When I picked him up from school he got in the car and said "Today was the worst day in my life. I feel bad today Mommy." I asked him what was wrong and he said "Not like that. I feel bad like you feel a lot of the time." He was clearly able to articulate that there is a difference between physically feeling bad and emotionally feeling bad. I could tell he was in a bad mood and sad so I asked him if he felt sad and angry. He said yes and he didn't want to go to soccer tonight because he felt so bad. So I told him when I feel that way it is always best to do something I like so he should go to soccer because after he gets there, he will like it. So he asked me "What else do you do to feel better Mommy." Then we thought up a plan together to put him in a better mood and get ready for soccer.
|Jeffrey at soccer. Photo by Jeff Norris|
One of the hard things about having mental illness and having kids is that when something like this happens, you worry your child might have your illness. However, we have to remember that our problems are not their problems. Worrying they may have an illness means we run the risk of giving them more problems than they really have and over analyzing them. Instead we need to remember they are just kids learning to navigate life. If something really is wrong it will show up at home and at school and if you are talking to their teachers, they will let you know.
So, don't panic when your kids are having a hard time. Use your knowledge of how to handle emotions and share that with your kids. Let them know that we will all feel sad or angry at times and there are things we can do to handle those emotions and not let them ruin our day.