What recovery looks like – A person with a mental or emotional disorder who is in “recovery” can look and act like anyone else. They have:
- stable relationships
- a steady job or in school
- a place to live
- a proper diet
- regular mental health check-ins.
Recovery is maintained when your child can pay attention to themselves and notice if their symptoms are starting up, and then take action to stop the symptoms. You teach them what to look for, and how to do a personal check-in. It’s just as if they are monitoring any other problem in order to stay healthy such as: blood sugar, body temperature weight gain or loss, digestive system function (gut microbes). In mental disorders, their signs and symptoms are not steady. Anything can lead them from “OK” to “out of control” in an instant, and problems can last minutes to weeks to months.
What your child will need to sustain recovery as an adult:
INSIGHT + STABILITY + RESILIENCE
INSIGHT– self awareness
Insight allows a child to recognize they have a problem, and choose to act to avoid the problem. If insight is not possible, they need a toolbox of options that help them to respond appropriately, instead of reacting to chaotic messages in their brain. Knowing and admitting they have a problem, or knowing techniques for avoiding problems, are very powerful skills they need as adults.
STABILITY – fewer falls or softer falls
Your child is like a boat that’s easier to tip over than most other boats; any little wave will capsize them, and everyday life is full of waves, big and small. Your job is to notice when the troubled child is starting to capsize and show them how to right the boat, or if that doesn’t work, how to use the lifesaver. Eventually, your child will learn how to sense when trouble is coming on, avoid the thing that causes problems, and ask others for help.
- Sense it.
- Avoid it.
- Ask for Help.
RESILIENCE – bounce back when they fall
Troubled children have a much harder time bouncing back from problems. They have extreme responses to simple disappointments like breaking a toy, or poor grades, or something as serious as the parents’ divorce. Some even fall apart in joyous times because the emotional energy is too much! You must be acutely aware of this–they will not get back on track by themselves. Don’t worry that helping them will spoil them or “enable” them. Eventually they will learn from you how you do it.
“…We are all born with an innate capacity for resilience, by which we are able to develop social competence, problem-solving skills, a critical consciousness, autonomy, and a sense of purpose.”
“Several research studies followed individuals over the course of a lifespan and consistently documented that between half and two-thirds of children growing up in families with mentally ill, alcoholic, abusive, or criminally involved parents, or in poverty-stricken or war-torn communities, do overcome the odds and turn a life trajectory of risk into one that manifests “resilience,” the term used to describe a set of qualities that foster a process of successful adaptation and transformation despite risk and adversity…” http://www.athealth.com
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