In looking at the factors that protect young people from eating disorders and ideas of suicide, Dr. Martine Flament, director of the Youth Research Unit at the Royal Ottawa Hospital Health Care Group, says it is not the adverse situations that happen to children, but rather, the coping strategies they use to face everyday setback and traumatic events that makes all the difference. She reports that self esteem is the basis for developing healthy coping strategies. To build self esteem, children have to know that their parents support them through their advice and values. This means open communication between parents and children. You can't assume your child knows what you are thinking; you must talk, talk, talk. But also, Flament says that children can't be protected from challenges. "You can't just tell a child they're the best. You have to let them practice. The best way is to experience challenges and new experiences by facing stressors and gradually building up the ability to cope." 

Children's Mental Health Week is recognized in Ontario in the second week of May. Let's make our kids stronger. Let's remind ourselves that no matter how much they deny their need to talk to us, or even have us close by, it's all a facade as they are balancing the competing need to feel independent from us. Don't buy it. An "I love you" or a passing hug goes a long way to encourage conversation, despite the "ick" response it may elicit.