When should I consider taking my child to see a counsellor

Knowing when you are facing emotional struggles and might be in need of professional help is never an easy task. Lots of individuals try the strategies and interventions they already have in their ‘toolbox’ and that had proven successful in previous similar situations. When that individual is a little person, when we are talking about emotional concerns in children, the challenges are even greater.

It is important to know that in order to find out that something is not going well with a child and that they may benefit from counselling, some observation skills should be in place. Children usually manifest their emotions by behaving differently, as oftentimes they don’t have the words needed to organize their thoughts and feelings. And there are a number of behaviours that might mean that the child needs help to solve their problems.

Usually it is the parents start noticing some change in the child’s behaviour. It may also be beneficial to check in with other adults that are part of the child’s life, such as family members, or teachers. Having in mind that parents do not have a big sample of kids to compare their child to, getting teachers’ input regarding what should be expected from children at the same age can help.

If you are a parent concerned about your child, those are a few questions that might help guide you to make a decision whether it is the right time to seek help.

  • How is your child behaving?
  • Are there any adverse situations that may be impacting thebehaviour?
  • Is your child sleeping well?
  • Were there any sudden changes in your child’s appetite?
  • How is the child coping with the different routine?

The answers to these questions might help to detect what is happening to the child and answer some questions about the function of the behaviour. Some of the symptoms that are worth it to take a closer look and to observe are described below:

Withdrawn: Pay attention if your child is withdrawing themselves from activities that they used to love to do or is if the child is not interested in things that was previously pleasurable, such as favorite toys/games.

Loneliness: For no known reason, is the child choosingoften to be alone? This can be a sign of childhood depression, phobia or insecurity, as well as extreme inhibition.

Anxiety: What is the child’s attitude when needing to wait for something? Does the child displays signs of anxiety to the point of not being able to do anything else?

Sleep: How has the child been sleeping? Has the child experienced disturbances, nightmares or sleepwalking during the night? Does the child wake up scared or too restless?

Aggression: it is also important to pay attention on how is the common reaction of your child when irritated or frustrated. Is the child able to tolerate frustration? Does the child have a hard time regulating their emotions? How does the child engage during play time with peers of the same age? Does the child follow the rules? Does the child react with anger when upset?

Defiance: How does your child respond to the authority of parents and teachers? Do they get mad and/or have a hard time following the expectations?

In school: if your child is at school age, take some time to ask important questions about how is their relationship with peers and teachers.

Those are a few things to pay attention to prior to decide whether to seek professional help for the child. It can be a sign of temporary need to adjust to new situations in their lives, and it can also point to the direction that your little one is dealing with high and intense emotions that they might benefit from external support. Well adapted children rarely present themselves in lots of those situations above mentioned.

If you are observing these behaviors and are still unsure whether or not you are experiencing emotional changes, it is recommended to consult a therapist. They are well trained to observe children’s behaviour and to give parent’s a guidance about how to approach the situation.