As a parent, it’s natural that you want the best for your child. Sometimes, children don’t have the language to let us know that something is wrong or that they need to talk to someone. As a parent it may be difficult to know whether your child could benefit from mental health services. Some may think therapy is only for people who are dealing with severe mental illness but that is not the case. The truth is therapy can help with a wide range of everyday life challenges. Therapy can also help children deal with difficult school situations, changing social circles, and practicing new skills like communication. It can also prevent small issues from becoming even bigger issues in the future. That’s why it can be helpful to know common signs that children show when they may need to see a therapist.
Challenges a Therapist Can Help With
Low self-esteem. Perhaps your child has very little confidence in their abilities. When they make a mistake, they are self-critical. They often worry about what others think about them.
Social isolation. Your child has difficulty making friends and is often nervous about meeting new people.
Academic difficulties. These difficulties could be a signal your child has attentional and focusing challenges.
Changes in family environment. A recent death or divorce in the family can be disruptive to a child.
Anxiety. Your child is fearful when encountering new situations whether at home or at school. They rarely leave their comfort zone.
Sadness. Your child has been experiencing a depressed mood and no longer interested in activities they once enjoyed. They tend to be tired or have little energy and lack motivation.
Suicidal thoughts or actions. A child who makes comments like “I wish I was dead” or “I do not want to live anymore” may be thinking of suicide. Whenever a child is expressing these thoughts, they should be taken very seriously even if you think they do not mean it.
Self-harm. Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. This would include cutting oneself or scratching oneself. You may see the scars on the arms and/or legs.
Defiant behavior. Not listening to rules, yelling, talking back to parents and other adults are signs of oppositional behavior. Therapy will help to get to the root cause of these behaviors.
Perfectionism. When a child becomes obsessed with grades and self-critical when they make a mistake, this may be a sign your child has switched from healthy performance driven behavior to perfectionism.
Physical body issues. Anxiety will often manifest as somatic symptoms. A child may complain of stomachaches or headaches and may have no idea that their mental health is the cause. This can include not eating or eating too much. A change in sleep could include night terrors, nightmares, struggles with falling asleep or staying asleep.
Anger outbursts. Being easily irritated or having difficulty controlling anger are signs of difficulty with identifying and managing emotions.
Children trying to overcome these challenges on their own may feel overwhelmed and confused. A therapist can come along side to support and equip you and your child with strategies to improve and maintain mental health. Child therapy can help your child learn how to express their emotions, find new ways to cope and soothe themselves, and build up their sense of confidence. If your child is experiencing any of the above problems, reach out to a child and adolescent therapist at The Summit.