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Top Tips for How to Talk to Your Child this Children's Mental Health Week

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February 2023
Reading time 3 Minutes

This week, 6–12th February, is Children's Mental Health Week run by children's mental health charity Place2Be

They’re helping to raise awareness of the importance of children and young people's mental health. Here we look at their top tips for helping you talk to your children.

The theme for this year’s Children's Mental Health Week is Let's Connect – and it’s all about making meaningful connections. 

We humans thrive in communities, and when we have healthy connections – to family, friends and others – this can support our mental health and our sense of wellbeing. When our need for rewarding social connections is not met we can sometimes feel isolated and lonely which can have a negative impact on our mental health. 

As parents and carers, you play an important role in your child's mental health. How you connect with friends and family will influence your child, and how they develop their own friendships and relationships. For example, how you greet people and maintain friendships, but also how you forgive people or say sorry when you need to.

Here are Place2Be's top tips and advice to help families explore the theme of Let's Connect at home

1. Connect with your child in everyday ways  

Moments of connection (and reconnection) are really important in child-caregiver relationships. For example, when you pick them up from school, or come in from work, try to give them your full attention and see if this helps you feel better connected as you hug, talk, smile and hear about their day. Watching your child play and joining in is really important to them so put your phone away and have a bit of fun – being playful is good for adults too!

With your older child, you may find times such as car journeys a good time to talk, or to reconnect by playing music you both like. It is important to be accessible to a teenager when they need to talk. You may have to be there ‘on their terms’ and be ready to listen.

2. Talk to your child about important connections 

This could include talking about family members, friends, neighbours, childminders, people in the local community and others in your faith group (if you have one). Remember it’s ok to talk about people they miss, for example, family members who live in a different country or people who have died. Children learn a lot from their parents about how to express their feelings, including the joy that comes with feeling connected to others and the sadness that comes with missing others. 

3. Talk to your child about their friends 

As children become teenagers, their friendship groups become increasingly important to them. Be open to hearing about their friendships and try to listen without judgement. Ask them about their life in real life and online. You may not think online friends are ‘real friends’, but your child may feel differently. Losing friends, feeling left out or being bullied is very painful and your child needs to know you will support them through these difficult times

Read More: How Teesside's Headlight Project Supports Locals with Their Mental Health

4. Connect by taking an interest in your child's world 

As adults we can sometimes be dismissive of the things that our children and teenagers are interested in, such as their music, fashion, or what they watch. If you do take an interest in these things however, you may feel better connected to your child and the important things in their world. This can lead to other conversations about other things in their lives that matter to them.

5. Find time to connect as a family

Family life can become busy and stressful, so it's important to find some time where you connect together. This could include simple things like cooking, watching a film, playing a game, going to the park or even doing the family shop together.

6. Try to resolve conflict and reconnect after arguments

Arguments and moments of disconnection are bound to happen in families – between your children, between yourself and your children, and between yourself and your partner if you have one. It is important that children learn how to disagree in appropriate ways, how to say sorry, and how to make amends when they have done something wrong. They will learn a lot about how to do these things from you so try to model the behaviour you want to see in your children. Talk to them about how to reconnect with friends after arguments including what they can do to help repair relationships.

Let your child know that if they are worried about something, they should always talk to an adult they trust. It could be you, someone in your family, a teacher or someone else in their school. 

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