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Hacks for Helping Kids & Teens

If you are concerned about the health and safety of your child or teen, you are not alone. Many families go through times where the behaviour of others can cause concern, but there are ways to communicate your concern and take action when needed.

Communicating concern:

  • Choose a time when you are not currently in disagreement or angry with each other over a separate issue.
  • Approach your child or teen calmly and with an open mind.
  • Ask them to share their personal issues with you, and try to express your concern in a non-blaming manner.
  • Talk honestly about your concern – perhaps it’s a change in mood, sleep, appetite, or a sudden change in their friends or interests.
  • Ask them what they might need from you, or how they think you can best help them.
  • Reassure your child or teen that you are there for them and will support them should they decide to seek further help from a health professional.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions if you are concerned about suicide.

For more ideas on communicating concern and finding help, go to Finding Local Resources in this section.

When help is hard to find

If you don’t find the help you need in the first place you look, ask a person you trust for help in finding the right place. . Many people working for schools, clinics, and other health services know how to navigate health resources well, and will help you find what you need.

If you don’t “connect” with the first person you speak to, here are some hacks for the next individual you approach about your concerns:

  1. Since it’s easy to forget any questions you might have once you are in an appointment or on the phone, write your concerns down to share with the person you plan to approach for help.
  2. If possible, go to someone who has been helpful before, and tell them that you are having trouble finding help for your child or teen. It is not unusual for people to try several helpers before they find the best fit for their situation.
  3. Provide as much detail about your situation as you possibly can. Try to tell the “story” of what is going on to the person you have approached for help.
  4. If you feel you aren’t connecting, don’t be afraid to ask for another person to talk to instead.

When your child or teen has issues with the helping process

  1. Listen to concerns calmly and without passing judgement on the situation. Try not to take the “side” of either your child/teen or the helping professional.
  2. Express empathy. Note that seeking help can be challenging, especially when new coping methods or new ways to look at situations are introduced.
  3. Provide supportive listening to your child or teen. You may not be able to change or resolve the situation, but your support is still very important.
  4. Encourage patience.
  5. Writing thoughts down can be helpful, as well as drawing. If your child or teen finds this helpful, encourage them to record, draw or doodle their thoughts and bring these to their next appointment.
  6. Consider visiting the helping professional together, to help them share their concerns.
  7. Encourage your child or teen to take a list of their own questions and concerns to their next appointment.

Check out the Links and Resources for more good places to get information.

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