When your teenager is struggling with depression, it can seem like there is nothing you can do to penetrate that mental state. Teens with depression really need their parents to help them turn their focus outward rather than let them dwell on all their problems.
Clinical depression in teens is much more than feeling gloomy, and parents should be working with a professional health care provider on getting the best help for their teens. However, one of the things that a professional therapist will advise parents of depressed teens is to make sure they stay active and involved in things, whether on their own, with family or with friends.
Here are 3 tips on how you can turn your teen’s focus outward and help them manage their depression:
1. Set Goals
Setting and reaching goals are a valuable part of life, and depressed teens often don’t feel the motivation to look much beyond the end of their day. Teens also can have goals that are unrealistic or unreachable, making it all that much harder for them when they don’t reach them. Parents can help teens set reasonable, measurable goals that will help them gain a sense of accomplishment and reduce frustration and discouragement.
2. Insist on Involvement
Depressed teenagers have a hard time functioning the way they used to, and often want to be alone or hide out in their rooms for long periods of time. However, parents can make sure they stay involved with others and those positive interactions can keep them focus on outward things. Examples include going to the latest blockbuster movie, allowing the teen to invite friends over to socialize, or actively making arrangements for the teen to participate in a hobby or activity they enjoy. Even making sure they interact with the family, by doing chores or eating dinner together, can help.
3. Opportunities for Serving Others
It’s easy for depressed teens to focus on their own problems and to ignore the needs of others beyond their immediate circle of friends and family. There are plenty of opportunities for teens to help others in the community, and volunteering can really motivate them to get up and get moving. Make sure the activity is something your teen wants to do so their incentive is high. Examples include volunteering at the local pet shelter as a dog walker, babysitting for the cute kids down the street or gardening and yard work for aging grandparents. There are plenty of youth volunteer groups and school clubs that do service projects year round, and depressed teens can really get a new perspective when they help out.
Whenever your teen gets involved and looks outside of themselves, make sure you acknowledge their effort and celebrate the accomplishment. A few words of praise and recognition of the long and difficult path your teen is traveling will go a long way in boosting their self-esteem. With hard work, many small successes for your teen will motivate them in future endeavors. Depression is a serious issue for teens, but with supportive parents who help them turn their focus outward, they can take steps toward a happier and healthier life.