DEAR CHRISTINE: Daughter down over school
DEAR CHRISTINE, I AM THE MOTHER of a 12-year-old girl who always seemed fairly well adjusted to life and happy with her friends and family.
One morning she woke up and appeared moody and sad. I asked her if everything was all right and she started to cry. She told me she cried a lot at night and felt anxious about almost everything.
She said she was concerned about the behaviour of students at her school, which she has been attending for the past year and some, and that she felt the world was seeing young people as just plain bad because of the constant fights schoolchildren have been getting into. She also disclosed that friends would share various videos of children cursing and fighting almost each week and that as a young person, she felt “targeted”. My daughter also confided that older men, who should know better, would “hit on” her and that going to school was no longer a joy.
I was hurt to see her pain, realise her torment and to know that she was depressed. In fact, I had to actually take her to see a doctor because of her depressed state.
As I asked questions and listened carefully to all she told me that day and since then, she was relieved there was someone who could help. She was also relieved that I took the time to observe her actions, ask questions and to listen to her.
I always instilled in my daughter the need to openly discuss anything with my husband and me. However, when I considered the amount of pressure she had been experiencing, I realised that as parents we need to read our children’s body language and not minimise their fears and anxieties.
I am convinced that within the current school and educational system, there are many children like my daughter. Our children need to be taught more than “the academics”. These are days when they need emotional, psychological and spiritual support and guidance. Depression is real and our children are crying out for help.
Let us determine in our hearts to help them.
Since talking to the doctor, I have discovered there are various signs to look for in our children’s lives to help determine if they are depressed or bothered about things which are often beyond their control. These are:
• Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or unworthiness;
• Entertaining suicidal thoughts;
• Changes in weight;
• Loss of appetite;
• Feeling of sadness and irritability;
• Frequent crying;
• Changes in sleep patterns;
• A tendency to spend lots of time in bed and alone;
• Loss of energy or fatigue;
• Inability to concentrate, remember things or make decisions;
• Decreased activity;
• Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
I hope my letter will help some child and/or parent. Thanks for printing it, and keep up the good work.
First, I must thank you for sharing your daughter’s experience and your own concern for young people. It is true that they need listening ears and to be understood, loved and accepted. Whether we are parents or guardians, each adult has a role to play in the lives of children.
I am very grateful for the information you’ve provided on some of the signs of depression and what parents, family members and even teachers could look for when assessing students.
This world has become most unkind to young people. We need to constantly reassure them that they are loved and that despite the fact that there will always be those who are viewed as “good” and others as “bad”, we need to pray for our children and always give them a listening ear.