What to Do When Your Child Won’t Talk (but Seems Sad and Anxious)
Children face many struggles as they grow up. There are more obvious challenges, like bullying or self-esteem issues. However, many children also experience depression and anxiety but hide it from their parents.
As a caring parent, you obviously want to help your child and ensure their emotional and mental well-being. But what do you do when your child refuses to talk to you? You can tell that something is bothering them, but they refuse to open up or acknowledge it.
For you, this behavior can be heart-wrenching and possibly frustrating. Fortunately, there are things you can do as a parent to ensure your child’s well-being, even when they are hesitant to open up.
Pay Attention to Your Child’s Behavior
If your child won’t tell you what is wrong, their actions may have to speak for them. If your once bubbly, social child now seems reserved and prefers to be alone, this could be a red flag for depression.
Also, try to see how they interact with other children. Do they seem nervous or awkward? Social anxiety can set in during childhood, making it hard for children to socialize and make friends. If your child prefers to be alone or avoids social situations, this could be a sign that they’re feeling anxious.
Understand Your Child’s Perspective
Being a child isn’t easy. You’re constantly learning, observing, and growing—it’s overwhelming, especially when your brain is still developing. Keep this in mind when you feel perplexed by your child’s behavior. In reality, your child is doing their best to make sense of newfound emotions.
Anxiety and depression are hard enough for adults to cope with, let alone children who have no way to rationalize or understand these feelings. If your child’s behavior seems increasingly odd, don’t panic or become angry with them. Instead, try to see things from their perspective and remember that things are just as confusing for them.
Initiate a Conversation
Even when your child doesn’t want to talk, you can still draw them into a conversation. Instead of expecting them to do the talking, however, try initiating the conversation and let them know that you understand what you’re going through. Tell them that you were just as confused at their age as they are now and that you can relate to their experiences.
Children often have a hard time opening up because they feel embarrassed or ashamed about their feelings. Or, sometimes, they simply don’t know how to put their feelings into words. When you do the talking, they can listen and possibly relate to what you’re saying. And once they feel comfortable, they may be more inclined to open up and share their feelings.
Consider Taking Them to a Child Therapist
Though you want to help your child with whatever they’re going through, parents don’t always have all the answers. If you are unable to get through to your child, you may want to consider taking them to a therapist. Specifically, your child would benefit from a therapist who specializes in children’s issues.
Together, your child and their therapist can work on developing coping mechanisms, emotional intelligence, and ways to feel less anxious or sad. The therapist can also give you valuable insight into your child’s behavior and offer tips for initiating conversations and connecting to your child.
When your child suffers, you suffer too. One of the best things you can do as a parent is to teach your children that it’s okay to seek help. The sooner you pinpoint your child’s issues, the sooner you can find meaningful solutions to help them succeed in life.
Pay attention to your child’s behavior, and if you suspect something isn’t right, please seek support and contact us. Don’t assume that your child is going through a phase—take that first step and get them the help they need.
At SMPsychotherapy & Counseling Services we have licensed child therapists that can support you and your child. To schedule your personalized evaluation, please call us at 203.800.9778.