How to help your kids deal with stress, anxiety and depression

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By 2030, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression will be the third leading cause of disability and mortality in low-income countries. It will be second in mid-income countries, and first among high-income nations.

The projections have a lot of bearing on parenting.

This was what I could glean from the recent talk of a psychologist, Michael Jimenez, on “Parenting the Young Dealing with Stress, Anxiety and Depression” at De La Salle Zobel in Alabang.

“Parents also need to teach their children resilience, the ability to bounce back,” said Jimenez. “Children must learn how to fail and survive in times of disaster.”

Resilience presupposes that kids can handle their emotions. How do we manage our emotions?

We must identify them so we can battle depression and avoid engaging in self-harm.

Jimenez stressed the need to study emotions: “We become good in Math, English, etc. because we study those subjects for years. If we expect to be good at identifying and managing our emotions, we need to study them, too.”

He explained that Gen Z kids (born 1995 onwards) are hypercognitive, meaning, they lack emotions. “Their anger is not managed, so it becomes aggression. Sadness turns into depression which could lead to suicide. So start with identifying and managing sadness to nip depression and suicide in the bud.”

Jimenez advised teaching students how to manage anger, sadness, how to say no in a light manner instead of shouting.

“All behavior is learned,” he said. “World peace is achievable. It’s also an emotional issue, not just political.”

Factors

There are many reasons kids and teens get depressed, said Jimenez. Factors may be biological and genetic. They may include stress and chemical imbalance.

This is why teens are more impulsive, immature and prone to high-risk behavior and impaired judgments. “Our children’s sadness or anger can control them.”

Parents should know the following factors that may abet depression:

  • Cognitive: When we have negative thoughts, we get weak and have low energy, so we need to actively steer our minds toward happier thoughts.
  • Psychological: Mental factors underlie human behavior, feelings and emotions, and they might connect to our childhood.
  • Sociocultural. Information consumption on social media may foster envy in the young user. A stressor on social media is the highlight reel, as posting highlights of our lives makes us want to outdo ourselves on our next post. This competition can be stressful as we want to hit a high number of likes. Through social currency, we end up defining ourselves with the number of likes we get.

When we get a lot of likes, we get a high dopamine release and feel good. Those addicted to likes get a higher dopamine hit seeing likes than                    having a real friend with them.

  • Fear of missing out (Fomo). Some kids won’t sleep because they need to see the latest posts, news, updates and experiences.
  • Online harassment. How can you address a stranger who provokes you online? Should you respond to anonymous trolls? Don’t feed trolls—ignore them and just manage your emotions.
  • Behavioral. With many things happening all at once, we have a need to meditate.
  • Social-environment factors that may cause depression are family, finances and sports. —CONTRIBUTED



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