Five Signs Your Child May Need Counseling
By: Samantha E. Peritz, LPC
Everyone wants to believe that they know their children best, and the truth is you probably do. If your gut is telling you that something isn’t right with your child’s emotional state or behavior, there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help. Sometimes, it is not easy to establish when it may be time to send your child to a mental health professional. Here are five signs that signal that you may need to seek treatment for your child.
- Drop in school performance – More than anyone, you know your child’s abilities. If you notice a sudden and significant drop in grades it may be due to depression, anxiety, bullying, or even an unidentified learning disorder. Don’t rush to judgement if the grade in question is on one exam but if your child brings home a report card that is far outside their capabilities, it may be time to do some digging. Adults that work in school settings may have noticed a change in your child too, so speak to their teachers, school counselors, or other support staff who can give you a broader idea of what is happening at school. Don’t be afraid to reach out and gather some information. Any information can be helpful for a therapist as they begin to work with your child.
- Significant change in emotion – Everybody has instances when they are emotional and sadness,worry, and tears are not uncommon in kids. However, if your child is sad or worried to the point where it is affected their ability to enjoy life or focus in school take note.
- Isolating – There are times everyone wants to be alone and being an introvert is no cause for alarm. This refers more to an outgoing, extroverted individual that suddenly does not want to spend any time with friends. Friend groups will change and evolve over time so listen for statements that indicate a lack of friends or a loss of confidence. Another thing to watch for here includes a talkative child who suddenly becomes very quiet or silent. If you aren’t sure if your child is isolating, ask them about friends they haven’t talked about in a while. They may open up to you or it may give you some insight into other changes you have been noticing.
- Physical symptoms – Sometimes the warning signs that your child needs help relate to things we call areas of daily living. Is your child eating less or more than normal? Has your child started getting less sleep or seemingly sleeping all of the time? Is your child reporting an increase in stomach aches or headaches? These can all be signs that your child is dealing with something emotional that they don’t know how to address. Not all of us are blessed with good insight into our own emotions, this goes for kids too. Sometimes these seemingly unrelated things like eating and sleeping habits are the only way we know something is wrong.
- Self-destructive behavior – If your child is repeatedly in engaging behaviors of which the goal is self-harm it is a sign that they need to talk to someone. This can be hitting themselves, cutting, banging their heads against walls/tables, or even digging their nails into their skin with the intent of causing pain. Any talk of suicide or killing another person requires immediate help from an expert. Your child may not use the term suicide so listen for cues like wishing they wouldn’t wake up in the morning or that they were never born.
It is important to note that it is not necessary for your child to present with all of these signs, one is sufficient in signaling that assistance may be required. In truth, sometimes your child or adolescent will tell you if additional support is needed. Do not to dismiss this request out of hand. While it may feel uncomfortable to you that your son or daughter is requesting help from a stranger, denying this request can actually create animosity within your relationship. Consider that this means your child is struggling with something that they are not prepared or do not know how to address with you. Realizing that your child needs emotional support from a professional does not mean you have done something wrong. In fact, recognizing that your child requires extra help shows that you are attentive to their needs which is one of the most important parts of being an effective parent.
Sam Peritz, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor at The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center. Located in Schaumburg, Illinois, The Lighthouse, founded by Dr. Ray and Jean Kadkhodaian, provides the guiding light of emotional wellness for individuals, couples and families. In addition to providing a unique and more successful approach to working with couples called, Couples Synergy, and a powerful family program called, Family Synergy Therapy, The Lighthouse provides services such as: marriage counseling, relationship counseling, family therapy, individual counseling, divorce counseling, spiritual counseling and personal development workshops. For more information, look us up online at, https://www.LighthouseEmotionalWellness.com