Parenting Tips: How To Know When Your Child Needs To See A Psychologist

A list of personality changes that indicate your child might need mental help, and suggestions on what to do about it.

As a parent, you owe it to your child to get them immediate help if you suspect they are having any type of mental problem whatsoever. And, just because your child is having these problems, doesn't mean it's your fault or that you have done something wrong as a parent. Problems can start as young as two years old, for various reasons. You might notice that your child is suddenly having nightmares or wets the bed when this has never been an issue. He might begin, seemingly overnight, to throw tantrums, cry uncontrollably, bite himself, attempt to injure others or scream and curse. All of these are signs that your child might need some help. Some signs that most parents don't realize are pointing towards a problem, are extreme perfectionism, imitating someone else, or not sleeping for 8 hours. Of course, many of these conditions can be perfectly normal, but what to consider is how extreme the actions are, how old the child is at the time, and how willing they are to try to change their behavior.

Just because your child is displaying symptoms which indicate that something could be amiss, doesn't mean they have severe mental or emotional problems that will be on going. Most kids have outbursts for little or no reason or display different personalities when sad or angry, but that doesn't mean they are mentally ill. On the other hand, some conditions cause a child to suddenly change behavior, personality, temperament, even the look on their face. Whether you notice casual, yet disturbing changes, or radical differences seemingly overnight, make an appointment with a psychologist and let him make a determination about the well-being of your child.

Some parents choose to remain in denial when they notice a personality change in their child, refusing to seek help for the youngster. As the illness progresses, many find themselves making excuses for the child or even covering up for him. Others punish the child, sometimes severely, thinking this will "straighten him up". Punishment is not a known cure for mental illness, making it mostly futile. Some parents feel like taking the child for help would be admitting that they have failed the son or daughter as a parent, but that simply is not so in most cases. You are failing your child, though, if you don't seek help for them, particularly if the child is showing aggression towards himself or others, or demonstrates destructive behavior. If you care about your child, get help before the condition worsens. Most children can receive the help they need and make rapid improvements within weeks or months, but often this includes sessions of discussion between the parents, child and therapist. Be willing to participate in order to assure that your son or daughter is getting the best help they can.

If the time should ever come that you think your child needs to see a psychologist, get references and choose a psychologist who has had previous success with other children of the same age. Most company insurance plans will pay for some mental help, but they sometimes limit the help to a number of weeks. Many communities also offer financial assistance to those who are in need, but can't afford, a psychologist for their child. Check your insurance plan with your company, or check the local Social Services for assistance.

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