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Home / Health & Science

When it isn’t just teenage rebellion

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy RUBIE MISEDA | Mon,Dec 28 2020 00:00:00 EAT
By RUBIE MISEDA | Mon,Dec 28 2020 00:00:00 EAT

“My child’s attitude has changed. She is so rude,” or the more common “I don’t know why my child is so disrespectful.” These are cries for help I have heard from concerned parents. And with the increase in suicide cases amongst our young generations, parents have become more self-aware of their children’s behaviour.

They have noticed that certain parenting techniques are starting to expire. The constant shouting and threatening a child to stay on track is birthing a defiant behaviour which is leading to social withdrawal.

Working as a mental practitioner, calls from worried parents are part of a day’s work. One thing that especially astounds parents is why their traditional parenting techniques, passed on by their African forefathers aren’t working. “I turned out just fine,” they will often say. Children are smart beings.

They see everything; especially unhealthy relationships like their parents’ marriage if it is full of emotional neglect, physical violence and psychological abuse.

 Of course this is not every family’s or child’s story, but this is a common thread I have seen and heard. Tales told by children nurtured in a world where the blind leads the blind. And to a child, being a witness to things that they cannot understand or talk about can get very confusing and lead to depression

Is your child in a crisis?

a.  The first sign is anger and irritation. What parents don’t realise is that the attitude problem they are complaining about is a sign of depression. Anger is a protectant. It usually hides raw emotions such as loneliness, sadness, being overwhelmed, insecurity, pain and frustration. I’ve seen cases of children crying complaining that their parents don’t allow them to express themselves. It’s their way or the highway and it frustrates them so much. This makes them develop another symptom which can be known as vocal outbursts.

b.   Vocal outbursts. Here the child can start crying when expressing their pain about their parent’s lack of communication or poor listening skills. Children especially feel the pain of not being able to meet the expectations of their parents. They cry in pain about how their parents compare them to their peers or even their childhood selves. This leads to the third sign of depression.

c.    Poor concentration and memory loss. This is where a child’s performance drops due to the constant torment they feel. They feel that they aren’t good enough and that their emotions are not valid. Once a child finds themselves in such a state, they tend to feel worthless.

d.   Lethargic and withdrawn. They will often withdraw from social gatherings. This can also impact their appearance and personal hygiene. The room that was once orderly is now messy and they suddenly have no use for a shower.

 These are clear signs that your child might be slipping into a prolonged sadness. I’ve dealt with children who have even struggled to understand and identify their emotions. Now an important aspect for parents to know is that depression in children is the combination of several factors: family mental history, environment, genetic, physical health, and life events. What I have described for you are some of the symptoms.

Also understand that your children come from a different world from you. Understanding them as human beings will allow you to develop a healthy relationship with them in which they can learn to create a healthy relationship with themselves. Furthermore, if you see these presenting complaints or signs contact a mental health professional.


Rubie Miseda is a psychologist and founder of Africa Jipende Wellness

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