I first noticed our daughter’s depression the summer between her freshman and sophomore year in high school. My once active and giggly girl who’d spent her childhood bouncing from one new activity to the next had suddenly lost interest in everything. All she wanted to do, it seemed, was sit on the couch and play video games. This concerned her as much as it did us.
She would, however, pick up a colored pen and doodle every once in a while. Believing if she felt successful in one area, her confidence would bleed into other areas, my husband and I began investing in her creativity. We purchased numerous art supplies, engaged her in conversation whenever she painted or drew, then prominently displayed all her projects.
This helped in a few ways. First, it gave her something she could feel proud of, which helped counter some of her negative thinking. Second, it provided a positive, casual way for us to connect. And third, it helped her practice a powerful self-care tool, one she still practices now that she’s an adult.
7. Stay with them.
Sometimes our kids’ sorrow and anxiety is situational. Maybe they’re grieving the loss of a friend or navigating a challenging life transition. Still others will battle mental health challenges for most if not all of their lives. They might not be pleasant or fun to be around. They might even push against our efforts to help, telling us to leave them alone.
Don’t listen. They need you, perhaps now more than ever.
During that rough summer I referenced earlier, my daughter wanted to stay in her room most of the time. But my husband and I knew we needed to find a way to get her out at least once a day. As he was at work most of the time, that job usually fell on me. And my daughter was not a fan. In fact, there were times when I felt as if she hated me. But she didn’t. That was simply her depression talking, and years later, she thanked me for not giving up on her.
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