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Telling your kids about mental health can be a tricky discussion, but it’s important to show little ones that it’s okay to talk about their feelings. If you’re struggling, teaching children about mental health can help them understand how to support you – and it can reduce the harmful stereotypes that surround mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
By discussing mental health in an open and honest environment, your children can also learn how to look after their own mental health – and they’ll know that they can reach out for help and support whenever they need it.
How to tell your kids about mental health
There are lots of simple ways to tell your kids about mental health. Let’s take a look at 5 tips to start a conversation about mental health with your little ones.
1. Keep it simple
If you want to open up a conversation about mental health, it’s important to keep it simple. You’ll need to tailor your conversation to the age of your little ones. For example, young children may need a more basic explanation, whereas older children and teenagers can discuss mental health with a deeper understanding.
This doesn’t mean you should shy away from speaking to little ones about mental health conditions – it’s just about using straightforward, appropriate language for your children. Once your little ones are aware of mental health, you can start to discuss this subject in more detail as they get older.
2. Create a safe space
If you want to tell your kids about mental health, it’s important to create a safe space. There are lots of ways to do this, such as:
- Let your little ones ask questions
- Speak honestly about your own mental health journey
- Make it clear that anything they say stays between you
More than anything else, listen and validate their experiences. Depending on the age of your children, this should be an honest discussion. It’s all about starting a conversation – and staying open.
3. Use analogies
Analogies and metaphors could be a helpful way to explain advanced ideas about mental health to your kids. Try comparing mental health to physical health. Little ones will understand what it means to be sick or unwell, so this can help them grasp what it means to experience mental health issues in a simple, straightforward way.
This mental health analogy can also help you normalise mental health, educating your little ones by creating a clear comparison between physical ailments and mental health conditions.
4. Talk about coping mechanisms
If you’re telling your kids about mental health, you want to raise their awareness of different conditions. However, it’s also important to talk about depression coping mechanisms or anxiety management. Even if they don’t struggle with their own mental health, discussing coping mechanisms can help them understand how to look after their well-being.
This includes investing in self-care and understanding when to reach out for professional help.
5. Start conversations
If you think about how you learned about mental health, it wasn’t in just one conversation. Your understanding of mental health will develop over time – and the same goes for your kids. Start a conversation with them about mental health to make sure they’re aware of the subject, but make sure they know they can come back whenever they want to continue the conversation.
Mental health is a complex topic, and it’s all about starting conversations with your little ones. You could also include other people in your conversations, such as family and friends. This will show your kids that there’s a wide support network if they need help.
Do you have any tips for telling your kids about mental health? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
Take care everyone x