Good mental health is a critical part of everyone’s well-being, young and old alike. But whereas adults are often better able to recognize and communicate their struggles, children don’t always know how to express themselves as well. It’s up to parents to be proactive and recognize signs that something may be wrong.
All kids have good and bad days. Their mood can change in the blink of an eye. But when they seem to have trouble shaking feelings of sadness, anxiety, rejection, or negative thinking, this can be a sign of something more serious such as depression. There are other signs to be aware of as well:
- They’re overly sensitive. Do little things seem to make them upset, or they make a bigger deal of something than it really is? Do their emotions and outbursts seem to be extreme? This can be a sign that they’re having trouble managing their feelings.
- They withdraw from activities they once enjoyed. Things they used to get excited about and enjoy doing no longer make them energized and keep them engaged.
- They complain of aches and pains, but you can’t find any physical reason behind them.
- Their school performance is suffering. If they used to be a great student but now they’re missing assignments, not completing their work, getting in trouble in class, or having trouble staying focused, these could be signs of depression or other issues.
- They seem more tired and lethargic. Instead of running around after dinner, they just lay about or don’t have as much energy as they used to.
Coping with Depression
Take time to talk to your child and find out what’s bothering them. They may not know specifically, but as you talk about their day and what’s on their mind, it may provide more insight. Avoid belittling their feelings – while something may seem insignificant to you, it may not be to them. Help them to work through challenges.
Try to focus on the positives as well. Perhaps they missed a few words on this spelling test, but they aced the last one. And they’re great at math, have a real knack for science, or are a wonderful friend to others. Encourage them to pick out some of their own strengths. If there are areas where they are struggling, come up with a plan together to address these issues and try to turn things around for the better.
Consider seeking counseling so they can get the support they need to overcome depression and more effectively deal with challenges and manage their feelings. In addition, consider that there may be underlying issues, such as learning disorders, ADHD, dyslexia, poor social skills, or other problems that may be contributing to their behavior and mood. PediaPlex offers testing, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for many conditions that may affect your child’s performance and well-being. By addressing a wide range of factors, you can work together to create a plan to address your child’s individual needs.
If you’re concerned about your child’s behavior and performance, contact PediaPlex to learn more about counseling.