Every child goes through ups and downs on their journey to adulthood. That’s why they’re called “growing pains.” But there are times when the complexities of life are overwhelming for some children. Toddlers and teens often need additional professional help to handle thoughts and feelings that may be confusing. So how exactly do you know if your child needs behavioral health services?
Quirky Behavior is Prevalent With Children
Almost all children exhibit what might be termed quirky behaviors at times. Maybe the child insists on wearing something pink every single day or always arranges their stuffed toys “just so.” For most children, these are just ways to exert some little control over their lives, even though they may seem meaningless from an adult standpoint. Most of these controlling behaviors are considered a sign of healthy development in children. But it’s important to discern between typical childish quirks and possibly more serious mental or emotional problems. For that, it’s best to consult with a professional for a diagnosis if you have reason to believe your child may need behavioral health services.
Differences Between Quirky Behavior and Problem Behavior
The warning signs of a more serious problem are easy to spot if they become chronic. A Saturday afternoon temper tantrum after a long day without a nap is almost to be expected. But other problematic behavior that occurs frequently may be cause for concern.
Another difference between quirky behavior and problem behavior may be attributed to unspoken fears. If a child engages in dramatic, angry behavior every time they have to get in the car to go to school, it could be because they learned about car accidents or they have some fear around going to school. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they need prolonged behavioral health services for children; it could just mean they need to learn some tools to express themselves better or deal with feelings of fear. Again, the differences between quirky behavior and problem behavior most often have to do with frequency and the level of acting out.
Signs That Behavioral Health Services For Children Are Needed
The first thing to consider when looking for signs that behavioral health services for children are needed is the length of time the behavior has been happening. Children go through phases of development. Often, bad habits are discarded when the child enters a new phase. However, if the behaviors listed below continue for months on end, a professional diagnosis is suggested.
Here are some common signs to look for:
- Emotional immaturity compared to chronological age
- Biting, kicking, hitting, and other aggressive actions
- Destroying possessions or property
- Chronic crying
- Chronic lying
- Mood swings (prepubescent)
- Aggressive sexual prowess advanced for age/promiscuity
- Night terrors; nightmares
- Running away or threatening to run away
- Refusing to attend school/cutting classes
- Staying in bed all-day
- Refusing to eat
- Inciting petty arguments
- New and unfounded fears
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Communicating with derision or hateful tones
- Refusing to follow house rules
Most of these signs will cause parents to have concern for their children. But in many cases, much more than parental love and attention is needed to help the child with these issues. Professional help is suggested. Behavioral health services for children can do a lot of good early on.
The sooner you get your child the help they need, the sooner they can get back on track to a healthy development into adulthood. Behavioral health services for children are very different than they are for adults. Your child will be treated in an age-appropriate manner and in an age-appropriate environment. They’ll be in a safe place where they can learn how to deal with thoughts and feelings. For more information about a professional diagnosis and care options, please contact A Fresh Start Therapy at 855.325.3909.