We'll talk to anyone at the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region. Often we hear from younger callers, dealing with a wide range of issues.
A younger caller may be putting on a brave face with those around them, but are struggling inside. Children may feel as if they will not be taken serious or understood, and while they'll try to ignore it or deal with it in their own ways, they often lack coping skills that we as adults know about.
Sometimes we often wondering if the behavior we see in children of our own or a friend/family member, is normal. What is normal? Things to look for are loss of appetite, isolation, severe withdrawl, emotional changes (anger, hysterical, crying all the time), and anything regarding drugs, alcohol and sexual activity.
Relationships with family, friends are important to younger callers. They get their morales and values from you, from their peers, from television. Asking about what qualities are important to them in friendships is a great question for kids who may be struggling with friends.
We get calls about bullying. It's a hot topic these days, and we encourage our callers to speak about what is going on in their lives, what's happening at school.
We also get calls regarding abuse. We are obligated to report any abuse towards a child.
Children may be confused in regards to their sexuality. Our volunterers create a safe and respectful place for the caller to explore what they are feeling and going through. GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Trans-Sexual) youth are at a greater risk for low-self esteem and suicide. We're on alert for statements like "I'm so tired of people n ot accepting me" "I wish I could change" and "No one cares about me".
Eating disorders are high among younger girls who want to be thin and pretty like the Hollywood actresses and artists they idolize. There is often presssure from sports, ballet, gymnastics to be thin, and tiny, and can take a real toll on a vulnerable child. The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence was recently quoted saying:
"I’m just so sick of these young girls with diets. I remember when I was 13 and my friends thought it was cool to pretend to have an eating disorder because there were rumors that Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie were anorexic. I thought it was crazy. I went home and told my mom, ‘Nobody’s eating bread—I just had to finish everyone’s burgers.’ I think it’s really important for girls to have people to look up to and to feel good about themselves.”
Remember to keep the lines of communication open for your children - whether it's with yourself, or with us. And for yourself as well - sometimes parents need support with what is going on with their children, because as much as you are Super-Mom & Super-Dad, your kids are your Kryptonite.