On November 27, 2019, the MHS SCC hosted a parent night focused on helping parents support their children through the stresses and challenges that they face. The event was facilitated by Derek Yee, a Therapist specializing in working with youth, who works at PPC (Professional Psychologists and Counselors) of Saskatoon (306-664-0000).

Below is some information that was shared, as well as questions that were asked and answered that evening.

Question: How do I support my child with ADD who doesn’t feel that they fit in?

Answer: Celebrate where they are strong.  It’s difficult to fit in so the message to the youth is not everyone is strong in every way.  What area do you shine in? Let’s build on that.  Your youth wants to connect and feel apart of things in some way.  Help them find that place. 

Question: What builds self-esteem?

Three things help cultivate self-esteem and help youth feel good inside. 

  1. Sense of purpose
  2. Sense of routine
  3. Sense of community – can be one person.  Someone they will miss if they are not there

Help them figure out these three pieces and build on them.  Self-esteem grows as they do.

Question: What are your thoughts about video games? My child does nothing but video games and only feels good when they’re good at a game.

Kids are sensitive to how parents respond. They want their parents approval.  Kids push back when parents don’t approve. Connect with your youth. See what they are playing and join in. Build on your time with them and spend time with them in other ways. 

Things to watch for as your youth is on line:

  • Are they meeting strangers that go outside the game?
  • Are threats being made or are they being treated/talked to in mean ways?
  • Is inappropriate posting coming out of the connections?

If any of those are occurring, limit access to the Internet at that point. And … Talk.  Ask them what they think about what has occurred on line, share your concerns and; explain why you are limiting access and agree upon what changes need to occur. Talk with them about ways to deal with those situations.  These are teaching moments not punishing moments.  Help them figure this out.  Keep checking in and talking about these things.  They’re learning about boundaries and how others can and can’t treat them.  And, about being safe.

Question: How do I address and issue with my youth?

Before we go into tough conversations with our kids, we need to be aware of the pressure kids feel from their parents. We carry our own daily stress, which they feel. Our emotions trigger our children. So first, bring ourselves down and make sure what we’re upset with. Our day and they are adding to it or is there something we need to deal with. 

So a good question to ask ourselves before bringing it up with our youth is ‘Do I need to deal with this or can I let it go?’ 

If you find that you need to deal with it use these 3-steps when talking with your youth

  1. Be neutral – with you voice, face, tone and words
  2. Be brief – get to the point, why are you bringing this up
  3. Be action oriented – what do you want different out of this?

Don’t get into a power struggle with your youth. Say your expectations once and disengage.  i.e. you have to go to school and then Internet. End of conversation.

Understand that they will make decisions and your role in many ways is to be there if they fall.  They are learning. 

Question: I have a younger child with challenges and I see my older daughter react to this in various ways. What can I do?

Sometimes youth protect their parent and taking on what isn’t there’s to deal with. Set clear boundaries around what is your role and responsibility as the parent and what is your youth’s role and responsibility including enjoying being a youth without feeling responsible for you and their sibling’s relationship. Angry from your youth may be a sign that they are taking on too much responsibility.

Question: What are signs that my youth is stressed out?

Major warning signs of a youth being stressed out are:

  • They refuse to go to school.  They are bottoming out
  • Reckless drug use/violence
  • Self harming behavior
  • Their friends are contacting you because they are worried for them
  • Not wanting to engage except on line

How to respond to this.

  • Keep lines of communication open – talk with your youth.
    • Try to spend some undivided, 1-on-1 time with your teen each week. Go for coffee.
    • Listen when they talk – don’t talk more than they do.
    • Share any positive thoughts or feelings you are having and let your teen know what you value about his or her perspective.
    • Validate what they are feeling – appreciate how this might feel hard.
    • As you build your relationship with your youth, they will be more likely to bring things up.
    • Have fun with them.
  • Teach healthy coping mechanisms.
    • Do something physical together (walk, bike, throw the ball around, yoga, wall climb, etc.).
    • Healthy sleep is important. When stress increases, sleep decreases and stress increases more.
      • Agree on a set bed time.
      • Visit before they go to bed so if anything is on their mind, they have a chance to talked about it.
      • Limit screen time and have a cut off time for the evening. 
      • Take cell phone away when they go to bed. 
      • Invite your teen to come get you in the night if they are upset – support them.
    • Eat healthy, reduce sugars.
      • If not hungry, eat small amounts more often.
      • Stresses, reactions and misunderstandings increase when the body and mind isn’t being nourished.
    • Think through with your youth ways to manage stress at home, school and in their interpersonal life (friends, peers).
      • Encourage them to talk and know that they don’t have to figure this out all alone.

Again … have fun with them.  Laughing is key to reducing stress.