Tips for parenting a child who is depressed

We understand that in these very difficult times, children and teens can struggle with feelings of depression.

If you are a parent who is concerned about your child or one of their friends, here are tips for starting the conversation. This guide on common sayings to avoid, and what to say instead, can help as well.

Below are parenting tips for a child or teen who is depressed, from the mental health experts at CHOC Children’s:

  • Show your love. Children need love, empathy and respect. Let them know you care and that this is important. Just be present, sit with them and reassure them that you understand how they feel.
  • Make a date. Schedule time to spend with your child, even if they won’t talk during this time. Schedule pleasant activities, preferably out of the house and active such as walking or going to the park. Before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, these dates might look like going to a movie or getting ice cream. Your child may not want to engage in activities. Encourage them to do it anyway.
  • Stick to a routine. Schedules and routines create a sense of structure and security. Make things seem normal – even though they may not be. Learn more about creating structure and routine for kids during COVID-19.
  • Focus on the positives. Track your ratio of negative to positive comments to your child. Your goal should be one negative to five positives.
  • Stay calm. Kids who are depressed are very sensitive. Small things set them off, so communicate calmness through your voice and body language.
  • Develop a positive environment and atmosphere to help your child relax. Make a list of fun things to do and follow through with them.
  • Take care of yourself. Find a support group, exercise, or ask another adult in the home to stay with the kids so you can relax. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of your child. Learn more about how parents can deal with stress during COVID-19.
  • Find treatment for your child. Your child may benefit from some treatment to help them feel Options include therapy/counseling and medications. Speak with your doctor to determine what will work best for your family.
  • Get help. If your child expresses thoughts about wanting to kill themselves or is saying scary things, call 911 or bring your child to your local emergency department.

Helpful books for parents of children who are depressed:

  • “Depressed Child: A Parent’s Guide for Rescuing Kids” by Douglas A. Riley
  • “Help me, I’m sad: Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Childhood Depression and Adolescent Depression” by David G. Fassler and Lynne S Dumas
  • “Lonely, Sad and Angry: How to Help Your Unhappy Child” by Barbara D. Ingersoll
  • “Raising Depression-Free Children: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention and Early Intervention” by Kathleen Panula Hockey
  • “The Childhood Depression Sourcebook” by Jeffrey A. Miller

If you or your child are thinking about suicide or hurting yourself, please use one of these resources:

If you or your child is in immediate crisis and/or danger, you can call the Orange County Behavioral Health Crisis Assessment Team (CAT) at 1-866-830-6011. They will come to where the child is to do a safety evaluation. You can also call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency department.

If you or your child is struggling, you can access these resources 24 hours a day:

  • California Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-843-5200
  • Suicide Prevention Center 1-800-784-2433
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
  • Crisis Text Line 741741
Learn more about mental health services at CHOC

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Depression coping tips for kids and teens

We understand that in these very difficult times, children and teens can struggle with feelings of depression.

If you are a parent who is concerned about your child or one of their friends, here are tips for starting the conversation and tips for parenting a child who is depressed.

If you are a teen struggling with depression, here are tips for coping.:

Try not to bottle up your feelings

Seek out a trusted friend or adult, such as your parent, to talk to about your feelings and what is on your mind.

Understand that there is a name for what you are going through, and that you are not alone

At least half of your classmates will experience symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. There are other people who have felt the same way you do.

Keep up with friends and activities

Even if you do not want to do things, you should still try to do them. Push yourself to try to do fun things, even if you have to go through the motions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the activities you used to enjoy may not be safe in their typical form. Talk to your parent or guardian about activities you can have fun doing while still being safe.

Do something that makes you feel proud.

Do your homework, finish a chore (such as cleaning your room), and notice what a good job you did. Feel proud of your hard work.

Talk about your sadness

Sometimes when people feel sad, the things they think about are sad, too. If your best friend told you they were feeling really sad or had a problem, what would you say to them?

Talk about scary thoughts and feelings

Sometimes when kids feel upset, they think a lot about death or dying. If you notice yourself having scary thoughts such as, “I want to die,” tell a trusted adult, such as your parent or guardian.

Focus on getting enough sleep

We are more likely to get upset or feel down if we don’t get enough rest. Try to make the hour before you go to bed peaceful and relaxing. Try to stay away from your phone and the TV, since the light tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime.

If you are thinking about suicide or hurting yourself, please use one of these resources:

If you are in immediate crisis and/or danger, you can call the Orange County Behavioral Health Crisis Assessment Team (CAT) at 1-866-830-6011. They will come to where you are to do a safety evaluation. You can also call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency department.

If you or your child is struggling, you can access these resources 24 hours a day:

  • California Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-843-5200
  • Suicide Prevention Center 1-800-784-2433
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
  • Crisis Text Line 741741
Learn more about mental health services at CHOC

Related posts:

  • Tips for parenting a child who is depressed
    We understand that in these very difficult times, children and teens can struggle with feelings of depression. If you are a parent who is concerned about your child or one of ...
  • Depression: Say this, not that
    Talking to someone with depression can seem like you are walking on eggshells. Although you may have the best of intentions, the words you use may not express exactly what ...
  • 8 ways for teens, kids to cope with depression
    Even if it’s not uncommon for teens and kids to feel sad sometimes, those moments can still feel overwhelming. The good news is there is a lot you can do ...

Celebrate the Fourth of July safely: Prevent the spread of COVID-19

After months under stay-at-home orders, and summer in full swing, families are eager to get out of the house and connect with friends and loved ones.

However, COVID-19 is still being transmitted in our community – and as people begin to socialize with others who don’t live in the same household and visit places that have opened, the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to continue rising.

With that in mind, here are some tips to celebrate the Fourth of July safely with your family:

  • Celebrate virtually — Use technology such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to enjoy conversation over a meal together, especially if you are celebrating with family members over the age of 65, or those who are immunocompromised and have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.
  • Dine alfresco – Having a picnic in the backyard is an easy way to enjoy the outdoors and maintain social distancing. You can set up blankets or tables for those who live in the same household 6 feet from others. Be sure to use disposable tableware. Have one person, who is wearing gloves, dish up food onto plates. Or, consider purchasing boxed meals to reduce contact.
  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently — If you are dining in the backyard, you can set up a hand-washing station with a garden hose and soap dispenser. Also, have hand sanitizer made with at least 60% alcohol readily available.
  • Wear face coverings or masks — When not eating or drinking, keep your nose and mouth covered. Have a most creative or most festive mask contest.
  • Take temperatures — Make sure that no one at your gathering has a fever or other symptoms of illness. If you are sick, please stay home and take care of yourself.
  • Limit the size and length of time of your gathering —The more people you have spending time together in close proximity, even in the outdoors, increases the risk of exposure.

Proper hand washing, social distancing and wearing face coverings are the best ways to reduce spread of the virus until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.

If you need medical care during this time, rest assured that it is safe to visit your CHOC pediatrician or a CHOC emergency department. We know it can feel scary and stressful to have a sick child, especially during a pandemic, so here are tips for deciding where to go for care during COVID-19.

Get more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Pharmacy delivery service brings medications and peace of mind to CHOC families

Jenna Castorena couldn’t believe her ears when she picked up a call in March from the Outpatient Pharmacy at CHOC Children’s Hospital. She was juggling a lot at the time, most importantly protecting her medically fragile son Robert from contracting COVID-19.

Robert, who has epilepsy, cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease and several gastrointestinal issues, depends on multiple medications. He needs them to control seizures, manage stomach troubles and prevent pneumonia. He was due for refills when his mom heard from the CHOC Pharmacy.

Robert-CHOC-patient-pharmacy-delivery
Robert

“It was amazing! The pharmacy called to let me know they would personally deliver Robert’s medications to our home so we wouldn’t need to venture out in the pandemic,” recalls Jenna. “I can’t imagine how much work went into creating this personalized service, but I am incredibly grateful to the team for always making the safety and wellness of patients a priority.”

CHOC launched the prescription delivery service at the start of the pandemic in California, as lockdown orders were taking place across the state. The temporary service was intended for all CHOC Outpatient Pharmacy patients, particularly for those with severely compromised immune systems. Some of the patients rely on public transportation, placing them at increased risk when out in public.

Since the service began in March, the Outpatient Pharmacy has logged more than 10,700 miles and delivered more than 3,400 prescriptions. A quarter of the medications are difficult to obtain in the community.

“Our goal is to ensure our patients receive their medications in a timely manner and without unnecessary risk during the pandemic. We want to keep them safe and healthy, and provide additional peace of mind to their families,” explains Grace Magedman, PharmD, executive director, pharmacy services, CHOC Children’s.

Long-time CHOC supporter Hyundai Motor America heard about the delivery service and was quick to lend support. The company was already in the process of donating $200,000 to CHOC’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Their generosity inspired local dealer, Russell Westbrook Hyundai of Anaheim, to donate three Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles for use in delivering the medications.

“During these challenging times, it’s heartwarming to see the community come together, and we would expect nothing less from our friends at Hyundai,” says Magedman. “Our prescription delivery service has been a valued resource for so many families who must take extraordinary efforts to protect their children, and it couldn’t have been possible without the inspiring commitment of our heroes in Pharmacy and collaborating departments. We are grateful for the role we play in safeguarding the health and well-being of the community we serve, especially its most medically fragile members.”

Get more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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How being an athlete prepared me to be a nurse

elyse-shelger-rn-choc-childrens

By Elyse Shelger, registered nurse at CHOC Children’s

In my life before nursing, I was a soccer player. I started playing the game when I was 4 years old. It shaped my childhood and taught me more than I realized at the time. In high school, I learned from incredible coaches and teammates, and then had the honor of playing for one of the top college programs in the country, Santa Clara University. When you practice something day after day, those movements, patterns, principles and lessons eventually become ingrained in your mind, body and soul. You don’t always notice they are there since they become part of you gradually, until you are forever changed.

As an adult, I often am reminded of certain guidance my coaches imparted and recognize why I do certain things the way I do. A large part of my mentality, behavior and beliefs have been shaped by the game of soccer, my life-long teammates and my undeniably great coaches. These are a few lessons that have shaped me as a person and as a nurse, and how I apply them in my world today.

In my new life, I am a nurse. I am not just a nurse when I am working a shift at the hospital. I am a nurse every day, always, at all times. I grew up learning that success comes when you commit yourself fully, on and off the field. I was also taught a great deal about accountability and personal responsibility. Why blame teammates or others when things get tough? We all must do what we can to make a difference. We each have to do our part. When I began working at CHOC Children’s Hospital, I took an oath to defend childhood. As an athlete, the word defense runs deep. Every team needs goal scorers— we need people to take action and move things forward, innovate, be creative, solve problems and think outside the box. This is what medical professionals do every shift, and some say a good offense is the best defense.

“Off the field,” I am still a nurse.

In team sports, you learn about selflessness. It becomes second nature to do what’s best for the team as a whole, to give 100% for each other, to have each other’s backs, and to fight selflessly until the last whistle. As a nurse, when I clock out after a long shift and I’m driving home, I relive each play in my mind, whether I won or lost that game, knowing I gave it my all. Sometimes no matter how well the team prepares, and how well you perform together, you can be defeated by a really strong opponent.

Currently we are in the middle of a big game. Our opponent is COVID-19. In our communities, some people are so terrified of losing that they are paralyzed with fear. Others have heard the opponent isn’t as formidable as people claim, so they grossly underestimate it as a threat. This is where risk lies. We must prepare properly. We must come to the game ready to play hard. We must give 100%. We must not lose focus.

What we do off the field matters. I will wear my mask to do my part to contribute to our team’s defense. I will speak responsibly and not spread misconceptions. I will encourage those around me to be safe as well because we are all in this together. If some team members decide they don’t really need to train for this game because it will be an easy one that can hurt all of us.

We don’t yet know what the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic will bring. Maybe this is half-time, or maybe we’re at another point in the game. But we know the game is not over yet. Do not let up now — not if you feel tired, and not if you feel like we are already winning. The game isn’t over.

Please don’t confuse my care for fear. I believe and have confidence we can win the game if we all come out to play our best, with and for each other.

Get more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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