Encouraging Kids to Help a Friend in Need
By Brandi Goodman
Mental Health Awareness Month in May encourages everyone to learn more about their own mental health and well-being. Sometimes, though, you aren't able to help yourself. You need to turn to others in your time of need and count on them for support and help. We should start encouraging our kids from a young age to use the skills they have to help a friend in need. This can provide the boost a person needs to work on their own mental well-being knowing they have someone's support.
Being empathetic to someone else's feelings is a great skill to have. If you can't empathize with someone, you'll never understand why they might be feeling the way they do and why they would need help to get through it. Teach your kids that it's important to show others that you care and you understand their pain and want to be there.
Show Them How to Be Reassuring
Sometimes people need someone to reassure them things will be all right. Teach your kids to tell someone who's sad that it's just a bad day, not a bad life. Things won't be bad forever and there are lots of good moments to life too. Have them ask their friend what their favorite food is or their favorite song. Things like these are best to focus on because it shows that you've experienced joy, and shows that same joy can be felt again. Being reassuring and encouraging can go a long way.
Give Them Resources
Your son or daughter might not be able to get through to their friend on their own. In this case, they will need to know resources to provide. Give these resources to your children so they are aware of them and can offer them as help when a friend or classmate needs it. This may be memorizing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or keeping the number in their phone. There is also a Crisis Text Line. You text HOME to 741741. Telling the other kid to talk to the teacher or school counselor or even their parents may also be wise.
Encouraging children to be empathetic to their peers and show support in times of need can help tremendously. Kids need to feel as though they fit in and have at least one friend to talk to and confide in when needed. More children being open about their mental health struggles and more children helping those struggling will make for more confident adults.
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