• Grace Hanson

Does Your Child Need Counseling?

As parents we want to make all the right decisions for our children. We find the best schools, the most knowledgeable doctors, we try to feed them the healthiest foods, and we can’t forget to outfit them with the “coolest” clothes. But how do we know it’s the right time to take them to counseling?

Mental health awareness is growing, but there are still so many questions left unanswered. We consult with our pediatricians to ensure our children are physically healthy and medical doctors ask if they’ve accomplished certain developmental milestones, but the questions often stop there, and physical exams may not reveal other problems our children may have.

Knowing the right time to take your child to counseling could make all the difference when it comes to identifying and overcoming emotional, relational, and mental developmental delays.

Unfortunately, kids typically don't have the words or understanding to tell us when they are struggling emotionally. Without their verbal input, we are left with more subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) cues on which to base the decision. The Cleveland Clinic** suggests seeking out additional support through counseling if your child faces any of the following:

  • Problems in more than one of life, such as in family relationships, academic performance, leisure activities, and friendships;

  • Transition such as parent divorce, new teachers, or schools;

  • Demonstrates a decrease in confidence, starts feeling bad about him or herself;

  • Makes repeated statements such as,  “I will just mess up if I do it," "It's no use," "You can't fix it,";

  • Shows excessive worry about the future;

  • Experiences a sudden “illness” or upset stomach before an event or meeting with someone;

  • Expresses feelings of hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness;

  • Withdraws from family, friends, or activities he or she used to enjoy;

  • Experiences significant changes in sleep habits or appetite*;

  • Engages in negative behavior more frequently;

  • Exhibits repetitive, self-destructive behaviors, or talks about or engages in any kind of self-harm;

  • Displays behaviors such as hair-pulling, skin-picking, or head-banging;

  • Makes comments like, “I wish I weren’t here,” or “Nobody would care if I ran away.”

While some of these behaviors can occur in all children from time to time, they are not a part of "normal" child development and should not be ignored, especially if they persist. Learning about healthy mental development at every age is an important part of good parenting, and some problems are just too big for us to handle alone.

If are unsure as to whether your child needs extra support through counseling, we can help. Generations Counseling Services currently has openings available for 30-minute screenings to determine if additional sessions would benefit your child. For more information or to schedule your screening, call us at 317-743-8202.

*According to the American Academy of Pediatrics children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) while children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours

**Information adapted from The Cleveland Clinic.

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