We are living in times where talking about mental health is becoming more and more important. Several misconceptions and stereotypes that came with such discussion are starting to fade away, too. Thanks to social media, younger generations are being able to have a voice and raise their concerns about this matter with each other. However, starting the conversation of teens and mental health with our own kids can be a bit more difficult.
There are several aspects we must keep in mind if we want to have a conversation about teens and mental health, especially when they are our kids. To begin with, we must let them know that we are available to talk. Also, we should always validate their context and never undermine it. Reminding them they are in control of the conversation is important, too. Last but not least, if we think our teen kids are struggling, we should be persistent yet not intrusive.
Let Them Know You Are Available
One of the most important aspects of having a conversation about teens and mental health is letting them know that you are available. If we think our teen is going through a rough time or if they may be dealing with depression or anxiety, our support is pivotal. Showing absolute availability and an unconditional company is key to start a conversation. This way, whenever they feel ready or comfortable, they should be able to approach you.
Validate Their Context
One common mistake adults tend to make with teens is that we undermine their context. This is one of the biggest conversation killers for sure. So, we should acknowledge that adolescents have it hard, too, validating their situation and inviting them to talk about it. Everyone goes through rough patches in life, including teens, and we need to remember that.
Remind them They Are in Control
Sometimes, the challenge we face is not starting the conversation but how we behave during that time. Thus, we should remind our teens that they are in control and can talk for as long as they want to. A tip that usually works is having a time limit, for example, during a car trip. Having a difficult and uncomfortable conversation without knowing how or when it will end isn’t a great feeling. If our kids know they can extend the conversation after arriving or not will give them confidence and trust.
Be Persistent, but Not Intrusive
Something we need to keep in mind is that conversations about teens and mental health do not happen overnight. Our teens won’t be open to talking all the time, and that’s ok. If we really want to talk to them, we should keep pushing and asking without doing it too hard. We don’t want to be intrusive, as this will not make them want to talk. Just remember to make yourself available for them whenever they need you to, no matter what. This way, they will know they can approach you when they feel like it.