How do you motivate a depressed child?

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.

Skip to content