This is a sponsored post on behalf of Center For Youth Wellness.
When it comes to kids, we tend remember the importance of their physical wellness, but we forget about their mental health. Childhood mental health is a subject that is often put to the side, or completely avoided, even in our home.
With 3 children learning and growing at a rapid pace, my husband and I had to really pay attention to all of their spurts, including their mental ones. We now have a teenager in the house, and we took a moment as his parents to re-evaluate if we’ve done a good job at taking care of his mental wellness. Hormones are kicking in, and we want to assure him that what he’s feeling is valid, and what he may be thinking may not be (depending on the source of those thoughts). Why is this important to me, as his mom? Because I still remember what it was like being young and not having support for mental health.
How To Talk To Kids About Childhood Mental Health
Recently, I learned about the Center For Youth Wellness, and I immediately wished I had this resource when I was younger. My parents and I went through a very tough time during my adolescence, and I know it was because we didn’t have an open conversation about mental health, stress health, and the toxic stress I was experiencing daily. But, I decided not to repeat history with my own kids. Here’s how to talk to kids about mental health, and create an environment where they will feel encouraged to share any toxic stress they may be experiencing now.
- Assess their feelings. As parents we default to the usual phrases of “stop crying” “you’re OK” or “It’ll be fine.” This is an easy and unfortunate way out of important conversations you should have with your kids. Instead of putting a verbal band-aid over their feelings, allow them to speak openly about them to you.
- Listen first. Again, we love to fix things for our kids, including how they may be feeling about a situation, interaction, or just the usual growing pains any kid goes through. Set a special time of the week, or day, where you sit with them and just listen. Don’t ask questions, don’t start of the conversation. Sit there, open your ears and heart, and let them talk about whatever they want with no judgement.
- Release the stigma, and share your story. Kids forget that we were kids once, too! Share with them stories where you felt overwhelmed, unheard, afraid, or when your mind what telling you falsehoods about yourself and your capabilities as a person. These are experiences every kid goes through, and it’s helpful for them to see that everyone, including mom and dad, has felt that way.
Watch this video for more information about the effects childhood mental health has on our adult lives:
We’ve used the starting points above to get our kids to open up to us even more than they already do. We know that a child’s mental health will affect their mental health as an adult, so having these conversations means a lot to our family.
To find more resources for starting conversations about childhood mental health with your kids, check out https://www.stresshealthnow.com/. We’ve enjoyed using this website for talking points, and to learn how we can release or remove toxic stress from our children’s lives.