6 year old’s take on mental health

My eldest is 6years old. Yesterday we were painting her nails. A rare moment of girl and girl interaction, especially since the baby was born. It’s often at moments like this that she talks away without question or akwardness at my adult ears listening. It’s at times like this that she often comes out with her best thoughts.
I commented on how long and strong her nails always are, somewhere along the line she has picked up on this being a sign of healthiness and so she commented “it’s because I eat vegetables and it makes me healthy”. I humoured this turn in the conversation and asked what else she can do to be healthy, she added that she could do exercise. I smiled and thought nice thoughts in my head; about how right on she sounded. But she continued. I suggested there could be other things she could do to be healthy and she thought on this before exclaiming “I could try and laugh every day! Then my feelings would be healthy”. I was surprised and internally bursting with pride that my daughter recognises the different types of healthy. I encouraged this and agreed that keeping our minds healthy was a great idea and wondered if she knew any other ways….. She surpassed my expectations by suggesting that telling someone her worries could help.

Now I’d like to be clear; this was a 5 minute chat. Though the professional in me could have carried on probing, excited by my daughters apparent emotional literacy,the mother in me stopped and allowed her to lead the conversation back to what colour dots should go on her painted nails. I would also like to reference that last week was anti-bullying week and my daughters school acknowledged this with assemblies and the like. My girls comment about sharing worries is undoubtedly from this. Still it makes me absurdly happy that my little girl is even aware that the mind (or ‘feelings’ in her words) needs to be kept healthy alongside her body and, so proud that she can think of (brilliant) ways to do this. Laughing every day…… Yes that would be great actually and I hadn’t considered it.

What I could have gone onto chat about with my perceptive 6 year old is that we have family who feel sad and that these healthy mind ideas would be great for them. But I didn’t and I believe that I don’t need too because that’s where here perceptiveness comes from; her innate awareness of those in our family who struggle with their mental Heath and that the mind is in need of looking after just as our bodies are.

It shows me how easily children can take this truth on board and that at 6 you don’t need to be scared of mental health or sufferers’ different behaviour because if it is talked about and explained just as healthy bodies are then it just makes sense. I hope my other two children will follow their sisters footsteps and that we, as a family can continue to foster the idea of good mental health ( or happy feelings).

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