Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity that provides counselling and mental health supports in UK schools, has the following advice for parents:
1. Celebrate your child’s strengths and differences
Help your child to recognise, and love, their own qualities and interests¨. Celebrate what makes them an individual and encourage them to see those positives and be a friend to themselves.
2. Have open conversations about feelings
Be a good role model and share your feelings openly with your child. This will show them that it’s okay to talk about how they feel - whether they feel happy and excited, or worried and sad.
3. Help your child to come up with their own ways to cope
Parents often want to fix things for children – but it’s important we give them a chance to deal with difficult situations on their own. Make it clear that you will step in if your help is needed, but empower your child to come up with their own ideas to cope with problems by asking them questions like, ‘how could you respond?’, ‘what do you think might help?’.
4. Let them experience their feelings fully
Every feeling is valid - so try to avoid minimising their feelings or rescuing by trying to instantly make them ‘happy’ or saying things like ‘don’t be sad’. Instead, talk to them about their sad feelings and tell them it’s okay to be sad sometimes.
5. Make yourself available to listen
Sometimes your child may not want to talk, and it’s important we don’t force them to have a conversation they don’t want. Make yourself available but don’t pressure them to talk. You may find that your child opens up in situations where they feel less pressure – for example, when you’re in the car on the way home from school.
Full article via the Irish Times