- She’s Always Sad
Your child is always sad, withdraws from friends and even you, and experience eating and sleeping problems.
What can you do: Don’t be afraid to broach the subject. Ask her if she’s feeling suicidal and if so, if she’s planned to do it or attempted it before. Talk to a doctor who may refer you to a counsellor.
- She Harms Herself
Physical signs include cuts, burns and bruises. Sometimes kids pull out hair, causing bald patches. Some youths hide this behaviour from parents and friends by wearing clothes to cover the signs even on hot days.
What can you do: Ask your child about triggers or things that make it worse. Before seeking help, it’s best to discuss the options with your child including getting help from your regular GP, school or telephone helplines.
- She’s Apathetic
Boredom is common, but a general lack of interest is another thing and so is a loss of interest in favourite activities or spot.
What can you do: Consider your child’s personality and look for anything that is outside her usual behaviour – for e.g. when a normally outspoken child becomes disinterested and quiet. Then use this as an opportunity to ask her what’s going on.
- She Can’t Sleep
Sleep disturbance can be a sign of depression and may also cause your child to become sluggish, irritable or physically agitated. Not getting enough sleep can make kids more prone to depression and those who are depressed often have problem sleeping.
What can you do: If you suspect your child is awake in the middle of the night, try to have a conversation about sleep. Then encourage her to go to bed same time every night and leave electronic devices outside the bedroom.
- She Feels Guilty
Depressed children may feel worthless and may blame themselves for everything that’s gone wrong. It’s hard for kids to know the difference between what’s normal and what’s not and many of them don’t feel comfortable to their parents about it.
What can you do: If they don’t feel comfortable talking to you about it, consider online or hotline counselling services that provides tips on what to do next.
- She Avoids School
This could be a sign that your child is being bullied at school. Today’s technology gives bullies instant access to their victims.
What can you do: If your child is being bullied online, banning her from social media is the last thing you should do. Let her stay connected with her friends (which is a positive thing) and you can monitor her use and teach her strategies to protect herself from cyber bullying.
- She Fares Badly
When your normally A-grade student starts coming home with Cs and Ds it’s a cause for concern and may be a sign of depression.
What can you do: Before you get angry, ask her what’s going on. If she’s struggling to stay engaged, the best way to deal with this is a conversation both at home and at school.
- She Is Anxious
Inability to concentrate and obsessing over a particular problem can be signs of anxiety. There may also be physical manifestations like a racing heartbeat, tight chest, compulsive behaviour or hot and cold flushes.
What can you do: There are effective treatments for children with anxiety, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (or “talking therapy”) can help her manage her problems by changing the way she thinks and behaves.
Where to Get Help:
Tinkle Friend www.tinklefriend.com, 1800 274 4788
MeToYou Cyber Care www.metoyou.org.sg, 6274 6904 / 9173 1766
eCounselling Centre www.ec2.sg or www.egen.sg, 6787 1125
Text: Good Health, Bauer Syndication/Additional reporting by Sylvia Ong