Teaching your Child about their Mental Health Concerns

hand-in-hand-2070764_1280

The empathy a parent feels towards their child is a powerful entity. It’s more than simple recognition of a mental health concern but rather a first-hand experience of their child’s adversity. This makes witnessing their child’s frustration more difficult, as the complexities of managing mental health makes their chaotic time of development more stressful. It is significantly complicated for children to comprehend the what and why of their daily struggles, but initiating a conversation about their mental health can offer comfort and guidance.

Giving their challenge a name

Mental health education is an important tool in helping your child build a habitual awareness of their adversity. Providing information about their concern can help it take a more concrete shape. Mental health manifests in unique ways for every individual and as it progresses, your child can begin to feel damaged compared to their peers. For children in the midst of navigating social development, this perception can lead to isolation. Providing your child with the name of their challenge can help make sense of their situation and alleviate any anxiety induced by perpetuated mental health stigmas.

Connect the dots between cause and effect

Introducing the name of their mental health concern opens up the opportunity to use the term in deeper dialogue. The goal of educating your child about their adversity is to provide them with explanations for their feelings and behaviors. Help your child flesh out the different feelings they experience during a given day by asking pointed questions. Focusing on experiences during specific points in their routine will help them more effectively reflect on their mental health. Mapping out a variety of these experiences and explaining the connect to their unique challenge will diminish the belief that they are inflicted by an abnormal, spontaneous occurrence.

Debunking conversations others have about their challenge

People talk. It is a natural part of being human to immediately react when faced with new information, typically resulting in the sharing of opinions. Uneducated opinions about mental health can be particularly harmful to your child’s self-esteem. Address common myths associated with general mental health as well as stigmas surrounding their particular challenge. This will expose them to conversations about their challenge and help them effectively weed out misinformed or negative ideas.

Empower them to use information for advocacy

It’s okay to not be okay every day. During emotionally overwhelming moments, opinions regarding their mental health may feel heavier. This can lead to to an unhealthy self-consciousness. A bruised relationship with their mental health can create debilitating behaviours, such as apologising for their emotions or heightened senses of embarrassment and social anxiety. Giving them the confidence to use the education you’ve provided in order to inform harmful dialogue can condition an advocacy mindset. Standing up for their mental health will be intimidating, but creating responses for specific situations can alleviate anxiety. Offering an approved script can serve as guidance for incorporating their new understanding of their mental health concern into their life beyond home.