Can a Child be Depressed?
I read a great article in Psychology Today titled, "Why Kids' Depression Goes Unnoticed." The author, Alison Escalante, M.D. stated that parents don't see the signs and when they do, it might be two or three years later. Parents have trouble differentiating between the normal ups and downs of childhood and real depression. To complicate the issue, often kids don't tell their parents. Why not? Five reasons:
Parents don't listen. Parents get distracted and don't really hear what the child is saying or won't make time to listen.
Parents try to fix them. Rather than listen to the emotions, parents try to fix the problem.
Parents don't check in again. Afraid continued talk may increase the depression, parents just ignore it and hope it goes away. (It doesn't!)
Children protect their parents. The child is afraid to add another burden to already overloaded parents.
Give your child the time and space to talk about their feelings. And normalize those emotions by telling of times you felt the same way. Emotions are neither good nor bad. They just are. It's what we do with the emotions that make it helpful or harmful. Expressing my anger is healthy. Hurting another person with words or fists because of my anger is harmful.
Listen, listen, listen. Empathize and normalize the emotions. Your kids will be much more apt to come and talk to you.