Are you a planner? As a human being, I would be willing to guess that you have probably planned for a few things in your life. It may be that you plan what you are going to wear to work each morning, where you will stop for gas that day, where you plan to travel on vacation, what your safety plan is in case of a tornado, or who your children should call in case of an emergency. Planning is a natural entity to a society that is constantly on the go. After all, we only have 24 hours in a day and we have a lot to accomplish in this lifetime!
How To Develop a Crisis Safety Plan
As a parent or caregiver, what if there was a way to plan for more than just the monumental moments in life? We spend a large amount of time waiting to watch our fifth grader play the trumpet during their first concert or watch our senior student walk across the stage on graduation day. However, there may be unforeseen moments throughout our children’s lives that lead up to these milestones, and we want to ensure that your child reaches these milestones safely. It is important to help your child develop a crisis safety plan for moments when life may feel a bit too heavy to handle on their own.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15-19. Along with this statistic, LGBTQ+ youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Lastly, 3.2% of children (approximately 1.9 million) ages 3-17 have been diagnosed with depression. If these statistics seem a bit shocking to you, you are not alone. It’s not surprising that many parents believe this will never happen to their child for one reason or another, but the reality is that each child is only human, and as humans, we face certain factors that are out of our control.
A crisis safety plan is a written plan that you collaboratively create with your child. The plan includes a set of instructions that may help your child de-escalate during moments when they feel themselves elevating mentally and emotionally. A crisis safety plan helps identify distractions and coping mechanisms that your child may find helpful when feeling as though they may want to harm themselves.
It is beneficial for you and your child to create their crisis safety plan when they are in a positive state of mind so that they can think clearly about what activities will best assist them.
De-Escalation Techniques and Distractions Tips
- Holding ice between the eyes on the bridge of your child’s nose will provide a “grounding” effect that will allow your child’s nervous system to essentially reset and bring them back to reality.
- Simple breathing exercises can help calm both mind and body (for younger children it is helpful to have them lay a stuffed animal on their stomach to gauge their breaths in and out.)
- A warm shower or bubble bath may help to calm their nerves and allows your child to step away from an anxious situation. Throw in a little fun and add a bath bomb or soothing essential oils as a new experience for your child.
- If your child has access to a grassy area, have them remove their shoes and stand barefooted in the grass.
Help set your child up for success with this quick and easy tool that can assist in keeping them safe for years to come!
This blog article was contributed by Madeline Davidson, Mental Health Practitioner for SERCC.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org