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The Proulx Global Education and Community Foundation

Is my child Sad or Depressed?

What’s the difference?

Is my child sad or depressed?

What’s the difference?

Look for these 5 signs

  1. Has your child stop playing and making art?
  2. Does your child complain of physical pains?
  3. Is your child showing signs of aggression or isolation?
  4. Has your child or teen stopped sleeping or eating normally?
  5. Does your teen harm themselves with punishing thoughts or self-cutting behaviours?

Life for some children can be challenging and while it is normal to feel sad from time to time, depression in children is tougher to decipher.

[cl-flipbox front_title=”1. Has your child stopped playing and making art?” front_textcolor=”#ffffff” front_bgimage=”333″ back_title=”” back_desc=”Creative play, art-making and imaginative play are all natural activities for children. It’s a critical outlet for processing feelings and making sense of their world. Children who lose interest in playing for two weeks or more, in different settings, may be at risk for depression.” height=”300″ padding=”10%”]

2. Does your child complain of physical pains?

Frequent stomach pains, headaches or other physical complaints may indicate your child or teen is not just sad.

[cl-flipbox front_title=”3. Is your child showing signs of aggression or isolation?” front_textcolor=”#ffffff” front_bgimage=”329″ back_title=”” back_desc=”Some children act out or show hostile behaviour when they are depressed. They may not be able to concentrate at school. It may be difficult for them to express their sadness or grief in healthy ways, and if it persists over time, it can impact their daily functioning. Some children internalize their feelings and shut down or isolate. They may stop spending time with friends, stop talking, and mainly keep their worries and fears to themselves.” height=”400″ padding=”10%”]

[cl-flipbox direction=”e” front_title=”4. Has your child or teen stopped sleeping or eating normally?” front_textcolor=”#ffffff” front_bgimage=”331″ back_title=”” back_desc=”Changes in weight, sleep disturbance, and interest in food may indicate a risk of depression.” height=”400″ padding=”10%”]

[cl-flipbox direction=”s” front_title=”5. Does your teen harm themselves with punishing thoughts or self-harming behaviours?” front_textcolor=”#2ea3f2″ front_bgimage=”328″ back_title=”” back_desc=”Have they expressed any suicidal fantasies? Feelings of worthlessness, critical thoughts and wishes to end their life are worrisome indicators. Talk to them directly about your concerns. Research shows that talking about suicidal thoughts openly with another person actually reduces the risk of suicide. Ask them to draw or write a story about their feelings. Respond to their work with interest and curiosity. Do not hesitate to ask questions and listen with openness to their words. Pay attention to their verbal and non-verbal cues. Seek support from your network of relatives and friends. Consult a doctor.” padding=”10%”]

Kids and youth who witness or experience domestic violence, substance abuse, poverty, the death of a loved one, natural disasters, violence or genetic predisposition may be more at risk for depression, though any child can experience it. As the leading cause of disability in the world, we owe to our kids to help prevent depression and seek treatment early. 

Remember that the symptoms of depression in children vary.

Give them a Visual Voice. Here are 3 powerful art activities to do with your child or teen

1. Power Shield

An altered matchbox or shoebox is an ideal project to help your child or teen create. Encourage them to glue magazine pictures and words, torn paper, small objects on the inside of the box to represent how they feel. They can add paint, ink or anything they choose as well. It will help you understand what’s going on for them, and may initiate new conversations between you. It can be a symbol of protection and self-care. It allows your youth to use the box as a safe place to put their anxiety, fears and frustrations. They can include notes or drawings of things that bother them, and then close the box as they let those feelings go for the moment.

2. Self Care Box

This is a great ways to explore your child or teen’s strengths. Make an oval shape out of sturdy cardboard. Invite them to decorate their shield on both sides. Ask them to consider their strengths, and to create symbols to represent them on the outside of the shield. These resilient qualities will guide them through the ups and downs of life. If your child is ready to talk about them, be open and listen actively. What do you want to show the public? What strengths do they want to foster to counter feelings of sadness, loss or depression? The inner side of the shield will show what they want to keep hidden. Ask them to draw symbols or simple shapes to show what they feel. What do they want to hide from the world? What would they like to protect? This will help you better understand what they may be struggling with.

[cl-flipbox animation=”cubeflip” direction=”s” front_title=”3. Try this playful, sensory activity called Goop, with simple materials from your kitchen!” front_textcolor=”#2ea3f2″ front_bgimage=”359″ back_title=”” back_desc=”The Proulx Foundation is proudly sponsoring 100 giveaways of this powerful 90- minute art therapy intervention video. For parents, caregivers, art therapists, and therapeutic artists, here is an intervention that is priceless, in the right hands. In the full-length video, Executive Director Lucille Proulx explains the process, delivers a real-life demonstration and answers observational questions. Start your 3-month viewing rights completely free of charge.” padding=”10%”]

What else can you do to help?

  • Stay calm when your child becomes sad, anxious or withdrawn about a situation or event.
  • Spend time with your child playing and making art ask them to choose the art activity they want to do. Then follow their lead try to understand the messages they are conveying in their art and behaviour
  • Don’t punish mistakes or lack of progress.
  • Try to maintain a regular eating and sleeping routine.
  • Increase your attention and support during stressful periods.
  • Seek professional advice. If you would like a referral to an art therapist in your area, please contact us and let us know where you’re located. We also provide online therapy sessions with registered art therapists for a fee. Ask us for more details.

How can I get involved?


Your organization can join forces with us to improve opportunity in an under-served community.  Contact us to discover all the ways you can support our initiatives.  We are always need volunteers, art supplies, and services in-kind.

Speak up

Get in touch with us to raise awareness about the desperate need for youth-centred, innovative mental health and wellness programs in communities across Canada.


Your donation will help support Proulx Foundation programs that use evidence-based mental health and arts-based techniques to heal from historical trauma and the challenges children, youth and families face today.

“Your donation provides training for a community leader to learn the techniques and skills needed to support youth.”

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