Page 31 - Alaska Parent Digital
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  Pay attention to emotional health
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adolescents has a mental health condition. A significant percentage of younger kids also experience mental disorders. Conditions range from anxiety and depression to attention deficit disorder, and in the later teens, bipolar and schizophrenia.
School success is strongly tied to kids’ emotional wellness. Unfortunately, when kids exhibit behavioral changes, parents often assume it’s just a childhood or adolescent phase as opposed to a mental health problem.
Child and family therapist, Donna
M. Carollo, LMFT, says when a child or teen “exhibits symptoms of depression for over a month, it’s time to seek professional help.” She points out
a few signs to watch for that could indicate depression or another mental illness. These include “a child wanting to socially isolate, exhibiting excessive fatigue, a change in appetite, a lack of desire to do any of the fun things they used to, or a sudden drop in academic performance.”
Drugs and alcohol misuse or abuse may also be symptoms of a mental health condition. If you suspect
your teen is misusing or abusing substances, intervention is crucial. Make an appointment with a mental healthcare professional or contact an addiction treatment center for help. You can also contact the local public behavioral healthcare agency for
child and adolescent mental health or substance abuse concerns. Some local resources include:
• For toll-free confidential and caring help in Alaska, call Careline at (877) 266-HELP (4357).
• Mental Health Emergency Counseling line: 907-563-3200
L imit cell phone use
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, more than half of kids between 13 and 17 worry they spend too much time on their cell phones. Just over half also say they’ve taken steps to reduce their use of it. Fifty-seven percent have made efforts to limit their time on social media and 58 percent to limit video games.
Cell phone addiction has become a growing problem among adolescents. “Something is considered an addiction when the chosen behavior causes an
individual to suffer in many other valued areas of their life,” says Donna. She cautions, however, that “a parent’s values and a child’s values don’t always sync.” Still, she adds, “if the
cell phone is interfering with face-to- face family and friend time, school work, sleep, or exercise” that’s when it’s time for parents to enforce some guidelines.
To gain kids’ cooperation, ask
them to help you create the rules. Also, allow your adolescent an hour or two of daily phone time because socialization is an integral part of teen development.
At night, however, require all phones are on their chargers outside of bedrooms. Other helpful rules include no phones during mealtime and
that chores and homework must be completed before kids can have their phones. Also, set consequences for breaking cell phone rules. Loss of their cell phone for a specified period is an appropriate measure.
Get academic help
If your child has struggled academically in the past or grades begin to suffer, your kid may need help. Any of the above issues, among other things, can lead to academic problems. Some kids struggle with retaining information, understanding concepts, or have a different learning style. Also, learning disabilities can affect kids of all intelligence levels and cause academic challenges.
If your child is struggling in one
or more subjects, ask your child’s teachers about their observations. Then talk to the school principal. Public schools are required to provide an assessment upon request. If your child attends a private school that doesn’t offer assessments, you can request it through your public school district.
Whatever the reason for your child’s school difficulties, there are ways to help. First, establish a regular homework time. Also, set up a quiet, distraction-free area as a homework station and furnish it with a desk or comfortable chair. Kids’ rooms provide too many distractions. Plus the ability to close their door can hide that they’re not on task.
Also, consider a tutor. Some schools offer free one-on-one or after-school group tutoring. (See more info on “homework help” and “tutoring” on pages 34-36.)
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