Dealing with Depression
Have you ever been depressed? If so, you know what a deep pit depression can become. If you as an adult have difficulty coping with depression, imagine how a young child feels! Children often have emotions that are bigger than they are. They also have limited control over their lives. When parents aren't getting along or peers are not being as friendly as we would like, its a sure recipe for depression. Though there are many causes of depression, there are also many ways that you can help a child dealing with depression. Some of the tips below should help you to be the light at the end of the depressed child's tunnel.
- Let the child know you are a support system for them. Though it may bring tears to their eyes when you say it, they need to know that someone is there.
- Focus on the positive things the child does. Sometimes depression can take a child so far down that they forget they are good at anything at all. When you place your focus on these things, it reminds the child that they have skills to be proud of.
- Speak with the parents if possible. It may be that the parent doesn't see what is going on with their own child. Perhaps they have their own issues to deal with and haven't noticed the changes. Be careful not to criticize the child or the parent. Instead, express your concern in a non-confrontational manner.
- Sit down and create simple goals with the child. No matter how small the goals are, its important to have a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. Make sure to have measurable goals. Setting a goal of "smile more" is not near as effective as "smile 10 times today" can be.
- Encourage the child to look to the future. Discuss their dreams with them. It could very well be that life is unpleasant at home and the child needs to create some dreams for a future they can deal with.
- Put some color and music into their life. Color and music are known to boost moods. Play some upbeat music during craft or cleanup time to help create a fun mood.
- Encourage activity. When a person is depressed, sometimes its hard to just get up and moving. If need be, take the class on a walk to look at leaves or flowers as a way to get the depressed child motivated. Let's face it, some exercise isn't going to hurt you or any of the other kids either!
Above all, be reliable and compassionate with your students. When home life becomes a burden, students need to know that there is a place they can be where the rules are unchanging, compassion is present and an authority figure treats them with respect!