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... IF YOUR CHILD IS DEPRESSED OR HAS DIFFICULTIES WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT

March 1 2004
Cover

... IF YOUR CHILD IS DEPRESSED OR HAS DIFFICULTIES WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT

March 1 2004

... IF YOUR CHILD IS DEPRESSED OR HAS DIFFICULTIES WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT

Coloroso: I want kids to understand that anger is a real feeling. It’s what you do with it that makes all the difference in the world. They need to be able to keep their cool without putting their feelings on ice. That’s not easy. I want to help kids to do five things: acknowledge their own feelings and label them; do something responsible and purposeful to address those feelings; make a statement about themselves like, “When I’m feeling this angry, there are things I can do”; acknowledge other people’s feelings and not pass judgment on them; find alternative ways of expressing their anger that are responsible and affirminggoing for a run, writing an article in the paper or confronting the person with whom they’re angry. But I’ve got to caution, it’s hard to do this when your kid is in the middle of a full-blown rage. Temper tantrums tend to happen at 2,5 or 15-the ages of rebellion when a child’s emotional and intellectual skills don’t match. Then, you do whatever you can to keep them from hurting themselves and others.

Kropp: If your kid is depressed, you could get counselling, which sometimes helps. Or, take the more aggressive approach and go out, get some exercise, go to the Y, find some things to do. Depression and boredom are often conflated. These are dull answers, but most parenting is really pretty dull.

Wooding: Teenage depression doesn’t manifest itself as clearly as adult depression. With adults, you have the whole demeanour-you’re sad, you’re lacking energy, you keep to yourself. But teenage depression can come out in irritability, sleeping problems. And of course all teenagers are irritable to a certain extent so parents can miss it.

There’s an environmental kind of depression: your kid has just been dumped by a boyfriend or failed a big exam, or a relative has just died. These are things that parents can deal with if they have good communication with their kids. Otherwise, counselling can help. But there’s also clinical depression, where a chemical imbalance in the brain is at play. Then, the answer is antidepressants as well as counselling. Counselling alone will be very slow with teenagers. They don’t have the insight or maturity to change their behaviour very easily.