Your child goes through several changes growing up, but some may have you questioning whether your child is in a healthy state of mind. Family-Therapy offers child and youth counselling services in Ottawa in acknowledgement that children, like adults, go through difficult times and need guidance, help or just a listening ear. Unfortunately, most children are not able to tell their parents they are in emotional distress and going for therapy can be helpful for him or her. It takes their parent’s observations for their child’s distress to determine the need for professional therapy.
Learn to recognize some of these indicative signs that your child needs therapy:
1. Defiant Behaviour
Wondering whether something is “off” with your child or teen? Is your child displaying behaviour that constantly gets them in trouble at home or school? At a young age, children may not be able to express their emotional distress with words. Some children express their inner turmoil through behaviours like talking back, not listening to you, acting out, breaking things, or getting into fights. While this may seem to many parents as “punishable” behaviour, the consequences of continual punishment can be worse than defiant behaviour in the first place! Defiance in children is a common problem, especially in toddlers and adolescents. It’s a normal part of a child’s development and at times parents can use the extra support a child or youth therapist can provide you and your child. Counselling services in Ottawa can help you as parents, manage this difficult time and help your child develop the skills to talk about their emotions and learn how to communicate more effectively with you and their peers.
2. Changed Eating and Sleep Behaviour
If your child’s eating and sleeping patterns have changed drastically, don’t assume it is normal. Sleep is an essential building block for your child’s mental and physical health. Getting enough sleep is crucial for your child’s happiness, overall mood, and for them to learn at school. Insomnia, bedtime fears, night terrors, and bed-wetting are common children’s sleep problems. If your child is not outgrowing these issues or is experiencing these issues for more than three times a week for a month, reach out for help. While teens feel they need less sleep, sleep is important for everyone. A child and youth therapist can help teach your child how to get their body and mind ready for sleep. While some children do go through phases where they experience night terrors, continual nightmares is not part of normal brain development. Night terrors usually occur between the ages of three to eight years. They don’t cause any long-term harm and children grow out of them as their brain mature.
Changes in eating should not be ignored especially if this is not part of a growth spurt. Unfortunately, we can see young children (boys and girls) restrict their eating, especially if they are involved in a sport that focuses on body image/size such as dance, figure skating, or gymnastics. Sometimes, eating disorders start as a means of teenage defiance. Other times there can be emotional or medical reasons for someone to avoid eating. Some youth, with high anxiety, find eating causes them digestive issues and they avoid eating. Other children and youth use food as a means of soothing their distress and managing upsetting emotions. Timely teen and child counselling can help resolve what might be an emotional issue before it becomes a medical issue.
3. Extreme Anxiety and Sadness
If your child appears unusually sad, irritable, and anxious for an extended period (more than 2 consecutive weeks), it may be time to seek help from professional therapists in Ottawa. Children and youth can experience depression. Many children have fears and worries but when this stops them from enjoying life, or their sadness and anxiety is persistent for weeks, it’s time for parents to get involved in reaching out for professional help. Your child may have persistent worries about being away from you, school, tests, or performance anxiety. Other children express their anxiety through tummy aches, headaches, breathing difficulties or feeling very faint and dizzy.
4. Social Isolation
If you start to sense that your child is withdrawing socially, it’s time to take a closer look at what may be going on in their life. Most often, a child will turn inwards when facing external distractions and problems. Some children and teens who have been away from their peers for months can be at a higher risk for anxiety and depression. Parents with younger children can help arrange playdates for their children. Asking your child or teen to talk about issues may help, but if the child is unwilling to speak or the problem is consistent, seek counselling in Ottawa. We know the past two years have been especially challenging for many children, youth, and families. Counselling can give your child or youth or even your family the space they need to express their sadness, loneliness or frustrations.
5. Making Self-Harm Comments
Get your child immediate help if they start talking about self-harm or are already doing harmful behaviours such as repetitively banging their head against surfaces, cutting, digging their nails into the skin, or similar physically harmful behaviour. Self-harm and self-injury are any forms of hurting yourself on purpose. Usually, when people self-harm, they do not do so as a suicide attempt. Self-harm is a way to release painful emotions. For some children, and youth they may not be able to talk about their feeling of helpless and fear and hurting themselves is a way to release their emotional pain.
If you notice any of the above signs, enroll them into teen and child counselling therapy. Family-Therapy has a team of therapists in Ottawa to offer counselling services that can help you and your family.