Just like adults, children can experience occasional problems and difficulties as they navigate their way through life. Among the tasks of childhood is to grow and mature, to establish a personal identity, to learn how to relate to others and to learn how to react to things they may encounter out in the world – it’s a pretty tall order. It is normal for children who are dealing with all of this to experience emotional highs and lows as well as feelings of anger and sadness.
However there are occasions where life’s pressures become too much for a child to handle and a parent may need to seek out professional help for child psychotherapy. Because children have a difficult time understanding and expressing their emotions, changes in behavior are usually the best indication that something may be wrong. These changes may include:
- Increased worry or sadness: If sadness or worry is interfering with your child’s ability to function at school or socially, this may be a sign of something more serious.
- Isolation: If your child is someone that is usually social and he or she begins to isolate, explore with him if it is situational with a certain group of friends or if it is the way your child is feeling.
- Difficulties in school or at home: Emotions are difficult enough to deal with as an adult but for a child they’re even more difficult. Your child may not be able to express emotions verbally so you may see it coming out in bad behavior in school or at home.
- Changes in sleep: If your child is worried, sad or depressed chances are that he or she will have trouble sleeping. Your child may be experiencing racing thoughts or nightmares that interfere with sleep.
- Changes in appetite: Excessive emotion may bring on stomach aches decreasing appetite. Additionally, your child may be excessively overeating as a way to deal with uncomfortable emotion.
- Regressive behavior: This includes suddenly wetting the bed or acting out with tantrums or suddenly wanting to be fed.
- Self-destructive behavior: If your child begins hitting himself or digging her nails into her skin this is a sign of pent up emotion.
- Talk about death: If your child repeatedly talks about, death, killing someone, dying or suicide this is a sign that should not be overlooked.
- Destructive Play: Play that is overly destructive where everybody dies or art projects that constantly depict harmful scenarios is something to keep an eye on.
Remember that all children from time to time will exhibit some or all of these signs. It is time to take notice when the behavior is excessive and out of character.