Signs Your Young Child has Emotional Issues
When it comes to your child’s well-being and the expectations of their future, your dreams may know no boundaries. Having big dreams for your child, however, can be interrupted if you fail to provide the help they may need when emotional conditions arise. This can happen without intending to if you don’t recognize the signs of these conditions. Emotional health is as important as their physical health.
It’s important for parents to realize that “children can develop the same mental health conditions as adults,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Children, as young as infants and toddlers, can be beleaguered with emotional conditions or issues. These conditions or issues can significantly impact their overall health and interfere, even disrupt, their development and the successful achievement of their goals. This is why recognizing the symptoms of these varied conditions critical.
However, emotional conditions can be difficult for most parents to identify. This is the reason why many children don't get the treatment they need and why their conditions can get worse. This is the challenge confronting many parents, and it may be yours too. This underscores the significance of recognizing and understanding the warning signs of emotional conditions and issues in children.
The statistics on the prevalence of emotional conditions – depression, anxiety, ODD, ADHD, eating disorders, etc. – isn’t firmly established. Some references say that about 10 percent of children and teenagers suffer from an emotional condition, while other sources, including the U.S. Surgeon General, claim that the figure could be as high as one in five children or 20 percent. WebMD says that, “nearly 5 million children in America have some type of mental illness.”
These statistics could reflect the varying perceptions regarding what may be considered as “emotional conditions” among children. While a smaller fraction can potentially develop into severe cases, it is advantageous that parents recognize potential signs of emotional conditions. Your recognition of the symptoms constitutes the first step in getting your child assessed, diagnosed and treated by a qualified professional treatment.
Whatever the statistical figures may indicate, however, it is best not to ignore the potential harm that poor emotional health can do to a child. Despite the advances and technologies of our times, many children continue to suffer from emotional health issues and not receive the treatment they need. In fact, many studies indicate that “three out of four children… go unrecognized and do not receive the care they need…” Why? Parents are challenged and unsure what to do.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “young children are less likely to get emotional health treatment than their grownup counterparts.” Not knowing how to express their feelings and thoughts, children depend on their parents’ or elders’ attention and wisdom when it comes to recognizing if there is something wrong. Not every parent, though, is prepared for this task/responsibility. Why is it difficult for parents to recognize the telltale signs of emotional conditions or issues in children?
The primary reason is not knowing what symptoms or signs to take note of or look for. It may not be easy to tell if these manifestations are unnatural or different from usual behavior because there is a tremendous range of behaviors that may be considered developmentally common, appropriate and acceptable.
Parents may also justify that these behaviors are just part of a phase in their development that will soon pass. Parental love may similarly make it too difficult to accept that their child is struggling. Then, there is the concern about what others may say or think. Despite the effort to educate this generation about emotional health and conditions, many people still consider them as something to be embarrassed about.
Signs to Recognize
There are many emotional conditions that can affect your child. Some of these are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorder. Each of these has “defining” or “hallmark” symptoms. For instance, excessive sadness is the most notable symptom of depression. Children with ODD are usually rebellious and disobedient. Those with ADHD are hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive.
It can be productive for parents to know the different conditions and symptoms, but know that not every child exhibits the usual symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association advises parents to “go with their intuition when they see something is not quite right" in their children. APA also said that, “Major emotional conditions rarely appear "out of the blue." Paying attention is critical
to prevent the worsening or reducing the
severity of their emotional conditions.
There are symptoms that are non-specific or non-inclusive. Spurred by a “2001 request by the U.S. surgeon general to develop a list similar to the one created in 1971 to help people recognize the early signs of cancer” the Journal Pediatrics, issues this
11 warning signs of emotional troubles among children to guide parents:
- Feeling very sad or withdrawn for two or more weeks
- Seriously trying to harm or kill himself, or making plans to do so
- Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing
- Involved in multiple fights, using a weapon, or wanting badly to hurt others
- Severe, out-of-control behavior in which they can hurt themselves or others
- Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight
- Intensive worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
- Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that puts
them in physical danger or causes school failure
- Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
- Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Drastic changes in their behavior or personality
Other Signs to Watch Out For
Very young, active children can challenge the most caring parents. They may manifest behaviors or symptoms that may seem acceptable, so you may ignore them. While you need not overly worry about every nuance they may exhibit, it is also critical that you do not ignore manifestations that are intense, frequent and irrational.
For instance, delays in their normal development (cognitive, language, and motor skills), being unresponsive or “overresponsive” to environmental stimuli, and low weight gain that is not explicable by a physical or medical condition are all red flags. It’s vital to pay attention to perceptual and cognitive difficulties, inability to concentrate and memory issues. Exhibiting harmful behaviors to themselves and others or are not forming affectionate relationships with the people they are constantly with, could be indications that they need help.
There are also symptoms that you may consider usual, such as anger, confusion and clumsiness. If these are excessive, there is a risk something may be affecting them. It is a wise strategy to have them assessed by a behavioral health professional.
Helping and Supporting Your Child’s Unique Needs
Young children may not yet have the capability to tell you what they think or feel, to interpret them on their own or to do something to address their emotions. They need their parents or caregivers to provide them the necessary attention and to provide them the help they need. Without treatment and with the condition getting worse, they may be “labeled and judged,” which can lead to more suffering. These difficulties can be treated and resolved - seek the assistance of a qualified therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Fayetteville (West) Office – Fayetteville, NC.
Therapy can help your child suffering from an emotional condition. Initially, their symptoms can be assessed to determine their emotional issues and to develop a treatment program. Since their emotional health is so connected with the family because it is in this setting that your child first explores his/her world, counseling can similarly be extended to you/your family. With your love for your child and the expert support of a professional independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services - Fayetteville (West) Office, your child can resolve their emotional challenges and build a healthy foundation for the future. Call today to schedule an appointment!
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