how do you discipline a child with severe depression?

Shellie - posted on 04/29/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )

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We've taken him to the Dr and to mental health counseling. they state he has depression and he is now on medication. My question is how do you safely discipline a child with depression? When he refuses to go to school, we of course take away his video games, computer usage etc...but then he pulls the "my life sucks, I want to kill myself" stuff. (this is what landed us in therapy to begin with) without anything to do at home, he just goes to his bed and sleeps for 12 hrs +. We've tried positive reinforcement and punishment but nothing works on him because he doesnt care about anything either way. He says he doesnt care about graduating from high school, doesnt really want a job anyway and plans on living with us forever. doesnt want a girlfriend, doesnt want to ever get married or own a car or a home. there is absolutely no motivation for anything. My husband doesnt want to punish him anymore for skipping school because when we do he usually runs away from home and stays gone for hours at a time or he talks the suicide talk. he is afraid tough love will cause him to actually do something we as parents will regret. and about the truancy issue in Michigan. If your child misses too many days...it's the parents that have to go to court and pay the fines and face possible jail time, not the child! We told him this and he thought it was funny. He refuses to do chores and doesnt get an allowance anyway..so can't take money away from him as an incentive to mind us. Anybody out there have a teen with severe depression?

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Anne Marie - posted on 05/23/2010

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Just another note about medication. Antidepressant medications often take 3 weeks to reach the therapeutic level in the blood stream. If no improvement after that time then talk to the doctor. About sleeping all the time yes this is depression but teen also produce more melatonin which enhances sleep. He may nned the sleep for the developmental changes as well as the depression but getting him out once a day does wonders. And about connecting with others sometimes they connect with an aunt or uncle, family friends, I would let that happen at least it is someone you trust.

Anne Marie - posted on 05/23/2010

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I have two sons with depression, on medication. I think you are on the right track about discipline. I have always reinforced my love for my sons. They have to know right from wrong and explaining to them what and why it is wrong helps. If you have to discipline take away privilages still tell him you love him. About video games and things one doctor told me that is often for them their escape, much like an adult reading a book. If he like to read you may suggest that. Some times school is too much for them. It is hard to be motivated and go when you think no one there likes you, depressed kids often feel that way and often get bullied or left out becasue of their depression. I have scheduled mental health days for my sons. The school is often aware of when they are. He looks forward to them and knows he only has this long to go till his next one. The doctor may be able to help you out with this as it is considered a medical leave when depression is the issue. Doing things one on one with him helps even if it is playing a video game or watching something he likes on TV with him. By doing these things with him he realizeds you are interested in him and what pleases him. Just think how it would boost his ego if he can tell you how to play a video game. If he has any friends encourage play dates. Not sure how old your son is but if he is too old for play date arrange bowling or movie. I know his interest is not there but if he can do it with a friend it helps. If there are siblinbs with similar interst they can spend time with him as well, cousins and extended family work too, anyone he may conect with. My sons are 18 and 12, I have a daughter who I think may be depressed and she if 15. Not many parents have to deal with such depression issues and it is hard. Feel free to look me up if you have any other questions are just want to vent.

Robyn - posted on 04/30/2010

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So sorry to hear about the issues you are having. But it sounds like one of two things may be going on, either his meds are not working, and need to be changed, or he has come to realize that you are afraid to punish him for fear of what he might do. My 11 year old has bouts of depression, and for a short time we too were afraid to punish him. We have started showing him that his actions have consiquences, and when he does the whole "I hate my life, I wish I was dead" talk we sit him down and have a looooonnnngg talk to reinforce that we love him, and that what he is doing is wrong. We have not had to put him on meds though. I hope that you can find a way to resolve your issue, and wish you the best of luck!

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