Mental health begins by talking with your child

You can normalize conversations with your child about mental and behavioral health by regularly discussing how they are feeling.

Tips for talking with children

It’s important to speak to your children in a way that helps them express what they’re feeling. Although it’s never easy, these tips can help you with those important conversations.

Casual conversations are ideal for mental and behavioral health check-ins, as opposed to longer, pre-planned sit-downs. 

Relaxed settings may help your child feel more comfortable and less put on the spot. Think about having this conversation when you are working on a project together or taking a walk. Conversations with your child about mental and behavioral health can happen almost anywhere. 

Open-ended questions that give your child room to share their feelings are more helpful than questions that can be quickly answered with a yes or no. Talk through how events in their day made them feel, like, "What was the hardest part of your day?” 

Other means of expression can help your child share their thoughts and feelings. Encourage your child to express themselves through artwork or play to get a better understanding of how they might be feeling even if they can’t find the words. 

Validate your child’s feelings. Acknowledge your child’s feelings and let them know that you are there to support them. 

Empower your child. It can be tempting to jump in and fix your child's problem for them. Instead, work with your child to help them find their own solutions. 

Share your feelings. One great way to help children learn to manage their own feelings is to share your own feelings and the coping skills that you use. Hearing their parents share their feelings and experiences is a great way for children to learn how to talk about their own mental well-being.