By Peggy Ployhar

This blog is the final in my 7-part series on childhood depression. Through these articles, we have covered many issues and truths regarding childhood depression. But, we have also discussed how there’s always a silver lining of hope to be found amidst the dark days and trying situations childhood depression can bring into our homes.

I encourage you to read all the articles in this series to gain a comprehensive understanding of all six warning and guiding lights associated with childhood depression. To find a listing of all the previous posts in this series, refer to the bottom of this article for links.

Warning “S” – Symptoms

Mixed Signals
If you were to look up a list of the physical symptoms associated with depression, you will quickly realize the list compiled for adults is rather different than the list given for children. Children, in general, have fluctuating appetites and sleep patterns. Growth spurts and hormonal changes keep their bodies in a consistent flux. Thus, when it comes to looking for physical signs of depression in children, it is often difficult to differentiate between depression and the swings of adolescence.
Some children will isolate themselves when they are depressed, but others might be socially engaged and angry. On the other hand, one depressed child may start cutting himself, but another might be overly concerned with his appearance. And, to further complicate matters, there are some children who put on a happy face, participate in activities, get great grades, and make everyone believe are no underlying issues at all.

Act on Your Instinct
The problem with trying to stamp specific symptoms on a depressed child is that when parents can’t check off clearly defined boxes which indicate their child is depressed, they often won’t follow up on an instinctive feeling that something is off with their child. To that end, I want to encourage you to start a conversation with your child even if there are no physical warning signs present. In the long run, it’s better to have a dead-end conversation than to deal with depression once it has spiraled out of control.

Getting the conversation going may be a bit awkward, but don’t let that hold you back. If you want some help with approaching the issue, the best resource I have found is Stomping Out Depression by Neil T. Anderson and Dave Park. In general, your discussions don’t need to be elaborate or filled with great wisdom, you just need to take the time to have a meaningful conversation with your child. Get to the underlying roots of your child’s biggest struggles. Don’t judge. Offer compassion. And, show love through your willingness to be available and walk through these struggles alongside your him/her.

Guiding “S” – Serotonin and the Gut

A Natural Antidepressant
Serotonin is called the body’s natural anti-depressant. Unfortunately, serotonin taken as a supplement doesn’t come anywhere close to helping the body like the serotonin the human body manufactures on its own.

And, while I don’t have credentials to even discuss the medical and pharmaceutical benefits of serotonin, my research and experience have provided me with enough circumstantial evidence to warrant mentioning it and some things that increase and decrease natural serotonin production.

The Gut-Brain Connection
When I finally realized one of the main roots of my depression was linked to gut issues, I was in my mid-thirties. I had been unaware of how certain childhood circumstances, medical treatments, and prescriptions, as well as food choices, had negatively affected my gut bacteria.

It wasn’t until I met Diane Craft and learned about her Biology of Behavior information that I started putting together how my gut issues, and those of my children, were intricately linked to our many common issues, including depression. Diane’s material was extremely helpful in explaining how serotonin produced within a healthy gut, affects brain function.

If you would like more information on this gut-brain connection, here are some additional sources I would encourage you to explore:


Silver Lining

It is hard to summarize how dramatically my life, and my ability to think, has changed because of what God has revealed to me through my years of struggling with depression and subsequent years of healing. Going from constant hazy thinking, uncontrollable bursts of anger, and suicidal thoughts to who I am today is, in short, a miracle. If God had allowed the transformations I have summarized in these past 7 blogs to happen to me and my children overnight, there wouldn’t have been much wisdom for me to share.

But, God chose to heal us in a slower and more methodical way so we could gain understanding about regarding our relationship with Him, others and the world around us. I am eternally grateful He allowed me to walk this road in this manner. Not only did He do a good work in our family, but He has allowed us to be part of the good work He desires to do in those who come upon these articles and are ministered to through the lessons we have learned.

All praise and honor to Him who works His grace and mercy beyond the borders of what our human minds could ever conceive to ask or think. In Him, we find our peace and our purpose. It comes not from what we have to offer others from within ourselves, but rather what we’re able to share that He first shared with us.

I encourage your feedback and comments. God bless!


By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

All of our children have unique gifts that God has imparted to them. However, for the purposes of our discussion today, let’s look at giftedness from the purely academic viewpoint. One of the most puzzling scenarios we see in our children, is the child who is academically gifted, but performing so far below that standard. Often, this child can be seen as having a “character” problem. We might conclude that this child is “lazy, sloppy or unmotivated.” We use many different strategies to help that child perform better without success.

Today I want you to consider another possibility. This could be a child who is gifted but still has a learning glitch. Commonly, the child who is “gifted with a glitch” is the most misunderstood of our children. Let’s see if we can unravel this mystery child a bit.

Characteristics of Academic Giftedness
The general consensus is that an average IQ is 90-109. One can accomplish much with an average IQ. In general schooling settings, a child is considered for entry into “gifted” classes if his IQ measures at 120 or above. However, we home educators often do not have to have our child tested in order to know that he is academically gifted. We can see it in so many ways. 

Dr. Linda Silverman, author of Upside Down Brilliance, and founder of the Gifted Development Center in Colorado agrees with this ( She states that parents are excellent identifiers of giftedness in their children. She has found that 85% of the children whose parents say they fit three fourths of the following characteristics score at least 120 (superior range) in an IQ test.

    • Reasons well (a good thinker)
    • Extensive spoken vocabulary
    • Has strong curiosity
    • Has a great sense of humor
    • Is a keen observer
    • Has a wide range of interests
    • Avid reader (if a reading glitch is not present)
    • Concerned with justice and fairness
    • Tends to question authority
    • Often prefers older companions or adults

    You may have recognized these characteristics in your own child, but are puzzled because his performance does not match his IQ. Is this a manifestation of a character issue or a learning glitch?

    Twice Exceptional
    After I had finished homeschooling my son, I went back to teaching. I taught children who were identified as “Twice Exceptional”. I thought of them as “gifted with a glitch”, because they were identified as Gifted, which was one exception, while experiencing another exception: below average performance in schoolwork as the result of a learning disability.

    I learned so much working with these wonderful teenagers. I helped them overcome their learning glitch, so that they were free to do the things that God called them to do.

    Most Common Glitch
    The most common learning glitch that these children displayed was Dysgraphia. These teenagers had great ability to tell a story orally, but when they put the “offending utensil” in their hand, their mind shut down. I had them in my Language Arts class because they were turning in so little written work. (Math teachers also reported that they refused to “show their work” or, they made, “careless” math errors because they didn’t line up their numbers correctly, which is another subtle sign of this visual/spatial disorder.)

    Because spelling is usually taught by writing the words multiple times, or by filling in worksheets (with the offending utensil…the pencil), these young people had not memorized many common spelling words, such as “was, sure or what. They continued to misspell the days of the week and months of the year, even after we had studied them many times. This made their writing appear very primitive.

    Diagnosing the Spelling Gap
    When it came to spelling errors, my first goal was to determine whether this child really had not memorized the necessary words,or it could be that the child actually knew how to spell the words correctly, but misspelled them because of the writing glitch.

    When a child misspelled a common word, I asked him to spell it orally while I wrote it down for him to see. If he spelled it correctly orally, then I determined that the writing glitch was the biggest cause of this child’s spelling errors in writing.

    Filling in the Spelling Gap
    Then, I employed an exercise developed by Dr. Getman, forty years ago called “crossing the midline.” If the child spelled the word incorrectly even when I wrote it in front of him, then I realized that the method, which had thus far been used to teach this child spelling, was not the correct method to use to instruct him.

    Thus, I chose two methods that by-passed this problem:

    1. Right Brain spelling: utilizing the child’s strong photographic memory for storing non-phonetic spelling words 
    2. Sequential Spelling: to learn words with a phonetic pattern to them.

    Of the two programs, the Right Brain Spelling, utilizing the child’s strong Photographic Memory was the strongest program.

    Working Towards the End Goal
    To teach paragraph writing skills, I used a very basic step-by-step program I called Right Brain Writing, (I sometimes called this “Writing Without Curriculum”, because it is the parent/teacher working with the child, showing him how to think through all the steps of paragraphing). This method allowed the child to see the end from the beginning and follow an easy path to success. I developed this to be used even for the most basic non-writer. (To receive a free Daily Lesson Plan for the Struggling Writer and Speller, go to my website and download it).

    After a child has become adept at creating paragraphs working from a blank piece of paper, using this webbing and transition word method, (usually about nine months), then he often is ready to go on to a more sophisticated writing method developed by the Institute for Excellence in Writing or other programs like that.

    It is such a relief for a child to have his glitch identified and, based on that information, to utilize new methods of teaching him. Your child will be grateful.


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    By Melissa Smith

    Let’s talk about priorities. Balancing life as a wife, homeschooling mama, and a woman with dreams of her own takes a lot of grace and patience. As we juggle our daily schedules and goals for the year, interruptions to our plans and challenges often arise. These reroutes can be hard on our hearts as our time gets reallocated and our priorities shift. 

    Over the years, my priority shifts and reroutes have included: setting aside the dream of a photography business for homeschooling, adjusting a schedule for a sick child, rerouting when our home flooded, and learning we need to school differently because of special needs. I’ve set goals for this year, and I imagine you have too. What do we do then, when life throws us a curveball?

    As I discussed this with a dear friend of mine, she reminded me of God’s provision for us. With her permission, I’d like to share with you a few of her thoughts and close with a few of my own.

    When I was at one of my lowest points after the biggest physical injury of my life, I’ll never forget what my physical therapist told me. He explained to me how God created our bodies intelligently and masterfully so that when in crisis our bodies know instinctively to prioritize problems and face them one at a time. The order is always the same with the heart and lungs always taking top priority. So in a case where there are many competing problems or injuries, our bodies only take on the top priority first. As each one is resolved the body takes on the next in line. This made so much sense to me at the time because my back, which has been a lifelong issue, became a non-issue immediately after my head injury. As my head healed, my back, which was silent for so long after my fall, suddenly made its voice heard again. Whether we realize it or not, I believe we prioritize things mentally and emotionally just like our bodies prioritize its different systems.

    This wonderful wisdom and insight about our bodies reflects a couple beautiful lessons for us as we set priorities for our homes and families. The future lies before us with possibility. Here are a couple thoughts as we walk forward in the days to come.

    1. Make Some Plans

    The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his way.” Proverbs 16:9

    Go ahead! Make some plans this year and dream some dreams with your family. As you do, though, trust God as He directs your steps. The path forward is rarely straight, but the winding path He leads you on is full of adventure, more of Christ, and a fullness of life that is perfectly planned and appointed by God for you. Ask Him to help you adjust your priorities as those curveballs keep coming. 

    What dreams do you have?

    2. Trust His Timing

    And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in your will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

    Just like our bodies prioritize the greatest need of the moment, we must do the same. Tackle today’s challenges and trust God for tomorrow. This past fall, rebuilding our home after the flood became a high priority and took most of our time. I’m trusting God that we will catch up on school in time. Until then, we are savoring the lessons learned in this season.

    As I begin the journey of learning about ADHD and Dyslexia, I’m trusting God for the dreams I’ve set aside for the moment. He will complete the good work He has begun in each of us, and we can trust Him for the path to that completion. 

    In what areas do you need to trust God for His timing?

    3. Find Peace

    And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

    Priorities and plans are often tied to our hearts’ desires, and when they are not met as planned, it hurts. We will all face disappointments and setbacks and challenges. However, that is not the whole story. In the midst of those times, God is still at work in our hearts and our homes. 

    Commit all your plans, dreams, and priorities for this year to the Lord in prayer. He will form them, ask you to set some aside, redirect them, and even, fulfill some of them. Even so, the greatest reward we receive in prayer is having more of God in our lives. He offers us peace to accept what He gives with joy – even when it is not what we expected! 

    In what areas of your life do you need God to guard your heart and mind with His peace?



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