How to Prioritize ME and my mental health and emotional wellbeing?

As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day demands of raising a family, and we can forget to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, we even feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. Although it is normal and okay to have these feelings, it is important to take care of them so they do not spoil over into your relationships with your children or co-parent. When we prioritize our mental health and take care of ourselves, handling challenges is a bit easier. Here are some ways to prioritize YOU:

1) Get Outside

Whether going outside means just stepping outside for a moment to breathe or going for a long walk, spending time outside triggers our brains to produce chemicals that result in feelings of calmness, joy, creativity, and may even increase your concentration.  Research shows that spending time in the sun each day has a positive effect on decreasing depression. Remember to stop and smell the roses!


To learn more about opportunities to get outside in San Diego, click here:

2) At Home Spa Day

Take time to care for yourself! What does this look like? For some, they like taking a longer shower or putting on some lotion. For others, they like applying a face mask, lighting some candles, and sinking into a nice warm bath. Be creative by getting some bath salts, fill the tub and give yourself a pedicure. A little extra nurturing goes a long way!   


Need some direction? This YouTube video provides you a luxurious DIY home pamper routine on a budget:

3) Connect with Others

Sometimes as parents, we can feel isolated in our community, in our feelings, in our hardships. By reaching out and connecting with others, we create a support system to lean on in both moments of difficulty and moments of happiness. If you are struggling, the good news is, so are others. Find places to connect. Join a Facebook group related to your hobby, talk with other parents at your kids’ school, ask a friend out to coffee or go to an exercise class or join a team sport for adults. When you connect with others, you will feel better about yourself, so get off the couch and do something different!


Here are some local San Diego Groups and Parents:

4) Therapy

After a hard day, we are able to recenter ourselves knowing that tomorrow will probably be an easier day. During hard times, anxiety, depression, or feeling overwhelmed can come from the lack of certainty that tomorrow will be easier. During these harder times, therapy can help provide an outlet for us to unpack and let go. Not all therapists are a good fit. Sometimes it takes meeting 3 or 4 therapists until you find the right one. But, once you do, there is a lot of personal power in finding someone to help you manage your feelings and whatever else is interfering in your happiness.  


Don’t know where to start? Here is one:

5) Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are ways that each of us can come back to the present during difficult times. The practice of doing this ranges widely from person to person. For some, grounding techniques are reconnecting to where your body is by lying on the ground, squeezing playdough, or pressing your toes into the floor. For others, they might be paying attention to different senses of your body by lighting a candle, making a cup of tea, putting on calming music, or wearing a comfy sweatshirt. You can find the right technique for you by speaking with a therapist or by doing your own research. Calming mediations are good too.


For more grounding techniques, click here:

 With Mother’s Day just passed and Father’s Day around the corner. Make a commitment to yourself to take extra care of yourself and, if you are struggling, especially your mental health. Remember, feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed from time to time as a parent is completely normal. During these times, it is important to re-center yourself, and actively and intentionally create moments of positivity. Remember, you can’t control what your kids, co-parent, family members, or anyone else does, but you control what you think and feel and how you respond to others. Your kids are watching your every move so make good moves to prioritize yourself, including your mental and emotional well-being. 


What are children and teens really thinking?

Divorce is the break-up of two people who were in an intimate married relationship. At Kids’ Turn San Diego, the definition of divorce is the break-up of two parents who brought beautiful children into this world. From the eyes of the children, the definition of divorce is my parents argue all the time, will I need to move schools, how can I decorate my room at my new home, and will my parents ever stop arguing and fighting. 

As March 18th is fast approaching, I think back three years when we were told to quarantine, when my daughter moved home from college, and when Kids’ Turn San Diego quickly transitioned to remote working and virtual programming. Thank goodness for zoom and the internet! As the Executive Director, I lead our organization through unprecedented times and lived by the motto of “we’re building and flying at the same time”. We didn’t skip a beat and continued to serve every parent, child and family that requested our services. Many things changed for all of us, but for me, one change has provided me with the opportunity of really understanding the challenges of divorced families. I, by the way, grew up in a divorced family so I know what it was like being an 8-year-old child transitioning from one home to two, changing schools and eating lots of macaroni and cheese. Fortunately, my parents figured it out quickly and did it well. They had conflict but they didn’t put me and my sister in the middle and they didn’t ask me or my sister to deliver child support checks or messages. They didn’t talk with us about court or money, and for the most part, were pleasant with each other. My parents both attended our events and shared the celebration times and never gave my sister or me any reason to think that the failure of their marriage was our fault.

But, over the past three years, as the Executive Director of Kids’ Turn San Diego, I have served as a Behind the Scenes staff member of the parent groups of our Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families. To date, I have personally been Behind the Scenes during all four weeks of 34 Family Workshops. I have observed transformation! When you hear a parent at graduation tell us that they are listening to their children more and giving them undivided attention, or things like “I learned to choose peace over power”, “I learned to respond instead of react” or “I learned that I have no control over others, I can only control my own words and behaviors”, it warms your heart. These parents have learned new skills that resulted in a personal transformation that will make them better parents and better people. I watch the graduations and smile knowing that the children of these parents will be blessed with parents that did it right, like my parents. 

But, then I hear one of our Group Leaders and their statement is profound. “Although not always stated by the children in the program, from their perspective, when parents argue and fight over custody, the children perceive their parents’ behaviors as fighting over them. They begin to see themselves as ‘the conflict’ and begin to believe that their parents’ divorce is their fault.

What does this statement really mean? When parents battle and fight over the custody of their children, which days they will be with one parent or the other, the battle and the fight is over your children, and your children see themselves as the cause of the fight. If your children didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be a battle or a fight. Is this the message you want to be giving to your children? They do not care which home they are at more. They want to see both parents, they want to be happy children who transition from one home to the other with parents that are pleasant and nice to them and each other. They say, perception is everything. I really hope you will think about this! Do you really want your children growing up perceiving and believing that they are the cause of your conflict, divorce and unhappiness? I hope not! If you haven’t attended a Kids’ Turn San Diego co-parenting program, we invite you to invest in yourself, your family and your children. If you have and find yourself still angry and experiencing conflict, join us for a Continue the Conversation Class or come back to the program. We are never too old to learn and happiness can be part of all of our lives. As an adult child of divorce, and with all due respect, please get along with our co-parent and know that if you adjust well and move through life with ease, your children are more likely to adjust well. When you choose peace over power, your children get to feel happier!



Research shows that the human brain is about 90% developed by the age of 3 and recent studies have shown that the brain continues to grow and develop and undergoes a growth spurt in the teen years, with full development around the age of 25 or 26 (

The brain growth spurt was alive and in action in our most recent Family Workshop Teen Group! In this program, the teens learn skills, strategies and techniques to better communicate with their parents and to better manage themselves within their families. They offered a profound message to all teens who are experiencing a family separation or divorce. 

If you have a teenager, please share this message. If you have a child of any age, please pay attention.

What are the teens who created this poster saying to the parents in their lives?

          This may be surprising to you, but children oftentimes blame themselves for their parents’ divorce and/or behaviors. They do not typically say this aloud, but it is an unconscious thought that lingers and eats away at their emotional well-being. And sadly, many parents who have been divorced for years, continue to argue like when they were married. Why is this? Younger children have no idea but wish every day and every moment that their parents would stop arguing and would just get along. This message is heard loud and clear through our Family Workshop program theme “Your children want you to put your differences aside and be kind people in front of them, if not for you, for them”. These are not the words of this writer but instead are real words that children in our Family Workshop told us.


Honestly, if parents think that their decisions and choices to remain in and continue conflict with their children’s other parent is not impacting their children, we hope this blog will shed some light on a new reality. When parents are divorced and they continue to argue, fight, be mean to each other or say bad things about each other, it is harmful to the emotional well-being of their children.


Shifting back to the teens, their wish is the same as the younger children, but their message is stronger. Teens think their parents like arguing with each other and really wish they could get along when they are together in front of them. When together at events, teens in our programs want their parents to get along and if they can’t, the teens want their parents to fake it for them so they don’t need to be embarrassed by their parents’ behaviors or feel like a jumping bean going from one side of the room to the other so they get to be with both of their parents.


Again, this is real! If you think we are making this up, take a look at the poster the teens created for other teens. 


“DEAR OTHER TEENS… YOU ARE NOT ALONE! None of this is your fault and you will get through it!! Stay strong!”


I reflect and wonder… Why do teens need to tell other teens that they will get through it? What are they needing to get through and why do they need to be strong?


Divorce is an adult decision to no longer be in an emotional relationship, to no longer live in the same home, to no longer gather together with friends and family, to no longer parent your children under one roof. When done well, parents live in two homes, they adjust their quality of living to a new reality of the family income now needs to pay for two of everything, they hurt and grieve but share their feelings with support systems other than their children, they silence themselves and others so there are no negative words being said about their children’s other parent, they collaborate on the custody time and are flexible when needed, they attend their children’s events (no matter what) and they grieve, forgive and move on.


When not done well, parents get stuck. They continue to refer to the other parent as an “ex”, representing the emotional connection with someone they were intimate with at some time, they sometimes bad mouth the other parent, and oftentimes, their anger grows instead of diminishing. Many ask us, “Why is this happening?, Why are they doing this?” The honest answer is I don’t know. But from our experience, divorce has stages and many parents tend to skip them. The first stage seems to be the decision to separate and divorce, the second stage is filing the papers and beginning the legal process, the next few stages include moves, new homes, new schools for children, lots of decisions and experiencing the many losses that arise but were unanticipated. Losses? The loss of one’s social support system, as married couples tend to lose interest in their divorced friends or they just can’t decide who to be friends with, so they choose neither. The loss of extended family. The loss of family dinners. The loss of good night hugs and bedtime routines with your children. The loss of morning activities. The loss of your children for half the week.


Divorce may be a painful process but may be a little less complicated and easier on your children if you go through the process with grace, compassion and gratitude. Easier said than done, but very important! As the teens are telling other teens, we share a similar message with parents, “Dear Parents, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You will get through your divorce by feeling every feeling, accepting your losses and moving through your grief to forgiveness and acceptance. Take the time to be good to yourself. Nurture yourself and remember to be your best at all times, if not for you, then for your children. And remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If you need support, Reach out to Kids’ Turn San Diego. We’re here to support you!

While you can't control others or the situation, you can control yourself.

With school well underway, many children are telling us that they love being back at school with friends and in the classroom, while others tell us they have mixed feelings. From parents, we continue to hear concerns about COVID-19, wearing masks or not, and most recently, about whether to vaccinate or not. Know that you are not alone, and these parental dynamics are not just happening in separated and divorced families. These conversations are occurring within all families, and they are not easy conversations. 

Schools have different requirements and protocols in place to protect kids, which can be confusing or difficult to follow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps updating their recommendations, and every store we go into has a different kind of sign about their requirements.

What do we do?

Focus on what we can control. Referencing the top tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other experts on how to keep children safe from COVID, Kids’ Turn San Diego is sharing ways you can control what you can control.

1. Have conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine and immunizing your children.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to children over age 12 and may soon be available to kids as young as 5 years old. The experts are saying that children will be much better protected from COVID if they are fully vaccinated.

Not sure what to do? Consult your child’s doctor. If you and your co-parent do not agree on whether to vaccinate your children, or have too much conflict to even start a conversation, control what you can. Focus on behaviors to prevent illness and to promote the health and safety of your children when they are in your home. Wash your hands to the song Happy Birthday twice, practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer and wear a mask when inside.

2. Help your children pick out fun masks that they will be happy to wear at school.

Masks are one of the best ways we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 when we are inside. Even if your child’s school does not require masks to be worn, encourage your children to wear their mask when inside. Schools can’t prevent your child from wearing a mask. Be sure also to regularly wash the masks to keep them clean!

This is another area that, as a parent, we don’t have much control. Do your best to educate your children so that they have enough information. Every parent’s goal, at one time or another, is for their children to make good decisions. Purchasing fun masks that your children will want to wear is a good place to start.

3. Keep your child home if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if they test positive for COVID-19.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, follow your school’s guidance for isolation, even if your child is not showing any symptoms. To avoid new challenges, we recommend parents follow their child’s school testing and quarantine guidance after being in close contact with someone with COVID-19. You may not have control over your child being exposed, but you do have the ability to prevent exposure to others. Remember, your child has two parents, so don’t operate in isolation; instead, focus on communication, and let the other parent know about the exposure and the plan.

Worried about your child missing schoolwork? Teachers learned to teach remotely last year. They have back up plans, so use them. Communicate with teachers and request virtual learning options. Help your child stay on top of school work so that they don’t fall behind.

4. Stay home and avoid large gatherings yourself until your child is no longer quarantining or isolating.

Here’s the reality: if your child was exposed to COVID-19, you have probably been exposed as well. You and your child may not have symptoms and may want to continue life as normal, or you may be feeling ill. Be your child’s role model — teach them that when we are exposed to a quick-spreading virus or when we don’t feel good, we stay home to get better and avoid spreading the illness to others.

It is okay and even smart to want to get yourself and your child tested for COVID. Knowing whether or not you have the virus is one way to have a sense of control over yourself and your family and have the facts you need to make an action plan.

Help protect the health of others in your life by avoiding large gatherings and unnecessary indoor activities until your child is in the clear.  You may have lots of feelings about this, but consider this: Make this temporary quarantine time a special time to spend with your child. Paint a picture or a bedroom, decorate for the holidays, look at old photos, create meaningful holiday gifts for others using things in your home. It doesn’t matter what the activity — Kids’ Turn San Diego is suggesting that you make the best of a challenging situation and have fun while doing it!

What’s next?

Cooler weather, Halloween, midterm exams and school projects, holidays, family gatherings, time together. We have so much to look forward to. We just need to take these extra steps to keep each other healthy and safe for a little while longer.

As a final note, remember that while you can’t control others or the situation, you can control yourself.

It is okay to be the only one in the room wearing a mask and not giving hugs because you are social distancing. Others may not wear a mask and may want to hug everyone with whom they come into contact. If you don’t like it, don’t participate. Be you and do you. It is okay for you to be the only one in the room wearing a mask or social distancing. You are making a smart and caring choice to protect yourself and others!


Traveling with kids can be a real challenge — and even more so when trying to coordinate with your co-parent.  Check out our top tips for maintaining the peace with your co-parent as you’re planning your next summer getaway. These tips are provided by our friends at the West Coast Family Mediation Center.

Create an itinerary

You and your co-parent will both feel better knowing where your children are going to be and with whom. Share travel details like flight numbers, hotel addresses, and other parts of your itinerary so that your co-parent is aware of your plans and included in your children’s life. You will want the same information if your children go on a trip with their other parent!

Follow your agreement

Check the requirements for travel in your Parenting Plan or Marital Settlement Agreement. You can certainly deviate from the plan if you both agree, but make sure to record any changes in writing before your departure.

Keep communication as consistent as possible

While you’re traveling with your kids, your children are missing out on time with their other parent. Keeping up communication as much as possible is important for your children. Plan a time each day or a few times during the trip for your kids to check in with their other parent. It is also great if you share photos and updates with your co-parent. If it is part of the routine to say good morning or good night, try to stick to that.

Remember what it’s all about

Children in divorced families deserve to have fun vacations with their parents, just like every other child. Vacations are not about making the other parent jealous or being happy that your co-parent is having less time with your children while you have more.

Vacations are about family and being together! If you find yourself weaponizing your vacation against your co-parent, remember that you are not being respectful to your children by upsetting their routine and time with their other parent. Make vacations about your children — fun, togetherness, and excitement — and ensure they have time to connect with their other parent!

For more great tips on navigating travel with your coparent, check out this blog post!


Are you one of the millions of adults whose parents divorced when you were a child?

You may have grown up, but you may be struggling (probably unconsciously) with what happened between your parents and to your family. It is normal to think you weren’t affected and then wonder if your parents’ divorce has something to do with your unsuccessful relationships. You may be processing your childhood experience and pondering what it might mean for your own romantic partnership.

You may never have been offered the space to process your feelings and the changes you experienced as a child when your parents got divorced but it may have transformed the way you view love or the world, or affected how you date or navigate romantic relationships as an adult.

Thankfully, your past doesn’t have to be your future! It’s possible to heal and move forward with hope! Janelle Peregoy shares 4 key ways adult children of divorce can work through the experience of their parents’ divorce and have healthy romantic relationships. 

Read the rest at Grotto Network!



Your children have two parents, and you both deserve to be celebrated — so CELEBRATE!

With June 20th right around the corner, it’s time to think about Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor those who have embraced the role of fatherhood or the role of being a dad. It is a day to thank all the dads, fathers, and father figures for their commitment to raising and nurturing children.

What is a DAD? A dad is a Dependable Adult whose key responsibility is to help their children Develop into respectable community members.

What is a FATHER? A father is a parent Figure who Advocates for their children, provides a sense of Togetherness, strives for childhood Happiness, and Empowers their children to be Responsible community members.

What is a father figure? Anyone can be a father figure! It could be a mom, grandparent, coach, friend’s parent, teacher, mentor, older sibling, cousin or family member. Father figures may be related or not.

Father’s Day is about honoring all these people!

Over the past year, while we all lived through the pandemic, some dads and fathers have really struggled. For various reasons, they haven’t seen their children, and they are hurting. Every month in our Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families, we heard from a dad, “I haven’t seen my children in months” — with the most recent comment being, “I haven’t seen my children in 15 months, and they tell me that I am toxic and bad and that they do not want to see me.” How is it possible that an 8-year-old child would refer to their parent as “toxic”? This is not a word we hear often. It is not a common social media word. It is not a word taught in school.

One of the saddest aspects of divorce is when one parent says so many negative things about their “ex-spouse” that the children begin to take on their parent’s words as their own. Parents say, “I don’t ever say negative things about my child’s other parent in front of my children,” but they forget that children hear and see everything. When you are on the phone talking about your divorce, even when your children are in another room or actively engaged in an activity, they stop and listen. They hear everything!

The reality is, when you are divorced, your relationship with your “ex-spouse” is no longer necessary.

Think about this: When you are “ex-spouses,” you are still engaging in an emotional relationship. If your immediate response is “No, I’m not!” — then maybe you are still emotionally involved.

Being in an emotional relationship with your child’s other parent is common, but unnecessary. After all, if you wanted the emotional relationship, you could have remained married. On this Father’s Day, it is time to let it go! Focus on healing yourself and on moving on. Try this:

Instead of referring to your child’s other parent as your “ex-spouse,” refer to them as your “co-parent.” Now all communication with this other person is about your sharing the role of parent. Nothing less and nothing more. Is it that simple? Yes. Is it easy? No way!

So how do you transition into this new mentality? Yes, divorce is a transition. Not only for your children, but for you, too! This transition may include: leaving or selling a house you may love, leaving behind a neighborhood of friends, losing friends because they were your co-parent’s friends, losing family traditions because you can’t go to your co-parent’s house anymore for holidays, moving into a smaller place, losing half of your income to child support or spousal support — and let’s not forget the misery you may feel because your children are living with their other parent half the time.

Transition is real. Transition can be painful. Transition may be sad. Transition can be a time of healing, a time of freedom and a time of change. Transition leads to a new normal. Transition leads to stability. Transition becomes a place of acceptance and a place of happiness.

Whether you are a mom or a dad, Father’s Day is a time for you to step into a place of personal healing. How? Help your children make Father’s Day cards or gifts. Encourage them to be creative and to celebrate their other parent. Paint rocks, color pictures, help your child write a song or poem.

Father’s Day is not about spending money on gifts. It is not about control. It should never be something one parent can manipulate or make their children feel bad about.

Father’s Day is about recognizing the other person who helped make your beautiful children. If for no other reason than that, Father’s Day is a day to teach your children to recognize and celebrate their other parent.

As we transition out of the pandemic and into our new normal, I encourage you to make it this kind of a day. Your children have two parents, and you both deserve to be celebrated — so CELEBRATE!


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Take this chance to reflect on your mental wellbeing as a co-parent, and the mental wellbeing of your children. If you're seeking support, Kids' Turn San Diego is here to assist you!

Since 1949, May has been classified as Mental Health Awareness Month, a month to talk openly about mental health. This year’s theme is “Hope for Change,” with a focus on the present moment, encouraging us to reflect on the growth we’ve experienced, and move toward the future.

What is mental health? Sometimes, the word alone has so much stigma around it that we want to avoid it or look the other way. Maybe it’s because we’re scared, maybe it’s because it’s unknown, or maybe it’s because we’re worried that if someone associates the words “mental health” with us that we are somehow flawed.

In simple terms, mental health can be a state of mind – like waking up and feeling well-rested and good about yourself and your day, or feeling like the eight hours you just slept were not enough and dreading the day ahead.

Mental health challenges may include sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, depression or schizophrenia. There is a continuum. For most, our days will go up and down, but we feel pretty good about life overall. Others may struggle more.

As we’re coming out of the pandemic (hopefully!), we’re reflecting on the stories we’ve heard and the challenges we have experienced when it comes to mental health.

We recently heard about a 7-year-old child having a panic attack on the way to school on day two of in-person learning. The teacher was giving a math test to assess retention levels of her second graders, and the child was so afraid of being behind the other children and not meeting the teacher’s expectations. By the time he arrived at school, this little guy was hyperventilating, crying hysterically and refusing to go into school. It took his mom 22 minutes to settle him down and for him to agree to go into the school. This is probably situational anxiety, and this little guy probably had a panic attack. There is no predictor that this will ever happen again, but giving him support and letting him know he is okay did the trick.

Another child, age 14, didn’t want to return to school. She liked taking classes from her room on the computer. There was an option to return to in-person learning, but she didn’t want to. Her parent insisted that she return. She was dropped off on campus, but after her parent left, she walked home and crawled in through her window to take her classes remotely. She hadn’t been to high school yet and felt uncomfortable not knowing who would be there. She didn’t know how to dress and was afraid that the teacher would not like her. She felt bad about doing this when her parent had gone to work. By the time her parent returned, she was crying and shaking. She was afraid to tell her parent about what she had done. Does this teen have mental health issues, or is this also situational? If her leaving school continues, one might call this a mental health or behavioral disorder.

If you or your child are struggling with mental health issues, try and determine if they are situational or more serious. Help is here!

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Does my child cry excessively or isolate all the time? Has my child been eating regularly or are they picking at meals? Has my child been eating more than usual and laying around? Has my child been looking sad or complaining of sadness?
    • If yes, your child may be experiencing depression. Many people get depressed at one point or another. But when you notice it, you may be concerned. Don’t panic — get help! Call your doctor’s office for counseling referrals, reach out to Kids’ Turn San Diego for assistance, reach out to the School Counselor (many schools have resources available for counseling services during the school day), or do an internet search for counselors in your area and call around. Whatever you do, don’t wait! Your child will benefit from having someone to talk with, and so will you.
  1. Is your child hyperventilating? Do they tell you their heart is pounding? Do they shake and not know why? Do they think they may be going crazy or that they will die from their racing heart rate? 
    • If yes, your child may be experiencing anxiety or panic attacks. Many people experience anxiety and panic attacks, especially during high-stress times. As a parent, you may think your children will be excited to return to school, to see their friends and to have life return to normal. However, the pandemic has impacted children on multiple levels. Some are very fearful of getting COVID, are afraid to touch things in public, or worry that others may be sick without knowing it. It is a scary time for all of us and especially for some children. If your child is having anxiety or panic attacks, it is best not to try and rationalize with them at the time. They will not be able to comprehend or listen to what you are saying. Have these conversations when they are calm and relaxed. During a panic attack or period of high anxiety, distractions may help. Here are some tips and suggestions: 
      • Coloring books: research has shown that coloring decreases anxiety. Be prepared ahead of time by telling your child that you heard coloring is a good way to relax, so you were thinking of buying or downloading some coloring books. Coloring by numbers is a good tool to use during times of high anxiety or panic attacks, as it causes you to think about the color needed, to choose the right color and to then find all the spaces with that number. Coloring isn’t just for kids — it has real benefits for adults, too. If coloring supports an adult, it will also help a child who is feeling anxious.
    • Take a paper towel or wash cloth and fold it the long way. Wet it slightly with cold water and place it at the hairline on the back of your child’s head. You can also splash cold water on your face. These strategies change the chemicals in the brain quicker so the chemicals needed to reduce the anxiety kick in and your child will start to feel less anxious. Click here to learn more about other strategies to reduce anxiety and panic attacks.

If you’re worried about your child (or yourself), here are some resources:

  • San Diego Warm Line (a peer-to-peer support line): 619-295-1055
  • Access and Crisis Line (a 24/7 helpline to assist with mental health-related crisis): 858-724-7240
  • Contact your doctor’s office
  • Call 211 San Diego by dialing 411 on your phone or visit their website to review mental health service resources throughout San Diego County

Kids’ Turn San Diego offers limited counseling services to children who have attended our Family Workshop for Separated and Divorce Families program. Call KTSD at 858-521-0027 for support and referrals.

If you or your child are experiencing mental health challenges, get help now!

Take this as an opportunity to get the extra support you or your child need. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a reminder that mental health affects all of us. Your mental health matters!

Over one year into the pandemic, it's normal to have questions and uncertainties as life begins to shift again. Here we share our answers to the most common questions we're hearing from co-parents in our Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families.

We have just passed the one year mark of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. I remember having so many questions at this time last year, thinking that we would be out of work for a couple of months, max, and worried about buying toilet paper, getting a thermometer that actually worked properly and finding disinfecting wipes and anti-bacterial hand gel. It was a scary time!

And here we are — one year later. No matter who or where you are, there is one thing we all share: We have all been impacted by COVID in one way or another!

As life begins to shift again, our questions are real and important. Our thoughts and feelings are valid, even if others think or feel differently. If you’re anxious, worried or even scared sometimes, you are NORMAL!

In this past year, disinfecting wipes and hand gel became my new best friends. If you need hand gel, I am the one to ask. This is my new reality and surprisingly, the reality of many others. But not everyone is this way. Some people socialize with others without masks or social distancing or say “no thank you” when you offer them a squirt of hand gel. This thinking is very different than mine, and I don’t understand it.

One thing I do understand is that I have no control over anyone else!

At Kids’ Turn San Diego, 506 parents and their 323 children have attended our Family Workshops since the pandemic began. We have heard a lot of questions. Here are the top seven.

I hope so! Studies are showing that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you against COVID-19 and from becoming seriously sick if you do get it. I am vaccinated, and although I was hesitant at first and continue to wear masks and to use disinfecting wipes and hand gel regularly, I feel safer and relieved that I am vaccinated. The other people in my home are waiting to get appointments. We will all feel a little safer and relieved that we took another step to protect ourselves and others. When I was undecided, I talked with my doctor and asked for their recommendation. Talk with your doctor if you have questions.

These are difficult decisions. Some parents have reached out to the courts and were disappointed when their case was not heard, while others took the path of claiming that the other parent is intentionally putting the children at risk. If parents cannot agree, you may want to consider a conversation with your child’s doctor. If your child is sick and has to go to the doctor, you would treat the illness with the medicine provided so that your child would get better. So, if you’re unsure, go with the doctor’s recommendation. The best thing for your children is for their parents to decide together. This shows your children that you are a united front when it comes to them, and that you have their best interest at the forefront of all decisions. 

Remember: YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR CHILD’S OTHER HOUSE. You will never know the reason why, so challenge yourself to let go of your worry. Instead, focus on what you can control. For example, when your children return to your home, take their temperatures, have them change their clothes, have them take a shower or bath, have them wash their hands, or wear a mask around them. (I know this sounds silly, but YOU have the power to protect yourself by wearing a mask). Get creative with your children and create a return plan together. It will be easier to implement if your children help create the plan.

Only time will tell, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the people who know way more about COVID-19 than any of us are saying yes. So, if you are comfortable, send your children to school. If you’re not comfortable, remote learning has been going on for a year and you and your children are probably pretty good at it by now. If it’s working and makes you all feel better, make arrangements with the school.

Again, only time will tell what the summer holds for all of us. Talk with your children. If they want to return to these activities, talk about how they will take care of themselves. Because there are so many unknowns, I encourage you to pay deposits only and hold off on paying full fees until you are sure that the opportunity will be happening.

The CDC and our local health department has been making decisions based on the number of COVID cases and positive test rates. The numbers are decreasing as more people are getting vaccinated. Talk with your place of employment. Maybe you can work remotely on some days and at the office on others. When it comes to the question of who will stay with your children while you’re at work, consider your co-parent. Are they still working remotely? Collaborating on a temporary plan related to children being at home and parents needing to work is a great idea. Use “I statements” to work on the details. Think of it as a business transaction so that there are no emotions tied to the conversation. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve heard a parent say no to hanging out with their children when they are home and available, so this is a great idea (and it doesn’t cost you any money)!

We’re hearing a lot about children as young as seven having panic attacks since they returned to school. The best thing you can do is to reassure them and ask them what they need to feel safe and secure. Maybe they need to take a picture of you with them. Maybe their favorite stuffed animal needs to travel in their backpack. Maybe they need to hear from their parents that your expectations of them are to have fun and to engage with their friends — and if they can learn, too, that would be great! Children are worried about not meeting the teacher’s expectations, so set clear parent expectations to help them relax and feel better. If your child continues to feel anxious, request a conversation with the teacher. They have been living through the pandemic, too, and may need a reminder of what your child needs to be successful in the classroom. Also, structure and calendars work great to help reduce anxiety in children. Create a family calendar that shows which days your child is at each parent’s home, at-school days and remote learning days, weekends, events and activities. Add birthdays too. Knowing how to use a calendar is a life skill, so this is a great opportunity to teach it to your child. Get creative with stickers and colors and make it fun!

We’re here for you at Kids’ Turn San Diego. We wish you the best of luck as we all navigate these uncharted waters!


Your children deserve the best of you, and we want you to be the best parent and co-parent possible.

This year, we are celebrating a BIG milestone! Kids’ Turn San Diego has been offering Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families for 25 years. We have listened to thousands of children share their experiences, and, for the most part, their needs have remained stable over time.

“I want to see both my parents.”

“I want my parents to stop fighting/arguing/yelling at each other.”

“I want my parents to pay attention to me.”

Prior to COVID-19, there were several common threads in the stories shared by the children attending our program. Children witnessed frequent fighting between their parents and were often brought into the fights. Children wanted to spend time with their parents, and they liked it when their parents got down on the floor and played with them. Some of the children felt like messengers passing information between their parents. A few of the children felt caught in the middle between their parents, an experience that was very stressful for them. Many of the children wanted their family to get along because it stressed them out.

One year ago, COVID-19 began to change everything. Most divorced parents came together and collaborated for the safety of their children, and children successfully transitioned from one home to their other home, week after week. 

Sadly, not all children were so fortunate. Some children found themselves stuck between parents with different beliefs, different strategies for ensuring health and safety, and, saddest of all, some children had no contact with their other parent as one of their parents used COVID-19, probably unconsciously, as a tool to keep their kids away from their other parent.

Sadly, some children are still not seeing one of their parents to this day.

In every Workshop this past year, we have heard these stories over and over.

Regardless of your relationship with your co-parent or your history together, you must remember that your children are not just yours. They are half of you and half of their other parent. They deserve to have healthy relationships with both of their parents — and you have a big role to play in this. Their brains are constantly developing, and they are learning from what they see and hear every day. They will copy the behavior and words that are being modeled.

Your children deserve the best of you and we want you to be the best parent and co-parent possible. If you are engaging in blaming, name-calling, manipulating or controlling, we encourage you to take a look at yourself and the behaviors you are choosing. We invite you to think about your choices. Are they in your best interest, or are you hurt, angry or upset and need extra support to work through these feelings? Are they in the best interest of your children, or do your children deserve to have relationships with both their parents, regardless of how you may feel about their other parent? These are hard questions, but feelings are normal and okay when they are addressed in healthy ways and without involving your children and their relationship with their other parent. There are many resources available to support you, especially at Kids’ Turn San Diego!

If you are the parent who has not been able to see your children, here are some suggestions for making the most of your parent-child relationship, even if you are apart for now:

  • Know that someday your child will realize what has occurred and they will come back and want a relationship. This may take 10 years, but with almost all children, as their brain develops, they begin to see through the name-calling and bad-mouthing so be ready for this day.
  • Keep a journal for your child. Pick out a special notebook and write a note to your child whenever you see something that reminds you of them. For example, maybe you see a beautiful sunset and it reminds you of a day you spent together at the beach. Write a note in the journal to your child. “When I was walking the dog today, the sunset was amazing. Pink, purple and some orange. It made me think of you and reminded me of the time when we were at the beach and . . .”. Make sure to date each and every entry. Someday you will be able to present this journal to your child and they will realize that you thought of them often and wished you were together.
  • Put together a parent-child picture memory album. Children love to see pictures of themselves when they were little and especially pictures with their parents. Purchase a photo album or a binder to create a parent-child memory album. Add special photos of you and your child and write in notes and details. Someday you will be able to present this memory album to your child. If you are seeing your children regularly, this is still a great idea!

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and Parental Alienation Awareness Month. Parental alienation is any act by a parent that tries to destroy the relationship between a child and their other parent. Though not a syndrome or diagnosis, parental alienation can be considered a form of psychological abuse.

And childhood happiness most often does not include the word “abuse.”

Join us in the prevention of parental alienation and child abuse. Support your children’s happiness and encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with their other parent!