How Should You Conduct Mental Health Check-Ins With Your Children?
By Urvashi Arya
We know the kids aren't doing well. As per the suggestions of the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a 25% increase in anxiety and despair worldwide. The list could continue indefinitely.
The dilemma is that kids who had mental health difficulties before COVID-19 now have more problems, and kids who didn't have issues now have them. I'm not going to invest too much time explaining why this is occurring and how to obtain help because there are already several resources on the blog that can help you with that.
However, I'd like to discuss how and how often we should check in with our children to ensure they're doing well, without asking the same questions every day. There are a few reasons why these mental health check-ins are vital. It shows our children that we care about them and are there for them. Second, if something is wrong, we might be able to help them before it becomes a significant problem. Here are some ideas and insights to help you keep track of your kids:
HOW TO CHECK IN ON YOUR CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH
1. ASK DIFFERENT QUESTIONS:
Asking specific inquiries rather than generic ones, such as "How was your day?" will always elicit a better response. Inquire about a particular action or event that occurred during their day. At recess, who did you play with? At the time of lunch, who did you sit next to? How did your math exam go? What exactly did you do in the Girl Scouts?
2. THEN, ASK SPECIFIC QUESTIONS AS A FOLLOW-UP:
What was one aspect of that activity that you particularly enjoyed? What did you get out of it? What would you have done that is indifferent if you could go back in time? What did you want most about it? This demonstrates that you were paying close attention and are there to assist them if they require assistance.
3. ASK EVEN IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE RESULT:
Sometimes, especially when our children are teenagers, we don't want to know what they're doing or thinking. However, we must inquire. We must be aware of them and assist them in their development. We need to know if they're considering suicide, having sex, or abusing drugs. Inquiring about suicide will not make people suicidal. When teens with suicidal thoughts are queried, they are generally relieved.
4. SELECT THE APPROPRIATE CADENCE:
Some youngsters enjoy regular check-ins, while others dislike them. Inquire about it, and figure out the appropriate tempo with them. Children who are experiencing current problems or who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder will require a different frequency than children who are not. This predicted periodicity might annoy or lead a child to shut down if it is violated. I occasionally give my family the choice of creating a code word. This implies that unless your children say the code word, you will not be able to aid them.
5. APPLY TECHNOLOGY WHERE APPLICABLE:
There are mood-tracking applications available that may be beneficial to some families. Every day, kids can keep track of how they're feeling. Parents can monitor it, and their psychologist can discuss the results. One such person is Daylio.
When children approach their parents with a problem, they usually want their parents to listen. Place your phone on the table. Allow them to express themselves. Reassure the person. You can inquire if there is anything they would like you to do. You must respect their decision if they say no. And if they ask for your assistance but are unsure what to do, say so. "I'm not sure what to do about this," you can tell.
6. REMAIN CALM:
It's just as vital to be calm as listening, yet it's also the most difficult. When children have essential information to share with their parents, they often wait to do so because they are concerned about how they will react. Other times, youngsters say things like "You don't love me anymore" to be controversial. We must not respond, at least not on the surface. "I'm sorry if I caused you that impression, but it's not true," you can say. "Explain why you're feeling this way."
Furthermore, children will make remarks about injuring themselves or having suicidal thoughts. We must take this seriously, yet they may be stating it to generate a reaction from you." If this is how you feel," say calmly, "then we need to go to the hospital and get you some help." If they didn't mean it, they'd quickly adjust their story. And if they did, you'll know you're on the right track.
Checking in with our children can assist us in keeping a pulse on their mental health. If the answers to all your questions raise any red flags, or if you have any safety concerns, don't hesitate to get in touch with your mental health practitioner or your child's primary care physician right away.