How to support your child's mental health.
You're never too young to talk mental health -
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
- Make conversations about mental health a normal part of life: Anywhere is a good place to talk; in the car, walking the dog or cooking together. Model everyday talk about feelings such as by talking about a TV character’s feelings.
- Give your full attention: We all know it’s horrible to be half listened to. Keep eye contact, focus on the child and ignore distractions.
- Check your body language: Try to keep it open and relaxed and make sure you come down to the child’s level.
- Calmly stay with the feelings that arise: It can be our automatic reaction to steer away from difficult emotions.
- Take it seriously: Don’t downplay what the child is saying or tell them they’re “just being silly”. Resist the urge to reassure them that everything is fine.
- Ask open questions: Such as “How did your day go today?” This will help to extend the conversation.
- Offer empathy rather than solutions: Show that you accept what they are telling you but don’t try to solve the problem.
- Remember we are all different: Respect and value the child’s feelings, even though they may be different to yours
- Look for clues about feelings: Listen to the child’s words, tone of voice and body language.
- Some ways to start a conversation about feelings might be: “How are you feeling at the moment?” “You don’t seem your usual self. Do you want to talk about it?” “Do you fancy a chat?” “I’m happy to listen if you need a chat