Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
When Your Child’s Friend Needs Help: What Next (Part 2 of 2)
Last week, I shared how the parental controls and monitoring we use alerted us to a serious issue affecting a child my daughter knows.
The messages I read as they described what they were dealing with were heartbreaking.
But this is not a child I know, or at least not well.
I don’t know their parents.
And I wasn’t sure how to get them help.
I felt stuck.
After talking it through with my awesome friend and colleague Amy Lang of Birds+Bees+Kids (yup! we all need some support sometimes), here’s where I started:
- I knew that this child’s welfare had to be my number one priority. No child (no person) deserves to suffer mental health challenges without support. There is help available, and I knew I needed to help them get it. What kind of safety advocate and educator could I call myself if I ignored this kid’s needs?
- I knew my daughter needed to be involved in deciding what to do. Not if to do something, but what. She deserved to be a part of the conversation and feel like she had some input, and some support.
With those two priorities solidly identified, I reached out to my kid. I let her know that I was aware of the messages, and that I was worried. I told her we’d need to talk, and then I gave her time and space to prepare for our conversation.
When we resumed talking the next day, I shared with her how proud I was of her (I’d seen her supportive messages back to this friend) AND that she was not, as a young teen, equipped to handle this on her own, nor were any of her other friends.
I shared with her my worry, told her that getting this friend help was priority number one.
And then I gave her some options.
I did not dictate to her what to do.
I did not insist on a particular course of action.
And I definitely did not shame or vilify her friend.
I let her know that only two things were absolutes:
We had to find help.
A safe adult needed to know and be involved.
In the end, she talked through the options with me and we decided together to have me notify the school counselor.
That report was made, and help is being coordinated.
It’s far from a perfect situation, so there was far from a perfect answer.
But in the end, this child’s safety had to come first, and I’m okay with that.
Have you ever discovered a child who was at risk or struggling with something? How did you handle it?
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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.