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How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Mental Health

If you have a mental illness, and your symptoms are kicking into overdrive, is it best to hide it from your kids or have an honest conversation with them? I’m going to share my non-clinical opinion.

Kids are very astute. They may not pay attention to a lot of what we parents have to say, but they observe every nuance of our behavior. It’s hard to hide things from them. They know when something’s up. They just know. 

Think about when you were a kid. I’m sure even today you could recall when your parents were acting differently and tried concealing the source of their demeanor. Chances are it would have been healthy for you and the family unit to know what was going on. 

If you live with depression, anxiety, a personality disorder, or any other mental illness, it’s appropriate to sit your kids down and have an open discussion. It’s not a display of weakness, nor is it foisting your problem onto them. However, you do need to have a strategic approach. 

First, you have to be in the right place, which means that you’re being properly treated and managing your symptoms. If you’re in the throes of an anxious episode, get through it first, then have the talk. It’s a good idea to leverage your therapist on how to have the conversation. 

Second, comfort your kids by assuring them that you are okay. Younger children, especially those around the ages of 6 and 7 commonly experience Thanatophobia, which is the fear of death or dying. It’s a primal fear, and it makes sense that they’ll worry that they may lose you. Emphasize that you are getting help and therefore taking care of your health. 

Third, explain what your condition is to them. If you’ve discussed a sick relative with your kids, like a grandparent who has cancer, then you can educate them about your mental illness. If you have an anxiety disorder, you can say that the reason why you get distracted or exhausted is because you’ve been feeling anxious feelings that make you worry a lot. 

Fourth, give them the space they need to absorb all this. Rather than immediately checking for their understanding, allow them to process, and when they’re ready, they’ll likely come to you with questions. If they don’t approach you after a few days, you can ask them how they feel about what you discussed. 

It’s important to note that your child’s age is a significant variable. The younger they are, it’s better to keep the conversation high level, and the older, you can go into more detail. Definitely see what your therapist has to say about it. 

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About the Author, David Telisman
I am a Writer and Content Creator with a passion for mental health awareness and advocacy. I have written extensively on the subject, in addition to serving clients in other verticals. I understand that you deserve to feel proud of how your content marketing looks and what it says, and I deliver by providing expert copywriting and digital marketing solutions.



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