Children and adolescents are currently more vulnerable to depression due to the prolonged isolation from this pandemic. However, parents can help their child prevent or manage symptoms of depression by noticing the warning signs, being there for them and encouraging the use of healthy coping skills.
Warning Signs to Look Out For
Not all parents know when their child needs help with their mental health. So, let's look at some of the warning signs for the onset of depression.
- Mood changes that are unusual for your child. For example, it could be an increased feeling of irritability, anxiety or anger.
- Behavioral and communication changes. For example, you may notice that your child has begun to communicate less with peers, avoids communication on social networks or does not want to communicate with relatives for no apparent reason.
- Lack of interest in usual activities. For example, if your child abruptly abandons their hobbies for no reason.
- Trouble falling asleep and waking up.
- Physiological change, such as weight gain or loss due to increased appetite or lack of it.
- Unwillingness to study and a decline in academic performance.
- Bad memory and concentration.
The above symptoms may indicate that it’s time to get your child professional help. You can start by talking to them about how they are feeling, and if your suspicions are confirmed, getting them professional help. While you may not want to have them go to a mental health professional in-person, there are many that are seeing people remotely and most insurers are covering teletherapy the same as they would for in-person care.
How to Help Them Cope
In addition to getting them professional help, you can also help your child learn and practice healthy coping skills.
The relationship with your child plays a significant role. You need to establish trust with your child, and for that, you need to be able to talk openly with them and show that you can help. It will also show them the value and benefit of speaking openly about their mental health, which is a very important coping skill.
Start with Yourself
If you are lamenting every day that you are tired of self-isolation, or you tell the whole family how many infections there were per day, it might negatively impact your mental health. It’s important that you practice healthy coping skills to set a positive example and to be more emotionally available to help your child.
It can be stressful and overwhelming for a child that the usual way of life is not available. It is vital here to explain that there are potential benefits during this isolation as well as many alternatives to their normal activities. For example, if your child is very socially active and cannot do without communication with peers, tell them can stay up later than their normal bedtime if they want to talk to their friends on the phone or over Zoom.
Set a Social Media Schedule
Isolation has digitized almost all interactions and it is important to remember that social networks can be harmful to a child or teenager's mental health. Talk to your child about creating a social media schedule so that it will be easier for them to return to the old schedule after the end of quarantine.
It is also important to give your child attention. The more live communication you provide, the less desire the teen will have to disappear on the Internet. Create evening entertainment for the whole family. This can be board games, table tennis, cooking and so on. The key is to find entertainment that will interest them.
Reward Your Child for Academic Success
If you notice that your child is losing the desire to learn because of distance learning, then come up with good motivation or encouragement. For example, you can incentivize your child by offering gifts, prizes or their favorite meal at the end of the school week if they stay on task.
Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time in your backyard during isolation can be helpful to boost their mood. But it will be even better if you arrange a family trip outside your home at least once a week. Go to the forest or river, where it will be safe to spend some time, take a walk and get some fresh air. It can help your child feel less isolated to go out into the world. Time outside also reduces stress and is a great way to spend quality time as a family.
Remember that a period of isolation is a good opportunity to improve your relationship with your children and give them the attention they need. If they are struggling with their mental health, don’t lose hope, you can help them get through the tough days of this pandemic.
Anna Medina is a specialist in different types of writing. She graduated from the Interpreters Department but creative writing is her favorite type of work. Now she improves her skills while working as a specialist at writing service review websites including Pick the Writer and Writing Judge. She also has social media training, emails accuracy training and offers assistance and basic writing tips for students all over the world.