Image by Michael Voroshnin

DECEMBER 2021

Helping Your Kids Find Peace During Tense Conversations

Intense public debates are everywhere. They are also likely to occur during the holidays as we gather with family members holding different opinions. These debates, like the ones on masks or vaccines, are affecting children’s mental health.

 

Children hear one thing at home, another at school, another from government officials, another from the family doctor. This is confusing for kids. That might not be the hardest part. Suddenly they can’t play with their friend because an adult friendship ends. They can’t see cousins or grandparents because of arguments. Our kids are scared and more anxious than ever.

 

Navigating these conversations is hard, even for adults. We need to help kids and teens navigate these conversations so our children are not going through their days as a ball of anxious feelings. Prolonged stress can have lifelong negative consequences for kids. Learn more about stress and its signs in children of different ages here

The biggest thing to demonstrate and teach your children is how to respect other opinions even when you disagree. Respect does not mean you have to agree with someone. It means treating each other well, with dignity and kindness.

 

It can be hard to show respect when anger, frustration, or other strong emotions take hold. Practicing mindfulness boosts our mental health. It can also help us through tough conversations. Parents and teachers can pass along these strategies: 

 

  • Pause when needed. If you notice you are frustrated, take a deep breath and give yourself space to calm down. Help your child or student do the same.

  • Try a mantra. Repeating a word or phrase is proven to quiet the mind. Examples: “Peace,” “This will pass,” “Stay neutral,” “I can handle feeling uncomfortable,” “I am in control of how I feel.”

  • Engage your senses. To be fully aware in the moment, notice what your senses bring in. What do you see, smell, hear, feel, or even taste? List them in your head.

  • Don’t match others’ emotions. Avoid absorbing negativity from others by imagining yourself surrounded by a clear bubble that shields you from their reactions. 

  • Accept your own emotions. Acknowledge your feelings and accept them. Emotions are not permanent, thoughts are not always true or helpful, and they don’t control our response. Find relief from these emotions by accepting them, not ignoring them, or reacting from them.

  • Have compassion toward others. This means paying attention to their well-being. Are they smiling or excited? Are they upset or hurt? Aim not to hurt others but understand them.

Center yourself anytime during the day with the loving kindness method. You can also help your children or students practice this. Show them how to deal with stress and find peace this holiday season. Prefer a video walk-through? The MHRSB’s former Executive Director Mike has a video guiding you through the method, Mindful Moments with Mike #2.

 

Call the 24/7 Hopeline for help for yourself or a loved one at 1-800-567-HOPE. Call 211 for mental health and community resources. 

24/7 Hopeline: 1-800-567-4673

Local Resources Line: 211

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Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications. Often given as a nasal spray, naloxone is safe and easy to use.

People can only get better if they are alive. Carrying naloxone for someone at risk of opioid overdose is like someone with allergies carrying an EpiPen. Prescription opioid medications can also fall into the hands of the wrong family member, like a child. Protect them by putting naloxone next to your pain meds.

 

Protect yourself and your family members by getting naloxone or Narcan with your prescription from your doctor. Or get naloxone without a prescription from a local pharmacy or health department.

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Lifesaving Naloxone from Health Departments

Contact your local health department:

Allen County Public Health - (419) 228-4457

Auglaize County Health Department - (419) 738-3410

Kenton Hardin Health Department - (419) 673-6230

 

Naloxone is available to the public at local health departments. You can also find it at most pharmacies with no prescription needed, from your doctor, or from mental health care agencies.

Naloxone (also known as Narcan) is a safe, non-controlled drug and has no potential for abuse. Learn more about Naloxone at http://www.allencountypublichealth.org/heal.../project-dawn/.

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If you are in crisis call 1-800-567-HOPE (4673) or text 741 741.