Before my child was diagnosed with a depressive disorder (aka depression), the only experience I’ve had with it was in adults. I knew the predominant mood was sadness, so wouldn’t that mean it’d be the same for a child? Wrong, in children the predominant mood is irritability. I believe if more people and parents knew that one fact, more children(and families) would be able to get help. Instead of a child getting written off as having over-activity, aggressive and antisocial behavioral problems.
We continue to learn everyday about what works and doesn’t work for my son, but we have learned a ton over the past couple years. If your child has recently been diagnosed, or you’re just looking for some new tips to try. Keep in mind not every child is the same, but maybe one of these will work for you.
- Difficulty just ignoring things; noise canceling headphones are a great easy tool to have at home and at school, fidget tools are also good tools to have at home and school great for anxiety.
- Set a safe zone; designate a spot your child can go to when he/she is feeling irritated or embarrassed and set it before something happens. Their bedroom at home, a chair right outside their classroom door or the office, a bench at the playground. Just remember to talk about it with your child before, so they know where and that they have a spot they can go to for a cool down period.
- 504 plan; if you don’t have one already, talk to your child’s school and Dr to get one set up. This will really help not only your child but your child’s school. It is tailored to meet the needs of your child.
- Keep your laughs to yourself, unless… You could simply be laughing because your kid said something cute or funny but unless they’re telling a joke don’t laugh. They are being serious and they will get embarrassed and that could/will lead into a meltdown.
- Learn your child’s cues. This is probably the most important one, sure you may think you already know them all, and maybe you do. Hear me out. Grab a piece of paper and start jotting down things that set him/her off, ways to calm them down, things that work for them. When you’re done make a couple copies give it to other adults that are around your child.
- Diet. No, I don’t mean put your child on a diet. Eat foods high in B12 and folate, or take vitamin supplements. They are known to balance the mood.
- Crowds may not be the best choice if your child is already having a irritable day. As well as any function that is overly stimulating. If it is mandatory they have to go, don’t forget those headphones, fidget tool, chewing gum, something to keep the calm.
- Talk with your child; this one’s important you want your child to know they can trust and come to you to talk. Whether they’re feeling sad, embarrassed or irritated. Let them know your there to listen and/or help and give them tools to help themselves.
- Discipline. Chances are you have to get after your child at least once in their lifetime ;) But a child with depression/anxiety, you don’t necessarily discipline them definitely but how you do it is very important. The best way to discipline a child who embarrasses easily is to take them aside, away from the people who they think are watching and laughing at them.
There are so many other ways to help a child with a depressive disorder, these are just a few. Learn your child and your families needs. You are your child’s biggest advocate!
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