It can be difficult to recognize that your daughter is unhappy or depressed. Depending in part on your daughter's age, causes of a down mood can range from hormonal fluctuations to clinical depression or abuse. It's important to be aware of changes in your daughter's mood and encourage or accompany her to seek professional intervention if indicated. In cases of a normal, down mood, however, you can take small steps to help cheer your daughter up. These steps can also foster increased emotional closeness between you and your daughter.
Encourage your daughter to express how she is feeling. You can't help her address a problem if you are unsure what the problem is. In "Promoting Children’s Social and Emotional Development Through Preschool Education," the National Institute for Early Education Research reports that social and emotional health is shaped by encouraging a child to identify and evaluate her feelings. If your daughter is relatively young, help her express her feelings via light discussion while coloring or playing with a favorite toy. As your daughter gets older, encourage her to express her feelings by just being with her and allowing her to speak freely about her concerns.
Spend a few hours with your daughter engaged in her favorite activity. Whether she enjoys a day at a water park or an evening at the theater, make this time about your daughter. Time engaged in a favorite activity can help distract her thoughts, improve her mood and change the perspectives of both of you. Like a switch that turns a light on to illuminate a dark room, changing just one thing in a routine has the capacity to change her outlook. Be sure you remain positive when spending time with your daughter to encourage her to also enjoy the time spent together.
Get some exercise together. Exercise, advises the Mayo Clinic, encourages the release of biochemicals in the brain and body that facilitate a good mood. Exercise doesn't have to be organized, and even walking with your daughter outdoors on a sunny day can improve her mood by increasing serotonin levels. Physical activity encourages your daughter's self-confidence, thanks to the boost in mood-enhancing biochemicals and improved physical fitness. Choose something fun rather than simply walking on a treadmill. If possible, engage your daughter in light conversation to enhance the mood-boosting effect of exercise.
Contact some of your daughter's friends and invite them over. Social interaction can boost her mood, and no matter how old your daughter is, friends are indispensable for social interaction, support and encouragement of self-confidence. Avoid inviting people you aren't sure are definitely considered friends of your daughter and steer clear of friends or acquaintances who push her emotional buttons or create unnecessary drama.
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.
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