By Catherine Vega, Los Tweens Contributor
Your tween meets with her friends at the mall every weekend but all of sudden she is disengaged and uninterested. The volleyball practice that she loved just became boring to her and she would rather spend the day in bed sleeping. Sure, she could be dealing with a bout of laziness but it could also be teen depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health up to 11% of adolescents develop a depressive disorder by the time they are 18 with symptoms beginning as early as the age of 12.
Before depression takes over every aspect of your child’s life you can take preventative measures to promote positive mental health behaviors with your tween.
Talk to your tween.
Engage in fulfilling conversations with your tween where you can find out what your tween loves AND hates to do. You’ll be surprised what you find out about your tween! It may be a hidden talent or something he/she is worried about. Try talking over a long recipe that your child can participate in or remember to eat together!
Encourage your tween’s hobbies.
Whether it is painting or playing soccer, helping your tween find hobbies they enjoy will help them develop healthy outlets for positive and negative emotions in the future. Not to mention encourage positive interactions with other children their age.
Remember to praise and appreciate your tween.
Did your son clean up his room before being told? Did your daughter help you figure out your new smartphone? Don’t forget to say thank you. A child that feels valued is less likely to feel depressed. Acknowledging their accomplishments in academics and hobbies are also a great way to encourage them to continue their great work!
Above all else it is important to be observant and to engage with your son or daughter. Creating a support system within your family is one of the greatest ways to prevent childhood and teen depression. Are there any activities you share with your tween to help prevent depression?
For more information on child or tween depression please visit: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/depression.html