It’s Not Cancer, Don’t Exaggerate.
Linda Wechter-Ashkin PhD NCSP BC-TMHC ADHD CCSP
It is so interesting to me that we regard mental health and educational issues so differently than we regard physical health. We put it on a continuum and judge ours compared to that of others. How can I complain about my marriage when women are being beaten by their husbands? How can I complain about my lack of joy when people have lost their children and survived? How can I complain about not enjoying my job when so many people have lost their jobs? And we teach our children that they should be more appreciative. Seems like a good thing right? But not when it minimizes their feelings. They may be very grateful for what they have but still feel overwhelming sadness. They may realize that their life is pretty simple but still be anxious. They may have the best tutors and they still don’t get the grades you were hoping for. So, we plug along until we go into an emotional crisis. We tell our children to plug along until one day they break. And then we say how did this happen?
If your child got hit in the head with a pitch at the ball field, I pray you wouldn’t say yeah but people have it so much worse. There are people with cancer, and heart disease, and deadly diseases. I pray you would take them to the emergency room and have them evaluated. You wouldn’t judge them for crying about their injury because it could be worse, you would understand that what they were going through at that moment hurt. Now I’m not encouraging you to overreact to everything. I often did tell my son to get back on the field when he was tempted to cry to save his little ego from looking like he struck out without a legitimate reason. But I also watched closely to make sure his little ego recovered and that within a short time he went back to his cheerful self. If it hadn’t, we would have looked further into why he was crushed by a perceived failure and what needed to be done to fix that.
I hope that you will teach your children resilience and I don’t want you to get frazzled because of a failed test or a few missed assignments or a few notes home because they were talking out of turn. But I do want you to keep your eye out for patterns. Try not to be dismissive of how they feel when they come home frustrated, sad, anxious, or overwhelmed by the expectations that they are having trouble meeting at school. Validate them and teach them that it is okay to feel and that it is okay to share those feelings with you and maybe someone who specializes in feeling fixing. And then get them the help they need. It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility to step in and get them help, to be their voice, and to make sure that they get the help they need early on. And if you missed that boat, it is still not your fault. You didn’t know, but it’s never too late. Give us a call at 561-769-9437 and let’s get started.