Knowing When to Back Off

This whole book has been about you being involved with your child's depression — it's diagnosis, treatment, and other issues related to it. You have been encouraged to be proactive and educated about your child. However, believe it or not, there are times when you need to back off.

Too Many Rules

Not every behavior is punishable. Kids are going to do silly things, hurtful things, and just plain bad things. It's hard to always know when you should correct a child and when you should just let it go. Ask yourself, “How much will this matter a year from now?” For example, if your son cheats on his spelling test because he says he panicked, this is punishable behavior. If your daughter was late for school and left her wet towels on the bathroom floor when she usually puts them in the hamper, you can let it go.

Too many rules create a very rigid, tense atmosphere. A child, depressed or not, wants to please her parents. When there are too many rules, she is bound to have more opportunities to get into trouble. When she perceives that her worth is based on her ability to follow all of the rules, she can easily fall into depression.

Pick Your Battles

Remember that you are supposed to be able to separate the behavior from your child. Back off when you are angry and being hurtful. When you are upset, as is normal you are prone to say things you don't mean. Again, you are more likely to hurt the child and take the focus off of the behavior.


Avoid getting into a shouting match with your child about her behavior. If possible, refrain from talking about it until you are both less emotional. You'll have time to plan how you want to handle the matter effectively. When you both have had time to regroup, your interaction will be more productive and less damaging.

Pick your battles. Decide what really matters and focus on that. And let the rest go. Preparing your child to be the very best she can be is what matters. What she will remember is that you loved her unconditionally, and that you didn't let the little things get in the way. She'll also be prepared to use her own head and make good choices.

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