PARENT AND CAREGIVER SURVIVAL GUIDE

The information below is designed to provide practical and useful help for families. For each topic area, we have provided handouts and graphics along with helpful comments. The information on this website is to provide education and should not be considered as a replacement for counseling with mental health, school, or medical professionals.

1. IMPACT ON FAMILIES

Handouts for Parents and Caregivers

Effects of Caregiving a Child with a Behavioral Health Disorder
A child’s behavioral health problems can overwhelm and present huge challenges for the whole family.  Some of those challenges common to many families are listed here.

Causes of Behavioral Health Disorders
Often there may not be one specific cause of these issues, rather there are a number of contributing factors. Many symptoms can be improved by medication and by leading a healthy lifestyle.

How Do Others See You?
This handout can help you think about how others might view a caregiver of a child with a behavioral health problem. We can’t really control the way other people view us, but here are some things caregivers can do to impact how others interact with them:

  • Increase your knowledge of your child’s challenges!

  • Checking how your self – talk is working for you!

  • Improve the way you communicate with others!

  • Reducing your stress level!

2. HEALTHY COPING SKILLS

Changing Self Talk

Thoughts ~ Feelings ~ Actions
This handout shows how our thoughts can lead to certain feelings and then affect our actions.

Zap Those Ants
ANTS stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts ... How can you change the negative ones?

Communication Skills

Assertive “conflict resolution” communication skills
The assertive request
Dealing with aggression and manipulation
Assertive conflict resolution

Stress Management

How stress affects us
This handout shows how stress affects us.

Stress Identification Table
Using this table can help you to keep track of your stress level. Pay close attention to what you are thinking about during times of high stress. Do you notice a pattern between having certain thoughts when you are stressed out? Check out the “Self Talk” handouts in Healthy Coping Skills for more information.

Instructions for Relaxation
Some relaxation strategies are included.

3. BEHAVIORAL HEALTH ISSUES IN YOUTH

Handouts for What to Look For - What to Do

Types of Behaviors & Symptoms to Watch For

Behaviors / Symptoms: When is it a Problem or Just “Kid Stuff’

What Could Be Going On...
Some behaviors or symptoms may be due to mental health issues, medical problems, or medication side effects.

How Can You Tell If Your Child Is Using Drugs?
Some signs that may indicate a youth is using drugs.

Suicide
Some factors to keep in mind about suicidal behavior in youth.

What Causes Behavioral Health Disorders???

Factors That Can Impact Children’s Development

What Are Effective Ways to Help Children
Here are some interventions / methods to help children with mental / behavioral health issues in Delaware.

Questions to Ask the Doctor & Children’s Medication Chart
These two handouts are not to be used instead of talking to the prescribing physician. They may not cover all medications used with children as this is a changing and growing area. Be sure to tell the doctor about any other medications the child is taking including any over-the-counter medication or herbal remedies and to report all side effects.

Medication Log

4. Changing Behavior

Handouts for Parenting Ideas

Why do our kids misbehave the way they do?

Think of it this way
Something about the misbehavior works for the child.  Adults also do things that aren’t always great for us – but something about those things work for us – otherwise we wouldn’t do them!

FEAR in labels
Having a child diagnosed with a behavioral health problem can be tough for a parent. Remember, your child is an individual – not a diagnosis!

Is a ‘Bad Kid’ Really a Kid who Feels Really Bad?

Another Way to Look at Kids’ Behavior
Many times adults think children are misbehaving on purpose. Sometimes that is true! Here are some other possibilities, though.

Figuring out the Who-What-When & Where’s of the Problem Behavior
Are there patterns to when the behavior occurs – or when it is NOT occurring?

Designing a Game Plan
Things to think about when putting together a plan to increase positive behaviors.

Selecting Rewards
Rewards should be highly valued to the child – and easy for you to provide.

Constructing the Plan
It’s important to get everyone involved in the plan.

Sample Behavior Plan
You might want to write out a plan on a chart like this. You may want to start with two or three behaviors to start out with.

How is it Going?
Is the plan working?

Rules & Consequences
Be reasonable and follow through on rules and consequences.

Effective Discipline is Positive Discipline
Some suggestions about how to be more positive AND effective in how you approach your child.

5. Navigating Systems in Delaware

Handouts for Navigating Systems

Connecting the Dots in Delaware Guide

A guide to finding services for people with disabilities in Delaware.

Parents Can Be the Key Handbook

A handbook on rights and responsibilities in special education for parents of children with disabilities. (Used with permission by Parent Information Center of Delaware).

DCMHS Outpatient Treatment Providers
Treatment providers for children and youth in Delaware that are funded by Delaware Division of Child Mental Health Services.

Advocacy Resources and Information

DCMH Client Complaint/Appeal Process
How to complain or appeal a decision about your child’s behavioral health treatment in Delaware when the treatment is funded by Division of Child Mental Health Services.

What happens when my child is turning 18 and still needs services?
When your youth is transitioning to the adult system in Delaware

Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Adult services in Delaware

Note about Children in Special Education and/or with Developmental Disabilities Division of Developmental Disabilities Services

6. Problem Solving Through the Tough Spots

Some Strategies

Difficult People: You can deal with them

Coping with disappointment

Crisis healing

Job troubles

Manage your money

Tips for feeling good

How to negotiate differences

Problem Solving
Identify resources available when problems are encountered and strategies for dealing with them.

ABOUT KIDS - FOR KIDS

These handouts could be used to help kids with behavior issues to problem solve in a youth group. If you think these would help your child, ask your child’s community or school counselor to consider using them with your child.

1. KIDS HELPING EACH OTHER

This section shows how a youth support group might start out. These can help kids to learn about being considerate of others and empathy.

Handouts for Setting Goals

2. STRESSED OUT?

Handouts for Stress Reduction

How We Handle Stress
How Stress Affects Us
STRESS!!!!
Some examples of fighting responses include shouting, slamming doors, pushing, etc.
Some examples of flight responses where we “run away from the problem,” include avoiding the person involved, situation, or place involved; having feelings bottled up inside, and having symptoms related to depression, anxiety, etc. sadness, hopelessness, etc.

Please look back at your lists of stressful things

What Stresses Me Out

Stress Busters

3. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Handouts for Changing Negative Thinking

Question: Why do we get upset?
Actually, it’s what we think that makes us upset
Match the Thoughts with the Feelings
Thoughts have a powerful effect on us
Negative thoughts sound like this...
How to Zap Those Negative Thoughts...
How to get rid of Negative Thoughts
Stop, Slow Down, Think

4. MY BEHAVIORS

Handouts for Why I do What I Do

Ooops! I did it again
Many times adults think children are misbehaving on purpose. Sometimes that is true! Here are some other possibilities, though.

What could be going on
Some behaviors or symptoms are caused due to mental health issues, medical problems, or medication side effects.
Self-Awareness Log
All about me
A Kid’s Guide to Asking Questions About Medicines

5. LEARN FRIENDSHIP SKILLS

Handouts

Some Building Blocks to Friendships
Personal Space
Personal Space Rainbow: do you know how close to stand to people?
Personal Space Rainbow: here are some examples to help you think about how close to stand from people!
How can your rainbow work for you?
Look at me when I am talking to you!
Here are a few more skills to make and keep friends!
Understanding Nonverbal Communication

6. PROBLEM SOLVING

Problem Solving Worksheet