Has your child been acting out lately? Have they been complaining about COVID-19 and not seeing their friends as often? Wouldn’t it be nice if children came with an instruction manual for when they may need a tune up? They may be depressed. Some children express anger and outbursts as a way of managing underlying depression. It is always best to get a professional if you are unsure yourself.
If you have correctly identified your child is struggling with depression, then you are one step closer to getting them the help they need. Finding purpose can help, figuring out what will drive the motivation for change, along with helping to let go of feelings of emptiness or loneliness. Some practical steps will be to schedule regular social time (socially distanced), exercise as a family, regular prayer, and good sleep. That last one may need to have strict boundaries around screen time and electronics. See previous blogs on how to address this topic.
If you would like to have conversation with your child you can talk to them about what they think their purpose is, and if they do not know then you can direct them to your own values and how you learned about purpose and meaning. You may have found it in work, helping others, spiritual connection, family, or something else; maybe you are still looking yourself and you can help one another. Too much time inside, away from people, and when your child is distance learning all day, is a recipe for depression. You can get in front of it or help them get back on track by being an active, curious, empathetic parent. There may be other things going on in your child’s life that are beyond your scope or they don’t know how to put into words due to their age or development, and that’s okay.
As always if you need support, reach out and contact a professional who works with families or children.
Alan Godfrey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #102925.