How do we support our children and their mental health?
Talking to children about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences helps their healthy growth and development. When you talk to children openly about their day, you can learn about concerns or problems they are dealing with, help problem solve, and build their confidence for facing future difficulties. The more you talk, the easier it is when difficult topics come up!
How do you start conversations? Here are three tips.
- Set the stage. If your family creates a daily habit of checking in with each other, it will make difficult conversations easier.
- Pick times with low distractions, such as family dinners, bedtime routines, car rides or short daily walks.
- Model the behavior. Children learn by watching us.
- If you share about your day, thoughts and feelings, kids will learn to do the same. If you had a hard day, share that tooat the right developmental level. This helps children learn that emotions are normal and how to cope with them by watching you.
- Ask open-ended questions. You can talk about all kinds of topics, not just emotions or behaviors. Remember, your goal is to create the habit of comfortably sharing with you. The questions below can help.
- Find the right time for difficult conversations. Pick a time when everyone is calm. Ask permission to start the conversation and if your child is not ready, ask them when a good time would be.
What if they don’t want to talk?
If they don’t want to talk, that’s OK! If you try to push it, they will shut down more.
- Compromise! Let them know you care about them and what’s going on in their lives, so you want time to check in. Ask them when a better time would be instead and try again. Children are more likely to engage if they feel some control or choice over a situation.