Being a kid is tough these days! Our high pressure world demands action and results from people starting at such a young age. It can get overwhelming and depressing. As parents, it is our job to recognize depression in our kids, and help. Some symptoms of childhood depression are apathy, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, behavior changes, and sadness that does not go away. If you feel like your child may be depressed, they need to be seen by their pediatrician. Being proactive is important to get them the assistance needed to feel better.
There are plenty of things that can be done at home, as well.
1. Diffuse citrus essential oils. Lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime, and bergamot oils are all great for elevating moods.
2. Play Native American Flute music. The flute is the oldest known musical instrument. Listening to the tones of the flute helps kids to connect with their spirits and relaxes their bodies as well. Even better, let them choose their own flute to play at home!
3. Create a “Worry Jar”. Help your kids create a special place for their worries to go, so that they don’t have to carry them around. A quart mason jar works great. Provide paint, stickers, markers, sequins, glue, etc. to decorate the jar. Keep the jar in a place that kids can access it without help, as well as small pieces of paper and pens. Encourage them to write or draw their worries down, and put them in the jar whenever they feel like they need to. Once in a while, let kids help pour all of the worries out and burn them in a safe place.
4. Do your best to engage all kids in some sort of exercise. Swimming, biking, yoga, Tai Chi, and hiking are all good ones to try. Depressed kids may not be self-starters when it comes to exercise, so you will want to exercise with them. Make it fun, easy, and reasonable to keep them engaged. Exercise is a known mood elevator, as the brain releases vital endorphins during movement.
5. Keep your space clear. Homes that have a lot of heavy energy are depressing to everyone. There are a lot of great ways to clear space. Consider trying smudging, clearing with basil tea, or drumming. Best of all, space clearing is fun for kids to help out with.
6. Provide access to great nutrition. Fresh fruits and vegetables are powerhouses for kids that need a boost. If you have kids who struggle with eating fruits and veggies, try providing options for dipping. Peanut butter, Ranch dressing, Greek yogurt, and Nutella are all popular dip items at my house.
7. Keep an eye on social media. According to bullingstatistics.org, over half of teens and preteens have been bullied online. Additionally, most kids don't tell their parents when they have been bullied. If your kids have Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc, then you should as well. If you don't know how to use them, learn! If you have kids, you live with a bunch of tech experts, after all. Keep an eye on what they are posting and how people are responding to them. Kids are usually not emotionally mature enough to navigate the complicated waters of online relationships, and they may need your help.
8. Screen time depression is a very real thing. According to Psychologytoday.com, children who are exposed to too much screen time are frequently impulsive, moody, lack in attention span and suffer from depression. It is important to help kids find ways away from their phones, TVs, tablets, etc. There should be some expectation daily of electronics being put away to work on other things, as well as a time at night that they are retired for the evening.
Provide love and support to struggling kids without displaying worry. Do your best, and remember, your love and acceptance is the biggest gift that you can possibly give your children.