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5 Mental Health Check-In Questions to Ask Your Child During Puberty

Brannon Patrick

September 18, 2023

Growing up is filled with emotional and physical changes that can be exciting, but sometimes they can also be daunting. One of the most significant transitional periods in this journey is puberty—a time of rapid growth and development for young people.

While it’s essential for parents to discuss bodily changes with their children during this time, it’s equally important to conduct regular mental health check-ins. Below, our adolescent and child therapy experts share five useful questions that will help you encourage your kids to express their feelings, anxieties, and concerns. Use these to better understand what your children are going through and make sure they have the support they need.

Mother asking young teenage daughter how she is feeling during puberty to help assess mental health

Question 1: “How are you feeling today?”

Asking your child how they are feeling today serves as a simple yet open-ended question that creates an avenue for them to express their emotions. Unlike more specific questions that may lead to yes-or-no answers, this question gives children the freedom to explore and express their feelings without restraint.

The importance of this question lies in its capacity to encourage emotional literacy. Being able to name and understand one’s emotions is the first step in managing them effectively.

Question 2: “What was the best part of your day? The hardest part?”

Life is a mixture of highs and lows, and understanding this balance is vital for emotional well-being. Asking your child about the best and hardest parts of their day helps you gain insight into what brings them joy and what challenges them.

This question encourages children to reflect on their daily experiences, allowing them to recognize patterns or triggers that might be affecting their mood. It also provides an opportunity for parents to affirm the positive moments and offer guidance on navigating the challenges.

Friendly father asking teenage son going through puberty about stress levels to help assess mental health

Question 3: “Do you ever feel overwhelmed or anxious?”

Stress is a normal part of life, but excessive stress or anxiety can lead to mental health challenges if not properly managed.

This question aims to gauge your child’s stress levels and their emotional capacity to handle it. It opens the door for a deeper conversation about the specific situations or circumstances causing these feelings. Knowing when your child feels overwhelmed is crucial for helping them develop effective coping mechanisms and, if necessary, connecting them to appropriate therapeutic interventions.

Question 4: “What do you do when you’re feeling upset or stressed?”

Understanding how your child copes with stress or emotional turmoil provides insight into their mental resilience and adaptability. Some children may have constructive coping mechanisms like talking to friends, engaging in physical activity, or practicing mindfulness. Others may resort to less healthy methods like isolation, avoidance, or self-harm.

Knowing your child’s coping strategies enables you to guide them towards healthier ways to manage stress and emotions, potentially even recommending professional help from a therapy practice like Therapy Utah, which specializes in creating appropriate therapeutic matches.

Father asking young teenage son about coping mechanisms during puberty to help assess mental health

Question 5: “Is there anything you’re worried about right now?”

Children often keep their worries to themselves, either because they don’t want to burden their parents or because they aren’t sure how to articulate their concerns. Asking this question gives them permission to share what’s on their mind.

The value of identifying current concerns cannot be understated. Whether the issue is big or small, discussing it can significantly lighten your child’s emotional load and allow for collaborative problem-solving.

Providing Essential Mental Health Support for Your Child

Puberty is laden with emotional and physical changes that can have a significant impact on any child’s mental health. The importance of regular mental health check-ins during this stage cannot be emphasized enough.

The five questions outlined above are designed to promote open dialogue between you and your children. By identifying feelings, daily experiences, stress levels, coping strategies, and current concerns, they can help guide you to provide the emotional support and resources that your children may need, including professional mental health support from our team at Therapy Utah.

By understanding and addressing your child’s inner needs, you’re not just helping them navigate puberty; you’re setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy emotional expression and coping skills. Contact Therapy Utah to learn more about how we can help you and your children today.

Teenage girl talking to therapist for mental health support while going through puberty

Frequently Asked Questions About Puberty & Mental Health

When does puberty normally occur?

Puberty generally occurs between the ages of 9 and 16—but the timing is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, nutrition, and overall health. For girls, early signs often include breast development and the onset of menstruation, while for boys, it may include changes in voice and the growth of facial and body hair.

What changes happen during puberty?

Puberty is typically characterized by changes in body structure, hormonal levels, and growth patterns. These physical changes often correlate with shifts in emotional and mental well-being. The fluctuation in hormones like estrogen and testosterone can contribute to mood swings, increased sensitivity, and heightened emotional responses.

Is it normal for teenagers to experience mood swings during puberty?

Yes, mood swings are a common experience during puberty due to hormonal changes. While it’s typical for teenagers to go through emotional ups and downs, severe or persistent mood swings may warrant professional evaluation.

At what age should parents start discussing mental health with their children?

Most parents can start discussing emotional well-being and mental health with their children at a young age, as long as they use age-appropriate language. Introducing these concepts early on lays the foundation for open communication during more challenging times (like puberty).

Are girls more susceptible to mental health issues during puberty than boys?

All genders face mental health challenges, but the specific types of issues they face and their prevalence can differ. Girls often report higher instances of mood disorders like depression and anxiety during puberty, while boys may face increased risk for behavioral issues.

Why is mental health support during puberty important?

Mental health should not be overlooked during this highly transformative period. Regular mental health check-ins can provide valuable insights into your child’s emotional state and pave the way for healthy coping strategies when they encounter challenges.

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