For me personally, mental health is one of the biggest topics I plan on educating Grayson on. It’s very close to my heart for a number of reasons and it’s for that reason we’ve tried to teach Grayson all about his emotions from an early age.
Grayson will turn 2 in April, and although there’s only so much you can teach a toddler, they are essentially sponges for information. I’d say for the last 6-8 months, I’ve been explaining peoples emotions to Grayson, an example of this is if someone in a film is crying I’ll say to him “oh no this character is crying because they’re sad, they’re sad because of X reasons” or “oh look how happy this character is!”.
This has meant when we go out and he sees a baby crying he’ll go “oh no, baby sad” and we’ll then explain that the baby is probably hungry/tired etc and they’ll be happy again soon, and he seems to be okay with this. Although it’s only small examples, I feel this is all Grayson needs at his age to start grasping the concept of emotions to set him up to understand more as he gets older.
I think it’s also helped him to grasp an understanding of empathy. Studies show that children start to show an understanding of empathy around the age of 2 (there’s some really good information surrounding empathy in children on the NCT website). Grayson will apologise without being told to, as he’s starting to recognise when he’s done something wrong and we tell him it makes us unhappy, so even though he doesn’t feel the same emotions as us at that time, he understands how we feel and apologises.
It’s obviously very basic stuff for now, but I think it will have been really useful when Grayson reaches an age to discuss real in depth emotions and mental health and hopefully means that Grayson will feel comfortable discussing any worries he has with us in the future.
Do you speak to your children about emotions and mental health?