Many parents don’t talk about mental illness such as stress, depression, and anxiety with their children. It is a broad and complicated topic that many parents don’t know where to start. However, kids are always curious and may often ask questions about mental illness.
As a parent, you should have basic knowledge and answers to questions about mental illness. You need to know what mental illness is, who gets it, what causes it, how to diagnose it, and the treatment options available. To know all this, you need to do some homework to be informed.
When trying to explain the effects of mental illness on your children, make a comparison with a physical illness to make them understand. Make sure you are giving your child the correct information. You may see your children as young and innocent, but they also have their worries. The best thing you can do is to get them from the dark.
How To Bring Up The Mental Illness Topic Correctly.
The best approach to bring up the mental health topic is to find a conversation starter from everyday life. A celebrity with a positive experience or a movie featuring a character with mental health challenges is the best entry point.
In school and other public places, kids hear all sorts of stereotypes. If you hear your children or their friends using the name crazy, that is the time to start the conversation. You can also use something your children are interested in as a jumping-off point.
Finding The Right Words To Use.
When you are discussing any topic with your children, always use age-appropriate language. Waive your discussion into something they know or have witnessed, such as a person they know who is sick or feeling very sad.
Children are curious and will ask questions because they want to know more. As a parent, you need to know that there is nothing like a stupid question. Listen to them without judging. Don’t tell them how they feel, allow them to express what they are feeling.
Tailoring The Discussion To Their Age.
Your child is not too young for this conversation. All that matters is how you talk to him or her. Here are some tips on how to talk to children of different age groups.
1. Preschool-Age Children.
Young children have a limited ability to understand. They don’t need too much information and details. They often focus on things they can see. They are likely to question when they see a person who is behaving strangely or a person with unusual physical appearance. Don’t overwhelm your preschool-age child with statistics. All they need is general and clear information.
2. School-Age Children.
Children between 6 to 12 may want more specifics. They will ask you questions about their friends or family members with behavioural or emotional problems. You need to answer their questions honestly and give them an assurance that you care about their concerns and feelings.
A teenager can handle much information and will ask you specific and challenging questions. Unfortunately, teenagers are more open to their friends and peers than their parents. They are likely to have some misinformation about mental health and illness.
When talking to your teens, don’t act like you are lecturing them. An open dialogue that includes giving and taking makes them respond more positively.
Discussing Suicide With Your Children.
Many parents experience difficulty when a family member dies by suicide. They often hide the truth from their children. But experts recommend talking about it to help minimize fear. Be honest to your child on the cause of death and let them understand they weren’t responsible and it was in no way their fault. The moment your child gets to know you are honest and approachable, they will have the confidence to share their experiences with you. Being honest and approachable to your children opens doors for a positive relationship.
As much as you are trying to educate your children about mental illness, you need to be safe first. Your behaviours have a great impact on your child’s mental health. If you are depressed, you are likely to pass depression to your children.
To be the best parent for your children, learn how to deal with stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental illness. You also need to be there for your children and show them that you care about them. Spending time with your children gives them a chance to share their experiences with you.