Children’s Mental Health Week has prompted a lot of debate about how we can support the next generation, given that one in 10 children has depression, anxiety or another diagnosable mental health condition.*
There is undoubtedly a call for greater intervention in schools via specialist support and new models of working that enable young people to access appropriate services without endless waiting lists. However, there’s much we can do as parents to engage children in healthy, open chats about emotional wellbeing to make it an everyday conversation, not a tick-box exercise. These conversations come from the heart to open up space for trust and honesty so that secrets don’t hide in dark corners, for fear of judgment.
These are the words I’ll share with my children. Choose those that resonate for you, and keep the conversation going.
“Bring curiosity and an open mind – challenge what you are told, especially if it doesn’t sit right with you.
Be who you are and be courageous and bold in living that truth. Nobody can dictate your story – it’s yours to own. But remember it’s just a story, you can rewrite it at any time.
Your inner resilience is always there, it will carry you when you feel confused or lost.
People have misunderstood what it is to be weak. The strongest people are those who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and know when to ask for help.
Failure is just a word. Not getting something right first time is simply an opportunity to learn. There is no wrong decision.
Don’t be afraid of your thoughts and feelings – they are impermanent, like everything else in life. You don’t own them and they’re not who you are. Don’t fight them or try and control them. You have as much chance as trying to control the weather.
Be kind, listen more than you talk.
You’re not what you do, your achievements or the stuff you buy. You’re so much more than that.
You are already whole. There is nothing to prove.
You only ever have two choices in terms of where you come from – a place of fear or love.
Love is greater than fear. Always.”
*Source, the Guardian, Jan 201.
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