All children play, act out, and at times may express alarming behavior. As children age, they experience behavioral changes as a natural part of their development. While sometimes these behaviors are simply transitory, persisting negative emotions and obsessive behaviors may be a sign that your child needs help.
Mental health disorders occur in children more often than you may think. Some mental health disorders are biological, while others arise due to environmental stressors, or occur as a mixture of both factors. Overlooking or neglecting a child’s disorder can lead to disruptions in their social, emotional, and cognitive growth. By treating mental health disorders early in life, children can have positive, long-term outcomes that promote optimal development.
What are some common disorders?
Children may experience mental health disorders such as:
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders such as Bulimia, Anorexia, or unhealthy, ritualistic behaviors
When do I seek help?
If your child’s emotions and behaviors continue to persist and concern you, seek professional help. A therapist specialized in mental health disorders can assess your child and determine if their behavior is just a phase or something more serious. Warning signs that indicate your child needs help include:
- Excess anxiety and worry over unreasonable things
- Unexplained fears
- Poor concentration/inability to focus or sit still
- Sad and feelings of hopelessness that do not go away
- Constant anger, crying, or overreacting to things
- Declining performance in school
- Loss of interest in hobbies he/she once enjoyed
- Suicidal tendencies
- A need to perform certain ritualistic behaviors hundreds of times per day to avoid unsubstantiated danger
- Obsessive dieting and dramatic weight loss/purging
- Feeling overwhelmed by life
- Hearing voices that cannot be explained
- Purposely killing or hurting animals
- Breaking the law without regard for others
If your child expresses these warning signs, consider seeking a therapist for professional help. Sometimes parents may also experience anxiety about their child’s mental health. A therapist can help ease the parents’ anxieties about their children and provide assurance. Additionally, attending family therapy can help provide a comprehensive diagnosis of your child’s behaviors and identify the root of the problem. For more information about mental health disorders in children, visit CounselingCalifornia.com.
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