Caring Well for
As parents, it’s natural to want to protect and defend our children. We have a deep-rooted desire to keep them safe and unimpacted by social stigma. It can be hard to help your child in the school setting when you, as a parent, are so far removed. Even so, it can be harder to make a positive impact on their life and experiences as well. Impactful parenting can mean a lot of things, but sometimes it may mean seeking professional help.
First, it’s important to recognize that your child needs help. By fully committing to getting your child help, you’ll be a powerful force for change in their life. The next step is reaching out and building a system of support through school administrators and teachers who can assist. Hamilton Center’s school-based services are focused on improving school performance, behavior issues, communication skills, and social and emotional learning. Our providers are embedded directly into the schools, offering counseling and skills training with the ability to refer to Hamilton Center outpatient services as needed.
Tools for Impactful Parenting
Investing in quality—not necessarily quantity—time
Set up face-to-face time, not just parallel time. Sometimes car rides can be a convenient moment to check in, or maybe even during a movie night. All too often, those environments can end up being distracting and cause your child to multi task. It would be most beneficial to set aside face-to-face time where you can just chat and be present together. Sometimes this time may be right for hard and uncomfortable topics, and other times it can focus on fun, interesting or though-provoking things.
Take your child seriously – that includes their emotions and their perspectives
Contrary to popular belief, occasionally when a child appears to be attention seeking – it's for a good reason. They need attention, and it's totally okay to give it to them. Take their needs seriously, and try not to be dismissive. It's important to lean into those moments as opportunities for growth and walk them through it.
Open conversation and discussion
Open-ended questions create the opportunity for your kid to form their own thoughts and ideas about a certain subject. This can inspire creativity and foster a sense of independence and self. Even better is getting into an educated discussion about the topic and present differing opinions. Open-ended questions are also useful when discussing those uncomfortable topics. You may not like what you hear, but the important thing is that you have created an environment where your child feels like they can share their thoughts, giving you the best opportunity to understand and assist them as needed.
Never stop growing – even as an adult but especially as a parent
It's never too late to restart or get things back on track—to reset and bring everyone back to the table. The journey of parenting can be messy, just like the journey of childhood.
Maintain a high-level perspective and remember the goal - growth
Sometimes when we get eye to eye with our children, we forget that they are still developing and growing as humans. It's important to remember that much of their struggle is finding the right words to describe their state of mind. Sometimes it will come out wrong or awkward, and sometimes it won’t come out at all. Lastly, maintaining perspective can go a long way in coping. Fun distractions or redirection can be valuable in certain circumstances, while in others starting those difficult conversations is what needs to happen.
Partner with school admin, teachers and providers
Teachers, administrators and providers want what you want - for your child to excel in school, social environments and any other hope or dreams they may have for themselves. Keeping in touch with their teachers and administrators can bring to light connections between at-school and at-home behaviors. If your child gets connected with school-based services, it is absolutely vital that parents stay involved and present through that treatment plan to affirm and support their child’s progress and success.
Give them their privacy and space
Depending on the age of your child, a little space and privacy may give them time to calm down or even figure some things out. Sometimes kids have big feelings that take time to gather and understand. Other times it will take some parental guidance and opening the door to broader conversations – conversations that are best suited for level heads.
Myths and Misconceptions about seeking clinical help
There is something seriously wrong with my kid if they need clinical help.
Literally everyone, not just kids, can benefit from speaking with a professional about mental health or substance related issues at virtually any point in their lives. It's not all crying and drama or talking about trauma. It is quite often focused around positive things.
I'm a bad parent if my kid needs clinical help.
Children are constantly learning and growing all while experiencing new environments and social situations. This time in their lives can be very confusing and complicated. Sometimes it's important to remember that this process of growing and learning can be messy and not necessarily a clear, straight path.
They are going to put my kid into therapy, and then they will be messed up for the rest of their life.
Not every child requires therapy, though it can be very beneficial for those who need it. In fact, most treatment plans for children and youth take place in convenient and familiar environments - such as school settings like classrooms, libraries or cafeterias.
Getting my kid the help they need is unaffordable.
Depending on the setting in which your child will receive treatment, there are many options that parents have to get their child into affordable services. Hamilton Center has Navigators that work with parents to understand their unique circumstances and find the right insurance packages to get their child’s needs met.
I can expect some immediate and permanent results for my child once they start services.
The process of helping your child through a struggle - no matter how intense or chronic it may be - will require patience and mindfulness. Depending on how deep these struggles run, their journey could have more ups and downs than preferred. The important thing is to remain present and be ready to assist them as needed.