I'm a young person and I want to talk
If you are a parent and worried about your child
The most important role models a young person has are their parents and that is both an amazing privilege and a daunting responsibility. Knowing that our children are inspired by what we do, and what we fail to do, can encourage us to ensure our behaviours are always consistent with our values and are behaviours we would want our children to follow. That means modelling how to manage emotions appropriately and how to ask for help when needed.
It’s important to know that all young people experience stress in their lives and they all have times when they feel low, frustrated or stressed out. Parents can help their children through these difficult times by letting them share their feelings without making judgements or being too quick to jump in and fix it for them. Talking about how you manage difficult feelings and stress yourself and helping them think about what strategies might work for them, helps them understand their feelings and develop their own coping techniques while feeling supported and loved. It’s especially important to help young people develop healthy ways of expressing anger to ensure their feelings don’t damage themselves or others.
Helping your children to manage the stresses of life can be particularly difficult when you’re going through a difficult time yourself. Many young people won’t want to burden a parent who they may feel has enough problems of their own, so it’s important they know that you’re there for them and want to help. They also need to see that although you’re struggling, you are coping and your love for them doesn’t change. By doing this you’re setting an excellent example and showing them that loving and supporting each other is the most important thing.
How to support your child
• Keep in touch with their day to day lives, asking how school is going, what they’re up to with friends and also what they’re liking and not-liking in their life right now. It’s much easier for young people to share difficulties if you’re already part of their every day life.
• Make opportunities to have a deeper heart to heart if they need to - such as time alone together going for a walk, getting a coffee or when you’re giving them a lift.
• Encourage your child to talk about how they feel and if necessary, help them to find the words to describe their feeling and what’s caused the problem.
• If you’re worried about your child then explain to them why. For example, if you notice they’re not acting as they usually do such as spending more time than usual alone or being out all the time, ask if there’s a problem. Or if they’ve become moody and withdrawn for more than just a few days or if there’s a change in their eating or sleeping patterns, explain to them that these are often signs that there’s something that needs to be dealt with.
• Don’t push your child to talk, but make sure they know that you’re available. And if they say they don’t want to talk to you, encourage them to find someone else they’d be more comfortable with such as a family friend, someone at school or a counsellor.
• If problems are persisting with your child and your efforts to communicate aren’t working, you can get more help from www.youngminds.org.uk