Mental health is a topic that can be hard to talk about with your kids. Even as adults, sometimes it’s hard for us to open up, not to mention the societal stigmas surrounding it (which make absolutely no sense). But that’s exactly why we should. Think of it like going to the bathroom. You could choose to hold it in and keep doing what you were doing until the dam finally breaks. Or you could just go to the bathroom and release the pressure. We know that starting this conversation is hard and might be a little awkward. But the earlier your little ones learn that their feelings are important and talking about them isn’t something to be embarrassed or ashamed about, the easier it’ll be for them to open up and talk to you about anything without feeling scared. Here are a few ways you can get the ball rolling:

Make it relative: 

Img credits:

There are a lot of technical terms when we’re talking about mental health that your kids may not be familiar with or really understand. So, depending on their age, try weaving the conversation with the things that they would relate to like a character from a book or movie that they like. We all teared up when Mufasa fell off that cliff so use that to connect with them. Asking them to draw how they feel is another great way to help them express how they’re feeling. 

There are no stupid questions: 

Img credits:

The most important thing to keep in mind when talking about mental health with your kids is always validating their emotions. Since they’re new to this, they’ll most probably have a few questions and it’s your job to help answer them the best you can. Some of the questions might be a curveball but that’s just because they themselves aren’t sure how to articulate what they want to ask. And some might be extremely forward because kids don’t really have their filters in place all the time. That’s where honesty becomes the best policy, but in a way that they understand.

Leave it open-ended: 

Img credits:

For some kids, opening up might not come as easily. That’s where open-ended questions like “What was your favourite part of the day?” and “Is there anything you felt sad about today?” come in. They not only show that you’ve been paying attention to them but also help them give you a more natural, thoughtful response. 

As parents, we always want to keep our babies safe and happy. But the truth of the matter is that they’ll have their own struggles and emotions to deal with, just like us. And letting them know that they can talk to you about anything goes such a long way. Yes, it might be a little awkward or uncomfortable at first, especially if you yourself have trouble opening up. But talking about their emotions should never be something they think twice about.

Written by Aashna Khanna