Everybody in life goes through a phase where some sort of crippling event drives you to the brink of your patience and replaces every good emotion with debilitating and dangerously nerve racking negativity. In more plainer words, the sadness makes you unable to function, creates confusion, and renders you a lethargic and depressed individual. Having recently gone through just that, and having executed what I would deem a successful moving on, I felt the need to share some of my insight and foresight on how you can help your child if you suspect he may be a victim of what I have mentioned above.
The first thing is to note the symptoms of anxiety. Typically you will sense something is off in your gut, the lack of energy, avoidance, lack or increase of appetite, changes in the sleep patterns, deteriorating grades, moodier and grumpier than usual, staying unwell and even personality changes and even suicidal thoughts.
Truth be told I have just described your average teen, but it’s always safer than to be sorry. It is a medical fact that psychological illnesses can hook their evil talons at this tender stage often developing into something more serious at a later time in late teens or early twenties.
Among school going children, bullying and social isolation and peer pressure will do it, but so can the inability to cope with studies, fear of disappointing parents and home conflicts. Sometimes even a mean teacher can trigger intense negativity.
Being a teacher myself I take it very seriously when one of my students ‘change’. Perhaps this is because of my extreme sensitivity to the plights (no matter how small) of any child, having endured the loss my own seven recently. I make it a point to find out what could have happened. Thank goodness most of the time it’s just a tiny problem. Otherwise parents are called in to discuss the issue.
There is no force more injurious to a child’s mental state of mind than continuous conflict between parents. Studies show that children who grow up in such households suffer later on in their own relationships, in their careers and are not well adjusted adults suffering from complexes. I’m talking about abusive relationships, not your average ‘whodunnit-youdunnit’ garden variety disputes. Most kids would tell you it is better to have separated parents who are humans than parents together who bring out the worst in each other. And most kids do well under such circumstances.
1. Communication: To reach the crux of any matter you need to create a non-judgmental and safe environment where your child can freely express his views, no matter how trifling or silly they seem to you, for your child it is a mountain on his shoulders. Teach your child to let it out, to describe the feelings. Do not show shock or resentment. Be open.
2. Acceptance: This means you have to accept that it is what it is, unless it can be changed. If there is something you can do, discuss it but note that your child may not be ready to take any action. Let him pace it out at his comfort. If the situation merits that nothing can be done then gently persuade him that together you will get through this.
3. Action Plan: As mentioned above, discuss options. Break down a complex issue into smaller issues. Take outside advice from the school or relevant persons. If the problem is solvable then take it easy and work towards the goal. If not then be the backbone that will support your child no matter what.
3. Faith: I can not stress enough how faith can help in overcoming adversity and the terrible emotions associated with it. It is literally like a light in the darkness. Knowing that an ultimate justice must be met is a soothing force. Knowing that God loves us and looks after us is a soothing force. A belief system embedded in the heart strongly can carry you across the rivers of your own tears. Talking to your child about faith and that everything will turn out as it must (after trying his best) even though the outcome may not be ideal provides a healing process like no other.
4. Sports/Activities: It’s no secret that when you are in a rut, or tired of studying, you take a break. This is the same concept. When your child is weary with depression, there’s nothing like a shot of adrenaline and happiness instigating hormones as are released with physical activity or other activities that give you pleasure. These should be more hands on, and I’m not talking video games. Charity work, nature walks, handicrafts, a side course in wood works, a ceramics class, anything to release the creativity inside.
5. Follow up and unconditional love: Checking in is important, but not like a control freak. Showing your child you are there is by far the biggest gift and support you can give him. Talking to the child about the silver lining, about the positivity can actually make your child stronger.
To sum up, life catastrophies can either make you or break you and this is a lesson parents can give their kids each time a ‘situation’ arises. Tackling negative emotions in a positive way is by far one of the best gifts you can give your child to become a meaningful, well-adjusted pillar of society.
A dua that you can read to overcome sadness: