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Holiday Stress: Saving “Santa”

First 5 Riverside offers help for families

First-Five-logo-for-editorialWe all know the holiday season can be very stressful, particularly on parents of young children. Even the youngest children can feel the strains of the season.

The Growing Healthy Minds initiative, part of First 5 Riverside’s commitment to the county’s youngest children and their families, offers help with resources, support and services to promote social-emotional wellness and optimal mental health. The program offers tips to express, cope with, and manage a variety of feelings, as well as explore new environments and opportunities to interact with others.

Children need to be healthy in order to learn, grow and succeed in life. Social and emotional health is critical to a child’s overall development. Growing Healthy Minds is First 5 Riverside’s $15.5 million investment in the social and emotional well-being of the county’s nearly 200,000 children ages 5 and younger.

Nationally, 75 to 80 percent of children and youth in need of mental health services do not receive them. Infants and toddlers are very unlikely to receive treatment, which can lead to lifelong developmental problems. Without preventive measures or early interventions, an estimated 40,000 or 20 percent of these children will develop mental health issues.

Early intervention can be a life-changing experience for parents and children. Just as we’ve learned how improving a child’s diet can improve overall health, parents can take simple steps to improve their child’s social and emotional development.

Bustling shopping centers, holiday lights galore, and looming family gathering preparations can create plenty of stress. Add long work days, traffic, undone chores and a screaming child, and you’ve got a world of chaos.

When frustration mounts, it’s important for parents to take a break. Take a deep breath, center your thoughts and then take action. This may mean delaying a chore in order to get some fresh air or spend time with a child acting out to get your attention. Call on a friend or partner to take over caring for a child, do something on your own, get some rest or just take a moment to recoup. 

It’s OK.  At GrowingHealthyMinds.org, parents can access tips on a variety of issues including coping with stress and depression, balancing work and family, temper tantrums, crying, whining, toilet training, bedtime, going shopping and safety.   

If they sense there may be an issue or are advised by a physician or teacher, parents and caregivers can access screenings through the Family Service Association Kids 1st program. This program also provides free parenting classes, therapeutic services, and support throughout Riverside County.

For more information, call 2-1-1 or visit www.GrowingHealthyMinds.org. Learn more about First 5 Riverside, the Riverside County Children & Families Commission, at www.First5Riverside.org. Kids 1st program can be reached at (951) 686.1096 or fsaca.org/services/mental-health/kids-1st-program.

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