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Explaining mental health challenges – how to talk to a child?

Explaining the importance of mental health to children can be difficult, as they don’t understand the concept they have never heard about before. So how to do it?

Many parents decide to avoid the topic because of how broad and challenging this can be, especially for children. However, kids are inquisitive and observant. They notice all the little things adults don’t have time to spot, and they won’t hesitate to ask about them.

We should make sure to support children’s mental wellbeing and help them understand it. Having such a deep and honest conversation needs to be thought out, and you should be patient and prepared for some unconventional questions. These are the things you should do before starting the conversation:

1.       Prepare to talk

It is not an easy conversation. To make sure you can explain mental health importance to your child, develop your understanding of it first. Before starting a conversation, get as much information as possible. Prepare yourself to answer questions your kids may ask.

This will make you more comfortable during the conversation, contributing to what your child is feeling. Children are like sponges when absorbing knowledge, but they can also recognise your feelings.

2.       Step into child’s shoes

Different age of children is responsible for their development stage and understanding. Add considering this issue to your preparation for the conversation. It can be helpful to step into your child’s shoes and try to understand how they might perceive things without overanalysing them. Look for the simple things your kids could notice and consider how they would appreciate it.

3.       Pick a good time

Start mentioning mental health aspects to your children daily. Try to explain a different point of view while approaching day to day activities. Talk about the feelings and emphasise the importance of such conversations while referring to some mental conditions which people might experience and try to show your kids those different perspectives.

There is no easy way to get the conversation going, and you may encounter many obstacles along the way, but this is important. Understanding the world by knowing its flaws can help children recognise their early-stage problems and talk about them. It is time to stop stigmatising this topic and begin to talk about it openly.

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