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How Do I Know if My Child Needs Counselling?

Signs to Know If Your Child Needs Counselling

“He has become very rigid and doesn’t listen to me at all.”

“My daughter gets carried away very easily and I get scared for her at times.”

“Rishabh doesn’t listen to anyone. He fears no one at home, not even his father; rather he becomes rebellious if we say anything to him.”

“Both my 5 and 8 years old do not wish to attend school and throw tantrums when they wake up every morning to attend school. I just don’t know what to do!”

Did you discuss something similar like this regarding your children with your friends or cousins? Does this mean that there is something wrong with your children or that you are not a good parent? Not at all!

With changing times, the development in children is massive, but that doesn’t mean that every child who is energetic is “hyperactive” or the child who cannot sit at one place for studying is “attention deficit”. But how will you understand what your child is going through and how to help them? That is when child counsellors help you!

18 Signs to Know If Your Child Needs Counselling:

As parents, you are the one who spends maximum time with your child. You are the ones who understand their wants, needs, their moods etc. With your parental observation, you can observe the following things in your child which will help you to understand whether your child needs counselling.

Here are 18 warning signs your child needs counselling:

1. Experiencing constant negative emotions

We all experience positive and negative emotions from time to time. In children, there can be different reasons for these emotions to come up and they might go away with time. For example- Your child might get sad for not being selected for a dance competition at school, he/she might remain sad for a day but then may get back to being okay after spending time with you or after watching television or after any distraction. But if you observe that your child is persistently i.e., continuously for more than a week is feeling sad, ashamed, hopeless then that could be a sign of opting for counselling.

2. Extreme anger and temper tantrums

Children get angry if they feel that they are not understood or when they aren’t given importance or when parents don’t give in to their wants, and that is perfectly normal. However, if you observe your child getting angry for smallest of the small things and throwing tantrums like crying on the road, throwing things in the shops, breaking things in the house, then you should consult a child psychologist.

3. Continuous feelings of fear, anxiety or worry

Fear or worry can be seen quite easily on children’s faces. In today’s age, anxiety hasn’t even spared children. A few points that might help you observe this anxiety, fear or worry in children are- feeling jittery, having continuous headaches, wanting to be in the presence of at least one parent, crying bouts, wanting to use the toilet frequently, showing stiffness in body etc. Along with this, if you get similar observations from your child’s teacher, then that could also be a sign that he is under pressure and needs counseling.

4. Preoccupation with body image

This tendency can be seen in tweens, usually referred to as pre-teens (9-12 years old) and in teenagers. This is the age when a person starts understanding the people around them and forming the concept of ‘self’. With the age of social media, children get the wrong idea of body image. They could perceive having a slim body as being beautiful or having a muscular body as being handsome. Due to this, they might have concerns about their own body. If you observe your child eating less, spending too much time in front of the mirror, saying ‘I am fat’ then opting for counselling is highly suggested.

5. Fear of losing control

Fear of losing control in terms of the child’s entire life. They might feel as if they are losing a sense of control over their physical health, their friends and family, that someone else is controlling it all. They might have extreme fear i.e., phobia towards a person or a thing such as going to school etc.

6. Changes in academic grades (negatively)

Here you might observe that your child’s grades have decreased suddenly and to a great extent. You might hear the teacher complain about the child not submitting the assignment on time or doing poorly in the internal exams etc. Sometimes it might be because of advanced syllabus, but if it persists even after offering help, like extra classes or tuitions, then a counselor might be able to find the root cause for the issue and suggest remedies for the same.

7. Losing interest in activities

When a child is stressed or worried about a particular situation, he/she gets preoccupied with the thoughts regarding that distressing situation. Due to this or due to distressing reasons, the child might stop participating in activities which he/she previously enjoyed doing. Example- stops playing a specific sport, hanging out with friends, enjoying watching movies etc.

8. Sleeping pattern

One of the important reasons to see a child counselor is change in your child’s sleep pattern. It can be oversleeping or sleep deprivation. Sleep disturbance could arise in children by seeing the interaction between parents or family members. If a child witnesses fights between parents or aggressive arguments between family members then he/she could get scared of such instances occurring again and again and it might affect their sleeping pattern which is not good for their development.

9. Self-Isolation

A child might isolate themselves socially or emotionally. Examples of it could be not wanting to go out and meeting people. However, teenagers tend to avoid going out with parents because they want to experience freedom, but if a child is avoiding it and seems disturbed by the mention of going out then it could be a sign. Emotional isolation means distancing oneself, specially from parents, emotionally. Here the child might not open up about his/her feelings, may not take part in family conversation etc.

10. Hearing false voices

Hearing voices is said to be common in children, but it is important to speak to a mental health professional about it. In children, this happens due to illness or due to stress. For example a child might hear voices when he is under stress because his friends are avoiding him. If your child complains of an invisible person talking to them, then do not panic because your child might already be frightened. Be calm, ask them about it and take them to a child counsellor.

11. Showing suicide ideation

Children can also think about suicide. The signs that it might be running on their minds are- having conversations about death, making statements relating to suicide, missing school and running away somewhere, giving away their belongings etc.

The earlier you see these signs and take steps towards it, the better it can be prevented.

12. Inability to focus

Along with degradation in grades in schools, inability to focus on studies or activities can be a part of stress in children. Again, if this persists even after providing help then it is an issue. High sugar intake, improper sleeping pattern, stress can cause inability to focus in children. This is not limited to studies, but to other activities like playing, talking, drawing, watching television etc.

13. Feeling restless or uneasy

Continuous restlessness can be seen in children by their body language. They might not be able to sit still, might move a leg or tap a hand or fingers continuously. Upset stomach can be one of the factors of feeling restless or uneasy. These feelings may occur because of anxiety.

14. Extreme obsession about routine

But having a routine is good, right? Of course, but being preoccupied by certain activities in routine is not. A child might wash his/her hands thrice or more times after using the washroom, check obsessively if the house is locked properly, etc. Missing an activity from routine could be very distressing for them. If you see such signs in your child, then they might need to talk to a professional.

15. Persistent bad dreams

Nightmares, bedwetting, screaming while being asleep, having night terrors can be due to underlying unpleasantness. Fights between parents, watching violent or horror movies, reading scary books or novels can cause bad dreams to occur in children.

16. Addiction

Addiction isn’t only regarding alcohol, but it can be regarding video games, social media, watching YouTube, watching movies etc. Netflix causes addiction in children by uploading movies or series which are specially made for children. The lockdown has increased the screen time in kids and that could lead to addiction. If your child cannot stop themselves from watching another YouTube video or a Netflix episode just after watching one, gets angry when asked to switch off electronics, shows resistance to eating if they aren’t allowed to watch something or not allowed to play games on phones, then it could be a sign of addiction.

17. Preoccupation with dieting

This could take place in children who are 9+. Again, social media, actors and actresses, models can have a great influence even on children. Taking care of the body and eating nutritional food is good, but excessively dieting for a slim body can be harmful. Why to choose a child counselor for this issue? Because family members have a habit of talking to the children about nutritional food and eating properly. Due to this, children might assume that parents or family members won’t understand their idea of dieting. With counselling, the children can get proper guidance about body image and being realistic.

18. Being rebellious and harmful

Some children hold grudges against people and try to harm them or their property. If this happens with your child, then do visit a child counsellor for further guidance.

How To Find A Good Therapist For My Child?

Some parents might get frightened at the thought of starting therapy for their child, some might feel guilty that they couldn’t provide help to their own children. But parents shouldn’t feel either of this because just like taking their children to a physician is okay, taking counselling sessions/therapy sessions for children is equally alright. Think of it as an additional and professional guidance.

Understanding when to get help is important and the above points will help the parents to understand the same. Another important factor is finding a good therapist for the child, with whom the child will open up, be comfortable and mostly feel safe.

Here are a few parameters which will help you to understand how to find a right therapist for your child:

1. Understand the needs of your child: Know in what areas your child needs guidance. Is it academic, social or emotional issues that you are looking for help with? 

2. Meet the school counsellor: As per the government rule, every school must have a qualified school counsellor. As a parent, you can discuss your queries with them and take their help to understand how to go further.

3. Make Enquiries: Once you understand what your child’s needs are, start looking for the counselor who has specialised in those areas. For example- a child with ADHD will need a therapist with appropriate knowledge of the disorder and treatment plan. For children with academic issues, the counselor along with therapy might ask you to start remedial education. Also, as parents/clients you have a right to ask the counselor about their qualifications and their methods of therapy/counseling.

4. Attend The First Session Yourself: After shortlisting the counselors, parents are advised to attend the first session. Here the parents will get an idea of the approach of the counselor and their methods.

5. Find a counselor and not a teacher: A counselor is someone who doesn’t tell the children that they are wrong and that they should not behave in such a way. Rather they find where the behavior is emerging from and help the children unlearn a few patterns which might have not been good for them.

Need Help?

At WAITT we provide child counselling from the best counselors in the field. Along with a safe environment for your child, our counselors also follow strict professional ethics. To make an appointment or enquiry, please visit here child counselling service.

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Shriya Rajendra Khalate

MA Clinical Psychology, Psychological Counselor

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