5 Ways To Help Your Child's Depression
Depression is more than a bout of sadness that you have to deal with. It's a sensation that makes you feel hollow on the inside. Unless you've actually dealt with depression, you're not going to understand what it means to feel "hollow". It feels like being trapped inside of your own body while it's on autopilot. You don't feel motivation to do anything, and it can be hard to form important emotional bonds because of the apathy that it causes. This is especially damaging to developing children who are still developing emotional and social skills.
1.) Talk To A Professional
First and foremost, if you're noticing a change in your child's behavior such as lethargy, apathy, and an unwillingness to interact with others, you should seek professional help for them. Depression is a condition that should be taken very seriously, and if your child is facing depression it's in their best interest to have a professional walk them through the depression. The tips in this article are not a replacement for a medical professional who has spent years perfecting their practice.
2.) Learning Art
Art is a skill that has been a part of human society for arguably longer than civilization itself. It's also one of the most effective ways to deal with depression, and since children are more creatively inclined than their older peers, it should be easy to talk them into taking this hobby up. Art isn't limited to only painting or sculpting. It ranges from creative writing all the way to realism drawings.
A good place to start is with something simple like macaroni art or a recorder flute. Anything that allows your child to express themselves in a creative way can be considered art. You just have to find what stands out to your child the most and help them stick with it so they always have an outlet.
This tip will be better if you yourself are already artistic. Having you there helping them will help strengthen your bond, as well as make your child feel loved. Children with depression often don't feel like they're appreciated, nor do they feel like they have a place in the world. In the introduction paragraph of this article, it was pointed out that depression feels like an emptiness. A lot of that emptiness comes from not having purpose in life and feeling unwanted. Spending time with your child while doing art can help them suppress these feelings while giving them something fun to do with you.
If your child isn't particularly drawn to creative activities, there's still other options for giving them an outlet to deal with their depression. It may seem boring on paper, but it doesn't have to be. The reason gardening can help your children with depression is because it gives them something other than themselves to be concerned about. It also gives them an opportunity to spend time with you as they're learning a new skill. This parent/child bonding time can also be therapeutic for your child.
Instead of jumping head first into gardening, it is recommended that your child start with something small and simple. A good place to start is growing a seed into a flower. A good starter flower for your child would be something like a sunflower. Sunflowers only take 14 days to sprout from their seeds, and only about 80-120 days to grow to full size. Fast growth is important because it will keep your child interested in the project long enough to get them into the idea of growing other plants.
4.) Keeping A Journal
If your child is old enough to write, it might be beneficial for them to keep a journal. Getting thoughts down on paper is one of the most tried and true methods of dealing with internal struggles. When your child can see on paper what it is that's bothering them, they'll start to workout ways to deal with these problems in whatever way they see fit. While it's not a replacement for medicine, keeping a journal is a good practice to have if one is suffering from depression.
You should sit down with your child and help them write their first few pages so they understand what it is they should be doing. After that, you should remind them to write in their journal at the end of every day so they can get their thoughts down on paper.. You should also make it known that you will never read what's in their journal so they write down what they're really feeling. It won't be beneficial if they're not being honest with themselves about their negative emotions and why they feel them.
5.) Spending Time With Them
There is a common theme with all of these tips, and that is they are meant to help you and your child get closer. Even if you can't talk your child into doing any of these things, you can at least spend time with them doing nothing but watching their favorite cartoons or even going for a short walk. Ask them how they're feeling, how their day went, and what they think they can do to feel better. Really get to know your child so you understand where they're coming from. Bonding with your child is one of the most important things you can do, and this is especially true if they're suffering from depression.
You want to make them feel wanted, loved, and supported so they know everything is going to be okay. You also want to show patience with them. Depression isn't something that they're going to snap out of, and you're going to face a lot of resistance trying to get them to open up to you. Don't snap at them or punish them for keeping you closed out.
You also don't want to be overbearing on them either. You have to be tactful and compassionate when you approach them about their mental well being. They won't understand what depression is, but you can help them understand it by talking to them about it. You also want to be sure that they know that they aren't broken for feeling the way that they do.
Below is a book that would be a great resource for your child/teen.
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