Depression is a serious medical condition that can rob a child of many of the precious moments that make growing up a special part of life. Occasional sadness is normal. If such an emotion persists for weeks or months, however, the child may likely suffer from depression.
Identifying Childhood Depression
A child may suffer from depression if they are ill-tempered, unhappy, reserved or do not enjoy activities that normally bring them pleasure. Depression can affect a child physically, causing them to rapidly loose or gain weight. A depressed child might also spend too much time sleeping. The most troublesome symptoms of childhood depression are feelings of desperation, insignificance or guilt and potentially suicidal intentions.
With this in mind, it’s important that caregivers understand how to deal with childhood depression. The following 5 tips are a few examples of effective practices for helping children who suffer from the condition.
Tip 1: Establish Clear Rules and Consequences
Instituting clearly defined rules, and sticking to them, is an important first step in helping a child suffering from depression. While establishing firm rules may seem like a basic parenting practice, many individuals struggle to uphold the disciplinary rules that they establish. Equally problematic is when a parent does not fully disclose their full disciplinary expectations to the child. Despite the child’s age, parents should establish and define rules clearly and individually. The younger a child is, however, the more important it is to take these steps.
Tip 2: Create a Reward System for Positive Behaviors
Rewards are a positive reinforcement for desired behavior. A child must earn a reward so that they experience the benefit of forging ahead with something that they feel is a challenge. For this reason, caregivers should associate rewards with specific positive behavior.
Parents should use positive reinforcement whenever possible, especially when a child has followed established guidelines. It’s important, however, that caregivers do not use material items as rewards for positive behavior. A much more effective reward is to play a game with the child, take them to a favorite play area or give the child verbal praise.
Tip 3: Consider Taking Courses on Behavioral Therapy and Analysis
As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to understand a child’s mental capabilities. This is vital so that caregivers do not mistake certain acts as intentional disobedience. Although this does occur, children exhibit difficult behavior more frequently due to natural developmental growth factors. Understanding how children respond based on their developmental stages makes it easier for parents to react to challenging behaviors objectively.
Tip 4: Seek Professional Help
Parents who believe that their offspring suffer from depression should learn more about how the condition affects children. Consulting with a child behavior specialist is a smart move for concerned caregivers. A specialist can provide the parent with the information needed to talk to a child about how they’re feeling.
It’s beneficial to take these steps as soon as a child exhibits possible symptoms of depression. Fast intervention facilitates fast recovery from symptoms of depression.
Tip 5: Spend Time With Them
A strong bond between a parent and their child is a powerful foundation for successful behavior management. Children respond better to a parent’s wishes when a strong familial bond exists. A good way to establish a bond with a child is to spend quality time with them, such as participating in fun activities that are completely unrelated to disciplinary issues. Quality time should revolve around games, dialogue and activities that build a familial bond. This bond makes it easier for parents to manage behavior issues.
While these tips represent a few of the things that caregivers can do to promote mental and behavioral health for their children, it’s equally important to encourage good sleep habits, diet and social interaction with peers in the same age group. It’s also vital to insure that children conform to treatment plans for depression as prescribed by a qualified physician. Finally, if a child suffers from depression, parents must provide emotional support so that their children understand that their condition will improve with time.