My 13 year old daughter has undergone a worrying change over the past year. She used to be very helpful around the house without being told, she loved piano and would push herself to do well (even compete), and she enjoyed soccer. Although recently, she wants to quit piano, and won't practice unless we tell her to. She refuses to play sports. She stays in her room a lot and won't help around the house. She's always been quiet and reserved, but now she's even harder to get her to share her thoughts or any conversation at all. She only wants to watch TV, and rarely gets together with friends. She has always done things on her own terms; she has to be self-motivated to do anything. If we encouraged her to try something, she would resist unless it aligned with her desires. Now we try and try to get her involved in anything, even the things she used to be passionate about, but she digs in and refuses to do anything. How do we draw her out? What can we do that won't seem naggy or pushy?


Therapist Answer and Transcription

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So you have a 13 year old daughter who has experienced some difficult changes over the last year and I think there’s two things that come to mind for me. The first is she’s at a key developmental point in that she’s 13 and entering adolescence. This is a time when hormonal surges create a lot of moodiness in children that is really normal. It’s difficult for them and for us to know how to whether those ups and downs of adolescence, but the hormonal shifts of puberty are really important to keep in mind.

However, what you’re describing is seems to be much more pervasive. So, you are actually describing the symptoms of clinical depression. You’re seeing a long-term loss of interest in things that used to be pleasurable to her isolation and withdrawal from friendships and from family numbing Behavior, like just watching TV and not having motivation. These are all actually symptoms of underlying depression.

So, parent you are doing a beautiful job of holding that awareness and what you want to do, rather than attending to the symptoms, is look at the underlying issue which sounds like it’s depression. You want to be curious when you notice this behavior shift if there may have been a catalyzing event maybe a rejection and a relationship or betrayal and a friendship, any kind of shifts in your family dynamic, or what’s happening globally or culturally to be aware of some other factors that could kick this off. But, in general, it sounds like you may want to help her get to professional support for depression management.

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