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How to Teach Your Kids About Mental Health at Any Age
Being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs in the world, but it can also be among the most rewarding.
While it is your job to help teach your children about everything, from good manners to how to tie their shoes, how to maintain good mental health is often overlooked. Overshadowed by the countless other topics, teaching your kids about mental health is an important part of raising happy and healthy children; and isn’t that everything a parent wants for their child? Especially in the age of social media and people struggling to manage their mental health during the coronavirus crisis, now more than even you should be talking to your children about mental health.
The Best Ways of Teaching Kids About Mental HealthBecause mental health is a topic that is often neglected, it can be hard to know where to begin. You likely do not know how to talk to your teenager about mental health or what level of understanding your toddler will have on the topic. Because this can be unfamiliar, our mental health facility in Florida is sharing some tips on how to teach your kids about mental health no matter what their age.
Start A ConversationYou may have never discussed mental health with your children before, but it is never too late to start a conversation. You want your children to feel comfortable coming to you if they are struggling and a good way to do that is to make speaking about mental health normal. Start bringing up the topic more regularly to make it less taboo and encourage your children to join the conversation.
Open CommunicationAfter starting a conversation about mental health with your kids, you eventually want to have open communication with them about it. Not every child will be so willing to share, so there are other ways of opening the doors of communication. Some parents have “mailboxes” outside their bedroom door so their children can write notes to them. This form of communication is less intimidating than face-to-face talking and makes it easier for your children to approach you.
Don’t JudgeThe best way to get to a place of open communication with your kids is not to judge them. When your children come to you, just listen. Do not overreact or scold them. Mental health is a personal subject, if you want your child to keep coming to you with their problems, you need to make them feel comfortable.
Teaching Aids & ResourcesYou do not have to teach your children about mental health entirely on your own. There are plenty of mental health resources for kids of every age group. Find a book about mental health for your child that is age-appropriate. Use the movie Inside Out to help little kids with mental health. Recommend a podcast about mental health to your young adult. You can even look for mental health information for parents that looks at discussing mental health with children. Take advantage of the many resources out there and find something that works for you and your children.
Lead by ExampleNo matter what age your children are, they learn from your example. If you are always visibly stressed and too busy to take a break, your children will notice. This will reinforce the idea that mental health should take a back seat and your children will likely struggle with the same problem. Instead, talk to your children about the ways you prioritize your mental health through exercise, meditation, reading, or taking a bath. Start setting a good example. If you need more professional help yourself, get it. Your children will learn to follow your lead.
Break StereotypesThere are many mental health stereotypes and misconceptions out there. Instead of perpetuating these stereotypes, you should try to break them. Teach your children not to use words like “crazy,” “coo-coo,” or “insane.” Remind your kids that putting your mental health first sometimes is okay, asking for help is okay, not always being fine is okay, and taking an occasion mental health break is okay. The more you normalize mental health, the more willing your children will be to come forward if they have a problem and prioritize their mental health.
Get Them HelpAs a parent, you can only do so much. If you start to notice problems with your child’s mental health or you believe they may have a mental health disorder, do not hesitate to get them help. Although anxiety and depression are common among young adults, professional mood disorder treatment could help your child cope with these issues instead of ignoring them and letting them potentially get worse.
No matter how old your children are these tips on how to teach your kids about mental health could go a long way. The sooner you start teaching your kids about mental health, the more you may be able to help. Not only can they learn how to manage their mental health on their own, but also you may be able to catch problems earlier.
If problems do arise, get your kids help. As a residential mental health facility in Boca, we help people 18 and over cope with various types of mental health problems so they can move forward with their lives. You could help your children find a brighter future.