As kids grow up, they often face stressors. Stress can come from school (grades, classmates), home (family disagreements) or other life events (COVID-19, moving, etc.). Stress that builds up over time can start to get in the way of how your child is doing day-to-day. This can start to hurt their mental health and they may start to experience sadness, irritability, worry, inattention, behavior problems or more. As a parent, you can check in with your children to see how they are doing and to provide support.
Tips for talking with children
- Allow a judgement-free space for your child to talk about how they feel and what is on their mind.
- Model the normal experience of stress and emotions by calmly talking about your own feelings with your children.
- Avoid statements like “Don’t worry” or “Everything will be fine” that may make your child feel unheard or bad for having an emotional experience.
- Do validate your child with statements like:
- “That must be so hard.”
- “What can I do to help you?”
- “It makes a lot of sense that you are feeling so stressed/scared during this time.”
- “It sounds like it is so frustrating to not be able to go hang out with your friends like you usually do.”
- Check in with your child and ask how they been feeling in the last week or two and notice changes in mood, energy, sleep or appetite.
- If you have safety concerns, be direct with your child and ask, “Have you been thinking of taking your own life?”
- Do not hesitate to reach out and establish care with a mental health provider to give your child additional support.