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3 Signs Your Child May Need Counseling
Counseling is not a word that many parents visualize in their child’s life. Childhood is supposed to be happy and carefree. This simply is not the case for every child. Even children are vulnerable to mental health issues brought about by circumstances or heredity.
Determine if a child needs counseling
Parents know their children. They can tell, just by observation, whether a child is going through a hard time. Family members are always best placed to pick up on warning signs that suggest a child needs counseling. Here is what a parent should watch for.
1. Mood changes, behavioral problems and inability to concentrate
Every individual child has a unique personality and temperament. These foundational aspects of a child rarely change unless something triggers a shift in personality. The change often comes with behavioral or concentration problems. Here are some indicators to which a parent must pay attention:
- Withdrawal from family, friends, school activities and social activities
- A sudden drop in grades and performance
- Hyperactivity that is sometimes disruptive and gets the child in trouble at school or home
- Bursts of anger that are triggered by seemingly trivial things
- An inability to cope with challenges, big or small
- Self-harm or violent behavior towards others
A parent who notices one or more of these changes should pay close attention to the child. More often than not, these signs point to underlying problems like depression, anxiety, bullying, a learning disability or other types of mental health issues.
Some children also have a hard time sitting still and an even harder time concentrating for extended periods. This affects their ability to function and succeed in many aspects of daily life. A lack of concentration can manifest as disruptive behavior in a classroom or present as spacing out where the child constantly retreats into an internal world.
Lack of concentration can point to deeper issues like depression, ADD or even a shortage of stimulation in children that find their daily routine lacking challenge. The latter issue is usually a good problem that points to a super-artistic or super-intelligent personality.
2. Changes in eating and sleeping habits
Parents know the eating and sleeping patterns of their children from an early age. They know the kid who always finds an excuse to stay up late. They know the one who always wakes them at five when they have a project going on. They know the picky eater and the one who likes a full breakfast at the start of the day.
When a parent notices a sudden change in eating and sleeping habits, they should keep an eye out for changes in behavior and personality. Combined, a change in behavioral patterns and personality suggest a need for counseling.
3. Substance abuse
This is a warning sign that is more common with older children. A parent should never adopt a wait-and-see approach with substance abuse for the following reasons:
- The substances that the child abuses are often addictive
- The actual behavior of abusing substances is also addictive
- Addictions are hard to kick, and it only gets harder as time goes by
- Substance abuse usually causes an individual to engage in risky behavior that can affect their life in the long term
If parents notice dilated pupils, the smell of alcohol or other substances and wildly varying behavior, they should get their child into counseling. Without outside help from a professional, substance abuse can get out of hand and take over the child’s life.
If you feel your child needs help, act now
Counseling is a tool that can help a child deal with the challenges of life. Counselors offer a safe and supportive space for any child to open up about what is going on. By getting to the root of the problem, a children's counselor can recommend a way forward, help the child develop the tools needed to work through the issues and provide a sense of perspective that looks forward to the future. Speak to a counselor right away to get the process started.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Counseling in Columbia, SC.
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