Mental wellness is important at any age. For children and youth, emotional and behavioral health can be especially important because it can impact physical and mental well-being later in life. Our team has collected parents’ most common behavioral health questions to help you guide your child to help if needed.
Is it common for children to struggle with mental wellness?
Boys and girls of all ages and ethnic backgrounds experience mental challenges. Mental health problems do not mean that children can’t live happy and successful lives. It just means a child may need support. If your child struggles with a mental health condition, they are not alone. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that nearly one in five children and youth experience a mental health condition. During the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent global and national circumstances, doctors and medical professionals have seen immense growth for children struggling with mental health.
How do I know if my child needs help?
It can be hard for parents to know if their child’s change in behavior is cause for concern. As a child grows up, they will naturally develop new behaviors, habits, and interests. Sometimes, a child acts differently from usual because they had a bad day or experienced temporary stress, like a big test at school or a new move. These types of behavior are usually short-term, and parents can help manage temporary stress with active listening.
If you aren’t sure if your child’s behavior is something to feel concerned about, you may want to consider:
Are these behaviors common for my child’s age?
Although each child’s mental and physical development varies, you can speak with a teacher, school counselor, or doctor professional about age-appropriate behaviors.
Behavior Frequency, Duration, and Timing
Is your child exhibiting this behavior often? (Monthly, weekly, daily)
How long do they show the behavior? (Minutes, days, months)
When did you notice this behavior?
Does the timing align to an event they may be responding to?
How disruptive are these behaviors?
Are these behaviors causing your child to struggle in school?
Has your child lost interest in doing enjoyable activities?
Do the behaviors cause conflict at home or with friends?
What steps should I take if I’m concerned?
If you are worried about your child’s emotional wellness, you may want to ask other family members, close friends, or teachers if they have noticed changes in your child’s moods, interests, or behavior. A good next step is to speak with your child’s doctor. You can share what you’ve noticed and learned from friends and family before the appointment or when you schedule a visit. You can read our article about what to expect from a visit with your pediatrician here.
What can my child’s doctor tell me?
Depending on your child’s care situation, your pediatrician will be familiar with your child’s history and behavior and will be able to identify concerning changes. Sometimes, health problems like poor sleep or nutrition, need for glasses, or difficulty hearing can cause or worsen emotional symptoms. If your child’s doctor feels it is necessary, they may refer you to another doctor or professional with special experience in mental health.
What can I do if my child needs treatment?
Work with the people in your child’s life. Parents and doctors should work closely with everyone involved in the child’s treatment—teachers, coaches, therapists, and other family members. It’s important to take advantage of all the resources available that will help parents, health professionals, and educators guide the child towards success.
If you have questions about your child’s mental health, you can ask your doctor. If Hazel is available in your child’s school, you can also reach out to a member of our care team. By making sure that your children get support if they need it, you can help them grow into healthy, resilient adults.