How do I care for my child’s mental health?

This is quite a tough one to blog about because it isn’t directly about me, well in some ways it is but in others it isn’t. The focus of this blog is about my child, who, for the sake of their privacy I will refer to as Brown. If you know us personally I’d be grateful if you did too and that you didn’t speak to Brown or in front of Brown about this.

It was about 18 months ago that my precious child started to struggle with anger issue. And I don’t mean little tantrums and paddies “oh yes every child gets angry it’s just a part of growing up” or “they do it because they feel safe and secure with you and Carl”, I mean full blown, out of control, screaming. I mean a complete change in their facial makeup where they are not themselves anymore. I mean frightening and upsetting for them and those in close proximity.

It’s a funny one, when you say to people that your child struggles with anger they don’t quite get it. This is another level of anger. It’s not getting cross and having a shout or cry, for us this could be hours and hours of destructive behaviour, shouting and crying, physically threatening siblings and hitting out at Carl and I. Brown would go from screaming and lashing out at things or people, to trashing the bedroom or damaging things that belonged to other people.

In the past 18 months we have explored play therapy as an outlet for Brown, giving a safe space for feelings, thoughts, concerns and anxieties to come out. For Brown I’m not sure how much it helped. It didn’t seem to give Brown any strategies to put in place for when the anger starts to bubble up.

I have noticed that Brown starts to get angry when Brown doesn’t get their own way but from there it escalates so rapidly you can’t catch it, it’s already too late. It’s 0-60 and then some! Brown will lash out at whoever or whatever is nearest. Yesterday my clothes airer took the brunt of the anger, that and Browns two siblings who were home at the time. Both of whom were left crying.

As a parent of a child who struggles to express anger in a healthy way it breaks my heart to see. Brown can’t or won’t choose to find and practise healthy outlets. Lashing out and attacking is the easy path and the one that has been well travelled for 18 months.

The worst part is that as we don’t find ways to help and support Brown it becomes more and more natural for Brown to explode as a ‘normal’ expression for anger.

As a parent i keep looking for outside ways to help us and Brown; strategies to put in place, books to read, games we can play, words to expresses anger.

This morning I was listening to Lauren Daigle as I was getting ready for church and the song “Everything” was playing.

Even the sparrow has a place to lay its head
So why would I let worries steal my breath?
Even the roses, You have glowed them brilliant red
Still I’m the one You love more than this

You give me everything
You give me everything
You give me everything I need

Even the oceans push and pull at Your command
So You can still my heart with Your hand
You tell the seasons when it’s time for them to turn
So I will trust You even when it hurts

You give me everything
You give me everything
You give me everything I need
You give me everything
You give me everything
You give me everything I need

When I can’t see, You lead me
When I can’t hear, You show me
When I can’t stand, You carry me
When I’m lost, You will find me
When I’m weak, You are mighty
You are everything I need

This morning, after a weekend of anger flare ups, and after Brown had asked me if I hated them or if I’d rather they were dead (what parent who wants to hear that from their child??) I desperately needed to hear and be reminded that God has given me everything I need. When I can’t see the path ahead of us, when I pray to God for help but can’t hear him, when I feel like I just can’t stand as a parent anymore, when I feel lost and weak on this journey and want to throw my hands up in the air and just say “I quit”, God gently whispers to me that He has given me everything I need.

Even before this morning he was trying to tell me. I watched The Nutcracker yesterday and one of the lines reached out to me “everything you need is inside”
Everything you need is inside
God has given me what I need and it’s inside of me, God has given me the Holy Spirit, he is with me always. I am never abandoned on this journey of parenting even though I may feel as though I am.
I put this quote on Facebook the other day
And a lady in Church grabbed me this morning and told me it wasn’t true. That it is clear that I love my children very much and I have the light of Jesus which shines from within me.
Much better than caffeine!

We had a great preach in church this morning, and the speaker asked us “What is God restoring in your life?” From my current place of brokenness as a parent, what is God restoring? Because I KNOW that God is still working, he hasn’t left Carl and I in this place. He hasn’t given up on us, he doesn’t see our family as a lost cause but he is fighting for us and for Brown and for our other children who are massively affected by the emotional temperature of our home. He is still present and The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

He has given me everything I need as he has for you.

God bless you and your families, and mine!

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