Although we all want the best for our children, it’s normal for them to experience anxiety, moodiness, and difficulties with friends or school. And, with our support, they’re resilient enough to rise above these challenges.
However, there may be a time when they need to work with a therapist. Situations like divorce, adjusting to a new situation like moving or having a sibling, bullying, managing an illness, or sexual, physical, or emotional abuse are some examples of when a therapist may help. However, since you know your child best, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, then please contact a psychotherapist specializing in children and adolescents -- besides searching online, ask your family doctor for references.
Additionally, you should also pay close attention to the following warning signs. If you notice of these, make an appointment for your child to see a counselor or therapist as soon as possible.
1. Developmental delays or regressions, such as bed-wetting, losing language, or neediness.
2. Has problems with family relationships, friends, academic performance, and leisure activities. For example, behaving badly at school and no longer being interested in activities that they once enjoyed.
3. Changes in normal daily activities, like a change in eating or sleeping habits.
4. Reclusiveness or social isolation.
5. Persistent feelings of sadness or helplessness.
6. Engaging in destructive behavior, such as self-mutilation or drug or alcohol abuse.
7. Shows excessive worry about the future -- it’s normal for kids to worry occasionally, but it’s a concern when obsessing over every little thing that could go wrong.
8. Increased physical complaints, like headaches or stomachaches.
9. A preoccupation with illness or their appearance which may result in excessive dieting or binging followed by vomiting.
10. Talking or thinking about death/suicide.
11. An inability to concentrate, think clearly, make decisions, or sit still.
12. Has made comments like “Nobody would care if I wasn’t here.”
13. Performing routines obsessively throughout the day, such as washing hands or cleaning things.
Have you noticed any of these red flags in your child? If so, don’t hesitate in approaching the topic with them. Do not judge them. Instead, ask them if this is something that they would like to get help with. Most importantly, listen to what they have to say.
If they do want to get, talk to your pediatrician, your child’s teacher, other parents, or resources like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. When you do find the right therapist for your child, see if you can schedule a free consultation to determine if your child needs help or not.