How do you motivate a depressed child?

How do you motivate your depressed and anxious 18 -year -old to prioritize and take an active
role in their own mental health? Well, that's what we're talking about today on Tips on Teens.
My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in
helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations, the group
Private Practice Teen Therapy Center, and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen
Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto
Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions, and let's jump into today's. I saw your video
this week about medication. My issue is that my daughter is struggling with depression and
anxiety. She's 18. She just graduated high school last year. She's unable to do distance learning,
so she's not starting college, and she won't get a job either. We've been trying to get her to
do something, but she just lays around the house. We've seen a psychiatrist

who prescribed medication, but she didn't take it. She says she doesn't want to rely on the medication,
but she also won't do the things to make herself feel better. Thank you for your question or your
comment. I'm assuming there's a question there. I'm gonna just operate as if the question is
what do we do about this, and there's a lot of factors on this. The first I want to be aware of is
safety. If you have an individual who is depressed, anxious, is resisting some treatment,
my concern, first like, it may not be the case, but first thing you wanna rule out is is she a danger
to herself or possibly others, but more possibly to herself? Is she suicidal? And you may wanna
just ask her, hey, do you ever have thoughts of hurting yourself or killing yourself? Do you
think about dying? Most likely, she'll be honest with you. If she's not thinking about it, she'll
say no, and she'll look at you like, what, are you crazy? And don't worry, you're not gonna plant
the seed in her head. If she's

not into it, she's not into it. However, she may give you the shrug of I don't know, maybe, and
that's where, as a therapist, I would be concerned. I would keep talking to her about this. Let's
assume also that she won't go see a therapist also. If you feel that she is a danger to herself
and it's beyond just thoughts, maybe she's thought about a plan, she has the means to carry out
that plan, she has intent to carry out that plan. If any of those things start popping up, you
probably wanna call 911, have a social worker come out, evaluate her, possibly take her to a
hospital to get her better treatment for a 72 -hour hold where she'll get proper medication,
proper treatment. After that, she can then transition to an external therapist outside of
the hospital or an intensive outpatient program, maybe a residential program. That's the
first thing we want to address. Secondly, let's assume that her life is not in danger, she's
just feeling like a lump on a log, she's hitting quarantine, she's

isolated, she just wants to be on her phone or on her iPad, and she won't do the medication, well,
why not? Doctor prescribed it, why wouldn't she do this? It's possible that this funk she's
in is familiar and she knows what to expect. She doesn't like it, but the alternative, the unknown,
is really frightening. She knows this, and she knows she can stay in this, and so just stay there.
Obviously, we want her to grow and get beyond that, preferably through therapy, possibly medication,
activities, things like that, and many of you are thinking right now, well, Kent, just set some
boundaries, just set some boundaries with that girl, the teacher who's boss. Well, in theory,
that sounds great, and I love boundaries just like the next person. However, she may just say
no, and then what are you left with? Nothing. You have to find something that motivates her.
My hunch is it's online stuff. It's not the car, because she's not leaving, she's not going anywhere,
right? So it's probably her phone,

her iPad, her computer, it's Wi -Fi, so you may need to get to a point where if you do set a boundary,
it's something along the lines of at this point, at point A, date, time of this time, you need
to start paying for your own Wi -Fi, your own phone, or else it gets deactivated, or in that scenario,
she's gonna say, but I need the Wi -Fi to get a job. If you turn the Wi -Fi off, then I can't get a job,
so I can't do anything. You say, well, okay, well, from time X, time Y, you have Wi -Fi access,
because I'm next to you, and I can see that you're looking for a job. You're not going on Minecraft
or YouTube. So if you wanna take this time to apply for jobs, that's fine. Anything outside of
that, you gotta pay for. Will she be upset? Yes. This is why it's really important, and you guys
hear me talk about this all the time, the importance of connection between parent and child.
I know she's 18, but emotionally, this 18 -year -old is still a kid, and she needs your support,
and she needs to

know that you are in her corner, and you love her, not through shame, not through anger, but through
compassionate, loving boundaries. You can still set a boundary around Wi -Fi and still be respectful
and compassionate, and that's something that's hard to do for us parents, because we get so
frustrated, because we think, if you just do this, you'll be fine, and it sounds easy, but if
you're depressed, or you're suffering from significant anxiety, it's not that easy. So I would
make sure that she's not feeling alone. Make sure that she's connected with you. If she'll at
least go out and take the dog for a walk with you, and you guys can talk about music, talk about
her favorite shows, talk about things that she's interested in, that's what you wanna focus
on. You don't wanna focus on what she's doing wrong, because she's already doing that in her
head all the time. That's what she's trying to avoid. But if she has experience with you, where
she feels that you accept her and love her, maybe

she can start internalizing that in herself as well. It's a difficult situation, because she's
18. And you can't just shove her somewhere. She's gonna just say, no, I'm 18, you can't make me
do it. And to some extent, she's right. You can't just drop her off at a residential program,
because she can just walk out. She's 18. They can't force her to stay there. So hopefully we can
talk to her more about the benefits of medication, and why it's worth trying, if the doctor prescribed
it, and it's not relying on her forever. It may just be right now to help stabilize her and get
her on her feet, just like any other medication would be. You know, may not be a chronic need for
the medication. Hopefully you can get her to see a therapist. Whether it's in person or online,
get her talking to someone, get her off YouTube. I think it's really important. It's a complicated
question. Obviously, we only know a small slice of this pie. There's a lot more detail with this
question. But if you have more

questions, you can always call us here. And if you have a question you'd like me to answer here
on Tips on Teens, just email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com, or you could just
direct message us. We love that too. Also on Instagram, we love your questions there. Thanks
again. And again, my name is Ken Toussaint, and I'll see you next Wednesday at noon on Facebook
Live. Bye -bye, guys.

Helping a Depressed Kid

How do you motivate a depressed child? Setting boundaries to get your kid to do stuff sounds great in theory. But what if your kid is depressed or suffering from significant anxiety? Setting compassionate and loving boundaries is essential if you’re going to help them. Your kid needs to know that you still love them. They need to know that you’re in their corner.

If you have a depressed kid who is resisting treatment, the first thing to be concerned about is safety. Do you need to be concerned about self harm? You may want to start by asking your kid if they’ve ever thought about hurting themselves. If you feel your kid is a danger to themselves, you might need to call 911 or have a social worker come out and evaluate.

Looking Out for Self Harm

If his/her life is not in danger, but there’s no motivation, it may be an issue of familiarity. The “funk” they’re in may be familiar. Your kid knows they can stay safe by keeping things the way they are. The alternative, the unknown, is really frightening. We want them to grow and get beyond that. That requires a special combination of connection, love and compassion.

Here’s this week’s Tips on Teens comment that we took as a question:

“I saw your video this week about medication. My issue is that my daughter is struggling with depression and anxiety. She’s 18. She just graduated high school last year. She’s unable to do distance learning so she’s not starting college. She won’t get a job either. We’ve been trying to get her to do something but she just lays around the house. We’ve seen a psychiatrist, who prescribed medication, but she didn’t take it. She says she doesn’t want to rely on the medication, but she also won’t do things to make herself feel better.”

Here’s more about helping a kid with depression.

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.