Science says parental depression can affect children, so protect your child before it’s too late. The National Institute of Health documented extensive research on the impact of parental depression on children. Depression is a serious mental health challenge. Parents with depression do things differently from non-depressed parents. The depressed parent may sleep too long, miss feeding and changing times, and provide lackluster infant stimulation. Here is 7 Ways To Protect Kids From Your Parental Depression!
But parents with depression can be proactive. Explore this checklist for healthy child-rearing by parents with depression.
Think you’re fooling your kids with your forced happiness?
Actor Ryan Phillippe recently opened up about his own struggles with depression and his sadness that he thinks he’s passed the condition on to his 15-year-old daughter, Ava. Is that even possible? Can that happen to children whose parents suffer from depression?
Indeed, research shows that parental depression is connected to child mental health problems. The National Institute of Health published extensive research on the connection between child mental health problems and parental depression.
Learn how parental depression can impact a child … and what to do about it. Children link to their parents from birth. Newborn brains are not fully developed—newborns have more like a “do it yourself” kit that parents must finish once children are born. Parents provide warmth, food, safety, and stimulation, and this is critical to infant survival. But, parents also provide the input that completes programming of immature developing infant brains.
Every moment of every day, infants and toddlers are feeding information through their little brains … tracking their parents’ every move. Babies watch for facial expressions, signs, gestures, and tone of voice. By 9 months of age, babies can tell if an adult is having social conflict with another person. The baby brain is incredible!
This system is brilliant, but what happens when babies are picking up cues from depressed parents? What is different about the input that babies pickup from depressed parents? This is where science meets biology. Depressed adults act differently from other parents. Depression causes a generally sad or melancholy mood.
Depressed parents may take slower steps, take shallow breaths, have slumped shoulders, and tend to sigh often. People who have depression do not smile as often, are less motivated and tend to sleep more.
And children notice every single detail. No wonder that children of depressed parents tend to pick up behaviors and tendencies that lead to physical health and mental health challenges … including depression. Parents who are aware and proactive can turn things around to improve outcomes for their children.
Adults with depression must seek treatment from a mental health professional. Just the name—mental HEALTH—tells you that this is a pro who wants to help you be happy, healthy and whole. Parents may feel embarrassed or afraid, but they shouldn’t. Treatments for depression are available and often effective.
Parents with depression must also take measures to ensure their children receive the proper care and exposure to healthy adults. Getting help is the first fix. A family interventionist or child mental health expert helps parents adjust routines and behaviors to meet the developmental needs of the child. Proactivity provides great protection from the negative impact of parental depression on children.
7 Ways to Protect Child’s Mental Health From Parental Depression
- Seek help from a mental health expert. Notice that it is about “Mental HEALTH,” so you know this expert wants you to be healthy, happy, and whole. Parents do not have to feel embarrassed or scared to get help. Depression treatment is safe and often effective.
- Recruit help from non-depressed family, friends, and neighbors. The depressed partner can ask the non-depressed co-parent to pick up the slack. Let your child be around happy, well-adjusted, and non-depressed adults as much as possible.
- Create a developmentally appropriate daily care schedule for your child. Use alarms to track when to get your child up in the morning, when to feed and change diapers, and when to go outside for fresh air.
- Get a parent coach or mentor. A trustworthy friend with great parenting skills and a good attitude can help you stay on track with quality daily interactions to stimulate your child’s healthy development. Local parent groups may also have a mentor program to get you on track.
- Get support from a family counselor or child development expert. A trained child development professional can help depressed parents make changes to behavior, schedule, and interaction with the child to promote a healthier outcome for the baby.
- Seek the support of a child mental health or development expert if children show any signs of concerning sadness, frustration, listlessness, or anxiety. Child development is a well-documented process and experts know how to make changes to stimulate appropriate child development.
- Utilize your community resources. Local pediatricians, child mental health experts, parent support groups, community mental health board, and school board all have resources to help parents with depression provide effective and developmentally appropriate parenting to their children.
Parents with depression should not feel embarrassed, but they should be realistic. Parental depression puts children at risk for physical and mental health problems. Taking a proactive stance, working through this checklist, and remaining focused on developmentally appropriate parenting is a great start to raising a child who is healthy, happy, and whole.
Source: Your Tango