Mental Health Resources
- Does My Child Need Help?
- Helping Children Manage Anxiety
- Child Mind Institute Resources by Topic
- Parenting in a Pandemic
Does My Child Need Help?
We all worry about our kids. Sometimes our worries are about whether they are developing in a healthy way. (Should he be talking by now?) Or about whether they are happy—we don’t like to see them sad or suffering. And sometimes we worry because a child’s behavior is causing problems for him—or for the whole family.
One of the challenges of parenting is knowing when a worry should prompt action. How do you know when to get help for a child who is struggling? Keep in mind that there is a lot of variation in how kids develop, and a broad range of behavior that’s typical and healthy (if sometimes troublesome) as children grow up. So you don’t want to overreact. But when the behaviors you worry about are seriously interfering with your child’s ability to do things that are age-appropriate, or your family’s ability to be comfortable and nurturing, it’s important to get help.
Here are some things mental health practitioners recommend you consider in deciding whether a child needs professional help.
- What are the behaviors that are worrying you? To evaluate your situation clearly, it’s important to observe and record specifically the things you are concerned about. Try to avoid generalizations like “He’s acting up all the time!” or “She’s uncooperative.” Think about specific behaviors, like “His teacher complains that he can’t wait for his turn to speak,” or “He gets upset when asked to stop one activity and start another,” or “She cries and is inconsolable when her mother leaves the room.”
- How often does it happen? If your child seems sad or despondent, is that occurring once a week, or most of the time? If he is having tantrums, when do they occur? How long do they last? Since many problematic behaviors—fears, impulsiveness, irritability, defiance, angst—are behaviors that all children occasionally exhibit, duration and intensity are often key to identifying a disorder.
- Are these behaviors outside the typical range for his age? Since children and teenagers exhibit a wide range of behaviors, it can be challenging to separate normal acting up, or normal anxiety, from a serious problem. It’s often useful to share your observations with a professional who sees a lot of children—a teacher, school psychologist, or pediatrician, for instance—to get a perspective on whether your child’s behaviors fall outside of the typical range for his age group. Is he more fearful, more disobedient, more prone to tantrums, than many other children? (See our Parents Guide to Developmental Milestones for children five and under.)
- How long has it been going on? Problematic behavior that’s been happening for a few days or even a few weeks is often a response to a stressful event, and something that will disappear over time. Part of diagnosing a child is eliminating things that are short-term responses, and probably don’t require intervention.
- How much are they interfering with his life? Perhaps the biggest determinant of whether your child needs help is whether his symptoms and behaviors are getting in the way of his doing age-appropriate things. Is it disrupting the family and causing conflict at home? Is it causing him difficulty at school, or difficulty getting along with friends? If a child is unable to do things he wants to do, or take pleasure in many things his peers enjoy, or get along with teachers, family members and friends, he may need help.
What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are Anxious: How to respect feelings without empowering fears
Clark Goldstein, PhD
When children are chronically anxious, even the most well-meaning parents can fall into a negative cycle and, not wanting a child to suffer, actually exacerbate the youngster’s anxiety. It happens when parents, anticipating a child’s fears, try to protect her from them. Here are pointers for helping children escape the cycle of anxiety.
1. The goal isn’t to eliminate anxiety, but to help a child manage it.
None of us wants to see a child unhappy, but the best way to help kids overcome anxiety isn’t to try to remove stressors that trigger it. It’s to help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function as well as they can, even when they’re anxious. And as a byproduct of that, the anxiety will decrease or fall away over time.
2. Don’t avoid things just because they make a child anxious.
Helping children avoid the things they are afraid of will make them feel better in the short term, but it reinforces the anxiety over the long run. If a child in an uncomfortable situation gets upset, starts to cry—not to be manipulative, but just because that’s how she feels—and her parents whisk her out of there, or remove the thing she’s afraid of, she’s learned that coping mechanism, and that cycle has the potential to repeat itself.
3. Express positive—but realistic—expectations.
You can’t promise a child that his fears are unrealistic—that he won’t fail a test, that he’ll have fun ice skating, or that another child won’t laugh at him during show & tell. But you can express confidence that he’s going to be okay, he will be able to manage it, and that, as he faces his fears, the anxiety level will drop over time. This gives him confidence that your expectations are realistic, and that you’re not going to ask him to do something he can’t handle.
4. Respect her feelings, but don’t empower them.
It’s important to understand that validation doesn’t always mean agreement. So if a child is terrified about going to the doctor because she’s due for a shot, you don’t want to belittle her fears, but you also don’t want to amplify them.You want to listen and be empathetic, help her understand what she’s anxious about, and encourage her to feel that she can face her fears. The message you want to send is, “I know you’re scared, and that’s okay, and I’m here, and I’m going to help you get through this.”
5. Don’t ask leading questions.
Encourage your child to talk about his feelings, but try not to ask leading questions— “Are you anxious about the big test? Are you worried about the science fair?” To avoid feeding the cycle of anxiety, just ask open-ended questions: “How are you feeling about the science fair?”
6. Don’t reinforce the child’s fears.
What you don’t want to do is be saying, with your tone of voice or body language: “Maybe this is something that you should be afraid of.” Let’s say a child has had a negative experience with a dog. Next time she’s around a dog, you might be anxious about how she will respond, and you might unintentionally send a message that she should, indeed, be worried.
7. Encourage the child to tolerate her anxiety.
Let your child know that you appreciate the work it takes to tolerate anxiety in order to do what he wants or needs to do. It’s really encouraging him to engage in life and to let the anxiety take its natural curve. We call it the “habituation curve”—it will drop over time as he continues to have contact with the stressor. It might not drop to zero, it might not drop as quickly as you would like, but that’s how we get over our fears.
8. Try to keep the anticipatory period short.
When we’re afraid of something, the hardest time is really before we do it. So another rule of thumb for parents is to really try to eliminate or reduce the anticipatory period. If a child is nervous about going to a doctor’s appointment, you don’t want to launch into a discussion about it two hours before you go; that’s likely to get your child more keyed up. So just try to shorten that period to a minimum.
9. Think things through with the child.
Sometimes it helps to talk through what would happen if a child’s fear came true—how would she handle it? A child who’s anxious about separating from her parents might worry about what would happen if they didn’t come to pick her up. So we talk about that. If your mom doesn’t come at the end of soccer practice, what would you do? “Well I would tell the coach my mom’s not here.” And what do you think the coach would do? “Well he would call my mom. Or he would wait with me.” A child who’s afraid that a stranger might be sent to pick her up can have a code word from her parents that anyone they sent would know. For some kids, having a plan can reduce the uncertainty in a healthy, effective way.
10. Try to model healthy ways of handling anxiety.
There are multiple ways you can help kids handle anxiety by letting them see how you cope with anxiety yourself. Kids are perceptive, and they’re going to take it in if you keep complaining on the phone to a friend that you can’t handle the stress or the anxiety. I’m not saying to pretend that you don’t have stress and anxiety, but let kids hear or see you managing it calmly, tolerating it, feeling good about getting through it.
If you have a child struggling with mental health or learning challenges, getting sound, clear information is the first step to getting good care. The Child Mind Institute aims to empower you with the resources you need to make good decisions for your child. Search the topics resource library.
- Elementary School H.E.L.P. Contacts
- Middle School H.E.L.P. Contacts
- High School H.E.L.P. Contacts
- Carver County H.E.L.P. Contacts
Clover Ridge Elementary
Social Worker 952-556-6912
Intercultural Specialist 952-556-6917
School Counselor 952-556-6512
Intercultural Specialist 952-556-7883
La Academia/Kinder Academy
Social Worker 952-556-6340
Intercultural Specialist 952-556-7883
Chaska Middle School East
Social Worker 952-556-7633
School Counselor All 7th grade students 952-556-7633
School Counselor All 6th and 8th grade students
Intercultural Specialist 952-556-6232
Chemical Health Support
Chaska Middle School West
Social Worker 952-556-7438
School Counselor Works with all 7th grade students and the 6th grade Comets 952-556-7432
School Counselor Works with all 8th grade students and the 6th grade Meteor 952-556-7433
Intercultural Specialist 952-556-7668
Chemical Health Support
Pioneer Ridge Middle School
School Counselor Works with 7th Grade Students and 6th Grade Students last names A-K 952-556-7833
School Counselor Works with 8th Grade Students and 6th Grade Students last names L-Z 952-556-7832
Chemical Health Support
Carver County and Relate Counseling offer therapy at school. These are outside providers that bill insurance (if possible) but use school space to provide mental health support to students/families that have barriers to accessing services outside of school. The providers will continue to service students via telehealth means during the pandemic. If you feel like your child could use this support please contact your school counselor/social worker.
Description: Online search tool to find local providers, appointment wait time, and insurance information. Website: http://www.fast-trackermn.org/
Description: Offers psychiatry services, group therapy programs, individual and family therapy, art therapy, EMDR, CBT, and nutrition counseling
Location: 7975 Stone Creek Drive, Suite 130, Chanhassen, MN 55317
Contact: 952-544-6806 https://choicespsychotherapy.net/services/
David Hoy and Associates
Description: Provides in home, school, and in center therapies. Certified to provide CTSS,
play therapy, and EMDR.
Contact: 952-361-3360 http://davidhoy.com/services/
Location: 510 Chestnut St. Suite 201 Chaska 55318
First Street Center
Description: Services include crisis mental health services, mental health and chemical
health assessments, outpatient therapy and psychiatry, case management services, and
Location: Main Location, 540 East 1st Street, Waconia or 106 N. Chestnut Street, Chaska
Contact: (952) 442-4437
NorthStar Regional Previously NorthLand Counseling
Description: Provides outpatient therapy for all ages and adult CD treatment.
Location: Multiple locations in Chaska, Chanhassen, Shakopee, and Maple Grove
Contact: Main line: 952-448-6557, For location specific location contact: https://northstarregional.com/locations/
Description: Offers psychiatry, medication management, and psychological testing.
Provides therapy for individuals, families, as well as art therapy
Location: 212 Medical Building 111 Hundertmark Rd 205N Chaska 55318
Contact: 952-903-1350 http://www.prairie-care.com/locations/chaska/
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call:
• Carver County Mental Health Crisis Team: (952) 442-7601
• SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Crisis - Mobile Response
Crisis Texting Line - Available nation & state wide
Wright County Crisis (Central MN Mental Health Center)
Anoka County Crisis
Dakota County Crisis
Ramsey County Adult Crisis
Ramsey County Children’s Crisis
Hennepin County Crisis, Adults (COPE)
Hennepin County Crisis, Children (17 & under)
NAMI Crisis line texting
Text the word “Life” to 61222
National Suicide Prevention Line
The Trevor Project - 24 hr helpline for LGBTQ youth
1-866-488-7386 (Phone)Text START to 678678
The Bridge for Youth Crisis Line - Can call for any need regarding youth
Phone 612-377-8800Text 612-400-SAFE (7233)
United Way - Social service, community resources connection
Cornerstone support for domestic violence, sexual violence, or human trafficking
The Link - Crisis line and intervention for sexually exploited youth http://thelinkmn.org/safe-harbor/
24/7 Phone Line: 612-232-5428
West Metro Navigator: 612-226-1604
COVID-19 Health Question Hotline
651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903
7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
|Drug Rehab Centers in Minnesota