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Old 05-18-2015, 06:55 AM #1
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Default How to tell kids about MH issues

I don't have kids of my own but I childmind and have known two of the children for nearly ten years, and am v close to them. Recently the older one (who's 12) has been asking a lot of questions about my life and mental health in general. He knows I get anxious (and is v good at dealing with it) and that I've had eating issues in the past and was in hospital because of it, but he doesn't know it's still an issue. I spend a lot of time at their house and he's started to notice more about my eating habits and certain behaviours which I try to hide but he's v perceptive. Has anyone else had experience it's kids around that age? Don't want to lie to him but not sure how open I should be!
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Old 05-18-2015, 12:42 PM #2
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Default Re: How to tell kids about MH issues

Most kids this age don't need a lot of personal details about your MH issues. They do notice things and usually simple statements will be enough for them. Have you asked the people who take care of him about this? It seems like I would start with his caregivers first and see how they want to handle this. After all, this child is with them the most.

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I don't have kids of my own but I childmind and have known two of the children for nearly ten years, and am v close to them. Recently the older one (who's 12) has been asking a lot of questions about my life and mental health in general. He knows I get anxious (and is v good at dealing with it) and that I've had eating issues in the past and was in hospital because of it, but he doesn't know it's still an issue. I spend a lot of time at their house and he's started to notice more about my eating habits and certain behaviours which I try to hide but he's v perceptive. Has anyone else had experience it's kids around that age? Don't want to lie to him but not sure how open I should be!
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:02 PM #3
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Default Re: How to tell kids about MH issues

His mum is completely aware and she is incredible- she's the person I'm the most open with. I haven't spoken to her about the kids though, might be a good idea. She knows I don't want to take the kids swimming because I don't want them to see self harm marks on my legs, but I don't think she's mentioned anything to them. I'm close to them as a family though and don't want to lie to them, but at the same time I don't want to affect the kids.
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Old 05-18-2015, 03:47 PM #4
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Default Re: How to tell kids about MH issues

There are swim pants, would those help cover the scars? There's fine line in telling them just enough info. Most kids I know would see a scar, and ask what happened, thinking there was an accident or something. Usually any answer would work and they wouldn't ask more than that because they are moving onto their next thing already. One guy I know has a stab wound on this chest and when a kid I know asked him what happened, he told them he fell on a worm. Everyone laughed and they didn't ask anymore about it. I would be curious what the mom wants to do with this. Older kids would be able to handle the depth of it, but younger ones, it would depend on their maturity. As my kids have gotten older, they are 19 and 20 now, I have added more info about my past child abuse and why I act the way I do because of PTSD. It was gradual thing. If they saw me crying at around 13, I would say I was just sad and it didn't have anything to do with them. (they do worry, even at a young age. Now if they ask, I tell them I had a hard night with flashbacks and am feeling emotional. I am always honest, but only give them enough info that they need for their age.
Good luck! You sound like such a great guy, they are lucky to have a friend like you who cares.

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His mum is completely aware and she is incredible- she's the person I'm the most open with. I haven't spoken to her about the kids though, might be a good idea. She knows I don't want to take the kids swimming because I don't want them to see self harm marks on my legs, but I don't think she's mentioned anything to them. I'm close to them as a family though and don't want to lie to them, but at the same time I don't want to affect the kids.
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Old 05-18-2015, 04:47 PM #5
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Default Re: How to tell kids about MH issues

When I was on the beach in Florida this winter, I saw a lot of surfing guys with swim pants. Some where them in order not to get skin damage from the sun. Some are pretty sporting looking, others are a little scary because they are too revealing to me. lol
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Old 05-19-2015, 05:14 AM #6
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Default Re: How to tell kids about MH issues

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Originally Posted by Creative ToFu View Post
There are swim pants, would those help cover the scars? There's fine line in telling them just enough info. Most kids I know would see a scar, and ask what happened, thinking there was an accident or something. Usually any answer would work and they wouldn't ask more than that because they are moving onto their next thing already. One guy I know has a stab wound on this chest and when a kid I know asked him what happened, he told them he fell on a worm. Everyone laughed and they didn't ask anymore about it. I would be curious what the mom wants to do with this. Older kids would be able to handle the depth of it, but younger ones, it would depend on their maturity. As my kids have gotten older, they are 19 and 20 now, I have added more info about my past child abuse and why I act the way I do because of PTSD. It was gradual thing. If they saw me crying at around 13, I would say I was just sad and it didn't have anything to do with them. (they do worry, even at a young age. Now if they ask, I tell them I had a hard night with flashbacks and am feeling emotional. I am always honest, but only give them enough info that they need for their age.
Good luck! You sound like such a great guy, they are lucky to have a friend like you who cares.
Swim shorts are a really good idea, will look into that for next time... I don't want to have to keep making excuses, and I know they'd love me to go swimming with them (the younger one was really disappointed when I didn't go last time). I think the older one would handle it OK, he's really mature for his age and seems to understand a lot, but I wouldn't want to tell him too much because he kind of looks up to me and I don't want to upset him. I think the younger one is still a bit young. They both understand that I get anxious and are fine with it though, which is amazing. And they don't pressure me to eat more 'normal' food, although I know the younger one would like it if I did because sometimes he says he'd like me to eat pizza or something. Which I would love to be able to do with them, definitely something to work towards. I'd never lie to them though. Their mum is amazing and really understands, and I've said to the older one that he can ask her if he has any questions, but I don't think she'd say anything if I hadn't already. She's relatively open with them about most things so I don't think she'd mind, but I don't want to ruin the relationship with them or for them to think differently of me. Once they're teenagers, I think it'll be different though and might have to be more open with them. So hard with kids! I want to be honest/fair with them but don't want to upset them or make them uncomfortable.
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:40 AM #7
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Default Re: How to tell kids about MH issues

Sometimes it's more a matter of letting them ask. My oldest is 12. I actually have an attempt scar on my wrist from almost 25years ago. It hasn't come up, whatsoever with my kids, yet. The topic has arisen due to circumstances in the community as a whole. Perhaps we worry more about what to say, when it becomes a near moot issue.
Swim shorts work well, I wear due to my own self consciousness over my own body, en vogue, so to speak.
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