Questions You Should Ask Your Child Every Day For Positive Mental Health
A developing child would experience all sorts of emotions. S/he is forming their own perceptions about self, others, and the world at large. The phenomenological experience a child goes through contributes to this perception, their overall well-being, and the coping mechanism they would learn to adopt. Mental health issues in children are as real as in adults. Thus, mental health care, for a developing child is as imperative as it is for anyone else.
An emotionally disturbed child would most likely show struggle in connecting to self and others. Their physical and social activity may be affected. They would sleep / eat more/less than usual. They may be resorting to escapism or passive or aggressive behavior. There could be harm to self or others involved. They might be unable to give back to the community.
With negative experiences, children show fear and struggle to get in touch with their emotions, in understanding themselves, begin a conversation, and name their emotions with limited emotion vocabulary. They may be alarmed by the possible undesirable consequences if they said something. Nonetheless, they would still be expressed through words or actions. Are were listening closely though?
Communication plays a momentous role in nurturing positive mental health.
Irrespective of the child’s age, mental health check-in helps to connect with the child. By intentionally incorporating mental health questions in daily conversation makes children feel seen, heard, valued, and loved. We destigmatize the idea of mental health care. We are teaching them to check in with their selves and name what they are feeling. We are teaching them that feelings can get complicated but they have got it, they are not alone. We are teaching them to grow socially and emotionally. Thus, enhancing their self-esteem , self-acceptance, resilience, confidence, optimism, decision making & problem-solving skills.
Parent: How was your day at school? Child: Good
Parent: Did you have fun today? Child: Yes
NOT HELPFUL, is it?
Mental health questions intend to elicit more elaborate than just yes or no, good/ nice/ bad kind of close-ended responses.
NOT NOW, I am busy!
NOT NOW, you have to go to tuitions!
Let us try that disregarding responses do not push our children away from us.
You can be creative and fun with the way you introduce the conversation with them. You could create a jar with mental health questions. You could write them on colorful ice-cream sticks or get printable with the theme that speaks to your child. There could be bedtime/ dinner-table/ car ride/ book time/ no screen time hour ritual that fosters holistic well-being. A willful & open conversation is a simple way, to begin with.
Every day is a prospect to provide your child with a safe and secured space for positive mental health. Irrespective of whether your child is exhibiting warning signs or not, here are some conversation starters you could ask your child (depending on their age) for mental health check-in.
- What made you happy this week/ today?
- If you could be an animal for a day, which one would it be? And what would you do?
- How did you spend your play time with friends/free time today?
- You carried a ‘sandwich’ for lunch, did you share it with someone? What was it like?
- What part of school makes it difficult?
- What was it about today that you found easy-peasy?
- What is your most loved thing about our family?
- What did you miss about (home) when you were at (school)?
- What is the nicest thing someone told you recently?
- If you ever got a chance to compliment someone, what would it be?
- If things got difficult to handle, what will you feel like doing?
- What color describes how you feel today?
- Let us draw a picture of how you have been feeling at (school)?
- Which book/cartoon/movie/ thought has been on your mind lately?
- If we were to write an ‘apology’ letter, what compassionate words would it include?
- Tell me something about a time you felt like talking to (someone) but didn’t know how?
- What do you need right now that you don’t have?
- Which positive affirmation would provide strength to you? Here’s a list.
- I love you. I care for you. I want you to know that I am there for you. Lately, I have observed that you ‘….’, is there something you want to talk about?
- What is one thing you always wanted to tell someone but felt scared of?
- What do you think are the benefits of listening to music?
- You were anxious about (eg: today’s test), how do you feel about it now?
- What makes you feel proud of yourself?
- When was the last time you found yourself struggling to (eg: pay attention to a task)?
- Does bullying happen around you? How does it make you feel?
- If you weren’t going to (tuitions) what would you rather be doing?
- Have you ever felt the need to disappear?
- If we were to prepare a thank you card, who would you like to give it to? And why?
- When was the last time you wanted to cry but stopped yourself thinking it is for the weak?
- If there is something you would really wish for your friend this new year, what would it be?
WHAT OTHER MENTAL HEALTH QUESTIONS CAN YOU COME UP WITH?
Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. Having conversations is fundamental. It lays the foundation of trust, demonstrating care, acceptance, love, and optimism . It may take a while to get into a groove, but it is never too late to begin!
The way you talk to them is the way they will learn to talk to themselves.
AND If something is more than what you can help your child with, reach out!
image credit : freepik
Speaking about mental health is not shame at all
How to be a great parent when you work long hours or occasionally have to work overnight shifts