COVID-19 is not only affecting people’s physical health, but it is also taking a toll on our mental health. Believe it or not, one of the age groups that are having a difficult time coping with the situation are teens. It’s primarily because they’re getting anxious with the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to them amid the pandemic. At the same time, this is the time that you’re used to having company. Therefore, the lockdown makes them feel isolated and sad.
As a parent, it might be challenging for you to decide on what approach to take. Take note that with you swooping in does not mean that everything will be okay in an instant. However, there are things that a parent can do to ease what they’re feeling. Here are some of the ways you can help your teen cope with depression.
Be A Supportive Parent
“You might be frustrated that they seem down and irritable a lot of the time and don’t seem to be doing much of anything to help themselves. But if there isn’t much in their life that is making them happy, or something intensely disappointing has happened to them, it’s understandable that they might avoid things they used to enjoy and retreat to their room. Depression makes even doing the smallest things more difficult,” shares Stephanie Dowd, PsyD.
Therefore, your role as a parent is to try to be as empathetic as possible. You can do this by putting yourself in their shoes. Send a message that you are validating their emotion and trying to understand what’s causing their negative emotions. Make sure that you are not there to try to solve the problem. Instead, you are talking to them to give your love and support.
Bring The Possibility Of Treatment
Whenever parents bring up the possibility of treatment, teens react most of the time negatively. The reason behind this is that there is a connotation that treatments are only for those who have uncontrollable and severe conditions. Of course, this is not true.
Therefore, it is your job to patiently explain what it is for, what to expect, and what the possible outcomes are. Once your child understands the ins and outs of the treatment, it will be easier to comply with this strategy. You may even encourage them to make small decisions connected to this, like taking charge of setting up their next session. This way, they’ll feel more in control.
Since face to face might not be the best recourse now due to COVID-19, you may look for alternative medium for treatment. Teletherapy can be your number one option.
Prioritize Physical Health
Keep in mind that physical and mental health will always be connected. If your teen has poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, and inactivity, there is a bigger chance that they’ll feel exhausted and depressed. As a parent, your primary role is to combat these unhealthy habits. You can do this by doing the following:
- Limit Screen Time
Children these days often go online to distract themselves and find an escape to what they’re feeling. However, the higher their screen time is, the lower the time they allocate to face time with families and physical activity. At the same time, continually seeing the news about the global pandemic will only give them anxiety.
- Encourage Them To Exercise
Always get your teen active since exercise is a critical factor for good mental health. Ideally, children at this age should get approximately 1 hour of physical activity per day. You may even join them so they won’t feel bored and miserable on their own.
- Promote 8 To 10 Hours Of Sleep
For their mind and body to function correctly, they need to get at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep. If they don’t engage in this, they’ll most likely be moody and tired for the rest of the day. Those things will burden their mental health.
- Cook Balanced And Nutritious Meals
Parents should also make sure that their teens are consuming nutritious food. They need this to boost their mood and reach their optimum brain health. Make sure to prepare meals with fresh produce, healthy fats, quality protein, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid giving them starchy and sugary food since these will only have a negative effect on their energy and mood.
Admit it or not, it can be physically and emotionally exhausting to parent a child with depression. The best way to go about this is to avoid doing the blame game. Instead, make it clear that you are always there for him or her no matter what happens.