Most parents can identify when there is a “problem” with their child. Behavior in school begins to decline, they get into fights with friends, or withdraw completely from them. They might have chronic belly aches or headaches. When these things happen we know it’s time to seek help. However, just because your child is acting okay does not mean he or she actually is. Think about it: you walk around daily acting as if you are okay, and are you? 100% of the time? Our kids watch this, what is modeled for them is to “be okay”, especially to the outside world. Now, I’m not talking about teenagers here (we know most of them will tell us when they are not okay). I’m talking about your little ones.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every child is falling apart on the inside. I’m saying that as a parent part of the job is teaching your child how to not be okay. Pay attention to their life. If it seems that there is a lot going on, or they have stressful events happening and they seem “okay” try not to take that at face value. Sit and talk with your kids. Talk about times when you are not okay and what you do. Ask about their feelings, put yourself in their shoes. Tell them…”wow I would be really mad if that happened to me.” Give them permission. Permission to feel their feelings. Many times children who come into my office and share whats going on with them struggle when I ask them to share those feelings with mom and dad. They do not want to hurt them or burden them, or even make them mad. As a parent, you want to be the place they go to to not be okay. Show your children you can be trusted with their feelings; you won’t laugh, belittle, or blow them off. By doing that you create a safe place for them to share, explore and experience their feelings before they become a “problem”.