Doctors say parents need to have conversations with children to prevent mental illness

Mental health awareness

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Doctors say one in five children will suffer from anxiety or depression. This week is Child Mental Health Awareness month.

A lot of children are suffering with mental illness and parents have no clue.

Doctors says there are conversations that you need to be having with your child to help them cope with anxiety or depression and how to prevent it from developing.

Child Psychiatrist Dr. Amin Gilani suggests parents sit down with their child at least once a week to ask children how they are doing. Get them to open up to you about how they are feeling and talk them through those feelings.

Dr. Gilani says the worst thing a parent can do when their child comes to talk to them about feelings is tell them to “grow up” or “toughen up” because then the child will not open up to you next time, causing those emotions to build.

“One way is to normalize it and say it is OK to have depression and anxiety, so I think having awareness and knowing, hey, I need to ask questions would be the first step of the parents,” Dr. Gilani explains.

Here are some examples of questions or conversation starters for your child:

  • What are you excited about right now?
  • What was your first thought when you woke up today?
  • What do you want to accomplish by your next birthday?
  • If you could be famous for one thing, what would it be?
  • What’s the best thing about your life?
  • What’s a small thing that makes you feel happy?
  • What’s something you want to do, but you can’t yet?
  • What makes you feel loved?
  • What will you be doing in 10 years?
  • If you could only eat one food for an entire year, what would you choose?
  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
  • What’s the best thing that has ever happened to you?
  • What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?
  • What’s something nice someone said to you lately?
  • Who understands you the best?
  • If you could change one family rule, what would you change?
  • What’s your favorite thing to do with your friends?
  • If you could switch places with one person for a day, who would it be?
  • What’s something you did to help someone today?
  • What do you get to do at someone else’s house that you wish you could do at ours?
  • What advice would you give to a younger sister or brother?
  • What’s the smartest thing you heard somebody say today?

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