When a parent has mental illness, how to support kids

When a parent has mental illness, how to support kids

Between the long hours, many responsibilities, and lack of control, few jobs in our society are as demanding as parenting. If a parent has a mental illness like 沮喪 或是 焦慮, raising kids becomes even more difficult. Many parents live in secrecy, believing that they are the only ones who struggle like they do.

But parenting with mental illness is far more common than many people suspect. In a survey of U.S. parents, more than 18 percent reported having a mental illness in the past year. While a parent’s mental illness increases child’s risk for a future mental disorder, this is by no means the only possible outcome.

“Having a parent with mental illness does not always lead to clinically significant distress in a child,” says Dr. Patricia Ibeziako, associate chief of clinical services in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It depends on many factors, including the type and severity of the parent’s mental illness, how long it lasts, and the age of the child.”

A parent’s mental illness affects children differently at different ages

Children are most vulnerable to the effects of a parent’s mental illness at specific stages of emotional development. The first stage starts early, from infancy until about age 5. “This is an important period of brain development when infants and toddlers form strong attachments,” says Dr. Ibeziako. But a parent with mental illness may not be able to meet their child’s need for bonding. An infant or toddler deprived of positive emotional connections may develop problems regulating their own emotions and behavior. This may play out in tantrums, trouble sleeping, regression in potty training, or bedwetting.

The next vulnerable period is adolescence. As difficult as their behavior may be at times, adolescents rely on their parents for structure and positive reinforcement. But a parent struggling with mental illness may be less attentive to their teenager’s needs. Or they may focus entirely on things their child is doing wrong without balancing negative feedback with praise. “A parent’s depression, irritability, or low frustration tolerance can cause teens to act out in disruptive ways,” says Dr. Ibeziako.

The lack of energy that depressed parents often experience may also affect their ability to pay attention to their child’s school routines. Without a parent’s support, school-aged children may struggle to get to school or after-school activities on time. Completing homework can become an overwhelming challenge.

A parent dealing with an anxiety disorder may be overprotective, depriving their child of the chance to learn problem-solving skills. Or a child who witnesses their parent’s anxious behavior may in turn develop fears and worries.

How to help kids develop positive coping skills

Despite these challenges, many children do find positive ways to cope. Parents can help.

What Type of Friend Are You? How ADHD Influences Friendships

What Type of Friend Are You? How ADHD Influences Friendships

Whether you collect new friends easily or lean on a few, long-term friendships dating back to kindergarten, there’s no wrong way to build relationships. This is true especially for people with ADHD, who often report that their symptoms complicate, challenge, and color friendships. The ones that work are the ones that accept and celebrate their ADHD.

What Type of Friend Are You?

“I fall in the Selectively Acquisitive Friendship Style category; I am very careful and particular about who I label a ‘friend.’ Anybody who I don’t refer to as a friend is my ‘acquaintance.’ My ex used to laugh at this distinction, but it’s super important because it helps me decide how much time I spend with these people, and if I make an emotional investment in them. Yes, I help everyone when in need, but I will do it much more for my designated ‘friends.’” — BAT

“I’ve always migrated toward long-term friendships that can tolerate long gaps in communication, as well as friendships where we can talk for hours about things we’ve read or learned, or be just as happy sitting on the same couch each immersed in our own hyperfocuses.” — Anonymous

“My husband says I’m like a semi-truck with an engine that’s too small. I genuinely want to be friends with everyone, but I have difficulty keeping up with the logistics of maintaining friendships (due to my executive function weaknesses and anxiety). So, I have a long to-do list of people I need to text, call, email, etc.” — Anonymous

“Since I graduated from college, I have had trouble establishing friendships. I feel anxious about reaching out to potential friends outside of work or other organized activities; I worry that they will be too busy or uninterested in doing things with me. I once invited a co-worker and her husband over for dinner with me and my family. She accepted the invitation, but a few days later told me, ‘My life is too busy — I don’t have time for any more friends.’ That really stung!” — Anonymous

“I prefer intimate hangouts because boisterous get-togethers often overwhelm me. I tend to focus on a few long-term friendships, but being a military spouse means I have to be able to pick up new friends easily whenever we move.” — Anonymous

“I typically gravitate toward people who excite me. I’m also a bit co-dependent and find I search for long-term, meaningful relationships.” — Anonymous

“I’m extremely nervous around quiet people. I start to do nervous chatter, and they don’t reciprocate so I move on. I dread being around them! But I also get overstimulated in noisy environments. I like intimate hangouts with a few good friends who like to talk. I was the one who got moved in elementary school for talking too much. But then I’d make friends with the new table.” — Anonymous

“I would say I’m an ambivert. I can be really social for a few hours and then I’m socially spent. I have lots of lifelong friendships but also make spontaneous new friendships. However, I often don’t have the energy to maintain new relationships.” — Anonymous

“When I’m in good social form, I love talking with everyone. I’m a little afraid to put all of my friends together in one room because I’m not sure how well they’d get along. I love my ADHD friends because they are a less judgmental bunch. If I’m late or crazy-spontaneous or any of the other quirks that come with the territory, they get it. And they like me, for me. Recently, I realized that I’m a social chameleon who adapts to the people around me, hiding the ‘unacceptable’ parts of myself depending on the company. As a result, I’m not sure who the unvarnished, unmasked me is — I’d like to find that person. It probably would be less stressful and not so freaking isolating.” — Anonymous

“I really need friends who don’t need me to call every day or plan things regularly, but when we get together there seems like no gap in our friendship. We trust that we are always there for each other. My best friend and I could talk forever (we’re both time blind), and the subject can change mid-sentence or at least every two minutes. I am sure she has undiagnosed 多動症; we understand each other far too well!” — Glenda


Many parents have heard the term “social-emotional development,” but what does it mean in the real world?

Put simply, social-emotional development refers to children’s ability to “experience, manage and express” their feelings, build relationships and actively explore their environment, according to 2005 年的報告 from the nonprofit Zero to Three.

Managing one’s behavior, expressing emotions appropriately and developing empathy are all part of the journey.

It’s “understanding how our bodies and minds feel and think in relationship to the world around us,” says Mary Hadley, a speech-language pathologist in Texas who has spent 15 years helping adults and children communicate.

Children record many physical and mental milestones, especially in their first few years of life. Likewise, social-emotional skills grow throughout childhood and adolescence – also with milestones – and can be just as important.

Dr. Toya Roberson-Moore, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, says that social-emotional development relates to brain health, making it an element of both physical and mental health. Human development takes place simultaneously across many related areas, and it can look different for each child.

Social-emotional development changes as a child grows. A mother providing a feeling of safety for her baby begins the child’s process of healthy social-emotional development. Toddlers engage in pretend play and learn how to interact positively with others. As children enter school, they develop the ability to regulate their emotions and work well with others.

Just as children never stop learning, social-emotional development doesn’t stagnate. It builds as youngsters progress through school, allowing them to relate to others and handle challenges in healthy ways. For example:

  • Elementary school. In elementary school, social-emotional development often focuses on executive functioning skills, Hadley says, such as memory and self-control. Students engage in play-based skills, learn to advocate for themselves and practice empathy for others. When children feel safe and calm, Hadley says, parents can work on helping them recognize how their emotions feel and how to regulate themselves.
  • Middle school. Development in middle school looks similar, Hadley says. “We can teach students to be aware that the way their body and minds feel will affect their social communication,” she says. The goal is to help children understand that everyone experiences emotions, both good and bad. Yet, while middle-schoolers can verbalize their feelings, they also sometimes hide their concerns, Roberson-Moore says. They may feel ashamed of their emotions or want to avoid burdening others. This can raise additional challenges.
  • High school. “At the high school level, relationships with peer groups become very important,” says Kelly Oriard, a family therapist and co-founder of Slumberkins, a company that makes emotional learning products. As teenagers figure out where they fit in the world, it is normal and healthy for them to establish an identity outside of their family. That often means managing friendships, dating, workplace colleagues and other more complicated relationships.

When it comes to social-emotional development, parents are a primary resource for children, and experts say there are many ways to help. Here are some suggestions:






郭嘉, 助理教授 兒童、青年和家庭研究,正在領導一個試點項目,以探索在嬰兒頭 18 個月內對母親和父親的依戀安全性如何發展——以及這些依戀配置如何預測孩子頭三年的結果。


“雖然我們對媽媽的依戀安全了解很多,但我們對其他照顧者的依戀安全知之甚少,尤其是在家庭環境中,”郭說, 兒童、青年和家庭研究研究附屬機構. “但我們確實知道整個家庭單位對這些關係很重要。”

由一個資助 研究和經濟發展辦公室 外行獎,郭致力於更好地了解孩子及其父母在家中發生的事情。她在內布拉斯加州林肯地區招募了 50 名父母(25 對夫婦)和嬰兒。

每週三個小時,以一小時為單位,父母戴著 GoPro 相機記錄他們與孩子以及他們在家中彼此的互動。


“人們習慣了相機,繼續他們的日常生活,”郭說。 “我們得到了人們疊衣服或做其他家務、玩手機或不改變日常生活的坦率鏡頭——這正是我們想要對 2021 年護理工作進行細緻入微的看法。”


Kuo 進行該項目的動機源於對她之前研究的結果的“純粹好奇”,該研究檢查了對父母一方或雙方的各種嬰兒依戀配置。

“在這些項目中,我們發現對父親而不是母親有安全依戀的嬰兒會導致更多的負面結果——異常的壓力反應、對父母的蔑視、注意力和注意力的能力降低,”她說。 “有人會認為對父母任何一方有任何安全依戀都會很好,但這不是我們發現的。我仍然對此感到困惑,並想了解這種現象。”


對於新項目,郭將與內布拉斯加州的研究人員合作 羅瑞·惠勒,CYFS研究副教授; 傑西卡·卡爾維, 大學研究助理教授 大腦、生物學和行為中心;和 雅克·伊扎德, 副教授, 食品科學與技術系.



我的社區正在悲傷。每個人都認識上個月在我們當地的高中受到自殺事件影響的人。 “這是本月第五次自殺,”一位心疼的母親告訴我。 “他們是成功的孩子;有些是頂級運動員。我為我的孩子擔心。我怎樣才能讓他們和我說話,這樣這件事就不會發生在我們身上?”她的孩子都上小學了。



兒童和青少年剛剛面臨一年半多的嚴重流行病 壓力 在他們發展的脆弱時期。他們經歷了 社交隔離, 恐懼、不確定性和獨特的教育挑戰。現在,他們回到學校,老師們面臨著 的學業進步 學生的工作量以彌補失去的時間——在大流行持續的同時。

持續壓力對這些年輕大腦的影響現在已經變成了迅速惡化的心理健康危機。在我自己的兒科實踐中,我從未見過這樣的事情。孩子的數量和他們心理健康問題的嚴重程度都猛增。可悲的是,也有 青少年自殺未遂 在美國各地。

沒有任何保證,可怕的悲劇可能並且確實發生在盡最大努力的父母身上。但是父母 在預防自殺方面有所作為。在一項針對中學生的研究中,發現父母的支持可以緩衝生活壓力對孩子的影響。中學生與 支持父母 的比率明顯較低 自殺的 想法——即,認為他們最好死了或傷害自己的想法。


當孩子還小的時候,目標是創造一種家庭文化 開放性 和誠實面對困難的事情。第一步是簡單地 將事物稱為事物的本質.要么盡量減少問題 或是 將它們不成比例地吹散會發出我們無法真正談論事情的信息。但是告訴它就像它可以讓我們自由地應對挑戰。

例如,當我練習的孩子問我:“醫生,打針會痛嗎?”我說:“當然會。”因為孩子們習慣了大人用謊言安慰他們,我的回答讓他們感到驚訝,他們開始傾聽。 “你想知道你能做些什麼來減輕它的傷害嗎?”在告訴他們怎麼做之前,我先問他們。


孩子們更有可能參與 合作 如果我們發出一致的信息表明他們的意見很重要,請與我們聯繫。當他們年輕並不斷告訴你他們注意到的事情時,說:“這是一個有趣的觀察。告訴我更多。”當他們整理一些東西時,問:“你對此有何看法?”或者“你是怎麼想的?”這些問題傳達了對他們及其解決問題的能力的尊重。


在採取措施開放溝通時,善意的父母往往會因兩個壞習慣而破壞自己。通常,當父母擔心他們的事情時,就會發生這些錯誤 應該 說和忘記公開傾聽。但是這兩種習慣都通過傳遞情緒是不可接受的信息來關閉交流。









讓我給你講一個故事。幾年前,我有一個學生,他肩上扛著一塊芯片走來走去。他從不笑,從不笑,而且總是看起來很生氣。他對其他孩子很殘忍,在課堂上經常出現行為問題,並且在一周內因為他的極端行為而被三位不同的老師推薦了三個辦公室。其他孩子會給他貼上惡霸的標籤,但在他們看到惡霸的地方,我們作為老師看到的是一個需要朋友的受傷和孤獨的孩子。他是那種總是受到 […]