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  • Writer's pictureRachelle Zemlok, PsyD


Updated: Oct 13, 2020

It can be a challenge knowing when it’s time to call in the experts and get your kid help. Obviously, there are many different ways you can approach this. Some people do it preventatively. This would look like finding some support for your kid once some family stress appears or when there are some big life events that you expect will be a challenge to adapt to.

You don’t NEED to seek out treatment preventatively. However, it’s important to identify when your children are under additional stress and to watch out for signs that more help is indicated.

Right now our first responder kids are being exposed to a lot of family stress simply due to…

  1. COVID-19 and being in the home of someone working the front lines and all the additional family stress that brings.

  2. School and social life has changed for all kids and this is a major life event and stressor they are all adapting to right now.

  3. High emotions and stressors are more present for many families as a result of the protests and conversations about racism in America and how it should be addressed.

Here are 5 signs that suggest your child may be having trouble adapting to all the challenges they are being faced with right now. These may indicate you should reach out to get them more support.

Watch out for any of these big changes in your kids.

  1. MORE COMPLAINTS OF PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS (ex. headaches, stomach aches etc) can indicate signs of stress in kids.

  2. MORE TROUBLE SLEEPING Maybe they were sleeping alone and no longer are. They have an extra busy mind and have trouble falling asleep. Suddenly reporting more nightmares.

  3. NEW BEHAVIORAL ISSUES They are testing limits in a whole new way and they stand out as something you did not have challenges with prior.

  4. SETBACKS IN POTTY TRAINING This can look like more frequent bed wetting or accidents or a set back after being potty trained.

  5. MORE CLINGY Maybe you find them being less open to leaving their parent’s side and going to other providers or adults. Wanting an unusual amount of reassurance, cuddles, and snuggles.

Though all of these can be signs that your child may be having trouble adjusting to the current environment. Just because you observe one, does not necessarily mean they need therapy. Like anything else. I recommend you observe how seriously it is impacting their life and your family life.

  1. Does it get in the way and impair areas of their daily functioning (social relationships, family relationships, sleep patterns, academic performance etc).

  2. Are you spending abnormal amounts of time addressing the challenges you see?

  3. Have you already tried supporting them by talking to them (learn how best to do that here) and validating their feelings?

If you’re agreeing and it doesn’t seem to be resolving itself, you should reach out to a child psychologist like myself for parent consultation on how to best support your kid.

Rachelle Zemlok is a child psychologist located in Livermore California specializing in supporting first responder families.
Rachelle Zemlok is a child psychologist located in Livermore California specializing in supporting first responder families.

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