Should you share this information with your child?
A few years ago, some of IFC’s therapists sat down with our Clinical Director, Ritamaria Laird, and had a conversation about diagnoses and children. They worked through many of the questions caregivers may ask themselves when it comes to sharing a diagnosis with their child. The article is long, so we decided a condensed version would be helpful.
A lot has happened since that original conversation. Awareness about mental health seems to be increasing and stigma decreasing. As such we decided a refresh of the article was in order. We kept this version short and sweet, but if you want to dive into the longer conversation and read more in-depth about what they had to say, check out the full-length blog here.
We’ve compiled some pros, cons, and alternatives to sharing a diagnosis with your child. Of course all of these things should be read while keeping your child’s developmental needs in mind and considering how best this information fits into your family’s values. You can always ask your IFC therapist what they think is best for your individual child in your next parent session!
Possible PROS of sharing a diagnosis:
- Can help normalize a child’s experience
- Can help fight against the stigma surrounding mental illness
- Would we hide a medical diagnosis?
- Brings awareness to unseen illness, disability, & tribulations
- Can point to external reasonings for life’s challenges
- Paves a way to join and connect with newfound communities
- Provides answers to unknowns and insecurities
- Gives more control to the child
Potential CONS to sharing a diagnosis:
- For some, believing that a diagnosis is who you are, can be detrimental
- Manifestation of different symptoms
- Overthinking their own behaviors
Alternatives to sharing a diagnosis:
- Focus on naming symptoms and behaviors
- Making sure to externalize the challenges from the child themselves
It’s all about figuring out what’s best for your unique child, and talking with their therapist, doctor, or psychiatrist about the options you have. Yes, there are many important factors to consider, but you are not alone in making these decisions!