Parenting Children With A Mental Illness

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Twenty two percent of children in the US will have a diagnosable mental illness before the age of 18. Half of these occur before the age of 14 and by the age of 24, 75 percent will occur. That means that 17.1 million children have or have had a mental disorder. If your child have a mental illness, you are certainly not alone. 
Dealing with these mental illnesses are difficult for the whole family, including the child with the disorder, but it’s especially hard for the parent. On top of getting your child help and dealing with the issues caused by their illness, you have to battle feelings of guilt, inadequacy, fear, and confusion. Many parents with mentally ill children even try to keep as quiet as possible about what’s going on within their family.

A lot of these feelings stem from not knowing how to help your child. With guidance, you’ll have a better idea of how to help them, which will make you feel more competent. The 8 tips below will help you get started. You already know some of them, but hearing them again is always helpful.
  • Get the right therapist, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Don’t blame yourself.
  • Have support.
  • Accept their mental illness and encourage them to do the same.
  • Be realistic about what your child can and can’t handle.
  • Know their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Don’t define them by their disorder, and encourage them not to as well.
  • Make sure that their school is aware of the situation and are able to make accommodations.
Taking care of your child is undoubtedly hard but with treatment, most mental illnesses can at least be stabilized. Admit you need help with your child and accept that help. As difficult as it may be to admit that you can’t “fix” your child on your own, accepting available help will be best for your whole family.

by: Alecia Stanton

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