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.


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:



  • 在全球 COVID-19 大流行和相關的經濟衰退之間,去年對每個人來說都是艱難的。
  • 數十年的研究記錄了兒童時期慢性壓力的嚴重後果。
  • 但是心理學家已經確定了父母教孩子如何應對逆境的方法。
  • Here’s how to teach children resilience in the new year.

全球之間 新冠肺炎 大流行,相關的經濟衰退和廣泛的抗議 種族主義, the last few years have been difficult for everyone. Many people are struggling, consumed with 焦慮 以及 壓力, and finding themselves unable to sleep or focus.

As a developmental psychologist and researcher on anxiety and 恐懼 in infants and young children, I have been particularly concerned about the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health. Many have not physically been in school consistently since March of 2020. They’re isolated from friends and relatives. Some fear that they or loved ones will contract the virus; they may be hurt in racial violence or violence at home—or they might lose their home in a wildfire or flood. These are very real-life stressors.

Decades of research have documented serious consequences from chronic stress in 童年 (McEwen, 2011). But psychologists have identified ways in which parents teach children how to cope with adversity—an idea commonly known as 彈力.

The Effects of Childhood Stress

Children cannot be protected from everything. Parents get divorced. Children grow up in poverty. Friends or loved ones are injured, fall ill, or die. Kids can experience neglect, physical or emotional abuse, 或者 欺凌. Families immigrate, end up homeless or live through natural disasters.

There can be long-term consequences (Masten et al., 1990). Hardship in childhood can physically alter the brain architecture of a developing child. It can impair cognitive and social-emotional development, impacting learning, 記憶, 做決定, 和更多。

Some children develop emotional problems, act out with aggressive or disruptive behavior, form unhealthy relationships, or end up in trouble with the law. School performance often suffers, ultimately limiting job and income opportunities. The risk of 自殺 or drug and alcohol abuse can increase (Khoury et al., 2010). Kids who are exposed to chronic stress may also develop lifelong health issues, including heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

So how do some kids thrive amidst serious challenges, while others are overwhelmed by them? Researchers in my field are working to identify what helps children overcome obstacles and flourish when the odds are stacked against them.

It seems to come down to both support and resilience. Resilience is defined as the ability to spring back, rebound, or readily recover from adversity. It’s a quality that allows people to be competent and accomplished despite tough circumstances. Some children from difficult backgrounds do well from a young age. Others bloom later, finding their paths once they reach adulthood.

Ann Masten, a pioneer in developmental psychology research, referred to resilience as “ordinary magic.” Resilient kids don’t have some kind of superpower that helps them persevere while others flounder. It isn’t a trait we’re born with; it’s something that can be fostered.

The Key Factors That Help Kids Build Resilience

The same 執行功能 skills that create academic success seem to bestow critical coping strategies. With the capacity to focus, solve problems, and switch between tasks, children find ways to adapt and deal with obstacles in a healthy way.

Controlling behavior and emotions is also key. In a recent study, 8- to 17-year-olds who maintained emotional balance despite mistreatment were less likely to suffer from 沮喪 or other emotional problems.

However, relationships seem to be the foundation that keeps children grounded. “Attachment relationships” provide a lifelong sense of security and belonging. A parent’s or caregiver’s consistent support and protection are crucial for healthy development and the most important of these relationships. Other caring adults can help: friends, teachers, neighbors, coaches, mentors, or others. Having steadfast support lends stability and helps kids build 自尊, self-reliance, and strength.





“做善事會讓你感覺更好,”多倫多大學的社會學家安德魯邁爾斯說。 “它滿足了基本的心理需求,比如為我們的身體提供適當的食物。它讓你覺得你的生命是有價值的。”




此外,媒體、互聯網甚至社區街道上經常充斥著針對大部分人口的人身威脅和仇恨言論。重要的是通過接受和培養您擁有的孩子來培養孩子的情感幸福,而不是試圖強行創造您想要的孩子 儘管少數群體的成員越來越願意公開反對口頭和身體上的攻擊和歧視,許多人目標個人繼續默默地受苦。




他們稱之為“親社會行為”,或以幫助他人的方式行事。 .她為所有人營造一個更公平的世界的目標是培養孩子“最終能夠自我倡導,同情他人,承認不公正,並積極主動地改變它”。她的書,我發現很難放下,是充滿了很好的例子和建議,可以幫助父母培養具有健康自我形象和尊重他人福祉的孩子。沉默”。

五個孩子的母親巴克斯利告訴我,在大流行封鎖後返回學校後,許多年輕人經歷了抑鬱和社交焦慮的增加,這可以通過親社會行為來抵消。幫助他們冷靜下來的大腦,”她說。 “它會減慢心率並釋放能對抗抑鬱症狀的血清素。” 親社會行為對某些人來說可能是自然而然的。甚至 […]






兩年多來,我們孩子的生活僅限於他們的電腦或手機屏幕。許多人因 Covid-19 失去了親人,無數其他人自己與感染作鬥爭,或者親眼目睹父母經歷經濟和情感挑戰。當他們回到學校時,他們將不得不處理教室和學校是否能證明大流行的焦慮,他們是否可以像以前一樣與同齡人一起玩耍等等。這就是為什麼教育工作者需要準備好不僅要教育,還要創造為孩子們提供安全的空間來分享他們的想法。教學過程必須認識到學習中的個體差異,這就是教育心理學將提供幫助的地方。



這個想法是要有一個經驗的視角,而不是關於如何教學的固定的、基於理論的想法。關於導致某些行為的原因、條件反射如何影響認知、情緒如何塑造學習動機的多種觀點都可以幫助教師培養同理心和 [...]









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 […]