Advertising
Advertising

Grandma’s Brain Benefits From Spending Time With Kids, Study Finds

Grandma’s Brain Benefits From Spending Time With Kids, Study Finds

Planning on hiring a babysitter to look after your children while you are away with work? On top of the financial costs, how can you be sure they are getting the love they deserve? Thankfully, all your worries can be calmed by simply looking to the wonderful women who raised you. Having grandma look after your kids is the most natural and rewarding experience for all.

You may imagine that this will place undue stress or uncomfortable situations on poor old granny. However, most grandmas would be delighted to spend more time with their grandchildren. Grandchildren can help to keep old people happy, joyful and energetic. Bonding with the newest and the youngest generation of the family brings a great sense of pride and happiness.

Grandchildren Bring Mental Health Benefits

It’s also believed that playing or whiling away time with children can increase grandma’s golden years. Dropping the kids at Grandma’s place can play an essential positive role in dealing with age related brain illnesses. So long as she’s happy to spare the time, you may actually be helping her fight against a number of mental health problems!

Advertising

An interesting study published in ‘Menopause’, a journal of North American Menopause Society, revealed that grandmothers who spend time taking care of their grandchildren exhibit lower risks of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive turmoil. An Alzheimer’s test  conducted on women between the ages of 57-68 further supports these notions. Those who scored the highest scores were the ones watching and playing with their grandchildren, at least once in a week.

It’s also been seen that frequent or regular social interaction can help older people to stay mentally fit and calm. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found  senior people who spend too much living alone without family interactions suffer from a 26% higher death risk during a period of seven years.

Closing the Generation Gap While Squashing Depression

Advertising

old-people-616718_1280

    Today, in many societies across the globe, senior people tend to live alone or with their better halves rather than staying together in one big family home. While they do not depend on their kids economically or socially, it has created a huge gap between generations – grandparents, parents, and offspring.

    Depression is less likely to happen if grandparents create a strong bond with an adult grandkid. Researchers belonging to the Institute on Ageing at Boston College analyzed data from 700 grandparents and grandkids over a period of 19 years. They found that deeper the relationship between the two, the less the depression.

    Factors that help create a stronger bond

    • When a child becomes more emotionally attached with the grandparents
    • When a child has a regular contact with his or her grandparent
    • When a child considers their grandparent to be a strong pillar of support

    Along with grandchildren, grandparents need support too. If grandparents receive tangible support, they are even more likely to escape from depression. Lead researcher Sara Moorman believes the greater emotional attachment and support exchanged between grandparents and grandchildren, the better their mental and physiological health.

    Advertising

    Caring for grandchildren helps seniors avoid isolation, and thus, indirectly mitigates depression and early death. A strong, healthy bond between the grandparents and grandchildren has anti-depression benefits for both parties.

    Remember – She’s a Grandma, not a Nanny!

    for-reading-752607_1280

      More time is also not always better, In fact, too much time can be a bad thing. Grandmothers spending five days a week or more time in babysitting actually scored lower on the Alzheimer’s test. Mood was considered to be a factor in this instance. Kids can drive their grandma’s crazy if they are particularly unruly and left together for extended periods of time. Grandmothers certainly don’t want to be treated as if they are just a ‘nanny’.

      Advertising

      The time your children spend with grandma should be a great experience for both, not a chore! Here are some ideas for fun activities grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy together.

      1. Going for a walk in a park or nature
      2. Starting a book reading club together
      3. Creating a family tree
      4. Having a tea party
      5. Visiting a local zoological park
      6. Practicing or passing down a hobby
      7. Going on a day trip to a new place or city

      Whichever activity you choose, make it a special grandma and grandchild experience. Do not be tempted to bring a third person into the experience. If the distance between child and grandparent is an issue, utilize phone calls, social media, skype or anything you can to maintain a strong connection between them.

      More by this author

      How To Wake Up Earlier: Science-Backed Tricks For Night Owls How to Make Learning Fun for Adults 3 Home Exercises To Fix Your Rounded Shoulders In One Month When You Drink Water On An Empty Stomach After Waking Up, These 8 Amazing Things Will Happen 20 Rules to Live by for Those Who Want to Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Weeks

      Trending in Parenting

      1 Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It) 2 17 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 3 The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best 4 How to Teach Your Kid to Read at Home 5 How To Teach Your Kid About Emotions And Feelings

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      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:

      Advertising

      • 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.

      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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]

      Advertising

        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

        Read Next