Conversations save lives

| May 06, 2024


It can be difficult to detect signs of your child’s declining mental health, so checking in often and asking how things are is important. Having regular conversations with your child can help them identify how they’re feeling and allow you to offer useful strategies to help them deal with stress and anxiety.

Here are some ideas to help you have these conversations with your child:

  • Avoid the formal ‘sit down and talk’ approach. Keep things light in terms of tone and manner, and start with a statement or specific observation before asking a question, such as ‘We haven’t checked in with one another for a while. You seemed really stressed when you left for school this morning. How are you doing?’
  • If your child is not opening up, try asking specific open-ended questions that show them you are interested in their life without being too invasive e.g. ‘What part of the day do you most look forward to/least look forward to?’
  • Activities are a great, non-intrusive way of starting a conversation e.g. kicking a ball around, paint-by-numbers, drawing, picnics, puzzles, games such as UNO or Scrabble, baking or cooking dinner together. Ensure you are present and involved in the activity and not just focused on the conversation.
  • Go for a walk or drive with your child so that you’re not in direct eye contact, helping them to feel more comfortable sharing their feelings.
  • Think about some of your child’s interests and lean into them e.g. ‘Hey, I noticed the new season of Stranger Things just started, shall
    we watch it together?’ While watching the show, you could say something like, ‘Wow – I didn’t know you were into blood and gore, I used to read Stephen King books when I was younger…’
  • Emotional regulation is a skill we are not born with but are taught by a role model. It’s important as a parent to create a safe space at home for your child to express their emotions. Make it ok to talk about feelings by modelling this to your child e.g. ‘I’m feeling exhausted because I had a stressful day at work today dealing with a problem. How was your day at school?’
  • Set a regular, distraction-free time to talk to your child about what’s happening in their life. Always try to listen more than you talk, and try not to give advice or solutions unless you’ve been asked.
  • Know when to stop – if the conversation isn’t achieving the desired outcome, be aware of when to pull back, but let your child know that you are going to keep the conversation open and will check in when things are calmer – no-one likes feeling forced to speak.


Always reassure your child that if they ever have anything to discuss, you are ready to listen and will support them.