Kids go through a lot. Whether it’s a parent’s death, a divorce, or someone bullying them at school, kids are often left to their own devices to cope with the upheaval. A child with depression often seems to follow the same routine. One day they’re happy, the next they’re sad. One moment they’re playing, and the next they’re sitting by the window looking out at the rain. It can be hard on them and their families, but what you do know is that it’s going to have a big impact on your household too.
As such, there are plenty of ways we, as parents, can help our children cope with the blues. Here are five ways you can support your child who is struggling with depression.
Get to the Root of the Problem
If your child is having a hard time processing the world around them, it’s likely that the root of the problem is waiting to be discovered. You don’t have to “assume” why your child is having a hard time. As a parent, it’s important to get to the root of the problem.
If your child is having trouble with a particular area of their life (i.e. they’re having trouble with school, they’re struggling with friends, they have low self-esteem, etc.), start there and work your way forward until you help them resolve the issue.
If you can’t pinpoint a clear reason for the way your child is feeling, you may want to sit down with them and have a heart-to-heart talk about what’s going on in their heads. Once you understand what’s causing your child’s depression, you can work towards helping them overcome it.
Find Activities That Can Lighten Your Child’s Mood
There are many ways to lighten your child’s mood, especially when they are feeling down or depressed. One great way to do this is to play. Whether it’s the family board game that your child loves or a new card game your child is trying out for the first time, you can always find something fun to do.
Finding a way for your child to exercise is another way to help him or her feel less depressed. It can be anything, from riding a bike with a friend to doing some Tai Chi (or any other type of movement that can provide a quick fix of endorphins).
Having fun, simple activities that your child is capable of doing will help them feel less down and give them a sense of well-being. They may even discover that they have an awesome new hobby.
Regardless of your child’s preferences, you can always find something to do to keep your household physically and mentally active. This can not only give your child something to look forward to, but it can also help them deal with their emotions better.
Don’t Force Things
One of the best things you can do for your child when they’re feeling down is to let them talk to you when they are ready to. In fact, this may be one of the hardest things for parents to do.
Asking and insisting that your child just start talking about their problems can feel a little like shouting at them, and they may even resist letting you know the issue.
That’s why you have to be patient with them. However, when your child is ready to talk, be ready to listen and help them out. This way, they will understand that talking is a safe way to get help.
Teach Them How to Cope With Emotions
As your child gets older, they are more likely to experience emotions such as joy, sadness, anxiety, etc. This is normal and healthy, but it can become overwhelming for them at times, and they may be unaware of how to control their emotions. That’s where you come in as a parent. It is your sole responsibility to teach your child how to manage his or her emotions.
One way to do this is by teaching them coping skills. It can be anything from dealing with stress in their personal lives to handling bad moods at school. Another way to help your child cope is to teach them self-esteem. This can be as simple as putting a self-esteem poster in their room or decorating their lunch box with stickers that say “I’m awesome”.
Another way to help your child feel good about themselves is to give them something to look forward to. This could be as simple as taking them out to dinner or heading to the park with them. Offer to help out with chores or schoolwork when you’re able, so that your child knows that you care about them and that you’re there for them when they need you.
Engage Your Child with New Things to Learn
Learning new things is a great way to keep your child engaged and interested in the world around them. It can also help them to develop a sense of confidence and self-esteem, which are great tools in overcoming depression.
However, it’s important to remember that learning new things can be hard work. This is especially true for young children, who are still learning how to process information and make sense of the world around them.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your child is able to engage with new things in a way that is both fun and easy for them, especially if your child is an active learner. Let’s say you’re a grandparent and you decide to teach your grandkid about personal finance, like how to calculate reverse mortgages, for example, in a fun and exciting way. You can do so through online means like teaching them based on this calculator or perhaps designing a fun method that will help them learn it better while taking their minds off of what’s bothering them.
Finding new and exciting ways to teach a child new things can be a very effective tool in keeping their minds busy and reducing their anxiety or depression levels.
Find a Friend they can Confide in and Be With
As a parent, when you notice your child is finding it hard to make new friends at school or in the neighborhood, it’s your duty to help them find friends even when they are not willing to or are not confident enough to do so.
It’s important you find a friend for your child who they can confide in and be with while you’re not there. A friend can be someone who is willing to listen, encourage, play with, and support your child. They can help them feel more comfortable and less depressed when they are having a tough time.
A friend can also help your child feel less anxious when they are feeling overwhelmed by any situation, and they can talk to you about what your child may be going through, even when your child is unwilling to do so.