Oh No, My Child has a Childhood Mental Health Illness!

A very good friend of mine is crushing it in her self-help series focusing on positive parenting skills. Please allow me to introduce Mrs. Felicia Johnson, MSW, LCSW who hosts her own commentary at www.Soothingminds.net. I wanted to share a few gems of Felicia’s thought process as she discusses some pretty sensitive and informative techniques dealing with childhood challenges. Without further ado…

Mrs. Felicia Johnson, MSW, LCSW

For many parents, hearing that your child has a mental health diagnosis can be very hard. Many parents have lived in denial for years of their child’s symptoms. Often times saying, it is just how boys are, my child is just rougher than other children, or my child is just different. No parent wants to hear that their child is diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Mood Disorder, Bipolar, Depression, and/or Disruptive Mood Dysregulation. When parents hear those diagnoses a number of emotions and thoughts occur such as fear, failure, anxiety, and uncertainty of the future comes to mind. Childhood mental health diagnosis is not a death sentence or a goal stopper. With help and learning effective coping skills children can live normal and mentally healthy lives. Parents can assist children in reaching their full life’s potential.

Education: When learning that your child has a mental health diagnosis it is important as a caregiver/parents to educate self on the symptoms, treatment, and what can be done at home and school to decrease symptoms. It is equally important to learn about medication options for the child in conjunction with psychotherapy, parent management training, and psycho-education(learning about child’s symptoms, coping skills, and treatment options). Parents/caregivers, should become familiar with treatment options in your state to include outpatient therapy and more intensive therapy such as wrap around services. Some children would benefit greatly from a specialized residential setting to stabilized their symptoms. These options should be discussed in detail with your child’s therapist and/or psychiatrist to ensure the best standard of care for the child. Take the time to learn about your child’s medical insurance coverage for behavior health.

Intuition and In-tune: Parents are the best expert of their children. As a parent you know when your child is sick or not feeling like them self. As such, parenting a child with mental health illness is a tremendous task and highly important to be in-tune with their moods, feelings, behaviors, and actions. Understand your child’s triggers. Is it loud noise, change in routine, certain time of the day, or a certain person? As parent/caregiver you need to observe when your child’s mood changes. When do the child seems upset or happy and what causes the mood changes? With knowing and observing child patterns you will begin to learn how to cope with triggers effectively to decrease unwanted behaviors such as verbal and physical aggressive behaviors. Working with your child’s therapist as a team could assist you in identifying child’s triggers and steps to take to decrease unwanted behaviors.

Say “No” to the Naysayers and the Stigma: Yes, I said it Naysayers, There will be plenty of Naysayers in your life that would say “If it was my child he/she would not act like that”, “It is nothing wrong with that child he just need to be discipline” or the one I hear all the time “he would not act that way at my house”. These naysayers will come from all walks of life. They could be your child’s teacher, grandparent, parent, pastor, or friend of the family. Depending on how close the naysayer is to the family and child, you might need to educate them on your child’s symptoms and treatment. Talk to family members about your experiences as a parent and your child’s experiences to help decrease the stigma of mental health. Surround yourself with other parents that have similar experiences which can be a support for you and child. Recognized your own preconceived thoughts and feelings of mental health. It is important not to allow our own views and attitudes to prevent the child from getting the best treatment for his/her symptoms.

Parenting a child with mental health concerns is difficult and need additional support outside of family. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment to a mental health provider that could assist the child and parents in working and coping with child’s symptoms.


~If you enjoyed Felicia’s comments please visit her commentary at www.Soothingminds.net. I encourage you to pease feel free to share your thoughts! Powerful stuff here! Thank you so much Felicia and  I look forward to your next peice!


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“Andrae captures insight and pearls of wisdom from the military’s most senior leaders, calling them Procedures, Techniques, and Rules. These strategies, if applied with discipline, can provide efficiency to your day-to-day routine and increase your overall well-being.”

“Procedures, Techniques, Rules… I Wish I Learned in School is a resource tool that offers bottom-line instructions on a range of habits that have proved beneficial to our nation’s leading authorities.” “Andrae has taken his experiences from sitting down to talk with leaders, such as former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey; and Korean War hero, General Paik Sung-yup, and consolidated the lessons learned about life. Useful techniques are broken down into the simplest forms that relate to finances, health, parenting, and mind-set—all of which, if they had been reinforced and learned in our youth would have paid back seven times over. It’s never too late to become better. Enjoy.”

~Andrae Ballard is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was commissioned as an Infantry Officer. He has served at every echelon from platoon through Corps level operations. He is also a part-time faculty member at Central Texas College, teaching in the Mathematics Department. He holds a BS in Systems Engineering from West Point and an MS from Central Michigan University in Human Resources Administration. 
~Andrae’s most recent assignments include serving as the Aide-de-Camp to the 8th Army Commanding General in Yongsan, Korea, as well as the Public Affairs Officer for the Special Operations Command Korea Commanding General. His deployments include multiple combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). 
~Andrae is a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College, as well as the United States Army Jumpmaster and Ranger Schools. He is the COO of Alexander Graham Properties LLC, an organization that provides resources and consultation to those in need of financial help. 
~Andrae has spoken throughout the world, helping people to hone their leadership skills and potential and has assisted many, helping them to establish a clear and effective strategy to meet their life goals.

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2 thoughts on “Oh No, My Child has a Childhood Mental Health Illness!

  1. Thank you Ms. Johnson for helping to remove blind stigmatisms about children who truly need help in successfully living. Growing up my brother was considered to have behavioral issues thus reflecting on parental discipline. However, an apology was given to my father when he had Jesse tested and discovered Jesse was struggling with a learning disorder. Ultimately, my brother was given the attention needed and he’s a successful Chief in the US Navy with 6x children of his own without fail.