Depression: A guide for parents and carers
Making time for a chat with your child is the most important first step to take. If you are worried about your child, it’s only natural that you will want to discuss your concerns, yet asking them how they feel can be very difficult. It may need some careful planning ahead to help it go well.
Think about what you want to say
Keep it simple. Talk to your child on their level and explain that you are worried about how they may be feeling and that you want to help them.
Choose statements that are facts and not judgements
Stick to facts to begin the discussion on your child’s terms. Let your child open up to you, in the way they feel comfortable, without being judgemental of their actions.
Try to ask “open questions”
Allow your child to say how they are feeling rather than give you a yes/no response. A good opener is “What’s on your mind?” and then seeing where the conversation goes from there.
Write down your concerns before you speak
Jotting down the things that you are most worried about can be helpful to make sure that your conversation stays on track.
Try to keep any anxiety you may feel to yourself
You will likely be feeling many challenging emotions about your child. As difficult as it may feel, you need to be there for them. Although it’s crucial to look after yourself throughout this, when talking try to focus on their feelings and what you can do to help.
Be calm and supportive and allow plenty of time
It will likely take a number of conversations to get to the heart of the matter. That’s okay. Take your time and be there for your child, at the right pace for them.
Show your child you are there for them and that you care
As well as carving out time for honest discussions, show your love and affection in the way that your child is most comfortable with. A peaceful and caring home environment can make a big positive difference to young people experiencing depression.
Choose your time carefully, when everyone is calm
The conversation with your child will likely only be positive if the setting and time is right. Try not to force or rush it, but choose a time and place to help you talk and listen to what your child has to say.
Gain the fuller picture
After speaking with your child, you may also want to talk to their teacher, school nurse or another trusted adult. You may also choose to ask this individual to keep a note of any concerns they have to add to your own written records.
It is always best to be open with your child about this. Tell your child that you are planning to do this and include them in the conversation so they do not feel excluded.
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