The end of the year is approaching, which means we are already halfway through the school year. Holiday parties, special religious celebrations and services, snow days, and winter break are all here. While the holidays are meant to bring us joy, rest, and spiritual rejuvenation, all of these changes also can be disruptive or stressful for families with children. This may be especially true for families with children who have special needs due to a mental health diagnosis.
When we talk about mental health and wellness in children, we often focus on what adults are doing – being vigilant for the warning signs, getting kids into the right treatment programs, raising awareness in our communities. Sometimes in all our efforts to raise awareness and advocate for our kids, adults forget that young people themselves have tremendous power to change their worlds and the lives of those around them.Sometimes it’s a simple as having someone to sit next to at lunch.
How Military Parents Miss the Warning Signs of Mental Illness in their Kids
“I can’t believe I didn’t see this sooner.”
It’s an agonizing moment when you realize your child is possibly dealing with a mental illness. You’re a good parent, you care about your kids, and yet somehow in the midst of your busy military family life, you missed the signs.
According to Jill Palmer, Clinic Director at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors in San Antonio, you’re not alone. Military families face enormous stress with moving every few years, starting new schools, adapting to new communities and everything that comes with military life. And this stress makes it easy to miss the signs of an underlying mental illness.
Turn on the news or check your phone updates and it seems like we are being inundated with the news of traumatic events around the world, in our hometowns, and in our schools. It can be overwhelming as adults, but imagine how overwhelming it can be for children. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that our children are affected by the traumatic events around them even if they can’t articulate the impact they have on them at times. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) estimates that about two thirds of U.S. children have experienced a traumatic event by age sixteen but have difficulty coping with the impact of that trauma. If left unaddressed, the effects of trauma can impact a child’s ability to thrive in school. Here’s what you need to know about helping children thrive in school (and life) despite the trauma they’ve experienced.
For many parents, the middle of August is the most wonderful time of the year. After hearing a thousand iterations of “I’m bored!” and waging a positional (often losing) arms race against excessive screen time, we are thrilled to cram our children’s backpacks full of shiny new school supplies and post those “milestone” first-day-of-school pics to Instagram.
The military move. Inevitable and exciting? Yes. Stressful? Not necessarily. With planning and communication, a military move can be something children – and parents – look forward to and not dread.