Mental health is not a one-time discussion; conversations between children and parents should evolve and grow. Nobody should have to struggle in silence. Here are some simple tips to keeping an open dialogue with your kids and talking about mental health.
- Encourage openness: Encourage your child to come to you with issues, and remind them that nothing they could say would make you love them less; explicitly tell them that you're always ready to hear what is going on in their lives.
- Connect them with resources: Accept that your child may not turn to you with every issue they face. Let them know that there are other adults they can trust, like teachers, guidance counsellors, doctors and places like Kids Help Phone where they can go for help.
- Set a good example: It's okay to admit you're feeling tired, grumpy, or upset after work, it is important for kids to understand that everyone goes through tough times, even parents.
- Strong feelings are okay: Every one has intense feelings sometimes. Even if you don't feel comfortable going to your parents right away, there are people available to help. Teachers, counsellors, doctors and places like Kids Help Phone are always there.
- There are ways to manage your feelings: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength and resourcefulness. Reach out to the person you think is best able to help, and tell them how you want to be supported
- . Keep talking until somebody listens: It is very frustrating to feel as if people (especially your parents) do not understand what you are saying. Do not let that frustration stop you from talking to someone else, until you feel heard and supported.