Depression is a difficult and painful process for people. However, not only adults are subject to this condition – the child can also experience depressive feelings. Not all parents know how to behave in a situation where children experience emotional distress. Watching this, adults behave, most often, in this way: they try to distract the child, to occupy him, to cheer him or not to pay attention to his emotional state. When a child is depressed, this reaction negatively affects the child’s psyche.
By what signs can one understand that children are not just upset or saddened by life events, but are experiencing depressive feelings? What should be done first of all to help the child and what should not be done in any case? Answers to these and other questions can be found in this article.
Causes and manifestations of depression in a child
The reasons depressed in children:
- Divorce parents.
- Difficult family relationships, constant conflicts and quarrels.
- Child experiences emotional or physical trauma of violence.
- Loss of loved ones as a result of moving, separation, death.
- Bias and unfair treatment of a child at home or at school – pressure on the psyche, harassment, bullying, ridicule.
- The estrangement of close adults – an indifferent attitude to the child’s personality, his needs and feelings.
- The consequences of trauma, such as experiencing a strong fear or humiliation.
A child, unlike an adult, does not have the ability to analyze his feelings and condition and does not understand what is happening to him. Being depressed, he tries to lead a habitual way of life, however all his mental and cognitive processes at this time are subject to the capture of strong and painful feelings. By what signs can we understand that a child depression?
- Refusal to play or lack of positive emotions during a game activity. If you watch a child at this time, it will become clear that he is manipulating objects — dolls, cars, other toys — automatically. Everything that he plays does not evoke an emotional response in him. A depressed child is difficult to please or surprise with something – feelings of joy in him are frozen.
- The presence of fear and increased anxiety. Children may fear death, loneliness, strangers, confined space, darkness, silence. A child in this state is worried about his life and everything related to him – his parents, other close people, his toys. This anxiety has an unconscious nature, and parents can sometimes perceive it as a character trait.
- Aggression aimed at the outside world – the child fights with peers or parents, bites them, not controlling themselves at this time – and auto-aggression, when children consciously harm themselves. The latter is manifested in the application of cuts by a blade or a knife, pulling hair, shots, bruises. In the early school years and closer to adolescence, the child may engage in self-destruction through alcohol, drugs, and the use of other toxic substances.
- The child is a small adult. Another side of depressive behavior in children is the complete absence of children’s spontaneity, freedom, activity in the personality. Such children resemble little adults or even old people – they are always focused, calm, restrained. The stress that the children are experiencing at the same time does not let them go for a minute.
- Sleep disturbance – screams, insomnia, nightmares.
- Refusal to eat.
The presence of one or more of the listed symptoms may indicate that the child is depressed. In this case, parents need to pay attention to the recovery of the child’s psyche with the help of:
- love and attention;
- involvement in the life and activities of the child;
- developing and correctional classes with a psychologist.
What causes the neglect of depression?
- Stop in development.
- Increased aggressiveness or auto-aggression. In the saddest finale – a suicide or accident.
- Increased physical injury.
- Aggravating feelings of guilt.
- The growth of anxiety, which over time will block all cognitive and intellectual processes so that the child can not live normally, be vigorous and active, like his peers, learn, get involved in hobbies, enjoy life.
- Severe diseases of the nervous system.
- The risk of mental illness.
Games with parents
A game for a child is a means of knowing the world and a way of interacting with it. It is necessary to know parents when they want to help a child overcome depression. However, it should be understood that attention and joint games will not get rid of depressive manifestations, if the conditions in which the child lives do not change – they are unsafe for him, destructive, he does not feel loved and needed, feelings that originated as a result of psychological trauma did not “come out” out.
To understand how the game contributes to the improvement of the emotional state, it is necessary to determine what worries the child. If, for example, he is worried about the separation of his parents and is now hardly seen with a close friend, to whom he is very attached, then you can play a game in which the puppets and animals in the plot must part, but the life of each of them is not it ends: they write each other long letters, make phone calls, make presents with their own hands and send them with the help of a pigeon post, “carry” each other in their hearts, from which they feel their intimacy, compose sad songs or poems that help express emotions.
If a child is experiencing psychological trauma as a result of the death of one of his loved ones, then helping him overcome this stress can be practiced with a specialist – a sand therapist, an art therapist, a fairy tale therapist . Sand, visual tools – pencils, felt-tip pens, clay paints – help to express feelings of pain, suffering, anger. The child through them as if “pulls out” the pain out, examines it, gets to know her closer and releases with time.
Fairy tale therapy for children
Psychological help for a depressed child can be effective without medication. In order for him to recover, it is necessary to improve relations in the family, the emotional background of the mother and father, the normalization of their relationship to him. Since the parents for the child are the closest people on whom he hopes and relies for many years, the strong emotional connection with them can have a healing psychotherapeutic effect.
Not only a psychologist can use fairy tale therapy in working with a child – parents can also use this fascinating and useful method in tandem with a specialist. Listening to fairy tales, playing them, children transfer their own experiences to the stories of the main characters and, watching you cope with similar life difficulties, unconsciously use their experience. It helps to accept the fact of crisis or loss, to hear your painful feelings and to live them. Only after passing through this stage, children get the opportunity to start enjoying life and feel truly alive.