Start the Conversation

When you suspect your teen is drinking, using drugs or struggling with a mental disorder, how can you begin to help them? It starts with a talk, because your proactive, loving support can be key to getting them the treatment they need. That hard (but good) conversation is the first step towards wellness.

Parents convo
Convo title background
Choose the right time and place - for you and them.

Consider a private setting with limited distractions, like your home or on a walk. Do not start the conversation until they feel safe and comfortable. You may hear things that hurt your feelings, make you worry or are downright painful. For the moment, reserve your reactions and give them time to work through theirs.

Convo title background
Express your concerns and be intentional.

Communicate at a level that is appropriate to the child’s age and developmental level. Be prepared to take the conversation in stride. Watch their reaction during the discussion, and slow down or even back up if they become confused or look upset.

Convo title background
Acknowledge their feelings and listen.

Ask how they are feeling. Listen openly, actively and without judgement. Encourage them to explore their emotions and to find words to describe how they are feeling.

Convo title background
Offer to help.

Take punishment off the table, and create real opportunities for growth and development. Reassure your teen that mental and/or substance use disorders are treatable. Be the connection to help locate treatment services.

Convo title background
Be patient.

Your child won’t heal overnight. Continue reaching out with offers to listen and help. Remind them constantly that they are secure in your love.

Convo title background
End on a positive note.

Affirm your support and respect for their struggles. Help them feel secure, but let them know they aren’t struggling alone.

Say This

“I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?”

“I see you’re going through something. How can I support you?”

“I care about you, and I’m here to listen. Do you want to talk about what’s been going on?”

“I’ve noticed you haven’t seemed like yourself lately. How can I help?”

Not That

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Why are you doing this to me?”

“You never acted like this when you were younger.”

“I’m disappointed in you.”

Footer search bg

We're here for you

Body bg