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National Children’s Mental Health Awareness: Helpful Tips You Need When Talking To Kids About Therapy


National Children’s Mental Health Awareness: Helpful Tips You Need When Talking To Kids About Therapy

  • Children Mental Health

Each year, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, celebrated on May 7th, aims to raise awareness about the importance of positive mental health on a child’s healthy development. It’s no surprise that in a world with a global pandemic, warfare abroad, and never-ending political turmoil, every child’s mental health is of the utmost importance. Therefore, as a parent, it is crucial to have open, safe conversations with your kids about therapy and other forms of help available to them.

It’s not easy being a parent, especially in 2022. In fact, it’s very likely that if you are a parent in this day and age, you spend most of your energy wondering if you’re doing anything right. Rest assured, just showing up and being present to your kids already means you’re doing better than you think. This article will guide you through five helpful tips when sitting down and talking to your kids about therapy.

Five Helpful Tips

Meet them where they are.

The good news is therapy is becoming more and more destigmatized. It’s not uncommon to watch a T.V. show or a movie where a child is going to therapy or talking to a guidance counselor at school. Take the time to watch shows that your kids are watching. Then either set a time aside to talk with your kids about what they watched or casually bring it up on the couch when the episode ends. This way, your kids feel like they are talking more about a character rather than specifically their own issues. It’s okay to get creative when asking them to think more about what’s going on in their own lives.

Explain that a therapist is like a doctor.

Kids are familiar with going to the doctor when they don’t feel well. So, when you bring up the idea of going to a therapist, explain that it’s very similar to going to the doctor, even though not all therapists have a doctorate degree. Often therapists are seen as “feelings doctors” to younger children, and that can be a great way to articulate it. You can tell your child that there are different “doctors” for different reasons, and a therapist can be a great place to go when we feel sad, upset, or anxious.

Don’t use therapy as punishment.

If your child has started to act out or you find yourself in the middle of a fight with them where emotions are high, don’t say, “I am sending you to a therapist!” If you do, they will see therapy as a punishment rather than a service to help them. They also will likely think something is wrong with them if they must go to therapy because of something they did. You want to keep the idea of therapy as normal as possible.

Consider finding a therapist yourself.

The truth is that almost anyone can benefit from having a therapist. In older generations, therapy can seem like something you do only if something is wrong. But you don’t have to be depressed or anxious to seek out therapy. Some people just find it helpful to talk to someone about the highs and lows of life. Maybe a co-worker brings out the worst in you at the office, or perhaps you and your partner have struggled to communicate effectively lately. A therapist may be a great resource for expressing your feelings and frustrations, or even good things happening! Kids look to their parents to understand what is normal or healthy. If you see a therapist yourself, there is a good chance your kid will see it as something people do for themselves, no different than working out.

Teach your kids that therapy is an act of self-care.

Self-care is becoming rather mainstream on social media, so try teaching your kids that therapy and other healing modalities are an important part of self-care. If you teach your kids about fueling their bodies with healthy foods, adding yoga or movement to their days to take care of their bodies, and getting a good night’s sleep so they feel energized for the next day, explain that therapy is very similar. It’s how they can take care of their emotional wellness, and it’s simply another tool in their toolbox.

The more time you take to teach your kids about the benefits of therapy at a young age, the more likely they are to see it as a positive part of their lives. Explaining to your kids that life will always have lows just as well as highs will help them understand that there is nothing wrong with having emotions like sadness, anger, or frustration. And that all emotions just want to be validated and released. Therapy is a great way to learn how to release emotions so kids can be back on their way to feeling happy, excited, and grateful.

If you are looking for a therapist for yourself or your child, you can reach out to one of our mental health professionals by calling 301-345-1022 or by filling out an online referral form here.

Contact Us Today

To learn more about the services we offer at Advanced Behavioral Health, visit our services page here. Remember, it takes a village to ensure the health and wellness of your child; you are not in this alone. Let us help you and your family find the right resources for them on their wellness journeys.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.