How Can I Help My Depressed Child?
Here are some things you should do if your child is depressed.
LISTEN, LISTEN, and then LISTEN some more. Stop all lecturing and incessant questioning. Instead, find time to be with them and LISTEN. The less you talk, the better chance you will have of actually understanding them.
Get them outside. Physical activity is vital for teens struggling with depression. Encourage them to go for a walk, a bike ride, etc. Go for a walk with them if they will do that.
Limit Internet use. This won’t make you popular but parenting is not a popularity contest. Replace that time with opportunities to engage with your child in positive, healthy activities.
Convince them you want to understand them. Even if they don’t respond, kids do notice and appreciate it when you make statements like “I know you are going through a hard time now.” “I’m here for you.” “I miss our talks.” “I sure do love you!”
Stop all repetitive criticism. Do you tell your child everyday how much you hate their smoking (or some other behavior)? Do you think they have the message by now? Telling them frequently how you feel about their behavior is not having much of an impact. They KNOW how you feel. Find something else to talk about – praise them for something, share fond memories you have of times with them, invite them to be with you for something new. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and create new opportunities to spend time with them. Make sure it is something they enjoy!
Reach out for support for yourself. It can be hard to live with a teenager who is depressed. Find a support group or see a therapist.
Don’t ignore the elephant in the living room. Tell your child directly that you are worried about them – and that you love them.
Check in regularly with their teachers. Be up-to-date on your child’s attendance, behavior in school, peer group, and grades.
Learn about depression. The Internet has tons of helpful information.
Consider coaching designed for teens. Oftentimes, teens resist going to a counselor as they assume it means they are the problem. A coach is far more appealing to a teen as a coaching relationship is not about blame or the past. The two will work as a team, focusing on the future and making clear and obtainable goals.
Karen Wrolson is able to coach teens from across the United States and even internationally. Take advantage of her 30 years of experience with teens and superior educational preparation.
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