Here are general guidelines for explaining depression to kids at different stages of childhood and adolescence:
No explanation about depression will make sense at this age, so be simple and direct about your needs: “Mommy has to take a nap,” or, “Mommy’s feeling sad right now.” You can ask them to: Put toys back where they belong, since structure and order can be important for your recovery.
Kids in elementary school
Kids this age start to take the blame for mom’s (or dad’s) depressive episodes. They may start to act out, particularly if they feel a parent is spending less time with them than usual. Reassurance is key. Make sure they know you’re trying to get help and get better. You can ask them to: Take on small jobs like setting the table.
Middle school kids
Acknowledge what’s going on, apologize if you snap or isolate, and listen for cues that your kids want to ask questions. Keep assuring them that you are talking to a therapist or reaching out to some other support system to work things out. Turn conversations around for a deeper relationship: “This is what’s going on with me. Let’s talk about what’s going on with you, too.” You can ask them to: Keep you company on a walk.
High school adolescents
As your kids mature, encourage them to share their feelings about your irritability, absence from events like their concerts or sports games, or other symptomatic behavior. You can ask them to: Take on more household responsibilities like driving duties and dinner preparation.
Read the full article: “Moms & Depression: How To Help Your Children and Yourself”
via Esperanza – Hope To Cope
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