Developmental Assets and Depression
Building Developmental Assets is a great way to reduce the chances of depression and suicide in kids. In fact, there is a negative correlation between the number of assets a child has and the occurrence of frequent depression and attempted suicide. Keep intentionally building assets with your child to foster resilience and develop a sense of self-worth and empowerment.
- Focus on what you can do. Many factors affect the occurrence of depression and suicide, including a family history of suicide, depression, or other mental disorders; substance abuse; job or financial loss; physical illness; and feelings of loneliness. Although parents cannot control all of these factors, they can focus on building the strengths that help their children bounce back from difficult situations and reduce the risk of teen depression and suicide attempts.
- Communicate with your kids. Focusing on keeping communication open and your relationship strong increases the odds that your child will come to you when she is feeling sad, lonely, confused, or helpless, feelings which may be associated with depression in kids.
- Help your child find purpose. Cultivate your child’s sense of purpose by giving him time to explore new pursuits and develop his interests. For example, some kids love playing soccer or basketball. Others enjoy art or music. Give your child opportunities and time to explore what gets him excited and gives him joy.
- Develop a network. Continue to create a web of support and friendship for both you and your child. During the teenage years, when children are less likely to confide in their parents, kids who have other caring adults they can turn to (and friends who help them make good choices) will be more likely to successfully handle the difficulties they face. This also creates a larger group of adults that may be able to recognize the signs of teen depression in your child.
Reducing the likelihood of depression and suicide is only one of the many benefits of building Developmental Assets with your child—but it’s a very important one. By creating a supportive environment and a group of committed, caring adults, you can take essential steps toward creating a resilient, happy child.