Childhood is such an essential part of one’s life. It determines the individual’s developmental and overall functioning. Childhood mental health simply put means that they have a positive relationship with their family, meets their developmental milestones; learn healthy coping skills, and a supportive environment around them. When one or more of these factors are not met, the child is likely to have mental health concerns.
Here are a few mental health signs that should not be neglected in children:
- BEHAVIOURAL SIGNS
Behavioral changes in children occur when there are modifications in the environment around them or when things do not go their way. This could include their interactions with their peers, family, and their interactions with significant others.
RED FLAGS: Temper tantrums, harming oneself or others, withdrawal, overeating or under-eating, changes in sleep patterns, and gadget dependence
- EMOTIONAL SIGNS
Emotions form the framework of a human being’s ability to think and feel. Just as how adults experience complex emotions, children also experience a wide range of emotions. However, sometimes children find it difficult to explain the kind of emotions they are feeling and this leads to a lot of emotional distress leading to a spiral down in their overall well-being. In correlation with this, child abuse and domestic violencehave seen to be the major contributors to these emotional concerns in children.
RED FLAGS: Persistent sadness over a period of time from 3-6 weeks, bouts of crying, feeling anxious, excessive fear, spells of anger, depression and attention seeking
- ACADEMIC CONCERNS
Academics play a pivotal role in children for it determines their understanding, knowledge as well as the ability to retain and reproduce information that is learned.
RED FLAGS: The common academic concerns that a child experiences and exhibits are attention/retention, difficulty in comprehension, learning difficulties, drop in grades as a result of showing disinterest towards academics and skipping schools. The other concerns that could play a role in affecting academics in children are changes in their environment or with emotions that are difficult to handle
- SELF/SOCIAL RELATED SIGNS
Childhood is the essence of adulthood and having a positive environment helps the child to have a healthy relationship with oneself and others around them. As children grow they are always in a constant struggle between their real self and their ideal self. The struggle is influenced by peer pressure, parenting styles, and social interactions.
RED FLAGS: When the child is in constant battle to find out their identity the common signs to look for are, self-doubt, and constant comparison with peers, inferiority complex
- COPING RELATED SIGNS
The current pandemic has brought a lot of changes and even more in children when they try comprehending the “New Normal”. The meaning of freedom is lost somewhere along the way.
RED FLAGS: When the child is unable to cope with the stress around them and the common signs to look out for are, non-compliance to rules, lack of organization skills around the house, the need to gratify their wants immediately and importantly lack of time management which includes their increasing use of screen time
Children begin their formative years by observing and learning from their parents and significant others in their lives. It is important that parents model positive and healthy behavior to their children for them to have a good transition through adolescence. These are just some common signs to look for; however, parents need to be more mindful in their approach for holistic growth in their children and walk along with them in this journey.
Sr. Counselor and Psychotherapist