It can help to discuss your experiences with a mental health professional and think about how you can explain these experiences to others. Some children who start school feel excited about making new friends and doing new activities, but there may also be some who feel anxious abo… For me, an example would be receiving a triggering email from someone. To enhance their understanding, use language, explanations, and examples that they can relate to. Teach your kids the “language of feelings”. Additionally, the symptoms of a disorder may differ depending on a child's age, and children may not be able to explain how they feel or why they are behaving a certain way. 2021 Mighty Proud Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved. They cannot make the illness better 5. "But he doesn't look sick," my daughter said. Around this age children start to associate emotions with good or bad. Parental mental health problems may affect children differently according to the severity and type of mental health condition, the child’s age and stage of development, and the child’s personality. To make a diagnosis, your child's doctor might recommend that your child be evaluated by a specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse or other mental health care professional. I believe inclusion is important. A news story, series or movie where a character has mental health challenges can be the perfect conversation starter to delve deeper into the issue. Although one in five children has a diagnosable mental health problem, nearly two-thirds of them get little or no help. | Dealing with such feelings is crucial in order to help them live happier lives. Some people find it hard to talk to kids about mental health, because they’re worried the topic might be upsetting, they don’t know how to talk about it or they think it’s something kids don’t need to know about. Having good mental health is a key part of overall wellbeing for children and adults alike. I wouldn’t make fun of your dad if he was sick so please don’t make fun of mine.”. Do other people know about this? Conversations with your child about your mental illness are important. Additional Resources . Explaining Self-Harm Scars to Children Can Lead to Positive Conversations. Poor parental mental health can have a detrimental effect on the health and development of children, leading to an increased risk of mental health problems for the children themselves. Parents can focus on creating a supportive family environment for their children. “Age, individual child’s disposition and where you are in your own mental illness are all factors. You can also help them identify a trusted adult they can confide in whenever they want to talk. My oldest is 9 years old. This will only add to any confusion, fear or anxiety they have about what they see happening to their loved person. Additionally, take time to help them come up with appropriate responses should other kids or adults ask them about their loved one’s illness. The only person who talked about it was mum and she would want to tell us all the negative stuff she was feeling. Tags: child therapist, child mental health, explain therapy to my child. It is easy for parents to identify their child’s physical needs: nutritious food, warm clothes when it’s cold, bedtime at a reasonable hour. One of the most important things you can do to support your children in this instance is to help them understand mental illness. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Overall, I feel it definitely brought us closer together as a family. Some may even feel somehow responsible for their parent’s illness. Here are 5 tips on how to explain anxiety to a child. Children can be especially cruel to each other so it’s better to prepare your child for teasing from other kids. Children cannot achieve optim al health alone. Medicine doesn’t make my emotions go away, but they can help keep me balanced. Being alone and being lonely are two completely different things. Answer questions as honestly as possible, or find someone else who can answer them instead. At this age children start to learn about self-esteem, you can help … This will make it less frightening and mysterious, and give them the tools they need to cope. What many parents don’t realize is that kids are actually very observant and they will notice if anything is out of the ordinary. One of the most important things you can teach your children is to recognize what they are feeling and to express their feelings in words. Teach them to listen to their bodies. Arts and crafts. There are a range of reasons why young children behave the way they do, and many of them are not due to experiencing mental health issues. Be available to listen if they are having problems or if they just want to talk. Mental health isn't something only adults should prioritize. 7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health & Emotional Well-being. Do not go to your child … Posted on May 1, 2014 by Guest Blogger. Here are a few questions my children asked me when I opened up to them about my mental health condition, and my personal truthful responses: Why do you feel sad though? If your child is having problems at school, a teacher, school nurse, school counsellor or educational psychologist may be able to help. We define mental health and explain the different disorders that may arise, as well as potential treatments. It is easy for parents to identify their child’s physical needs: nutritious food, warm clothes when it’s cold, bedtime at a reasonable hour. I love you.” (Best. I want my children to understand that. Children’s mental health problems are real, common and treatable. 7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health & Emotional Well-being. If your child is diagnosed with a mental health problem, a comprehensive treatment plan should include psychotherapy and, in some cases, may include medication. Parents and children or young people often feel isolated and unsupported when the parent is unwell, which can increase distress and anxiety across the family. We always want to prepare children for new and different situations. If Daddy has a great support system (which it sounds like he does) then he may not want or need to go to therapy, and that’s perfectly OK. Is this a secret? They might continuously ask “Why?” until they feel they have the information they need — but sometimes it still doesn’t stop there. Do I have a mental illness? I think that this is so important. Can’t we just all play together? When your child does not understand what is happening in the family they can worry, feel alone and misunderstand the situation. You know your child best so you can judge what and how much to explain. Our bodies are constantly sending us messages about our emotional state: we might get teary-eyed when we are sad, or feel our ears get ¨hot¨ when … When explaining to a child about how a mental illness affects a person, it may be helpful to make a comparison to a physical illness. I don’t see the need for you to go, however if that’s something you would like to look into, then I will fully support that decision. Some kids feel more comfortable talking and asking questions when playing or doing something else while others prefer a face-to-face sit-down talk. Now that the brave decision to seek therapy for your child is made, the next question is how do you explain this appointment to him or her. Mental health in early childhood. Being informed also lessens the anger, confusion and surprise they might feel if they are left to discover the illness on their own, or if someone else confronts them with negative comments about their ill parent. Kid. This is key to starting on a positive tone. I rarely ever feel lonely. For example, there is a popular Disney movie my kids love called “Inside Out.” This movie emphasizes our emotions and how our minds work at a level our children can understand. My therapist likes to help me achieve these goals. I believe the same applies here. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. They need to understand that their mommy’s or daddy’s illness isn’t caused by anyone’s actions. When a parent becomes mentally unwell, it can be difficult for them to explain to their child what is happening and for the child to make sense of their parent's behaviour. Our struggles are neither right or wrong, good or bad — but how our children view our reactions to these struggles can be determined as good or bad. People who have a cold are usually able to do their normal activities. She still loves us, but she just can’t show it right now.”. If you feel that mental illness is shameful or someone’s fault, your child will pick up on this regardless of what else you tell them. I didn’t feel responsible for her illness but I did feel responsible for looking after her. It’s got to be individualized to the situation and people. If you are a parent, then you already know how curious little ones can be. Sometimes life just happens that way and it wasn’t because they were bad kids. Explain as simply as possible how your mental health affects how you feel and how you behave. Here are some tips to help you get the conversation going: Before talking to your child, try to get as much information as you can about the illness your important person is struggling with. Other trusted adults can be helpful when explaining your mental illness to you child. date with the latest Hey Sigmund news and upcoming events. Not only that, but be completely educated on the subject of my condition as well. We want to squeeze every delicious moment out of them and keep them ... document.getElementById("eeb-933098-257698").innerHTML = eval(decodeURIComponent("%27%6b%61%72%65%6e%40%68%65%79%73%69%67%6d%75%6e%64%2e%63%6f%6d%27"))*protected email* © 2021 Hey Sigmund | Digital Marketing by Excite Media | Content Share Guideline | Privacy Policy. Managing mood and behavioral symptoms and bearing a child’s suffering are compounded by navigating a healthcare system that treats psychiatric illness so differently than other serious illnesses that affect children and teens. The internet increasingly provides a source of information for children and young people to find out about topics that they don't want to … I’m surprised by their new level of emotional intelligence and how well they are handling this condition I live with. Mental health services. My mum had depression and nobody sat me or my sister down and talked about it. As a result, many parents opt not to bring up the issue reasoning that it’s better not to confuse or stress their kids. In order to improve communication with your child and get them to open up to you , you need to be flexible about where and when this conversation takes place. Terms. Having good mental health is a key part of overall wellbeing for children and adults alike. Here are four ways to teach your kids to care for their mental health: 1. Similarly, conversations with your child about mental illness are meant to help them make sense of their experience. Communication is the utmost important thing, and I find it extremely difficult to live with mild to severe symptoms around my kids and not tell them why or what is going on. Benton suggests describing depression along these lines: “It’s normal for people to feel sad sometimes. It can impact on all aspects of their life, including their educational attainment, relationships and physical wellbeing. Your mental health professional can also give you advice. Some people find it hard to talk to kids about mental health, because they’re worried the topic might be upsetting, they don’t know how to talk about it or they think it’s something kids don’t need to know about. We collect our thoughts and emotions for a moment, then calmly discuss our feelings with one another before things escalate. If anything, you help me in many ways you don’t ever realize. I explained that having our codeword in place and using it will help me tremendously, thus giving my daughter the understanding that she plays a huge role in helping me feel better. Child health is a state of physical, mental, intellectual, social and emotional well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Children may not want to talk specifically about their mental health, but about the struggles and issues in their daily lives (Mental Health Foundation and Camelot Foundation, 2006). If you are trying to understand your illness, or need to talk about your experiences, find an adult that you trust, a health professional or a peer worker. Here are some guidelines that can get you started. They may view it as “bad” or “wrong.” But I’m here to tell you it’s not. When we teach children about mental health, we have to understand that we are not teaching them to diagnose disorders, or even look into their own heads to determine if they are at risk. Right?!). We want to hear your story. One of the most important things you can teach your children is to recognize what they are feeling and to express their feelings in words. Kids usually have their own interpretation of what’s happening so it’s a good idea to ask how they explain their parent’s behavior, listen empathetically then build on what they say while correcting any misconceptions they have. Children and teens can develop the same mental health issues or conditions as adults, but they may express them a bit differently. Consider grandparents, other family members or good friends. Also, talk to your child when you are feeling relatively well. They may not understand the full extent of these things but they don’t need to at this age, in my opinion. Do we stress you out? I don’t have to take medicine for it, but I choose to because it helps make my moods or emotions less intense. I’m surprised by their new level of emotional intelligence and how well they are handling this condition I live with. In my children’s book about mental health awareness, Binky Bunny Wants to Know about Bipolar, Binky Bunny sees Mama Bunny sleeping a lot and wonders why she won’t wake up and play with him. Parents should be aware of their child's needs, concerns, knowledge, and experience with mental illnesses. Why are you not happy when you’re around us — don’t we cheer you up? Emphasize that it’s normal and ok to feel sad, angry, embarrassed or frustrated and encourage them to find healthy ways to express those feelings . Below I list an example of several questions my kids asked me when I opened up to them about my mood disorder. Keeping your routine consistent, especially when living with someone with a mental illness, will help your children feel safe. These conversations help your child understand the family situation and make sense of what they are experiencing. 1. I was about 10 years old at the start of it. Sometimes things on TV or my phone can put me in a bad mood, and that doesn’t have anything to do with you. Whenever possible, the child should be involved in treatment decisions. My first thought when deciding to open up about my condition was, “They are not going to view their mother as being a strong woman, they will see this illness as a weakness.” However, through recovery, I learned having an illness does not make us weak. I don’t believe so, no. When children scrape their knees, they know it’s an injury that needs to be treated. It is a powerful way to reduce the stigma surrounding it. It may push your limits at a time that is already challenging. Having an open, honest discussion will help your child trust you and will clear up some of the misconceptions they might have about the situation. Untreated mental health problems can disrupt children’s functioning at home, school and in the community. Responding to child mental health issues. But when they suffer from something mentally, they might not know it’s just as important to have their minds cared for too. Here's how to talk to your kids about taking care of their minds just as much as their bodies. What his sister and the rest of the world didn't know was that Bob had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness.His psychiatrist suggested we keep Bob home from school and wrote a note stating Bob was a threat to himself and others. By offering even the most basic information to a child about mental illness, you're opening the door to understanding, acceptance, and compassion that they may not have had access to unless they … Explain as simply as possible how your mental health affects how you feel and how you behave. Recognising the signs that a child may be struggling with their mental health can be really hard. All children and young people should have someone they can talk to about whatever they’re going through, regardless of whether they have a mental health condition. Otherwise, go to your GP or speak to a health visitor. So I decided to open up about my mental health condition. Mostly things that happen to children don’t lead to mental health problems on their own, but traumatic events can trigger problems for children and young people who are already vulnerable.Changes often act as triggers: moving home or school or the birth of a new brother or sister, for example. Being a parent can have its stressful moments, but in general, no — you do not stress me out. After I collect my thoughts, I would absolutely love to play a game together. Well, mommy isn’t feeling well right now, that’s why she’s acting grouchy and crying a lot. Mental illness in children can be hard for parents to identify. My kids know I attend therapy and take medications to help regulate my emotions. 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