It’s not always easy to talk about mental health, but doing so can help us normalize our feelings and foster connections with loved ones—and the same goes for the little ones in our lives. Warm, open communication between parents and kids about tough topics is associated with better outcomes for kids’ well-being. From quick chats on the way home from school to bigger discussions in trickier times, there are plenty of stress-free daily opportunities to talk to your kids about mental health.
For expert insights, we sat down with Jalene Davies, a BC-based clinical counselor with more than 15 years of experience helping adults better understand the children in their lives. She shared important advice for talking to children and teens about big life topics and how each might impact their mental health.
From moving schools to having a new little sibling, there are so many life changes that can impact your child’s mental health. If you’re having trouble getting them to open up about the day to day, Davies recommends keeping conversations relaxed. “I think parents need to be aware of how they’re presenting … because if they themselves are actually more anxious, they create that space before they even connect with their kid.”
Davies suggests easygoing situations like car rides as a good place to bring up topics with kids who are hesitant to chat. Keeping the environment relaxed will in turn keep both of you relaxed, helping the conversation to flow.