As a parent, you want the best for your child. If your child breaks his/her leg, you go to the hospital right away. But if your child is expressing anxiety or seems depressed, many parents aren’t sure what to do.
Children go through difficult periods where they need help, support or someone to listen, just like adults. Children deal with stress from school, bullying, friend drama, grief, bodily changes and many other transitions throughout childhood. Sometimes, children are not comfortable sharing their challenges or emotions with parents and, at times, are unsure if a problem is fleeting or something much more serious.
Here are some signs to look for that may indicate your child should talk to a therapist:
Changes in Eating or Sleeping Habits
- Sleeping too much or not at all is a red flag and new eating habits may indicate an eating disorder.
Engaging in Destructive Behaviors
- Self-destructive behaviors include cutting themselves, digging their nails into the skin, or other acts of self-mutilation. Other destructive behaviors include drug or alcohol abuse.
Extreme Sadness or Worry
- If a child seems unusually anxious, irritable or sad for an extended period of time and it is getting in the way of his/her ability to do normal routine things, it is a good idea to seek help.
- If a child’s behavior is disrupting the family or getting him/her in trouble in school, something more may be going on. Often times children express emotions through negative behaviors such as acting out, talking back or fighting with friends. Before you jump to punishing your child, think about whether talking to someone may be a better solution.
Talks about Death Frequently
- It is normal for kids to explore the concept of death and to be curious about it, but repeatedly talking about death and dying is a red flag. Listen for statements about suicide or thoughts about killing himself/herself or others—this requires immediate help.
(If your child is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance.)
The following situations include life changes or stressful situations that your child may not have the proper tools to cope with:
- Managing serious, acute or chronic illness
- Difficulty with a new sibling
- Parent getting divorced
- Custody evaluations
- Moving homes or changing schools
- Dealing with death in the family or a close friend
- Therapy following sexual, physical or emotional abuse or other traumatic events
Adults go to therapy for many of these exact same reasons, so it makes sense that a child would deal with a wide range of emotions and not know the proper coping skills and simply need someone to talk to who is not their parent. We have clinicians who are ready to work with you and your child, so please reach out today!
About Grace Kim:
Grace Kim is a Resident in Counseling providing services at the Woodbridge location. She is a Qualified Mental Health Professional for Children (QMHP-C) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Grace has extensive experience in providing outpatient counseling services to children, adolescents, and young adults. She also has sufficient experience working with adult clients with longstanding substance abuse issues. She is an individual who has had her own share of mental health challenges and, with the help of those around her, has been able to overcome obstacles and barriers in her life. To learn more about Grace, visit HERE.