How can you help your child open up?

A report from Youth Index released last week revealed that 48 percent of young people have so many emotional issues that they struggle to concentrate at school. And perhaps more worryingly, 46 percent of these do not talk to anyone about their problems because they did not want anyone else to know they were struggling.

With such startling figures highlighting issues in children today, we’ve put together a guide to help your children open up about their problems and ensure they are healthy and happy both at home and at school.

Ask questions

This may seem simple, but with such busy lives, it can be easy to forget to ask simple questions, such as “How was your day?” or “Did anything happen at school today?” Make sure you make a note to ask questions and monitor responses so you can notice any changes in replies or attitude.

Use feeling words

As well as asking generic questions, it’s important to delve deeper. And one of the best ways to gauge how a child feels is to use feeling words. Asking questions about how they feel or felt at a particular time by using the words “happy”, “sad”, “angry” and “upset” can really help them to open up more accurately.

Give them time to talk

If you ask a question – whether it be something important or a passing question –make sure you give them time to answer before pressuring them for an answer. If children have something on their mind, they will need time to gather their thoughts before they answer.

Use subtle and nonverbal communication when listening

If you manage to get your child talking about things, make sure you give them the opportunity to tell the whole story. In order to do this, use positive nonverbal communication techniques such as smiling and nodding to make sure they know you are listening and understand their issues.

Talk about your own experiences

Sometimes, it can feel like you’re the only person feeling a certain way. And when you’re a child, those feelings are heightened. If you suspect something is playing on your child’s mind, it can be beneficial to talk about your experiences when you were younger. If you experienced a bit of bullying or you were struggling with school work when you were young, letting them now will help them to realise they’re not alone.

Don’t judge

Even with the best intentions, we can give children the feeling of not being important with our responses. Responding to statements with phrases such as “I’m sure that’s not what they meant,” and “I bet it wasn’t that bad,” can make a child feel even more isolated and result in the closing up completely.

Have you struggled to get your child to open up about their feelings? Share your experiences and tips with us!