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Problem or Crisis… When Should You Start Worrying? By Fern Weis, Parent + Family Recovery Coach

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Problem or Crisis… When Should You Start Worrying? By Fern Weis, Bergen County  Moms

The first days of school can be exciting, or nerve-wracking. Either way, everyone’s on their best behavior, planning for the best year ever. You and your kids settle back into your routines. Hopefully, all goes smoothly and a month or two later the kids are still on track. But what if they’re not? Or what if you’re starting to see little behavior changes? Some parents mentally turn a small concern into a big problem and exacerbate the situation.

If this happens to you, I’m about to help you put a new spin on it so you can stay calm, your kids will remain calm and receptive, and the crisis can go back to being just a problem. You can feel the fear and tame it. You can do this.

Do you have a tendency to see problems as crises? You’re in good company. It’s called ‘catastrophizing’ and you’d be surprised at how many people do it. I’m guilty of this from time to time, and have a tip to help you settle down and figure out how to ramp down the anxiety.

When something happens that gets your heart racing or quickens your breath (which can be frequent with your kids), STOP. Take a slow, deep breath and think. A crisis is something dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Is it a crisis or a problem to be solved? Are you turning a molehill into a mountain by projecting way too far into the future? Maybe it doesn’t merit that much drama and angst. Stay in the moment and decide what must be done today.

Each of us has a different threshold for distressing things. From missed homework to a major illness, they can all feel critical. It depends upon how different it is from what you consider ‘normal’. If your child is a student who excels, missing assignments can feel like a crisis. But is it? It’s certainly a time to discuss it and explore what may have changed. So you take the first step to find out what is going on in his life, and, if necessary, develop a plan of action or find resources to help him through it. This lapse is a problem to be solved.

Problem or crisis? You decide how much drama it deserves.

Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.

Learn more about coaching and classes at And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit

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