It is very important that we provide opportunities for conversation with our children. We need to ask them questions about the difficult things - suicide, drug use, sex, and so on - in a direct manner that communicates non-judgement and a desire to hear the answers. Our children may resist these conversations, but we can still communicate our willingness to have them by providing opportunities for them. The more opportunities we offer, the more likely they will turn to us when they really need to.
1. Ask the difficult questions.
2. Listen without judgement. Do not try to alter or fix their perception, as it is their reality.
3. Provide validation of their feelings and experiences.
4. Communicate support.
5. Encourage forward movement and immediate next steps.
When our children express concerns or worries...
* Avoid simplification or minimizing
* Avoid comments about how it will be better in the future.
* Avoid sharing your own story and trying to compare your own experiences.
* Ask about the specific concern or worry. Validate it, without trying to fix or change it.
* Encourage your child to identify what they can do to help reduce the risk of that occurring and/or what they will do if it does happen. Planning is a natural enemy of anxiety.
* Follow up with your child about the concern. Listen to what happened. Offer support and guidance to next steps...