Curb Early Childhood Depression and Anxiety with Intentional Interaction

Every parent has heard the importance of detecting learning difficulties as soon as possible to ensure your child’s academic success. Could this same concept apply to childhood bullying and depression? Bonnie J. Leadbeater, professor of psychology at the University of Victoria, believes it does.

In 2009 Leadbeater published a study that monitored more than 400 Canadian children over the course of their first, second and third grade years. The children were asked to share their experiences with being bullied and their teachers were asked about the children’s symptoms of depression, anxiety and physical aggression. The study showed a definitive correlation between early childhood depression, anxiety or physical aggression and those same children being victimized by third grade.

This study certainly gives parents something to think about. We spend quality time with our children every day from the moment they are born. As they reach the preschool years we begin teaching them how to count, read and often how to write. This interaction is not only fun for our children but it allows parents and preschool teachers an opportunity to recognize learning challenges.

Considering the study on early childhood depression and victimization, how can we as parents engage our children in much the same fashion as academic preparation? I believe this begins from birth!

Depression, anxiety and aggression all stem from emotional insecurities and an inability to solve problems. If parents strive to love, support, encourage and teach emotionally prepared for social interactions.

Don’t let the big picture overwhelm you. This interaction occurs every day from the moment we wake until we go to sleep, and occasionally throughout the night. A few things to keep in mind would be:

  • In the early months of life don’t let anger, disappointment or resentment be part of your interaction. New babies can drain us! It’s important to take a moment to calm our minds, remember our love for our child, and then proceed to hold them.
  • As your child grows set the example of responding to frustrations and disappointment. Never deny your child’s feelings, sometimes they need to cry. Always direct your child to the appropriate response.
  • During the preschool years talk to your child about how they respond. Acknowledge their sadness and share how they can respond better.
  • Expect you child to be in control of themselves. If you don’t believe they can then they won’t believe they can.

With intention interactions with your child you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make. Take the time to emotionally prepare your child early on. It will make a world of difference in their life.