Let’s talk about kids’ mental wellbeing.
We all want to feel that kids can come to us when they have a problem. Everyone is vulnerable to be struggling with their mental health right now because of how different and scary the world has become. But kids’ mental wellbeing isn’t an easy topic to approach. Talking to children about the effect this could have on their mental health seems a bit intimidating but there are ways to do it and its really important you do.
Spreading awareness about how we can deal with mental illness better is my passion. It’s essential we have these conversations at all ages because poor wellbeing is damaging at any age. After doing some reading and research I am going to share with you three tips for talking to kids about mental health.
Number one is to create a positive and comfortable atmosphere. It is a difficult topic but it is something kids need to be able to talk about openly. The stigma around mental health is a real issue and its something you should break down. If kids can see you are uncomfortable or dismissive of the topic, they are going to subconsciously learn that struggling mental health is bad and not something we talk about.
My second tip is to adapt what you are saying appropriately. There are complex medical names and explanations of mental illness but kids don’t need to know all that to understand mental health. In fact, it can make things more confusing for them. Use language they already know and scenarios they are familiar with. Make what you are saying relatable to their experience so they can get a grip on the concept. Their understanding will grow as they get older and you have more conversations about wellbeing.
Tip number three is to use analogies and stories. Kids love stories and can gain a lot of insight into the world because of them. There are lots of dedicated books out there (Dr Lucy Maddox wrote What is Mental Health? Where does it come from? And Other Big Questions) but you can adapt their favourite characters too. Analogies like the black dog have been popular for years. Equating mental health to physical health is something we are still struggling with. They are just as important as each other and kids need to understand how to cope with both. Physical health analogies are more familiar to them and can aid in their understanding.
If in doubt, ask for help. There is lots of information out there to help us have these important conversations and equip children with what they need to cope. I would recommend checking out Young Minds. I hope this has given you more confidence when it comes to kids’ mental wellbeing.
On the sidebar, there is a link to receive a free poem! ‘The World and Me’ is a positive affirmation poem for kids. If you like that, I have come out with a pack of three short stories about kids overcoming change and dealing with difficult emotions. You can buy it HERE.