All children face obstacles as they grow up. They experience stress, guilt, grief, social challenges and other difficulties. People used to think that children do not experience these normal aspects of life in the same way as adults. However new research is showing that these stressors impact children in a similar way that these stressors impact adults. Children can react with anxiety, depression and high levels of stress just like adults do.
It can sometimes be difficult for adults to figure out what is a temporary stage for their children or if they should seek some professional help.
Here are six signs that your child may need to see a therapist:
- They are having difficulties at home or in school. When children are feeling stressed, they typically show it by acting out. This may look like having a hard time listening, breaking rules, fighting with siblings or even becoming aggressive with others.
- Their relationships with friends change drastically. Every child is different socially. Some are happy with a small group of friends and some want to be around lots of people. However if they start avoiding friends or social interactions all together, it could be a red flag.
- They start displaying signs of negative self-esteem. Children may have times that they feel insecure about themselves. Long-term patterns of negative self-esteem could be a sign of larger issues. Watch for phrases such as “everyone hates me” or “I hate myself.”
- They are sad or worried frequently. Crying and feeling worried is a normal part of childhood. However if this starts to interfere with their ability to go to school or take care of themselves, therapy could be a good fit.
- They have changes in sleep or appetite. Watch for children eating too much or not enough, especially if it continues for a long time. Children that have excessive issues falling asleep, staying asleep or excessive nightmares may benefit from therapy.
- They talk or think about death repeatedly. It is normal for children to be curious and ask about death. Repeated talk about death could be a red flag for larger issues. Watch for any statements about hurting themselves or hurting others. Seek help at any signs of these statements.
These are important signs but certainly not all the signs that therapy might be helpful for your child. Parents know their children best.
Watch for any major changes in your child’s behavior, emotions or expressions. If you feel like something is not right, trust your gut.
Children, even ones as young as three, can benefit from therapy. Children may be hesitant about therapy. Typically once they meet their therapist, children tend to find it very helpful and may even enjoy themselves! Reach out to a family therapist to ask if therapy might be beneficial for your child. We would be happy to help you find the best fit for your family.
Laura Lebovitz, LAMFT
llebovitz @ growcounseling.com
Photo Cred: Madeline Padner