Parents always say that their kids can come to them for help, but that doesn’t always happen. Children sometimes don’t recognize when they need help or feel too embarrassed to talk about things, especially their mental health. Let’s learn how to talk about mental health with your kids.
Paying attention to your child’s needs is important, but so is an open line of communication. As they grow, your kids will deal with different mental health challenges and these tips will make it easy to overcome them.
Recognize harmful language
What you say and how you say it sets an example for your children. If you use a discriminatory lexicon—like describing your habits as OCD or calling someone crazy — your kids will expect the same strong negative reaction if they came to you for help.
Watching your language is a significant first step towards keeping an open mental health dialogue with your family. If your kids pick up negative phrases at school or with friends, you can always point out why they’re hurtful words and provide alternatives. They’ll become better allies for the people in their lives and learn that you’re on their side if they experience the same things.
Point out helpful examples
Media is another great way to talk about mental health with your kids. While they watch their favorite TV shows or movies, talk about scenes involving mental health challenges. They can easily learn about depression or anxiety through their favorite characters, which gives you an automatic way to open the conversation.
Foster an open environment
Children might not talk about mental health topics at home because they don’t feel close enough to their parents. If they feel safe to talk about their emotions and personal challenges, they’ll be more receptive to your advice.
Start healthy bonding activities to bridge that connection. You might go for daily walks or start cooking with your family to develop your relationships and show your children that you’ve got their backs.
Include their doctor
The doctor’s office is a scary place when you’re young, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. When your children go in for routine vaccinations and checkups, talk with their doctor about mental health topics while your kid is in the room. If children become comfortable with their doctor early on, they’ll be more likely to request medical help or advice for mental health challenges as adults.
Face your challenges
Parents and caregivers always lead by example, even when you don’t think your kids are watching. They won’t feel alone with their mental health challenges if they model their behavior after how you face your own.
Taking care of yourself by implementing positive mental health habits, such as taking breaks and being gentle with yourself. It will demonstrate healthy behaviors and kick-start conversations about why those habits are helpful.
Ask for help
Now that you know how to talk about mental health with your kids, create an open environment that invites these conversations. You can always ask for help from a licensed professional. Introducing your family to a counselor or therapist will only make them more open to listening to professional advice if they need future help.
AUTHOR: CORA GOLD
Cora’s passion is to inspire others to live a happy, healthful, and mindful life through her words on Revivalist–wholeheartedly convincing them that everyday moments are worth celebrating. Cora has spent 5+ years writing for numerous lifestyle sites – hence her sincere love for both life and the beauty of style in all things. Keep up with Cora on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.