Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet. But being a parent of a child or teen struggling with mental health concerns can feel unbearable.
All parents want to do what’s right for their kids, but when your child is not doing well, either physically or mentally, the desire to “get it right” can become even more intense.
If you are the parent of a child or teen that seems to be struggling with depression, know there’s isn’t one “right way” to parent them. Having said that, here are some ways you can support your child during this time.
Accept Your New Reality
For many parents, accepting that your child is struggling with mental health issues can be difficult. It is natural to want to deny the truth and pretend that everything is the way it was before. But invalidating reality will only make your child feel bad. Accepting the truth will help your family take the necessary steps to getting the right help.
Your child needs you now more than ever. They need to feel that they can talk to you when their world feels dark. Let your child know you are there for them and you want to hear how they feel. When they are ready to talk, listen closely and with an open mind and heart.
Check out our blog – 5 Ways to Encourage Your Teen to Talk for more ideas.
Help Their Body
Physical health has an impact on our overall mental health and well-being. Help your child’s recovery by encouraging healthy eating habits and exercise. Invite them to go for a hike or bike ride with you. And finally, help them to improve their sleep by encouraging good sleep hygiene or habits such as limit napping, have a relaxing bed time routine, and limiting screen time right before bed.
Talk to Them About Suicide
It’s a conversation no parent ever imagines they’ll have to have. But for the parent of a teen struggling with depression, the risk of suicide is a sad reality. Start the conversation with your child. Ask if they have ever thought about suicide. Asking these questions in an objective and curious way allows your child to speak candidly with you and share their true thoughts and feelings with you.
And understand that there is no danger of a person planting a thought of suicide in someone else’s mind if it’s not already there.
For more information check out our blog – 5 Things a Parent Can Do If Their Teen is Talking About Suicide.
Though you can be a big support in your child’s life, you may need the help of your family doctor and/or guidance of a trained mental health therapist.
If you or a loved one has a child or teen struggling with depression. We would be happy to discuss how we may be able to help. Please check out our Therapy for Kids page or Teen Therapy page or Therapy for Parents page for more information.