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Depression in Preschool Children

“In a five-year study of 1,758 children born in Quebec and their mothers,15 per cent of preschoolers suffered from atypically high levels of depression and anxiety,researchers reported in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.”

Who would think that children barely ready for Kindergarten would already be on their way to mental illness? Yet,we keep seeing studies point out that children in preschool can already be suffering from depression as well as other psychological issues typically thought to originate in later childhood or even adulthood.

If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms below,he or she could be on the way to depression:

    Eating problems
    Sleeping problems (ie.,nightmares)
    Not wanting to being alone
    Infant-like behaviors
    Extreme fear
    Uncontrollable crying

The good news is that children can be taught coping skills from the very youngest ages. If you’d llike to work with your own child(ren) you can start with some of these basics:

    1 –Take time for deep breathing. Full deep breaths can calm children (and you) down while instilling relaxation.
    2 –Teach progressive relaxation. That is,tensing and releasing individual parts of the body. The body can’t feel both tension and relaxation so teaching children the difference and practicing “letting go”and help give them a valuable coping skill they can use on their own.
    3 –Listen to calming music,especially instrumental,nature sounds and classical selections.
    4 –Use guided visualization. Or,simply tell a calming story with crisp visual examples that bring to life the senses. Include sights,smells,sounds,textures and other clear examples that will stimulate all the different senses.

Take a few moments now and then to help children develop relaxation skills. They’ll be needing them for their entire lives and it really will make a difference when they are grieving or suffering from sadness. Like most of the most important things we can teach them,it’s never too early.

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