24 October 2023

How to talk to your children about conflict and war

When conflict or war makes the headlines, it can cause feelings such as fear, sadness, anger and anxiety wherever you live. Children always look to their parents for a sense of safety and security – even more so in times of crisis.  Here are some tips on how to approach the conversation with your child and to provide them with support and comfort., 1. Find out what they know and how they feel, Choose a time and place when you can bring it up naturally and your child is more likely to feel comfortable talking freely, such as during a family meal. Try to avoid talking about the topic just before bedtime. A good starting point is to ask your child what they know and how they are feeling. Some children might know little about what is…, 2. Keep it calm and age-appropriate, Children have a right to know what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. You know your child best. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. It is normal if you feel sad or worried about what is happening as well. But keep in mind that…, 3. Spread compassion, not stigma, Conflict can often bring with it prejudice and discrimination, whether against a people or country. When talking to your children, avoid labels like “bad people” or “evil” and instead use it as an opportunity to encourage compassion, such as for the families forced to flee their homes. Even if a conflict is happening in a distant country, it can…, 4. Focus on the helpers, It’s important for children to know that people are helping each other with acts of courage and kindness. Find positive stories, such as the first responders assisting people, or young people calling for peace. See if your child would like to participate in taking positive action. Perhaps they could draw a poster or write a poem for peace, or…, 5. Close conversations with care, As you end your conversation, it’s important to make sure that you are not leaving your child in a state of distress. Try to assess their level of anxiety by watching their body language, considering whether they’re using their usual tone of voice and watching their breathing. Remind them that you care and that you’re there to listen and support…, 6. Continue to check in, As news of the conflict continues, you should continue to check in with your child to see how they’re doing. How are they feeling? Do they have any new questions or things they would like to talk about with you? If your child seems worried or anxious about what’s happening, keep an eye out for any changes in how they behave or feel, such as…, 7. Limit the flood of news, Be mindful of how exposed your children are to the news while it's full of alarming headlines and upsetting images. Consider switching off the news around younger children. With older children, you could use it as an opportunity to discuss how much time they spend consuming news and what news sources they trust. Also consider how you talk about…, 8. Take care of yourself, You’ll be able to help your kids better if you’re coping, too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know that you are calm and in control. If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people. Be mindful of how you’re consuming news: Try…
18 February 2023

How to build your baby's mental health

New babies are a lot of work, and parents experience a wide range of emotions when they have a new baby. They feel joy, frustration, fatigue and nervousness. There's no reason to be frightened of having mixed emotions about a new baby. When should I start thinking about my baby's mental health? How can I promote positive mental health in my family…, I’m about to become a parent. What should I expect in terms of emotions and stress?, Becoming a parent for the first time is a huge transition. It will change everything you do. Every aspect of your life will be different now. And one of the things that we know about stress is that it happens any time we have to adapt to new conditions. And adapting to a new baby is a new condition. So expect stress. That doesn't mean anything is…, At what age should I start thinking about my child’s mental health?, You should start thinking about your child's mental health right from the moment you meet. From the very beginning, your child will look to you for love, learning and safety. When you provide your child a warm and tender relationship, help them to feel protected, comfort them when they're upset and help them navigate the world, that's how you lay…, How does stress affect the emotional development of my child?, There's a stress response that gets activated when babies become frightened or they worry that someone has forgotten them or their needs aren't getting met. Our job as parents is to help them to calm that stress response. When that stress response has calmed, everything goes back to normal and your baby actually learns that the world is a safe and…, How can I learn to show affection and love to my child if I did not grow up with those things myself?, Parenting is hard. It's something that everybody has to learn how to do. And it's something that we can actually do a really good job with if we set our minds to it. There's so much to focus on in becoming a new parent. Here are the things that will make a huge difference and will help make sure that you give your child what you wish you had had…, How can I promote positive mental health in my family?, Decades of research have taught us that what children need are two things: They need home to be warm and they need to feel like people around there like them and they need life at home to be predictable. They need to know what to expect. They need a good sense of structure and reliability around them. So for the warmth part, enjoy your baby, enjoy…, Is it okay for me to show emotions like being angry or sad in front of my children?, You are your child's first teacher and your child's going to learn all about feelings from you. So when you have feelings, especially painful ones, you're going to want to think about how you express them, to express them in a way that is honest but not overwhelming or frightening. And then you're going to want to model how you manage having a…, What should I do when I feel overwhelmed?, What are some coping techniques for dealing with stress. If you're feeling overwhelmed, you should definitely take time to manage your own stress and there are lots of good ways to cope with stress to help bring it under control. First make sure you've got good social support. Everyone needs somebody to tell their worries to, and a person or a…
18 February 2023

Four things you can do to support your teen’s mental health

Whether you and your teen are getting along well or having challenges, it is important to show that you love and support them, that you can help them navigate tough times and that you are always there for them. Here are four things to keep in mind when having that ‘how-are-you-doing?’ conversation with your teen and to show that you are always…, 1. Encourage them to share their feelings, Look for ways to check in with your teen. Ask them how their day has been and what they have been doing. It could be by inviting them to join you in a task, such as preparing dinner, so you can use the time to chat about their day. Remind them that you are there for them, no matter what, and that you want to hear how they are feeling and what they…, 2. Take the time to support them, Work together on setting up new routines and achievable daily goals. You could fit in home chores around school work or set a target like getting homework done before dinner. Adolescence means independence! Try to give your teen the appropriate time and space to be on their own. Needing space is a normal part of growing up. Find a few ways you can…, 3. Work through conflict together, Listen to your teen’s views and try to sort out conflict calmly. Remember: everyone gets stressed! Never discuss an issue while you are angry. Walk away, take a breath and calm down — you can talk with your teen about it later. Avoid power struggles. With the world feeling unpredictable and options looking limited right now, teens might be…, 4. Care for yourself, Caregivers have a lot to deal with. You also need care and support for yourself. Showing self-care is also a good way of modelling the practice to your teen. Don’t wait to ask others for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is normal and okay to feel this way. Find a family member or someone you can talk to. Make time for your own relationships…