11-01-2017 04:28 PM - last edited on 11-15-2017 05:10 PM by Ngaio-RO
My 16yo daughter has depression and anxiety. She is under the care of a good psych and is on anti-depressants. My question is really about how to discipline/set boundaries for kids with mental health issues. I have stopped using grounding as one of her main issues is social anxiety and I don't want her to miss out on opportunities to be with friends. I occasionally will take her phone from her but again, she does use it to seek support from friends so I limit this as a punishment.
My worry is that by not giving her consequences for behaviours I am actually setting her up to fail in real life situations. I find getting the balance right to be so difficult. School work for example - I have pretty much given up trying to enforce study time, as many people have said focus on her health, education can always wait.
Would love to hear from other parents trying to manage a similar situation.
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11-16-2017 12:36 AM
Thanks for the update @Adventure5 and it sounds like you're daughter is very insightful! Those internal battles for her must be a huge sourse of stress for her and she is right that she has to sort these things out for herself. I wonder if this is the reason for her being more withdrawn lately? My daughter spent 12 months in her room, only coming out for the bathroom and food. She cut off from everything and everyone. She still lives in her room, but she comes out to talk to me all the time and share with me, she plays tennis once a week and has a part time job involving dealing with people. She's also very insighful and used the time to work things out for herself and learn positive coping mechanisms. She really blows me away.
During the residential stay we had, my daughter started learning about emotions and their names. They had bear cards, each bear expressing a different emotion and the emotion name. We'd choose our card at brekky, lunch and dinner. Once home we put a mood chart on the fridge, with a small magnet each. It's a great way of communicating how we're feeling without speaking. By having to look for the emotion they feel, they're seeing the facial expressions and reading all the names and are learning without realising. If you google 'teen emotion charts', there are some great ones you can print off. That might be a good way for your daughter to learn and become more comfortable with her feelings. You could start off by using it yourselves and she'll see it there each time she goes to the fridge.
That's such great advice about the lines of communication, compromise and celebrating the small wins. Thank you so much for sharing with the community.
11-01-2017 09:12 PM
Hey there @coco821 you have a lot of empathy towards your daughter, I can hear this in the tone of your post which is so wonderful. Well done on prioritizing her welfare and jumping into the forums for some extra support around this. I don't doubt our members will be able to give you some great strategies.
From what I have heard from other parents maintaining a consistent routine, including boundaries around discipline is really important to adolescent's dealing with mental illness. You have been mindful of grounding's due to the social anxiety, which is so positive - but as you said yes, even people with mental illness need to understand positive and negative consequence in life so as to function well.
We have a pretty awesome resource that can help you with this, ReachOut parents coaching - check it out here I will also tag some other forum members for their input.
11-02-2017 11:15 AM
11-02-2017 11:03 PM
Hey @coco821, welcome to the forum. I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's struggles, and I understand the difficulty in working out rules and consequences. My daughter is 15 and has bipolar, anxiety and PTSD, and I'm the same as you, I don't ground her either, for the same reasons as you too. Any opportunity she has to be with friends I welcome. My daughter's also educated via distance ed, so has limited social interaction as it is! Although in saying that, I did put a stop to having friends stay over for a little while because of my daughter's attitude and language to me at the previous few sleepovers. She could still catch up with her friends during the day, but she loves sleepovers so it still worked.
My daughter and I talk about rules and consequences and decide together what they'll be. That doesn't mean she gets to say she shouldn't face consequences for anything, or that there shouldn't be rules, and surprisingly she hasn't expected that.
I'm in the same boat with study too. My daughter is finishing school this year and going to tafe next year to study something she wants to do. We've been told the same thing all along, mental health is more important, and as she is showing, she wants to study, just can't stand school work. I stopped trying to regiment school work because it was getting me nowhere, but she's responded way better to me saying it's her choice, and talking about consequences of no education vs education in terms of future prospects.
It's not easy finding that balance, and when you do, things change and you need to find a new balance. Just to keep us on our toes!
Your daughter is so lucky to have you. It's so clear how much you love her and want the best for her, now and in the future. You're doing an awesome job and have so much insight into your girl, it's lovely to see.
11-03-2017 02:31 AM
Thanks everyone for your responses.
taokat, I like how you mentioned discussing consequences together, however lately my daughter has become uncommunicative and seems to have almost regressed to a younger, less mature state. I am wondering (hoping) this is as a result of her current medication and we are seeing a psychiatrist for first time next week.
I wrote her a note the other day and left it on her bedroom door, requesting that she hand in her phone until she had removed food/unsanitary items from her bedroom (I have pretty much given up on her bedroom being kept tidy or clean). It kind of worked. She didn't hand in her phone, but she did a half-hearted clear out of gross things from her room - small wins!
I know I need to make more time for one-on-one with her, but it is hard with two younger kids and working as well. In some ways I would rather she lash out at me, as at least that way she is communicating with me. But at the moment, because I am being super gentle around her, all I ever get in response is a blank face or monosyllabic responses. I know each day is a new day but it is exhausting...
So your daughter at least has something at TAFE she is interested in pursuing? That is a real positive and must give her a focus which is great. At this stage I can't see my daughter showing an interest in anything future-oriented - she thinks there is no point to anything, life is meaningless etc.., so why even try? It is a really dark place and all the more scary because we have all been there at some point right?
11-03-2017 07:55 PM
Hey @coco821, yes, it can be hard when they're shut down and not wanting to talk. She may find it encouraging to see that you want to include her and have her input. It may give her a bit of a confidence boost? As you say though, it could very well be her medication. It's great she'll be seeing a psychiatrist as they'll be able to give you the best advice, so make sure you take a list with any questions you have. A list helps me because otherwise I forget some things I'd wanted to ask.
Small wins are still wins aren't they! My daughter's room is gross as well, but I'm always happy when she brings her plates or rubbish out. I don't understand how she can live like that, she hasn't been raised in a dirty or messy house. I can only hope she grows out of it!
Yes, my daughter wants to be a nurse, so can start at tafe which I'm so relieved about! She's missed so much school over the years but luckily there are different pathways she can take to get there. I really feel for your daughter - it is a horrible mindset to be stuck in. It's been a long road for us to get here, so don't give up hope. If she has only just started on medication, it can take time for it to work properly and things can become worse before they get better. Hopefully your daughter is in that timeframe.
Be kind to yourself, you're doing an amazing job, and with other kids as well, it's a lot to manage!
11-03-2017 10:49 PM - edited 11-03-2017 10:56 PM
Hi @coco821 I struggled so much with how to discipline my daughter who also suffers from depression, especially when her behaviour and her illness was at her worst. I was fearful that it would make her depression worse or that she would start self-harming. I tried being really strict, but when that didn't work I sort-off gave up and let her do what she wanted to do - but of course that didn't work either! Eventually, we did something similar to @taokat I had a list of expectations and came up with consequences should the rules not be followed. Together we discussed and eventually agreed to consequences ahead of time. That way if she broke the rules she knew what to expect - this was so much easier to implement and took away most of emotion and knee-jerk reactions. Like @KitKat2306 we also have no phone in the bedroom on school nights. To start with it was a real battle to enforce, but 10 months later it still works 80% of the time. Setting boundaries and expectations is so important, and will make for a more pleasant home life for both you and your daughter. I hope you find something that works for you.
11-07-2017 05:19 AM - last edited on 11-07-2017 05:36 PM by taokat
Hi, I would also like some feedback, My daughter (15) has already started self harming, she has started seeing a psychologist for this (which she hates doing). Currently, she doesn't think there is anything wrong with her coping mechanism. She also is very defiant with us, her parents, and has started making poor choices with who to hang around with at school. She has started leaving her "good" friends and is either withdrawn or hangs out with the "wrong crowd". She seems drawn to the rebellious group of children.
We are also concerned that if we discipline her for certain actions, this might drive a wedge further between us. If we remove privileges (phone for example) she will close off to us ever more. (She thinks her phone is right and that we don't give her enough freedom to do what she wants.) She is a strong willed child, always has been. Does anyone have any good resources on this?
11-07-2017 07:12 PM - edited 11-08-2017 04:49 PM
Hi @Adventure5, welcome to the forum. I'm sorry to hear that you're family's going through a similar situation. And it's so worrying when they start self harming isn't it. As you say, it is a coping mechanism, but my daughter's counsellor suggested she try ice cubes on the skin, or an elastic band around her wrist that she could flick. She found the elastic band worked well, and as she got better at managing her feelings she stopped needing to use it.
I really like what @Zoesplace wrote and her suggestions as far as setting boundaries and consequences, and I find it works really well too. Spending time to get to know what's happening in their lives, and getting to know how they feel about things is an awesome way to reconnect.
I had a chat to my daughter yesterday as we were slowly drifting apart and having some problems. I asked her a few questions:
1. What is it you feel I'm not understanding about you? (Teens always feel misunderstood!)
2. What suggestions do you have that you think might make home a happier place?
3. What do you think should happen when you don't do what's asked of you?
I had others more specific to our circumstances, but thought these few you could tweak or use.
11-08-2017 06:04 AM
Thanks for the input and advice. Sometimes I have to remember to stay calm and have a good open discussion with my daughter without getting angry, or appearing to interrogate her. I know that sometimes it can sound like I am accusing her of something, which makes her defensive.
Those are great questions too. I will make a point of having that conversation. I am hoping that will open some doors again.
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