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3 Tips To Get Your Kids Talking About Mental Health

A parent sits with his arm around his son talking about mental health. A young boy and girl both text on their phones, saying they don't know what to do. A mom reaches up to touch her daughters, saying she's here for her.

Mental health. We know we have to talk about it with our kids, but how? Sometimes, we can't even get them to answer the question, "How was your day?" so, how are we supposed to get them to have a conversation about hard feelings? Fear not!

Struggling to talk to your kids about mental health? Here are 3 easy tips to help you get started.

 

1) Start talking about mental health as early as you can.

We get it. It might seem impossible that our young kids could feel anxious or depressed, but mental health problems don't care about age. They can strike at any time, so the best way that you can prepare is to start talking about mental health as early as you can.

What does this mean practically? It's time to make conversations about emotions a common practice in your family. Talk about mental health openly and discuss what it can look and feel like.

Having one conversation and checking it off your list isn't enough. The more regular these conversations are, the more normal it'll be for your kids to express their emotions. As these lines of communication open up, you'll be able to identify if patterns begin that might be indicators of mental illness.

 

2) Create a safe space to talk about mental health.

Think about it. How likely are you to have a hard conversation with someone who constantly makes you feel bad about yourself? The chance is about zero percent. The same goes for your kids.

It's not enough to have regular conversations about mental health. If you're not listening carefully and validating your kid's emotions, you're not going to make any headway with creating a safe space to talk about mental health.

Engage in active listening. Ask clarifying questions where needed. Above all, validate your kids' emotions, even if they don't make sense to you. Through your actions, demonstrate to your kids that you are a safe person to discuss mental health issues with. By always lending a compassionate listening ear, you show them your commitment to creating a judgment-free zone where they can come when they're struggling with their mental health.

 

3) Encourage expression when talking about mental health.

Let's be honest. Emotions are messy, and sometimes, explaining what's going on when we feel overwhelmed is hard. If this applies to us as adults, think about how true it will also be for our kids.

This is the part of the process that requires you to get creative. It's ok if our kids can't communicate through their words; it's not the only form of expression! Step outside the box and provide opportunities for them to write, draw, or use some other creative outlet to express what they're trying to communicate about their mental health. It may be easier for your kid to draw a scary monster as their current emotion rather than describe it to you.

Ditch any ideas you may have about what it looks like to talk about mental health and let your kid lead the way. The result will be a deeper connection and a better understanding of what they're going through.

 

When you combine these tips, you create a safe and healthy space for talking about mental health in your family.

Look, we get it. It's won’t always going to be easy or convenient to have a conversation about mental health. It takes time to create habits in your family and becoming a safe person to your kids will require you to invest time that you may not feel like you have. The important thing is to keep the end goal in mind. Instead of being the last person they come to, you can be the first to know when they're struggling with their mental health. How great does that sound?

 

 

 

Bonus Tip - Discover the power of Aqua One's Mental Health Checks

What if there was a device that checked in with your kids' emotional health 3x a day by asking insightful and relevant questions? Oh, wait! That's exactly what the Aqua One's Mental Health Checks do! As soon as your kid responds to these questions, their answers drop immediately into your Parent Dashboard so you have real-time updates on how your kid is doing. These insights can jumpstart a conversation about mental health or identify a pattern so you stay informed about how your kid is really doing! Ready to dive in?

Order Your Aqua One