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10 Games to Create Long Lasting Memories With Your Kids?

10 Games to Create Long Lasting Memories With Your Kids?

I was probably eight or nine. It was before the age of the Internet and the release of the Nintendo. I had exhausted my regular activities (like riding my bike) and had run out of make-believe scenarios to play out in my backyard. Because my brother and I lived on a main road with few neighbors, we were always in the same boat… bored.

One afternoon, we bugged my mother to play with us. Being that she is an on the spot creative type, she invented a game called “Court.” She made up the rules as she went along. She played the judge and told us each what crime we were being charged with. We had to defend our innocence by pleading our case and in the end, she would determine who was guilty. She told us our “crime” and sent us away with one manila file folder and some loose-leaf paper. We both went to our rooms to plan our defense. Once prepared, we testified.

I will never forget playing that game of “Court” for the first time. I can tell you the room we were in and that it was a beautiful summer day, trees in full bloom. I can tell you the exact chair my mom sat in and where the chair was positioned, even though I haven’t been in that house or seen that furniture for over twenty-five years. My mother didn’t know it at the time, but that day she created one of the few photographic memories I have of her.

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Are you wanting your children to create a long-lasting, visual memory of you? If so, here are ten activities that if done rarely, are a sure proof way to remain picture perfect forever in your child’s mind. I hope you enjoy these activities that will help create a photographic memory for your child.

1. Have a Tea Party

When my two girls and I play Tea Party together, magic happens. I let my nine year old put makeup on herself and my four year old. They both put on their finest dresses. They get a grand opening when they come down the stairs as my husband or I announce them. I am their maître de and always have a towel hanging over one arm. I escort them to a small table equipped with a tablecloth and a lit candle. I begin by offering them water (in shot glasses because otherwise they’d never get used). I offer all sorts of exotic teas even though I only have two kinds. Everything I bring to them comes out on my expensive china, which makes them feel like millionaires. Sometimes I buy tea cookies but usually I just pull something out that I already have, like cheese and crackers. If I can find my bell, I give that to them too. They put linen napkins over their laps and I make their tea extra sweet since they are. We all speak in British accents and I bow to them constantly. Of course, I also take pictures, but more for me because I know their picture will be locked mentally.

2. Court

Looking for a gavel? Pull out your meat pounder. Then pick a crime. Need some case ideas? How about who left out the ice cream? Who stole the cookies out of the cookie jar? Which one of you painted on the wall? Who used all the toilet paper and didn’t replace the roll?

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3. Dance Party USA

This can be done totally on the fly with no preparation necessary. You turn off the TV, get off your computer, blast the radio, and then get your funk on. You do this until you are sweating bullets, can barely breathe, and are afraid you’re going to have a heart attack. Did I mention belting the song out as loud as you can while holding hands and twirling with your oldest? To do this well, you need to pull a muscle and barely be able to walk the next day.

4. Fort Building

There isn’t a week that goes by that my kids aren’t using the couch cushions to build a fort in the family room. However, wouldn’t they love it so much better if I built the fort with them? To make it extra special, try putting a card table in front of a closet and then covering it with a sheet. Assuming there isn’t a swamp of shoes and clothes on the floor, you can set up a mini-city. Spend the night in sleeping bags and watch a movie inside the fort while you all munch on popcorn. Let the fort stay up a few days to let the kids play in it before it gets taken down until the next year.

5. Tent Camping

If I have to explain this then you have bigger problems than trying to create a photographic memory for your kids. You can even pitch a tent in your own backyard for a fun change of pace.

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6. Film a Movie

Sit down with your kids and a notebook. Work together as a family to come up with a plot. Sometimes it’s easiest to pick fairytales that everyone knows so you can spend more time acting and recording, rather than figuring out logistics. This is a great time for dads to come into the picture. They can be in the movie or he can videotape. Think of the fun you will all have watching these movies together thirty years down the road.

7. Create a Photo Album

Decide on a theme such as Selfie Central (where you go around the house or city one day taking as many selfies as you can). There’s also Dress Up Then Mess Up (where your kids put on the tackiest outfits and accessories… and so do you). Another good one? Silly/Ugly faces. Take dozens of pictures, print them out and then store them in an album. You won’t believe how often your children will want to flip through so they can remember that special day.

8. Build a Card Tower or Dominoes Display

See Tent Camping (above).

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9. Read the Same Book, but Only Once a Year

Now it’s time to talk about my dad. Every Christmas Eve, no matter what, he always read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. After a few years of this, it wouldn’t have been Christmas Eve without my dad reading it to us. It’s one of my fondest and clearest memories of my dad and when I think back to it. Now when I bring the memory to to the forefront it makes me feel like daddy’s little girl all over again. Of course, I had to carry this tradition on with my own kids. There’s a certain intangible magic at work with special memories like this. Pass this incredible quality on to your children.

10. Spend the day acting like a kid with your kid(s)

You’ll need to plan ahead for this one. Events might include: water balloon fights, egg toss, participating in their lemonade stand, bike riding, chalk on the driveway, bubbles, board games, swinging with them as high as you can, etc. You do it all: you get messy, you get dirty, and you won’t regret it.

Conclusion

You will find one major commonality between the ten ideas above. Each feeds children the nutrients they need more than anything… your time, love, and undivided attention. It is an opportunity to make your children a center point and prove to them they are the most important thing to you. These traditions extend past the turkey dinner or Easter egg hunt. They are thoughtful, deliberate, and different. They are so cherished and different that there’s no doubt even one activity will create photographic and long lasting memories your child will have of you.

Featured photo credit: Browse more: carousel, fun, funfair, horses, night, traditionalTest Drive image Take a look how this image can be used! Traditional Carousel Horses on a Fun Fair Ride via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

Signs of depression in children

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

  • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
  • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
  • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to help your child with depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

Testing

There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

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  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

Therapy

There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

3. Limit screen time.

Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

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Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

6. Help your child reduce life stress.

When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

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Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

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    Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

    15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

    Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

    16. Talk about bullying.

    It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

    17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

    Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

    18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

    Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

    Depression in children is curable

    Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

    Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

    Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

    The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
    [2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
    [3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

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