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In this episode, you’ll discover… 

  • How to help your kids overcome the overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety in high school (2:59) 
  • Why you haven’t failed as a parent if your kids struggle with various mental health problems (4:14) 
  • The single biggest and most obvious sign your teenager is battling depression or anxiety (6:41) 
  • How becoming a happier parent is the first step for helping your teenagers who suffer with their mental health (12:09) 
  • The “Curiosity Approach” that helps your kids open up to you about their mental health without shame (12:33) 

Connect with Kristen on her website: https://sites.google.com/lcsschools.net/lhsschoolsocialwork/home

Set Free: A Woman’s Guide to Clarity, Freedom, & God’s Endless Love has been officially released! You can order a copy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Set-Free-Clarity-Freedom-Endless/dp/1664226869

If you’re ready to rise up and become the best version of yourself, check out the 12-month mindset and accountability experience that will help you rise up, click on the just breathe link at jillallencoaching.com

If you have zero energy to focus on yourself and need extra support and accountability from women who know what it’s like to juggle a crazy busy life, then go to the Fit & Fierce link at jillallencoaching.com and become unstoppable with us. 

Or, if you want to join a sisterhood dedicated to growing our faith, join our Just Breathe Facebook Group.

Read Full Transcript

Hi there. I'm Jill Allen and this is find your fierce, the show designed for women to discover your fierce, unlock and unstoppable mindset. Build unbreakable courage and completely transform how you show up every single day. Each week I will bring ideas, methods and strategies that will inspire you to step into your greatness and live life on purpose. Let's be fit, fierce and unstoppable.

(00:33): Hey there, gang. Welcome to find your fierce love that you are with us. Once again, we are continuing

(00:38): The series called not my kid, and I know that we have all been guilty of thinking that or even saying it, but being a mom of five kiddos, I have to tell you, we have learned to embrace the roller coaster ride of parenting. But before we kick off this episode, I have to thank you for your love and your support and allowing me to be a part of your life, not just in the podcast world, also for snagging, a copy of my new books at free as it is now available on Amazon. And I just know that you are going to love it, and I appreciate all your feedback, your reviews, and I love that you share the message with your friends and family. And if you can keep on doing that, it helps reach more women and it impacts more lives as you are a massive part of this movement.

(01:20): So know that you're just truly appreciated. So I'm excited to, you know, I have to say that I'm loving this series. As you know, we are having some discussions that are tough, real and raw. And as I know that we've all been affected or impacted or are living in all this stuff that comes with life and bracing kids or odds are that we've all been caught saying, or thinking not my kid. We are here to walk you through some of that stuff. And today we have a guest with us, my friend, Kristen ardor, Kristin is a licensed school social worker working with teens and young adults on supporting mental health. And I'm just so excited that she's here with us today. How are you, Kristen? Great. Thank you so much for having me. I feel like this is such an important topic and I'm ecstatic that, you know, we're taking the time to talk about it.

(02:07): So thank you. Absolutely. I mean, it's a tough one. I mean, mental talking about mental health, it's a tough topic. And I know that's something that a lot of parents are walking through and want the most for their child. I mean, tell me, I mean, what is it that you are seeing? I mean, you're in the midst of it, you're in the middle of the school. Yeah. I think you're right. That, you know, a lot of our families are experiencing maybe new things in their kids are seeing new behaviors that especially in the high school age are just totally off base where they might really be thinking, this is not my kid, not my kid. They would not do something like this, but unfortunately, you know, that is where the mental health piece comes in. And we have to say, okay, maybe it's time to take another look at what's going on and see how we can support those kids in families.

(02:59): So I think in the high school, in, in the teen and young adult years, what we see a lot is definitely depression and anxiety is really high. I see that in my kids with work, when they're struggling to turn in homework, when they're struggling to complete homework, when they're struggling just to make it to school every day, I think that's where we kind of start to say, okay, maybe we need to look at something, cause it doesn't seem my kids quite as easy to do all the things you used to be able to do. This is a big change in our families are a little bit unprepared and I don't think parents are ever given a handbook of how to handle big mental health, the teenagers. So it's not their fault, they're unprepared, but it's something that we have said, you know, we've, we've got to take some time to support and to acknowledge that these things are going on and to support the families and in supporting their kids.

(03:51): Really. So, yeah, we're taking a lot of big spikes in anxiety and depression. There's also, you know, there's always some behavior stuff that might be continuing on through high school. And I think behavior is one of those that you see a lot more with the younger kids, but of course they always, if it sticks around, it changes into some difficult stuff once they turn into teens. Oh yeah. I could definitely escalate. Let, let me ask you, is this something that any child this could happen to any family? I mean, is there a certain background that you tend to see more of? You know, because there's a lot of families that are super involved. There's some families that are not involved. I mean, what is it that you're seeing or, or is the risk for everybody? I think that is kind of specific to the diagnosis.

(04:40): If there is a diagnosis, there's some mental health concerns that are genetic and can really fall onto families and heavy quantities. But generally, no. I mean, a lot of the kids that we work with have come from really supportive families and really, you know, they've kind of checked all the boxes where they're involved in school. There they have great grades. They have parents that care and want to help, and they have community support, things like that. They may also have really healthy, like physical activity, healthy diet, some of those things while are great protective factors and they're, there are things that can oftentimes like delay things or not make the symptoms quite as worse. Unfortunately, mental health just doesn't really care. And some of the things that we find is that even when you have all of those great things happening in their life, you can still come in with a lot of worry or a lot of anxiety or a lot of depression that, that might need to be seen by either a therapist or just a really supportive mental health professional in the school.

(05:46): So I think that there's some diagnosis that obviously make things a little more difficult, but we have really great kids and really great families send, unfortunately aids, it doesn't care. There's always things you can do that make things a little bit easier, but it doesn't mean that it won't affect your kid. And you mentioned like, you know, depression and the anxiety. I mean, what does that look like from someone on the outside? What does that look like? And when do you know, because the last week we talked a little bit about behavior and the respect and disrespect and what was normal and typical for, you know, a teenager. But if we dig a little bit deeper and get beneath that surface and there's more to it, what does that depression look like besides just having a bad day or stressed out moment? What is it that you see that as parents should be aware of?

(06:39): I know when to take steps. Yeah. I think the biggest thing to look for is a major change in behavior or a major change in the way that they think, because one teenager might be very used to spending a lot of time by themselves and really prefer to spend a lot of time by themselves. So if we look at that kid who likes to come home after school and go right to his room and always has maybe they have video games or other things that are very solitary, that might not be concerning. Versus if we have a kid that has always spent a lot of time with France has always wanted to be around the family. And all of a sudden they're shutting themselves in their room every night. That would be more concerning to me than the kid who always enjoys alone time. So I think the big, the big thing for me would be the change in behavior.

(07:28): And one thing I always ask parents is, is this a new worry that you're having about your kid? Or has this been a long time thing? Sometimes it's a long time thing that they noticed a severe change. Other times it's very recent and it might just be situational that they've had a breakup or a low test score or something that's really bugging them and making a couple bad days. But like you said, one bad day does not mean depression, right? That's where we have to go and say, let's look at the last six months and let's look at their behaviors. Has this been a major change? Are we really struggling in multiple areas to function? And if so, then I always encourage parents just to have another person take a look outside of the schools, whether that's getting an assessment or just starting in with a counselor, not only will they learn skills through that but they can set them up on success for the future as well.

(08:20): So the big thing is I look for are major changes in behavior because every kid's a little bit different now, as you were sharing that something popped up in my head it's, there's like this stigma, or there's this belief or perception about mental health. And I know when I was a kid or a child, it was like, oh gosh, you know, if you go to a counselor, like there's something wrong versus I just love that. There's more awareness about it now, but I wonder how many are hiding from all of this? Not just, not just the child, but the parents, because again, it's not my kid and I don't because we grew up in that generation as the parents of that, Ooh, let's keep this hush, hush. I mean, what do you have to say about that? Or what can we do to ease that belief or to, how can we flip that script?

(09:10): I'm so glad you brought that up because the, that is one of the hardest barriers I think to supporting a kid's mental health is opening up the parents to the idea of mental health is real mental health is serious. And it's just as important as taking your kid to the doctor for their annual checkup. You know, some of those things can be really big barriers. Like you said, for parents that maybe have never really thought about their own mental health or have never considered it to be something that's a big thing to worry about. They kind of think it's, oh, we're fine. We don't want anyone to know, even if there are some concerns, so we'll just deal with it in in-house or in our family. And I think the thing to remember is that there are professionals who are really good at what they do.

(09:58): And as a parent, if you have your own mental health, you can't be expected to support another person's mental health or negative mental health, I guess. So. Yeah, I think it's a big challenge for parents. It takes a lot of humility and a lot of reflection to sit down and think about how able you are to support the people around you. And if you're not that's okay, that just means that it takes one extra step to care about yourself. Before we can care about our kids. We always kind of use the metaphor of oxygen mask and airplanes. So you always have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help someone else put theirs on. And that's kind of a good one, I think to remember, because if you're not, they're caring about your mental health and keeping a positive mindset. Then first of all, your kids, aren't seeing that in the home and they won't be, they may not feel comfortable asking you about their own lot of times, what we hear from kids is why can't go to my mom because she's depressed as well.

(10:58): So I think it kind of creates a barrier there. Kids are smart. They don't want to add one more thing to their parents play. If they feel like their parents already have enough, they're very, very caring whether or not they act. I get, sometimes they do care a lot about their parents. And so sometimes they'll think, well, I'll just handle it on my own because mom must be handling it on her own. It's a big kind of cultural and family shift you have to make, which takes some time and a lot of open communication and a little bit of personal responsibility too. Yeah. Well, I just keep hearing that we're not alone. We're not alone and that you don't have to do this by yourself. Right. And, you know, asking for help. And I, and as moms, that's one of the toughest things like, you know, cause we think that we have to do it all for whatever reason it means self-induced, but to just ask for help and be the advocate for, for your child, you know, and, and think long-term, so what kind of things can we do to make that shift with your child?

(11:58): I mean, obviously becoming self-aware and identifying what's really going on, but once we have that identification or that we are able to identify that, then what great question. I think kind of like we said, the first thing to do is to take care of yourself, to think about what areas of your life are really awesome. And what do you feel good about versus, you know, there may be one or two that you think, you know, I could use some support here or maybe I need to take some time to self reflect. I think the first step is always taking care of yourself. And then after that, I think kids really respond well to curiosity and saying, Hey, I don't know if this is something you're open to talking about, but I've noticed you've been spending a lot more time at, in your room. Can you tell me, you know, is there something in there you'd like to show me or just coming from it from a curious perspective, I think usually opens the door to communication versus what's wrong with you, right?

(13:00): Yeah. Acting like that. And that's hard to do. It's hard not to say there's something wrong. We need to get this, this figured out from a point of, of I care about you and I'm curious, and I want to make sure that I'm supporting you the best way I can. And also, you know, just being really calm and knowing who you are in your role as a caregiver. I think there's another quote that I, that I go by a lot that says the best thing you can do for an unregulated child is be a regulated adult, right? The best thing you can do for a child who's feeling overwhelmed or feeling like they are not sure the next step is to be the person that is calm, that cares about their own mental health, but also cares about their child's and to come from it, a perspective of, we will get through this together.

(13:52): I'm not going to be overwhelmed like people are feeling right now. And that's, that's how I'm going to support you through this. So that again, takes a lot of self-regulation reflection time. Probably a lot of love, a lot of love, which I'm good at doing. So that's good. Well, and you know, sometimes too, the, you know, the kids that you feel, the kids that are in that funk or in that phase or not, you know, it's a place where you maybe don't want to give a lot of love because you're seeing what is right in front of you or the ones that need the love the most. Yeah. And that's something that I know that as parents is, we need to take that step. Yeah. And lean on the people around you. Cause I think there's for sure times where you may not be your best self, right.

(14:41): To have that hard conversation with a kid, but maybe a partner is, or may be a grandparent is, or, you know, a younger cousin that might be more their age and willing talk about it. So I think leaning on the people around you and the community that you've set up is a big part too, like village. Yeah. For sure. That connection, it's a difficult and sometimes daunting task to look at a kid who, who might be very different from how he, or she was five years ago and to say, okay, new challenges, new, new start, we're going to start from the ground up. That's that's hard to do. So what do you, what do you say on this? I mean, obviously, you know, we can look ahead and say, okay, when, when we get the help that we need, we can see this bright vision for them.

(15:30): But sometimes that, that flip of what happens when we don't, when we just shoved this under the rug and say, you know what, it's all gonna work out. Or, you know, maybe we're too embarrassed or we don't want to ask for that help. What would happen? I mean, what is it that you're seeing beyond high school and the students that you've had go through this process. And I don't want to get doom and gloom here with you, but at the same time, the severity of it. And we see this nationwide of this mental health crisis, especially after going through the pandemic and the school year that you guys have all faced, how serious is this? I mean, let's pop some truth bombs here. Yeah, for sure. I think just like physical health, a broken bone, doesn't get better on its own. Right. If it feels it might not heal correctly and in the process, it's going to be really painful.

(16:17): So I think of mental health, the same way that if it heals, it might not heal correctly, right. Or it might heal in a way that isn't as productive as really addressing it head on. Might be. The other thing is as human beings, I think we all want to cope with what's going on around us. So specifically with kids, they find ways to cope whether or not that's a positive or a negative way, I for sure would love every kid to cope in really positive ways, by talking about their feelings and, you know, getting out and being physically active and having friends. And, and that is kind of that bright shining down the tunnel. We see that we really hope for, with every kid that they are able to become independent and healthy mentally. But if not given the opportunity to heal in that way, I think kids tend to cope in other ways by unfortunately using drugs and alcohol with self-harm with thoughts of suicide that does get kind of doom and gloom, but just, you know, as, as humans, we do our best and if not given the tools to do our best, best, we will find other tools to do whatever we need to do to get through the day.

(17:26): So that can become very, very dark. But, but I also think that kids want to, they want to be in that light place because it takes a lot of energy and a lot of emotion to be in a dark place it's exhausting. So if they can find a way to get to the brighter place down that tunnel, I think that they will. I think that's the, whether or not they notice it. That would be maybe a different question, but I think inherently kids want to be in a place where things are easy and want to have relationships and friendships and be outgoing and, and, and be around other people and have supportive friendships. And I think you and your entire teaching team and the staff that you have, because I know as parents, we need those extra eyes and those extra hands and extra hearts that are looking out for our kids.

(18:22): And I just, yeah, I, I thank you so much for all of that. And I hope as parents, we have this wake up call that if we see something off and we know in our gut, we know, and I think that's something that we need to, you know, take that step on and have that courage to be able to, to do that. Is there anything else, if you could give parents one thing I know that's always easy question, but like one thing that you can share with us, for us to be able to not just identify, but to take action from big starting today, what would that be? I know I didn't prep you for this at all. No, that's a great, I mean, man, if I had one question, I would encourage every parent to ask the questions that they don't ask. I think sometimes we, you know, these things can be big and scary and you're not going to know how to handle it.

(19:12): And so sometimes we kind of go around and say, well, I think they're okay. I think, you know, I would encourage parents to be very open and honest because I think that's where you get that real intimate conversation with your kid and it opens the door for them to share not only that, but everything else. So if I can talk to my mom about my mental health, I can also talk to her probably about some friends stuff going on about some other peer things that kind of shows your kid I'm here, whether or not we know what to do next, I'm still here to listen and we're going to figure it out together. So just ask the questions, ask the questions that you're may, you may be afraid to get the answer to be okay. Except it receive it. Wow. Yeah, that's pretty good. That is awesome.

(20:01): I love what you're doing in schools. I love what you're doing and the community and just the help. Where can they connect with you or what I mean, because I know one, you know, one theory or one solution doesn't fit all. So what do you have to suggest for people to, you know, take action on? Absolutely. I think you're right. You know what I've said here is pretty general. It might not be a great fit for every kid, but I would encourage parents to reach out to their schools. Like you said, we, we do get a lot of contact with the kids, which is great. So I'm a licensed school, social worker. Some schools have those, some schools have school counselors or other helping professionals. That's always a good place to start. Even if they don't know your kids specifically they'll know local area and who to connect people to.

(20:50): I also, for the local people have a website that's pretty general with resources and some kind of coping tools, things like that send that link will be make sure that they are in the show notes, especially if you are in the area of Ohio. So that would be absolutely awesome. I cannot thank you enough for being here, opening the eyes of so many parents and, and just, you know, speaking truth because I know that we all need that. So thanks for being here. Thank you for having me. Awesome. No, thanks. Thank you. I know I mentioned this at the beginning, but I have to tell you again, that my book set free is a woman's guide to freedom from confusion, control, worry, fear, and stress by letting go and saying yes to God's endless love. And we all need that as parents and it is available on Amazon. So check that out. Join us for the set free book club. As we walk through that journey together, you can find that link at Joe Allen, coaching.com or the just brief Facebook group. Also you are being called arise and we want to invite you to the just free sisterhood, a 12 month mindset and accountability experience rooted in biblical truth for Christian women like you, who are ready to rise up heads up on the next episode, we are continuing

(21:56): The, not my kid series. So be sure to check that out. Thanks so much for joining us today. If you are on iTunes, please leave a review. Love hearing your feedback. Also subscribe, share this episode, link on your social media. If you felt encouraged or inspired, as we all know someone that can benefit DACA the next time [inaudible] be unstoppable.

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