Parenting children who are struggling with these symptoms is challenging, and is usually a dance to find
balance between supporting and encouraging your child and pushing them to face difficult situations.
Children and adolescents often have intense or confusing emotions they do not know how to express, so parents may be left wondering if they should be concerned about their child. There are several signs to watch for in children and adolescents that may indicate they are struggling and need additional support. These include:
• Sudden changes to sleep or appetite
• Persistent low energy
• Loss of focus/concentration
• Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
• Excessive and disproportionate worry
• Difficulties separating from caregivers
• Sudden changes in mood/irritability
• Sudden avoidance of caregivers or other family members/friends
If you are concerned for your child’s mental wellness or have noticed these symptoms for more than two weeks, please talk to your child’s medical provider.
Parents often wonder how they can promote mental wellness in their children. Building resiliency in children means increasing their ability to respond positively and adapt when faced with adversity, tragedy, challenges or stressors.
Strategies for building resiliency and mental wellness in children and adolescents include:
1. Helping children build a social support network of people - young and old - who are supportive and
2. Supporting and modeling the expression of all emotions, both positive and negative. This means
teaching children that experiencing any emotion is safe and normal.
3. Empowering children to make their own choices and giving them appropriate responsibilities for their
4. Setting an example for the behaviors you want your children to demonstrate.
5. Promoting realistic goal setting based on your child’s own interests, aspirations, and abilities. Praise
children for accomplishing their goals.
6. Modeling and encouraging how to manage mistakes.
7. Encouraging facing fears and trying new things.
8. Praising effort, not performance.
9. Promoting exercise, good sleep and a balanced diet.
By Angela Thoreson, LICSW and Stephanie Miller, LICSW
Angela Thoreson, LICSW, is a clinical social worker serving adolescents (16+) and adults in the Psychiatry and Psychology Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, MN.
Stephanie Miller, LICSW, is a clinical social worker serving individuals of all ages in Integrated Behavioral Medicine (IBH) at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, MN.
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