1. Remember that listening can be more important and significant than talking. Always take the time to listen to what your teenager is saying.
2. Keep conversations small and informal. You don’t have to set aside hours to chat. Strike up a conversation in the car, over a meal, or while you’re watching TV.
3. Put experiences in context. We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental wellbeing doesn’t mean feeling happy all the time, and mental problems are common.
4. De-personalise the situation, as you might find it easier to talk about a hypothetical event rather than asking direct questions about their feelings. For example, saying ‘Exams can be really stressful, can’t they?’ or chatting about the experiences of a TV character.
5. Hear what’s true for them. You might not understand or agree with their feelings or way of seeing things, but recognise it might be true for them in that moment.
6. Avoid situations where you blame, lecture, accuse, judge or tell your child what they should have done. Instead, listen to their story and let them know you empathise with how they feel.
7. Don’t be impatient or short-tempered with your child when they are sad or anxious. Avoid making judgemental statements such as ‘OK, so you’re sad again, why?’
8. Don’t make it all about them. Share a situation where you felt worried, stressed or anxious to let them know that what they are feeling is natural.
9. Don’t be dismissive of their worries and fears, no matter how trivial they may seem to you. Never tell them they are just being silly.
10. Don’t bottle up your own emotions; your children will learn by watching you. Encourage good coping skills by demonstrating them openly. If you are feeling unsure about broaching the topic of mental health with your son or daughter, remember one of the most significant things for young people is that they know they can come talk to you if they are worried about their mental health. Talking about it doesn’t need to be difficult or scary and you don’t need to be an expert, simply being open to talking about mental health can make a huge difference.
It’s really that simple .
Give it a try .
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