How Parents Can Keep an Eye on Their Child’s Mental Health While Giving Them the Space They Need

As a parent, it’s natural to be concerned about your child’s well-being, especially when it comes to their mental health. Children and adolescents are exposed to so much (positive and negative) through the internet and social media, that it’s hard to understand what they’re seeing, hearing, and feeling, or where they’re at. As children grow, it’s important to strike the appropriate balance of being involved in your child’s life. Adolescents especially are reluctant to share with a parent whom they feel is overbearing or overreactive. Below are some tips on how parents can keep an eye on their child’s mental health while maintaining that balance.

  1. Build a strong relationship with your child: A strong foundation built on trust and open communication is key to keeping an eye on your child’s mental health. Make time to listen to your child, ask them about their day, and show genuine interest in their life. When your child feels comfortable talking to you, they’re more likely to open up about their struggles and emotions.
  2. Be observant: Pay attention to your child’s behavior and mood. Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, and social interactions can be signs of underlying mental health issues. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to check in with your child and offer support, including talking to a therapist in case your child doesn’t want to discuss certain things with their parents.
  3. Have regular informal check-ins: It’s important to have regular check-ins with your child to talk about their mental health. This doesn’t have to be a formal sit-down conversation, but rather a casual chat during dinner or while driving in the car. Ask your child how they’re feeling and if they’re experiencing any stress or anxiety. If they’re reluctant to talk, don’t force it but let them know that you’re always there to listen.
  4. Educate yourself: Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues in children, such as anxiety and depression. This will help you better understand your child’s behavior and know when to seek professional help from a therapist.
  5. Create a safe space: Create a safe and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Let your child know that it’s okay to talk about their emotions and that you’re there to support them, no matter what.
  6. Encourage self-care: Encourage your child to practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, exercise, time outdoors, and eating a healthy diet. These habits can help improve their mental health and reduce stress and anxiety.
  7. Seek professional help if needed: If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist. You can also talk to your child’s doctor or a school counselor for guidance, support, and referrals to a highly recommended therapist in your area.
  8. Use a non-judgmental tone & language: Avoid judging your child or dismissing their feelings. Instead, listen to them with empathy and try to understand their perspective. This will help your child feel validated and heard.
  9. Lead by example: Show your child how to prioritize their mental health by practicing good self-care habits yourself. Show your child that you take time for yourself to manage your stress levels, and seek support from a therapist when needed.
  10. Respect your child’s privacy: While it’s important to keep an eye on your child’s mental health, it’s also important to respect their privacy. Avoid prying into their personal lives or monitoring their every move. Give your child space to grow and develop their own coping mechanisms.

Keeping an eye on your child’s mental health doesn’t have to be overbearing. By building a strong relationship, being observant, having regular check-ins, educating yourself, creating a safe space, encouraging self-care, seeking professional help if needed, avoiding judgment, leading by example, and respecting your child’s privacy, you can support your child’s mental health in a positive and effective way. Remember, your child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health, and as a parent, you play a crucial role in promoting their overall well-being. Contact us to learn more or schedule an appointment for yourself or your teenager if you think it would be helpful.