If your child is in immediate danger, call emergency services (911 or 988, or text “TALK” to 38255) or go to the nearest emergency room.
Every parent faces the inevitable reality of watching their kid face an emotional crisis. It’s scary, it’s intense and likely feels way out of your control. Our goal at Decade2Connect is to support mental health not only for your child but you and your family. Learning to better understand and respond to these intense emotions is key to healthy emotional regulation. Here are some steps you can take to support your middle school child during an emotional crisis:
When your child feels unsafe in their own body, you can create a safe environment for them to face this crisis. How? Give them space to express their feelings without judgment and provide a supportive and understanding ear. In many cases, giving adolescents the space to fully emote, no matter how messy, allows them to gradually calm themselves down.
Validate their Feelings
Emotions can be scary! And as a parent, it may be your first instinct to fix the problem. But this actually removes space for your child’s feelings to be seen. Acknowledge your child’s emotions and let them know it’s okay to feel the way they do. This will normalize the process of emotions coming up as well as willingness to respond to them. Let your child know that they’re not alone and that you are there to help.
Offer Practical Support
Once you’ve processed through the emotions that your child is feeling, you can begin the journey of next steps together. Depending on the situation, this may include steps such as: helping them find a therapist, implementing healthy lifestyle changes like exercise and journaling, or connecting them to other resources. Developing a plan of action together can provide your child – and yourself – with next steps and henceforth a feeling of hope.
Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms
As mentioned above, healthy coping mechanisms play a huge role in how we respond to and connect with our emotions. Suggest activities like exercise, journaling, music or art that can help them regulate their emotions in moments they feel overwhelmed. This will not only provide support but encourage them that they are strong enough to handle these intense emotions that are coming up.
Avoid Dismissive Responses
This is a tough one, as you often want your child to see the world through rose colored glasses. Try not to dismiss their feelings by saying things like: “it’s not that bad” or “snap out of it.” This can make the situation worse and further isolate your child. Even if it’s with the best intention, it’s important to validate your child’s feelings instead of dismissing them.
Seek Outside Support
Often times, admitting our weakness is a sign of strength. And there’s NO shame in needing more help for your child than you can provide. If the situation is particularly severe, or you feel like you’re unable to provide the support your child needs, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional or family therapy. Therapists are trained to understand and coach children and families through these emotions. Walking through this journey with your child will building trust and provide hope and harmony for your family.
We know a simple list won’t solve the complex emotions your child experiences in crisis. The biggest reminder is that you’re not alone. Decade2Connect is here to support you and your child, as well as connect you to families walking through the same challenges. If you need support, we’re here. Simply check out our website to connect with a member of our team.
When your child experiences a mental health crisis, your presence matters most. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers, as long as you walk the journey with them.