Being a parent can be a full-time task. When we talk of parenthood, we hear of the joys and the rewards of having children and watching them grow in front of us. Of course, while parenthood can be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life, it can also become the toughest.
It takes a lot to give a child a happy, healthy childhood and to support them through all the challenges they may encounter. Besides, it can be tricky for parents to understand their children and connect with them. Children and parents often have a wide generation gap, and most of the things our children face today can be completely alien to us.
However, protecting your child’s mental health needs to be a top concern. Mental health issues can be incredibly damaging for adults, let alone children, so it’s important to watch out for the warning signs. If you’re willing to learn how to identify whether your child is suffering from mental health issues, keep reading below.
1. They’re exhibiting erratic behavior
One of the biggest telltale signs that your kid may be suffering from a mental health issue is if they’re exhibiting strange, erratic behavior. If you feel your child is acting strange and behaving weirder than normal, it may signal a mental health problem. Your child may be secretive, jumpy, aggressive, and may not be taking care of themselves as well as before.
Most often, the cause behind such sudden, erratic behavior is drug abuse. When your child is either high or in withdrawal, they may start acting super strange and appear frantic, jumpy, and irritable. They may also become much more secretive about you asking questions or entering their room and may become aggressive when probed.
Substance abuse is an incredibly serious problem and requires immediate professional interference. If you want to ensure your child has a chance at recovering, checking them into a rehab center like Serenity at Summit is the only option.
At a rehab center, you can rest assured that your child will be catered to by professionals who can handle the physical and psychological aspects of their addiction.
2. They’re becoming withdrawn
All children, even the most introverted ones, have some need for socialization. Children are naturally inquisitive, and it’s normal for them to ask questions, explore, and learn about the world around them. If you feel like your child is gradually becoming more and more withdrawn, something may be amiss. Withdrawal can come in wide varieties.
It can look like children hiding away in their bedrooms, refusing to go out or meet friends, and being low. It can also look like a reduced conversation with parents and siblings, flattened body language, and giving little to no details when asked about their day.
Social withdrawal can indicate various mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders. It can also indicate that a traumatic or stressful event may have occurred. Handling such feelings alone can be pretty challenging for children, and if left unchecked, your children can suffer immensely.
Thus, it’s important to spot the signs early and be vigilant if your child is suddenly starting to stay away from their friends or you.
3. They’re rejecting or overconsuming food
Sure, some children can be picky eaters. However, every parent knows their child’s appetite best, and it’s important to look out for anything which is beyond normal. As a parent, you’ll also know their body type best and can tell when they’re putting on too much weight or reducing too fast. Rejecting food or eating too much suddenly can be one of the telltale indicators that your child is dealing with a mental illness.
Traumatic events and life stressors, such as bullying, can trigger eating disorders even in younger children. Children often binge or reject food because this is one of their only forms of control. In today’s age of social media, body image issues are rampant, especially amongst the younger generation.
Our children are bombarded with images of ‘ideal bodies’ and may feel a lot of pressure to conform, leading to anorexia, binge-eating disorder, and other issues. Suppose you feel your child has a newer attitude towards food and that they’re exhibiting other behaviors such as anger, resentment, or depressive symptoms. In that case, they may be struggling with a mental health issue.
4. They’re uninterested in their hobbies
Kids can be pretty diverse; every child has something they’re interested in or loves doing. Children can become obsessive with their hobbies and spend hours doing whatever piques their interest. Nonetheless, if your child is suffering from a mental health issue, one of the most common signs you can see is that they lose interest in their hobbies.
Clinically referred to as anhedonia, this behavior is characterized by a lack of interest in all activities found pleasurable.
So, apart from not enjoying their hobbies, your child can lose all interest in anything pleasurable. It can include their favorite food, friends, pets, shows, and just about anything they enjoyed before. Anhedonia is one of the hallmark signs of depression and can indicate that your child is going through something serious. If you notice such a behavioral change, it’s best to talk to your child to understand how they’re feeling.
5. They’re exhibiting unexplained aggression
It’s normal for kids to act out sometimes and to become snappy occasionally. However, if this behavior becomes too intense or carries on for too long, there may be a bigger issue. Unexplained aggression can occur when your child is going through something they can’t proactively process or if they’re going through a lot of stress.
This aggression can manifest as irritability and mood swings and even escalate to physical aggression if left unchecked. If your child is constantly fighting at school or home, is screaming a lot, and is suddenly acting bratty, instead of punishing them, try delving deeper into the issue. You might find that your child has psychological stressors pushing them to act this way.
Parenting is a full-time job, and you might have your hands full more often than not. Mental health issues can often seriously threaten children and impact their lives immensely. Watching out for these warning signs can alert you if your child is in danger and can help you provide them with the care they need.