Children are wonderfully complex characters. But it can be difficult to know when their behavior is normal and when it isn’t. Physical injuries are much more cut and dry―if your child breaks a leg or gets the flu, you’ll take her to a doctor. But mental health is a little trickier, especially in a society where medication is sometimes given to people of all ages unnecessarily.
That being said, if your child does need to see a Newport Beach child psychiatrist, it’s better to seek help sooner rather than later. Pay careful attention to your child’s behavior. If you’re still uncertain, here are 10 signs it might be time to make an appointment:
1) She’s having trouble at school and at home. When a child is struggling with her emotions, it often manifests in abnormally poor behavior. She might start acting defiant toward teachers, hitting her siblings or acting inappropriately in other ways.
2) He seems very sad, anxious or depressed. All kids act worried sometimes. All of them get sad and cry. That’s perfectly normal. But it’s not normal for a child to be constantly nervous, anxious or depressed. If it’s interfering with his daily activities, it’s time to get him some help.
3) She’s regressing. When children undergo a major life change such as a move, divorce or the birth of a new sibling, they can sometimes regress in their behaviors. This is understandable. But if there hasn’t been a life change and your child is acting clingy, wetting the bed, whining or throwing tantrums when you thought you were past that behavior, it could be a sign that she needs help.
4) His appetite and sleep habits have changed. If your child is eating too much or too little, having nightmares, having insomnia or wants to sleep excessively, it is most likely due to an underlying issue.
5) She is isolating herself from her friends. Friendships do change over time, and so do people. But if your child suddenly withdraws from social activities and stops talking to her friends, it’s unlikely due to becoming introverted overnight. Listen for statements like “Everyone hates me” or “I don’t have any friends.”
6) He is showing signs of a behavioral disorder. If he is acting easily distracted, forgetful or obsessive for a period of time, you should call a Newport Beach psychiatrist who knows the signs of disorders like ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
7) He’s developed some self-destructive behaviors. This one can be challenging, because small children do throw tantrums or bang their heads against the wall to express frustration. But if you notice self-harming behaviors like cutting the skin or trying to hurt himself in any way, it’s definitely time to seek help.
8) She seems to talk and ask about death a lot. Curiosity about death is natural, but being fixated on death and dying is a big red flag. And if your child mentions suicide or killing another person, get help immediately.
9) He has started to have frequent outbursts of anger, seems preoccupied with revenge or has destroyed property in fits of rage. This just means he might have trouble controlling his anger and behavioral therapy could be of help.
10) She is having trouble moving on or adjusting from a major life change. Even if you got a divorce a year ago or she has been at a new school for the entire school year, you might notice your child isn’t acting like her normal self. Sometimes the reaction to a big change isn’t instant, and your child could be experiencing a delayed reaction. Seeing a child psychiatrist can help determine an underlying cause or help her with some coping strategies.
More than anything else, it’s very important to trust your intuition as a parent. No one knows your child better than you, and it’s very likely that no one is around your child more than you. As a parent (or primary caregiver), you are your child’s biggest advocate. So if things seem “off” to you, the odds are good that something is probably wrong. Even if the strange behavior is situationally appropriate, if you feel like something is wrong, don’t hesitate to seek out help from a Newport Beach child psychiatrist. Your diligence could end up getting your child the help he or she needs quickly and effectively.