The first step in starting a conversation is to choose a good time. It’s really important to make space to be together without an agenda or pressure. Conversation tends to flow best when it naturally occurs. Consider bringing up the topic of mental health when doing chores, cooking, hanging out, or in the car. Be aware of changes in your child’s willingness to engage with you. If they are busy, or having a bad day you may want to wait until they are less preoccupied.
Observations. In a non-judgmental way let your child/teen know that you’ve noticed:
- They don’t seem to be hanging out or talking to their friends as much as usual
- That their school work seems to be suffering. This may be indicated by slipping grades, assignments going undone, or a general lack of interest in anything school related. Offer extra help if it’s simply trouble with the subject matter.
- Their mood seems to have “darkened.” For instance, they may be talking about death or dying, giving away belongings, or posting pictures (or other signs of interest) in dead celebrities or other morbid topics.