Kids aren't the greatest communicators. It can be truly difficult for them to be able to tell us as parents what is really going on in their brains, but that doesn't mean they aren't subconsciously trying to tell us what is going on.
Kids do say the strangest things, and maybe it's time that we looked back on our own childhoods, and started actually listening to what our kids had to say because we should all remember what it was like to be in their shoes.
An online mental health community was asked to share there own memories of what they used to say to their parents when they were dealing with internal issues, and here are some of the more potent answers that they gave.
1. I have a headache.
Headaches are real, even though I really don't remember getting them as a kid myself. If your kids are saying they have headaches all of the time, it's time to seek a medical opinion. But if they are saying they have headaches during specific activities or time frames, there is likely another underlying cause, just listen to what they are saying. If the headaches are frequent, please seek medical attention for your child.
2. I'm tired.
If my children are to be used as a baseline assessment, kids have a ton of energy. And if yours regularly don't, you need to figure out why. If you suspect something is physically or mentally causing them to be tired or lethargic, take them to see a medical professional as soon as possible, because sleep is important. Using the "I'm tired" excuse in order to get out of tasks or activities can be an early warning sign of something else going on.
3. I'm sorry.
Isn't it annoying when someone continually apologizes for something that they shouldn't be sorry about (cough cough Canada)? Well how much could a child actually have to be sorry for if they are continually apologizing? Maybe it's their way of coping, or maybe something else is going on behind the scenes that you need to be paying attention to.
4. What's wrong with me?
Anytime someone asks you this question (especially a child) and it has nothing to do with their physical health, you need to take notice and try and figure out what is going on. Do a little digging on your own because kids aren't going to be able to tell you exactly what is going on with them.
5. Is it time to leave yet?
Kids love being out and about doing stuff, so when they start asking if it is time to leave yet there are a couple of possibilities. One, they are generally tired and want to go home, or two, something is bothering them and they want to extricate themselves from whatever is bugging them. You need to figure out which is which.
6. You do it.
Avoiding even the most mundane tasks can be a warning sign that something isn't quite right. Imagine asking your child to answer the phone, or go tell their siblings something, and they continually try and avoid doing it. Not because they are lazy or looking to disrespect your order, but because the idea of doing this might be stressing them out significantly.
7. I don't feel well.
I tried pulling off being "sick" in order to get out of going to school, usually on days when I knew that something I didn't want to deal with was going on. Kids love to see their friends and get out and do stuff, so when they are faking sick so that they don't have to go, it is time to start asking why. Especially if it becomes a bad habit.
8. Can you leave a light on for me while I sleep?
Kids are generally scared of the dark, it's almost universal, the dark can be scary for those young ones who don't understand that there is nothing under the bed or in the closet that is going to come out and hurt them. If they start getting older and still want to have a night light, or ask you to leave the hall light on overnight, there might be something else going on that you need to find out about.
These are not the be-all-end-all of codes for children dealing with anxiety or other mental health issues, but they are a good start to trying to understand what your children are really trying to say to you.
Share this piece with your friends who have children. Who knows, maybe this will help them understand what is going on with their kids when they are talking to them.