Episode 32: How To Talk With Kids About the Tough Stuff!
By: Jamie Gaddy and Homeschool.com
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Welcome to this week’s episode of the Homeschooling and Loving It podcast. Today we are talking about How to talk with kids about the tough stuff along with staying in touch with your child’s mental health.
Have you noticed your children getting quiet when adults talk about recent events? Have you noticed them get a little irritable after they’ve heard the news? All of those are telltale signs that your child may not be handling these difficult situations well. Many children just don’t have the ability to verbalize how they feel. So with that in mind, it’s important for us to observe them carefully. They may be struggling with how to process what they perceive is happening in the world around them.
How We Respond to Our Child’s Mental Health is Important
These are times that are difficult for us as adults to process and understand, even more so for our children. I know I’ve been personally scared and emotional when watching the news of late. But most importantly, the way we as parents respond to these issues and our children’s concerns will help them be able to process these concerns.
Be Aware of Physical Indicators that Your Child’s Mental Health is in Danger
First, I want to encourage you to be aware of the physical signs of distress in your children.
Everyone deals with anxiety to a certain extent, and at a healthy level, it is an important warning sign for us. However, sometimes, situations can cause our anxiety to rise to unhealthy levels. If you’re concerned your child may be struggling with anxiety, here are several signs of unhealthy emotional stress.
- stomach aches
- muscle tension
How to Nurture a Child’s Mental Health
If we determine that our child is indeed struggling with stress or anxiety we need to help our children right away. Don’t pretend the situation will go away on its own, but do make sure that you have your thoughts and feelings straight before you start. But, it’s vital that we step up and have those tough conversations and help support our child’s mental health!
- Start small. Take a walk together, do something that is enjoyable and relaxing, and begin the conversation slowly. Introduce the topic and then ask them if they have any questions. They may not be able to verbalize their questions, so ask them questions that they can easily answer with a yes/no.
- Make the incident understandable. Use words appropriate for their age and understanding.
- Discuss current events in light of historical events. Use it as a homeschool lesson if possible… but take time to explain all the implications of the event. Explain all viewpoints and discuss the ethical/ moral options.
- In light of the intense spotlight on racial injustice. Take time to talk through the importance of good character and what that means for us to all races, religions, and cultures. It’s often a good idea to discuss how they feel and then even role-play situations where they would be forced to make a decision.
- Use books that teach lessons on character. Homeschoolers love unit studies, this might be a great time to do a unit study on equality and injustice.
- Be consistent with your daily routines, it helps children feel safe when their normal routines remain the same
- Encourage children to draw or journal out how they feel. Children often find it easier to express their feelings in a non-confrontational way like drawing or writing.
- Your child may need your touch more than ever. Be available for lots of hugs and time together. This helps children feel safe and protected.
- Stay tuned… Keep listening and asking questions. Keep looking for opportunities to know what’s on your child’s mind. Each day is different and they may struggle one day more than another.
- Reassure them that what they are feeling is normal and that even though we may not have all the answers, we can work through it together.
About the Series
Where'd my instruction manual go??? I know we've all wondered that about parenting and homeschooling! Join us as we chat about the big stuff and everything in-between! Helping homeschoolers with practical teaching tips to find all they need to Homeschool and Love it!!