Whether you as a parent or a family member have a mental illness, it can be a tough subject to discuss with your child. At such a young age, they can have a tough time understanding what it all means and how it will directly affect them. It’s important to have this conversation early to help them understand. Instead of putting it off because the discussion is hard, follow these helpful tips to start talking:
Finding the Opportunity
One of the hardest parts of discussing mental health with your child is finding the best time to have the discussion. An easy way to find an opportunity for discussion is by looking at everyday events or circumstances. For example, if there is a character in a movie or television show that has a mental illness. This can be a great gateway to talking about mental health and answering any questions they may have. Or if there is a situation involving a family member with a mental illness, take the time to talk to them about the incident and what it all means. These can be less intense entry points for a healthy discussion.
Answer Any Questions
Children are naturally curious and will most likely have questions during the discussion. Try your best to be as prepared as possible to have an answer for them. Take time to do some research beforehand so when it comes time to discuss the topic of mental illness, you are able to answer their questions with well-informed and honest answers. Even if you don’t have an answer for them at the moment, make sure to find it for them. By answering the questions, they will feel more comfortable with the discussion and gain a better understanding.
Language is Important
When discussing mental health, it can be easy to get mixed up in the medical terms and sayings. However, there is a big chance your child will not understand any of it. In order to have an effective conversion with them, you need to say it in a way they will understand. By using age-appropriate language when having this discussion, it puts them in the right frame of mind, It’s also important for the conversation to be tailored to their specific age group. Discussing tough topics in an age-appropriate way will ensure they won’t feel overwhelmed or confused about the topic.
Discussing mental illness is a hard by necessary conversation. By talking with your child, this will have a better understanding of mental health and mental illness.