Finding the right way to talk to your kids about mental health can be challenging. In fact, many parents even put it off altogether. But speaking to your kids about mental health early on is extremely important – it helps them get comfortable with the topic and talking about their feelings before it’s too late.
Experts emphasize the importance of starting conversations about mental health rather than mental illness. Here are some tips on how to start the conversation:
Bringing it up
A good way to ease into the topic is to start talking to your kids about everyday life. You can use something that your child is already interested in, like art that conveys certain emotions, as a good starting point and example. You can also watch a movie or tv show that features a character with mental health challenges. This is a good way to start the conversation in a positive light.
Finding the words
Experts suggest finding a way to explain to your child that a mental illness is no different than a physical illness. This comparison may help your child better understand why mental health is so important.
Keep it age appropriate
No age is too young to start talking about mental health, as long as it is age-appropriate. Just be careful not to overwhelm your child with statistics and difficult definitions. Make sure to emphasize that there is no stupid question. At the end of the day, you are the best judge of what your child can handle. Use words that work for them and don’t scare them, but don’t feel like you have to downplay anything.