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Do you talk to your children about emotional wellbeing? Share with the GDST for a chance to win a £300 John Lewis voucher

(399 Posts)
EmmaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 08-Nov-18 10:21:07

There’s been a huge change over the years in how we speak out mental health, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that we need to be educating our children about their emotional wellbeing as well. The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), a family of 25 schools across the UK, would like to hear your views on how we can help children to be happy and feel good in the world.

What do you think affects your children's mental health and how do you talk to them about it? Do you think exam pressure or even entrance exams cause your children stress? Does social media affect your children? Do they talk to you about their emotions or do you approach the topic of mental health if you see them struggling? Do you think mental health and wellbeing should be discussed and taught in schools?

Please share how you talk to your children about their emotional wellbeing and you will be entered into a prize draw to win a £300 voucher of your choice (from a list).

Thanks

MNHQ

Terms and conditions apply

MakeTeaNotWar Thu 08-Nov-18 13:54:57

Watching with interest - DH battles depression and I fear that we don't always model good mental wellbeing / appropriate emotional responses to the children. This is compounded by what they see on TV and on social media. We do talk about emotions so I hope they feel secure in our love for them and also in our openness around feelings that we can maintain honest communications when it comes to well being. I definitely feel that mental health and wellbeing should be discussed at school.

GhoulMythicalMoooaning Thu 08-Nov-18 16:48:09

I have had agoraphobia and anxiety so I have talked to them about mine and how I have got better. They knew about my cbt so I explained what it was about and how it was helping me and so what they should do if they are ever affected by it.

Ds is being taught how to do mindfulness at school so that also generated a conversation or two about how it can help calm your mind if anxious and how it can be a useful tool for mental health problems.

Theimpossiblegirl Thu 08-Nov-18 17:08:00

My DDs are teens and they are so open about mental health and emotional well being. I have always tried to be open and honest about them, we talk about emotions, reactions, ways of coping but also recognising the feelings that they have. They are generally very aware, the school has been really good with its PHSE provision and they have a really good dialogue with their friends too. We are very lucky, I know.

hiddenmichelle Thu 08-Nov-18 17:40:29

They know I am always there for them no matter what and that they can tell me anything. We also try to encourage them to be open about how they are feeling and to discuss any issues that arise and possible ways to cope with situations.

BeatrixLEStrange Thu 08-Nov-18 18:18:25

I try to bring talking about mental well-being in everything we do watching a movie, reading a book and try to get my DD to tell me why she thinks the character is doing that or feeling that.. I suffer from anxiety and often find it crippling to ask for help.. I can see the same traits in my DD I try to encourage her talk about your feelings and let her know we can work out what to do when she tells me

foxessocks Thu 08-Nov-18 19:22:34

My dc are too young really but I just want to keep communicating and not be afraid to say what's on your mind even if it might seem silly.

Fanjango Thu 08-Nov-18 19:41:52

The first rule to understanding how to communicate is to learn to listen, and I don't mean just to what a person says but a whole range of behaviours and clues about the wellbeing of the person. We need to teach children to understand that the words "I'm fine" don't necessarily mean that and to look out for the signs in each other that all is not well. Children should be able to understand that an angry person is sometimes screaming out for help and that the quiet one sometimes is simply too scared to speak out. In recognising the signs in each other we can learn more about the way we express emotion. It's okay to not be okay is something we all need to understand. Mental health is very much part of our family conversations as it has impacted our lives considerably. The lines of communication are always open but often ignored. School has an amazing impact on many, with battles with the stress of the fast paced school environment creates but also the positive side when the school get it right, as a major part of a child's day that can't be understood enough. Social pressures are always very real, social media doesn't always help but it can be a lifeline too, there are apps for children who would prefer to get peer to peer support when things are going wrong and it's good to ensure the kids can access that support especially when they are teens.

BristolMum96 Thu 08-Nov-18 19:44:08

I think almost anything can cause poor MH if not positive for the situation at the time. My child is still young but I hope in future they know they can come to me with anything.

Racecardriver Thu 08-Nov-18 19:45:20

‘Your feelings really don’t matter. I know they are unpleasant and this is just fine. Control your emotions, don’t let them control you.’ There is a reason why my generation is out there claiming that hurting feelings is ‘literal vionlence’. Self control and rationality are the hallmark of a civilised being.

m0jit0 Thu 08-Nov-18 19:47:04

My child is too young at the moment but I hope that in the future she can come and talk to us about anything. Communication is key.

MissingDietCoke Thu 08-Nov-18 20:15:58

My DCs are fairly young but we have a feelings chart up where they can choose a face to represent how they feel inside them and then we might have a chat about it - eg. Why have you chosen the angry face? Because my brother won't share with me and it makes me feel cross and a bit sad. Equally we'll talk about the happy face etc etc. It's a way of representing what they're feeling inside in pictorial form and does help. My DH struggles with his mental health and finds it hard to talk about because he wasn't encouraged to as a child and I'm adamant my children will know that it's ok to talk about feelings and that it helps. And that their mum and dad are always interested in what they feel.

WreckTangled Thu 08-Nov-18 20:50:00

Gosh it's so tricky. I work in school nursing so hear of a lot of MH issues in children, often very young. Despite what the government say there isn't any [money] help being given.

I do worry about my own daughter she is an anxious child. She's only 8 but has already suffered a panic attack. I never use the word anxious, I don't think it needs a label. I acknowledge her worries and we discuss them together and move on. It's important for her to accept and rationalise them. I'm already dreading her growing up and social media etc. I'm considering having a ban on it to be honest, or at least be very strict on when she can and can't use it but it's a few years away yet.

Things that effect her are stories in the news, loud crowded places, places/people she doesn't know. I definitely think it needs to be taught in school about how to look after your mental health.

Shoefleur Thu 08-Nov-18 20:56:42

My kids are still very young so not too much to stress them out yet thankfully. My eldest is a boy and it’s recently been well reported that men in particular seem to suffer in silence in terms of mental health. Having been aware of that for some time, I try to encourage my son to tell me what he needs me to do when he’s upset i.e. son falls over and cries. I sympathise with him and ask him what he needs. He tells me he needs a cuddle and I give him one. In my mind by getting him to explain what it is he needs when he’s upset, he’ll get into the habit of thinking about finding solutions/asking for help rather than bottling up his emotions. Time will tell!

tobermoryisthebestwomble Thu 08-Nov-18 21:48:26

There's a real gender difference in my house. Husband is generally v chill and doesn't seem to experience stress or any kind of mental I'll health. Therefore he never has to model good coping strategies etc, it's simply never an issue. I suspect my teen ds feels things very deeply but he is closed up tighter than a bad mussel! He never talks about his feelings and we have to watch him very closely to get a sense of what's going on with him. When he was younger, around 9, we gave him a notebook to write down his feelings and worries but he wouldn't do that now at 15.

Myself and teen DD are the opposite, I have a lot of stress in my job and have a big toolkit of coping/wellbeing fixes. DD is very articulate about her feelings and seems very resilient. I don't feel I have given them different inputs or role models, they are just different people. I worry about isolation in today's teens, especially for my ds, however I think they possibly seek support from peers in a different way.

del2929 Thu 08-Nov-18 21:51:07

encouraging dc to talk about their emotions.
encouraging dc to discuss things with myself if worried etc
exam pressure is huge nowadays- i dont rem being so fussed about exams back in my day.

Teaformeplease Thu 08-Nov-18 22:19:39

My DD is 5. I've tried to get her to be aware of how she feels and be able to name and express those feelings. She is allowed to be angry or upset but not allowed to hit or break things. I try to acknowledge her feelings and be there for her when she needs a cuddle. It is hard to get it right though as young children can get so upset about little (to us) things.
There have been a few problems in school recently and I've tried to be accepting and supportive. I tell her I love her all the time, even if I'm angry with her or she is angry with me. I'm trying to help her be more resilient and less sensitive to things going wrong.

headfullofdreams Thu 08-Nov-18 22:19:51

We talk a lot about how social media can distort things and how it's not real. It's important to keep talking about anything and then when there's something bothering them they are used to taking so it comes out easier.

Angelous Thu 08-Nov-18 22:56:15

I have a 14 Yr old daughter who is dark haired and has a mustache that's visible when close, it bothered her when some kids teased her in junior school and we had a chat about how she wants to deal with it. We laugh about it now and she tells her friends they are just jealous because they can't grow one!!! I have a son that I've had many many issues with over the years, he swears he hates me but always asks me for advice when it really matters,
I have a 10 year old that's overweight, we cook together, have a laugh, we cry together, talk about how we are going to lose weight together. She isn't embarrassed but girls pick on her. She has an abundance of energy and a personality that lights up the room. My 6 year old craves attention and I has so many questions about lots of things. All of them know that no matter what the problem, no matter how silly they think it is r how embarrassing it may be they can always come to me.
I think by talking about things with your children as topics arise helps them to learn and not fear. I think that if you can be happy in your own skin then that's half the problems solved.
Listen to them even over the smallest of things, make time for them, be silly, remember things that you went thru when you was younger. Never judge them as to them it may be soul destroying.
Every child is different, NOBODY is perfect, if you aren't happy talk to someone, life's precious x

poppyseed2 Thu 08-Nov-18 22:59:28

DD is still young but I hope that we can start early by modeling good communication and openness, and encourage her to do the same as she grows up.

Also, listening to the small things that are important to kids. Helps them bring the big things to you when the time comes.

MrsMisstery Thu 08-Nov-18 23:08:20

My three year old is too young to have exam stress.
I keep him happy by making sure he gets lots of sleep (everything is better in the morning) and by acknowledging his feelings and helping him find a way to deal with or accept that. Where I see fears I gently provide exposure to the situation until he gains confidence.
I would be shocked if a school didn’t cover mental health and well-being these days.

Kleptronic Thu 08-Nov-18 23:49:44

My kid, who previously I would have said was bombproof, recently wasn't dealing with things positively and me spotting it and asking resulted in much anger and denial to begin with. I kept on asking open questions, calmly, in a neutral space, and eventually it all came out. I listened. I listened actively, as in reflecting back what was said. In the end my kid came up with a plan of coping strategies and so far so good, touch wood. It was bloody scary though and I thank all the parenting stars I noticed the struggle and the emotional pain. This kid was hiding it, out of an internalised assumption that it should be coped with. How much of a parenting fail was that.

I would say never assume they really are bombproof. Always ask yourself, does 'I'm fine' really mean that, does it ring true. Pay attention. Listen when they speak, no matter how banal it may seem, they are always trying to communicate even when they don't know how, or possibly might do it in less than positive ways. Be aware that they might not think in the same ways that you do, so you need to try and wear their shoes; be with them. Listen to what they say - don't talk over them, or offer advice, or say 'well I think' - ask them how things make them feel. Try to find ways to explore that feelings aren't facts and can always, always change. Explore what situations/activities/interactions brings good feelings and plan in more of them. Find out ways to identify negative feelings and how to deal with them. Show your love for them by really seeing them, trying to have your eyes, ears and mind open to them.

Easier said than done, I know. And probably unbearably trite sounding.

It's hard for everyone, they're growing and changing and becoming so rapidly, and our vocabulary and discourse is not used to this.

Bumblebeans Fri 09-Nov-18 06:41:50

DD is only 3 but we have tried to encourage her to talk about how she is feeling, we have bought a couple of books about feelings and use these to open a discussion about emotions sometimes

ILiveInSalemsLot Fri 09-Nov-18 07:17:12

I talk to my kids a lot and try to acknowledge their feelings. This is sometimes hard for me as I do have a ‘pull yourself together and get on with it’ attitude too. Sometimes it conflicts with acknowledgement of feelings but I’ll still talk to them about the feelings.
I’m always there for them and I hope they feel like they can talk to me about whatever they want. I always try to support their decisions too.
I’m also mindful of the more practical things that are good for wellbeing both physical and mental. Good nutrition, some exercise, spending lots of times outdoors and in green spaces, not too much screen time but enough that they feel included with friends.
At the moment my teen doesn’t have any social media but I do talk to him about it.

changeznameza Fri 09-Nov-18 09:28:48

Very similar to what tobermory said, gender divide here too: ds aged 15 is closed up and never speaks, won't (can't?) talk about his feelings, I really worry about him.

Dd on the other hand v articulate, she and I talk non stop and she tells me everything. School can be difficult, she is a bit babyish and studious and serious compared to peers, bless her, but she will talk about it at home so I can be supportive and try to help her to put things into perspective.

Mental health & wellbeing should definitely be taught in schools.

I also try to strike balance around exams, find it tricky as I want them to reach their full potential, but at the same time not to get too stressed.

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