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BEHS 343 (2168) Parenting Today
I am writing you because I am very concerned about my son Tim. He is only 9 years old, yet he is so frequently sad and is constantly talking about how nobody likes him. The other day I had a friend suggest to me that he is suffering from childhood depression. This makes me very saddened, because 9 years old is such a young age to feel such a way. I feel like the depression is causing him to not be able to focus on learning and is prohibiting him from being able to appreciate all of the things that he has going for him. A couple of days ago, Tim was in school and over-heard some of his “friends” talking about a get-together coming up that weekend. When Tim overheard them he said “that sounds like a lot of fun!” but their response was that “only the cool kids are allowed to go”. This really bothered him. The thing that upsets me the most is that when kids act like that, it is actually stemmed from their own personal insecurities, but that is nothing that a 9 year old like Tim can really comprehend, nor would it matter to him if he did. Another issue that concerns me is that I wouldn’t even want Tim to hang out with kids like that, even if they wanted him to, because they do not sound like the type of kids I would want him growing up around. He talks about how there is a group of kids that will not even give him time of day at school. The other thing that is frustrating is that the kids that do seem to like him, he is not interested in.
He seems to want popularity so bad, that that is the very thing keeping him from obtaining it. When he is around people that he is comfortable with he starts to come out of his depression a little bit more, but he can’t seem to break out of his shell when he is with people that he feels like he is having to earn their respect or earn their friendship. He seems to be more gifted at everything that he does when nobody is looking or watching. It seems like when he is with his “friends” or in public, he automatically accepts the role of not being the best and it seems as though he is holding back because he does not believe in himself. His role models that he looks up to at school are people that are very shallow and are being raised to take pride in all of the things that do not matter. Some of the things that I have noticed is that his depression is causing him to do the very things that are keeping him from where he wants to be in life. He is very easily irritated and has feelings up hopelessness for his future. He constantly feels rejected even when he is not. His appetite has decreased as well. He is unable to concentrate and has random outbursts of crying. When he is in sporting events, he is unable to function at what I know to be his full potential. He also suffers from a lot of headaches. When he comes to me with thoughts of guilt and worthlessness, I have trouble with how to convince him of his self-worth.
After much thought and prayer regarding the situation, I believe I have come up with the solution. Somehow I must convince him of his self-worth. Just about every single issue in life can be related back to self-worth. I want to begin by showing him that if a person truly doesn’t care about what others think, that it strips them of all of their hurtful power. A person becomes what they think about themselves! I also want to demonstrate to him how all of the most beloved individuals of all time are also the most disliked! If a person wants to be liked, they must also come to terms with the fact that there will always be those who dislike them. I want to teach Tim that a person can only control what a person can control, and letting go of the rest is the key to satisfaction. I also plan to spend extra time with Tim every single day working on his skills in sports. I think that he has a great chance to become a very successful quarterback. Even if he is unhappy with the level that I will push him to become great, I think that he will thank me later, because he will have something in life that will bring him a sense of pride. Everybody needs something in life that makes them feel like they have a purpose.
As I work with Tim on gaining pride and finding his “purposes” in life, I want to assure him that the only scale I will judge him on is his level of effort. I truly believe that anybody can become great at what they love doing if they learn to assert a high level of effort. I do not think that becoming great at something is the complete answer to his depression, however taking pride in something in himself could be of great therapy to him. I want to reassure him that as he gains pride in himself, to remember that feedback from “critics” are not necessarily going to go away by any means. In fact, when a person becomes great at something, they are put into a spot light that actually can cause them to become even more criticized that before. Therefore, the important thing is to teach him that happiness comes from within, and relying on the truth within your heart, which is that every ounce of effort was exhausted. I also want to remind him that going through a hardship can also be a blessing, because it sets the stage to be able to help others that are going through the same thing.
I want him to begin to feel sorry for the people that are not accepting him, because they are the ones that are truly hurting and act the way that they do, because they do not like themselves. If a person can see through the transparent nature of that concept, they begin to take criticism from others in a completely different light. It is a fact, that people who are the most confident in themselves are the type of people to have nothing bad to say about others. I want to help Tim understand that there is a good balance between “not caring” and “caring”. By “not caring”, I mean that I want to be an example of letting others words from roll off of my back. By “caring”, I mean that I want to be an example to Tim of somebody who is thoughtful of others feelings, and also aware that they may be feeling something completely different than what they are portraying.
I truly believe that if I demonstrate all of these concepts that I will begin to see Tim pull his way out of depression. The first step is to get him to believe in himself and find purpose, and self-worth. The second step is to teach him to do it for himself and believe that you become what you think you are! And last of all, to always be humble and kind.