TU (03:10):

So after the response happens, if it's yes or no, and if it's a no I'm thinking then what do we do to support our child through that?

JL (03:19):

Like if they're not willing to talk about it?

TU (03:20):


JL (03:21):

I would say one, just leave that door open, you know, like, "Hey, I understand that. That's totally fair. I can respect that. Just let me know if there's anything that you need. If you wanna talk to somebody else about it, let me know." And whether it's like a therapist that you want to talk to about it or a family friend, we can arrange that and not being again, not being pushy with it. Because I think a lot of parents, if they do get an answer of no, it's like, "Oh no, my kid doesn't wanna talk to me about it. They must really be struggling. I'm uncomfortable. I'm anxious. I'm trying to reduce my anxiety by getting the answers." But really just taking that step back and letting your child process it. First of all, maybe they're just not ready to talk about it. Or two, maybe that's just not something that they're comfortable talking to a parent about. Because there's some things, especially as a teenager or things like that, it's like, "Uh, I don't wanna talk to my parent about that." So is there somebody that I can get you in connected with who you are comfortable talking with about this?

TU (04:15):

Yeah. And how important is it for us as a parent to be in tune with what our kids are going on, so we know the difference between a real difficult time and just something that's changed in their life.

JL (04:25):

Right, right. And flipping it and asking them like, "Okay, what, what do you feel like you need?" Because I think as a parent, a lot of times people just jump to, okay, I'm gonna do this and this and this and this and this and hope that it helps when really, maybe that stuff is totally unnecessary and isn't gonna help at all. So being able to take that step back and be like, okay, what do you need? What do you want me to do? Is there anything you want me to do? Just letting them have their input on it.

TU (04:52):

Okay. Okay. That's great. Because it's like, as a parent you would just wanna fix it now. And you wanna just move on, but that's not always the process with the kids because we were all kids, but we can't remember when we were kids. That's that's part of the problem.

JL (05:04):

Yeah. For some reason there's just this big disconnect and you know, parents thinking back, it's like, yeah, if I was a teenager, I probably didn't wanna talk to my parents about some of those things, which is totally normal. That's kind of that normal progression, normal stage of life. So just being able to remember that too.

TU (05:20):

So now for us as parents, what can we do if our child doesn't want to talk about what's going on?

JL (05:27):

Again, I think that goes back to expressing your support in a way that isn't pushy. Like, you know what? I get it. I understand. Maybe you don't wanna talk to your parent about this, but if you ever feel like you change your mind, you do wanna talk about it, let me know. Is there someone else I can get you connected to? Do you wanna see a therapist? Is there a family friend that you wanna see or a different adult that you're comfortable talking to? Not badgering them into talking to you about it, not shaming them into talking to you about it, not consequencing them. I think a lot of parents, their anxiety goes into that hyperdrive, right? And it's like, okay, well I want the answer. And if you're not gonna give me the answer, then you don't get to go out and hang out with your friends or you don't get to do this until we talk about this... Okay, well that approach doesn't generally work super well. You know, if anything, giving those consequences causes your child to one, feel more guilty and shameful about the fact that they're going through something traumatic or they're going through something difficult and it's just gonna cause them to shut down even more. So not super helpful to consequence. So avoiding that and just approaching it with more of that, like open, empathetic I'm here if you wanna talk about it, if not, is there someone else you wanna talk to?

TU (06:30):

That is great information. Thank you, Jesse. Jesse Lamm, our guest on Mind Your Mind. And before we wrap up any final thoughts on how to support your child through a difficult time?

JL (06:39):

I think just again, just the overall, if you notice different changes in your child, just being able to approach that conversation like, "Hey, I've noticed that there's kinda these changes going on," not doing like an interrogative way or like blaming way. Like I've just noticed these; is everything okay? Is there something you want to talk about? Anything going on that I can help you with? How would you like me to help you with that? If you don't wanna talk about it, that's fine. I get it. Just approaching with that open mind, parents being able to mind their own anxieties about it, and just really making it focused about your child and expressing care in a good way.

TU (07:16):

Great information. As you're listening to this and maybe you can't relate to what Jesse's been talking about, but maybe you've got a friend or family member that is, these podcasts are so shareable and easy to share. Also you can always pause and rewind and listen again, there are just so many nuggets that have been shared that I'm thinking, I was thinking about one thing and then Jesse shared 10 other things and it's like, there's just a lot of great information. So thank you for that.

TU (07:39):

Well, before we wrap up, I have a final question for you and that is what do you do personally, to mind your mind?

JL (07:45):

All of the self care. Like whether it is going to the gym and exercising, making sure I get a good night's sleep. Sleep is super, super, super important for mental health, and overall physical health. Hanging out with friends, just for like that social disconnect from other things, having a good well-maintained diet. I think diet also contributes to a lot of mental health, mood stability, all of those things. Finding different hobbies that I can do just to disconnect from different things. So just yes, a lot of self-care, lot of ways so I can focus on myself and take care of myself.

TU (08:18):

Thanks, Jesse. Appreciate you. Appreciate your time and talent and thank you for sharing that with us today on Mind Your Mind.

JL (08:23):

Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1 (08:25):

Thank you for joining us for Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information, links to additional resources, contact information, and much more, go to dakotafamilyservices.org.

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