Beasley Best Community of Caring

One good way to know what kind of headspace your children are in is to have an idea of what kind of content they’re consuming. Of course, that’s easier said than done, as psychologist Keith Klosterman, PhD, LMFT, LMHC, explains. “I would say the types of content that kids are viewing is important. But it can become a slippery slope because the child, oftentimes, doesn’t want the parent micromanaging. Especially teenagers. They don’t want a parent going through their social media.”

“I get that,” he says, but stresses that it’s important to be aware of what they’re watching, reading and listening to, particularly if their behavior is changing. And he notes that social media is just one piece of the puzzle. “Let’s say the content they are consuming is really depressing stuff. And that’s coupled with the kid isolating and not doing things with his friends and a change in mood and change in grades. There’s not one thing in particular that we can say causes self-harming behavior, but I think it’s it’s sort of when we stack up enough red flags, that’s when we know something might be wrong.”

“Oftentimes parents will come in and say, ‘I looked at this post that my son did and it’s really sort of cryptic and it’s not giving specifics.’ But it is alarming enough to cause concern. My suggestion to a parent who is concerned for a child’s safety… the most important thing, and the best thing you can ever do, is ask. Most people don’t want to ask that question because it’s really scary. The thought is often, ‘Well, if I ask about it, I may put the thought in my child’s head.’ But what I say to that is, ‘People — and most kids — that end up attempting suicide, it’s not that they want to die. They sort of lose hope and they feel that they’ve run out of options. So I think being able to talk about it is important. ‘What’s going on right now? Have you had thoughts about hurting yourself or harming yourself?’ I think these are really important questions that have to get asked. I think in general, if a parent is worried about the child, the best thing they can do is ask or to talk to a professional to help them navigate it.”

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