The Connections Between Parent & Child Mental Health

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

A child’s mental health is not just supported by their parents or caregivers—it can be shaped by them. Mentally healthy children rely heavily on them as the foundation for becoming independent, successful, happy adults.

However, parents face plenty of challenges when looking after children, and sometimes it can negatively impact their mental health. Parents and kids may also have shared risks of mental health difficulties, including social, economic, and genetic predispositions.

Audience Questions

Arielle Gartenberg, PsyD, addresses the relationship between kid and parent mental health, explains ways to positively parent during stressful times, and answers audience questions about the connections between parent and child mental health.

  • What does a healthy parent-child relationship look like? What are some of the signs of this?
  • How do we validate the thoughts and emotions of kids who have emotional dysregulation?
  • My teenager puts up a wall to preclude conversation. How does a parent breech that wall?
  • How do you get parents to use positive parenting skills when the parents have mental health issues? For example, the child is your patient, but the parents are a big part of the problem. How can a clinician navigate this?
  • Can parents develop mental illnesses because of a child’s mental illness?
  • Can you explain what an unhealthy or toxic relationship looks like?
  • Is helicopter parenting considered an unhealthy relationship? What are the long-term implications of helicopter parenting?
  • How early developmentally can you start modeling independence?
  • Can you share some information relevant to young children, 5 and younger, where development is a factor in validation, attunement, and communication? How can we support and identify positive mental health in kids who may not be able to express that what you’re doing is beneficial?
  • An 8-year-old in my life has a hard time with making mistakes. She has shared that her mom tells her that she is annoying among other sad things. Although we can’t change what happens when she is with her mom, how can we help her to navigate the emotions that come with making mistakes?
  • How do children with mental health issues impact the family?
  • How should parents react when teens lie to them repeatedly to get what they want?
  • How do you navigate the desire to help an emotionally dysregulated child while also making sure that the child understands consequences of negative behavior?
  • How can we teach our kids to stand up for themselves if we have a difficult time doing so?
  • There are a lot of uninterested and uninvolved parents. How can we help a child or adolescent deal with this?
  • How do you talk to an 8-year-old about grown up concepts without saying too much “adult” content but also not sugarcoating so that they still trust you?
  • Is it unhealthy for a 6-year-old to sleep in their parents’ bedroom on the floor or in bed if they are afraid to be alone? Is this a form of separation anxiety?
  • Is it possible for parents to be friends with their kids and still be able to set boundaries and expectations? What advice do you have for parents looking to tread that line?
  • If a mother has both borderline personality and narcissistic personality disorders, would that affect her own child’s development? Are there any studies on this?
  • Any tips for parents that’ll positively impact mental health and relationships within the family?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


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About Dr. Gartenberg

Arielle S. Gartenberg, PsyD, is a therapist specializing in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for children, adolescents, and young adults with emotional dysregulation.

Dr. Gartenberg has experience in the treatment of borderline personality disorder, mood disorders, anxiety, trauma, and co-occurring autism spectrum disorders.

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Originally aired on October 5, 2021