Starting conversations with your children, friends, family members, or coworkers can build a strong foundation and strengthen your relationships with them. By keeping a routine of checking-in, you’ll be able to identify any challenges they might have, allowing you to problem-solve and support them.
While talking about mental health can seem daunting, simple conversations can make a difference. Try these conversation starters and techniques during your next check-in.
When you check-in, you don’t have to dive right into a conversation about mental health. Simply asking open-ended questions is a good place to start.
Here are a few examples of open-ended questions:
By using “I” statements, you steer clear of making judgments about the other person. Here are a few examples of “I” vs. “you” statements:
Don’t say: You don’t consider my feelings because we don’t spend time together.
Do say: I feel upset because I want to spend time with you.
Don’t say: You are always mean when you talk to me.
Do say: I feel hurt when you use that tone of voice.
Don’t say: You are careless and irresponsible.
Do say: I care about you and your safety. I worry when you stay out late.
You can form your own “I” statement by starting with “I feel…” Then, identify an emotion like happy, sad, upset, hurt, excited, or worried. Follow it with an example of the behavior that affected your feelings.
Be careful not to disguise “you” statements as “I” statements. Stick to your feelings and give examples that are objective, rather than passing judgment on the other person.
Follow these steps to practice active listening:
When starting conversations with kids, a helpful tool you can use is an emotions chart, which uses illustrations, images, or emojis to represent feelings. You can also use an emotions chart with people of all ages who find it challenging to identify their emotions.
You can also try open-ended questions with kids in addition to using an emotions chart. Using the skills above is encouraged, even when you talk to your child.
Any relationship takes work and consistent effort. Keep practicing the conversation skills above during your daily or weekly check-ins with your friends and family.
If you’re a parent or a teacher, these tips can help your child or students develop good communication skills they can use in everyday social situations. They’ll learn how to identify their emotions and ask for help when they need it.
As an employer, starting conversations with your staff and coworkers can help you manage workplace mental health and keep tabs on your employees’ well-being.
If you’re ready to take charge and start the conversation, take the pledge to check-in. We’ll send you resources, tips, and tools you can use to keep the conversation going.
The Check-In Project is a mental health initiative of Wraparound Osceola. We strive to provide families, schools, and employers with the tools and resources needed to check-in with each other and provide the support needed to break the stigma surrounding mental health.