Mental health has always been a difficult subject to talk about, but it’s also something that should be talked about openly. This is especially true for parents who are concerned about their child’s emotional development. This guide will help you explore your child’s mental health in a non-threatening way.
Show Don’t Tell
Your child is far less likely to open up to you if you’re not doing the same. While it’s important to keep your discussion appropriate to the child’s age, you should be as open as possible in talking about your feelings with your child. When your child sees that you’re willing to talk about personal topics with them, they will open up to you in return.
Create Disarming Opportunities
Your child may feel awkward or nervous about talking when it seems as though you set up a meeting just to talk to them. Instead, take them out for lunch or to see a movie so you can bring up questions about their emotional health in a more casual setting. They will be more open to discussing their friendships, relationships with teachers, and other topics when they don’t feel that pressure.
Reserve Your Judgments
Your child is going to stop opening up to you if you seem to trivialize or judge their statements. Instead, your goal should be to provide a safe space for your child to express their feelings. This is especially important when your child is in an emotional crisis because you will want to know when your child may be having self-destructive thoughts. Without this dynamic, your child will keep their thoughts bottled up until it leads to an emotional explosion.
Keep in Contact With Your Child’s Doctor
Regular checkups with your child’s doctor will provide you with valuable insight into your child’s emotional health. In addition to examining your child’s physical health, their doctor can tell you about signs of mental health problems. This can help you catch depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health issues before they worsen.
As you begin talking about mental health with your child, it will be difficult. Over time, you’ll find that these topics become easier to discuss when you continue making them normal parts of your conversations. This will help you make sure your child maintains good emotional health as they grow from a toddler to a young adult.