If your child is not talking to you about their worries, you may feel concerned. Children or teenagers may struggle to share what’s going on in their life because they:
Try to create a safe space where your child feels comfortable opening up to you. Children want to know you’ll love them no matter what. Find ways to help them understand that this is the case.
Let them know they can share or talk to you about anything, and that they’re not alone.
Spend regular one-to-one time with your child. Do things you enjoy together, such as cooking, crafts or going for a walk. This helps build your relationship. They may also feel more able to talk about their feelings in a relaxed setting, when they are ready.
Some children may want to talk before bed. Create time to listen and help them offload, if they need to. You can then do something relaxing, like reading together, before they go to sleep.
Children might feel more comfortable sharing worries when they’re next to you instead of facing you. This is called sideways listening. Car journeys, washing up and walking are good opportunities for this.
Create a family culture where you spend time together, have fun and share thoughts and feelings with each other. Try eating meals together, playing games, watching films and sharing stories about your day.
You could talk about what went well, what was challenging and how you solved problems. It’s important that you share your own feelings, to show it’s OK to discuss worries and ask for support.
Some children may prefer communicating in a less direct way. Older children and teenagers might find it easier when using text, voice recording or video call. For younger children, toys or aids can help. These include:
Think about how you react to the little things they share. It shows them how you might respond to the big things. If your child tells you something you find difficult, try not to look surprised or shocked. This may make them reluctant to share more.
Let them know they’ve done the right thing in telling you. Reassure them you’ll approach any problems together.
Don’t push your child to share. Let them do it when they’re ready. Remind them often that you’re there for them.
Be prepared for your child sharing something at a time that feels inconvenient for you. Keep in mind they may have been building themselves up to share. If possible, make time to listen.
Think about other people your child could talk to. It’s important that your child feels they have someone to share their concerns with, even if that’s not you. This could include:
Read more on how to talk to your child about difficult subjects. Or learn how to manage challenging behaviour in teenagers.