SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Good Things Utah) — Spring is in the air, and for many of us, that means it’s time for some good old-fashioned spring cleaning. But as we tidy up our homes and clear out the clutter, it’s also a great time to have some important conversations with our teenagers. Jessie Clark Funk, a youth advocate and author, shares the top 3 talks every parent should have with their teens on a regular basis.

  1. Mental Health: It’s no secret that mental health issues are on the rise, and it’s important to check in with our kids on a regular basis. Ask your teenager to rate their level of depression or anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10. And while it may be uncomfortable, ask them directly if they ever have thoughts of hurting themselves. Research shows that this direct approach is the most effective way to prevent and manage serious mental health issues.
  2. Drugs and Alcohol: It’s a tough topic, but it’s essential to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. Start by asking them straight up if they are using any substances, and if they say no, promise them that you won’t freak out if they are. If they are using, ask them why they do it, and what they are looking for. Tell them how important it is to have open and honest communication between you, and reassure them that your relationship matters above anything else. If they are using, get them the support they need.
  3. Words of Affirmation: Last but certainly not least, it’s important to let your kids know how much you love them and the good you see in them. Kids need to hear you say the words, and they need to know that you see good in them. Make regular deposits into their emotional bank account, and it will pay off when you need to make withdrawals.

Having these conversations may not always be easy, but they are essential to helping our teenagers navigate the challenges of growing up. So this spring, take some time to tidy up your relationships with your teens and have these important talks. Your family will be better for it.

You can follow Jessie Clark Funk on Instagram at @jessieclarkfunk.