Anxiety and depression in children and young people
Do you sometimes, as a parent, worry about your child? Is he/she ok? Have you noticed that your child has become more withdrawn? Do you know their friends?
As parents in the last decade or so, we have more concerns about our child’s wellbeing than ever before. They are exposed to so many different platforms of social media, such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube etc.
There is a greater need for young people to be well liked, popular or be socially accepted. Young people turn to smoking, drinking or drugs as it is sometimes a norm, socially, at parties and events.
The external factors described above are evident everywhere and young people today are exposed to them no matter how much we as parents or caregivers try to manage or control the exposure to them.
So how can we as parents or caregivers ensure that our child is ok?
Communication is important, and keeping the channel of communication open at all times is paramount. Understanding the pressures that your child experiences on a daily basis can help you to connect and empathise with your child.
Empathy builds trust and confidence in your relationship with your child. Your child feels safe enough to share their concerns. As a parent we sometimes want to swoop in to fix things or give solutions. Refrain from doing this, as this may shut them down. Try to listen and ask your child how they feel, what they may want to do or not do. Always check in with them as often as possible; if it is not at the dinner table, try the journey back from school, in the evenings when they are more relaxed over a hot chocolate or in their bedroom if they are refusing to leave their room once they get back from school. The room may be their safe place so ask if you can be invited into this safe zone.
Your child sometimes may not share as much with you if they feel that you are busy with work and family; they may feel that they are imposing or they make an irrational judgement that you are too busy to care. They may perhaps think that you are stressed with work, finances or family, and do not want to worry you.
Reasons outlined above can sometimes shut-down a child from sharing any of their emotions or feelings. A child can also sometimes very quickly assimilate that there is an expectation of them by their parents, for example good grades. As long as they keep delivering on these expectations it's good enough; once again how they feel, think and behave is not important.
Do you sometimes feel that your child plays the role of always keeping the family together, being the joker/ comedian, always making sure that everyone is ok, taking care of others i.e. friends and family? If so, this child again needs time and attention; he/she does this to deflect from ones’ own pain and emotions. The child’s thoughts are if he/she deflects away from themselves then it is safer. They do not have to talk about themselves - the focus is on others. Hopefully helping others may make them feel better, but this very rarely does and the happy feeling is short lived.
Being a parent or caregiver is not an easy task. If you feel that your child needs some emotional and psychological support, please contact a counsellor.
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About Balwinder Hunjan
Balwinder Hunjan is an integrative psychotherapist, life and relationship coach and professional speaker. She is dedicated to helping adults and children, reduce stress, anxiety and enjoy more meaningful lives. She is available for workshops, media commentary, private life and relationship coaching and psychotherapy.