One of our jobs as a parent is to worry about our kids. The challenges of our day that kids are facing are difficult to navigate and sometimes different then what we experienced. Sometimes we don’t know how best to help them and aren’t sure if they need more support then we can provide. If you notice any of the following signs with your children, it is a good indicator that professional counseling may help them in their life journey.
1: Struggles in multiple areas of life
Struggle, stress, resistance are important ingredients for young people to be able to grow and develop into mature and independent adults. Sometimes kids struggle at school (the social or the academic), in their community, in athletics or arts, or at church. This struggle is normal...it is when you notice your child is struggling in multiple areas, not just in one area, that they may need a little extra help to get them through.
2: Extreme hopelessness
This can manifest itself in different ways depending on your child. It can look like statements about themselves (i.e. “nobody likes me” “everybody hates me” “I’m not pretty enough”) or hopelessness about the future (“what’s the point?” “what good will that do me?”). The occasional comment like this may be normal, but if there is a pattern of consistency in these statements or thoughts, your child may need some help. A good first step for you as a parent would be to ask follow-up questions as to why they are thinking this way.
3: Excessive withdraw from friends, family, activities
It’s important to note that at various stages of childhood and through the teenage years, young people withdraw from family or friends when they are trying to find their independence. For example when younger children discover imaginary play they are often found more by themselves than they once were. This behavior is often more prevalent in the teenage years and believe it or not can be normal. It becomes problematic when the isolation happens in multiple areas of their lives, are they isolating at school, at home, from their friends? Do they not want to be involved in activities they once found exciting? These behaviors can be important signs that your child needs help.
4: Engages in negative behavior such as self-harm or destructive self-talk
Any self-harm or destructive self-talk should be taken seriously every time. They are young people’s way of reaching out for help when they may not have the words to tell you. If your child is involved with negative self-talk, or self-harm such as hitting themselves, hair pulling, scratching, cutting with a foreign object, it is important to reach out for help immediately. If these behaviors are not stopped, children form unhealthy patterns of dealing with stress or uncomfortable situations that can be difficult to break.
5: Significant changes in habits
If you notice significant changes in their eating or sleeping habits, typically it’s another way for stress to manifest itself in children. It is another way they let you know that something uncomfortable is happening but they may not have the words or formal cognition to tell you. Reach out for help and begin asking them questions as to what might be going on.
Seeking professional counseling services for your children does not mean that you are a bad parent, or that your child is weak, it means that you are recognizing the help they need and you are courageous enough to find those who can navigate these difficult times.
I know many parents are scared to seek counseling, not because of the counseling itself, but because they are afraid if their child has a bad experience it will put even more pressure on a strained relationship. Cache Valley Counseling we offer a free Discovery Visit in which we can help you determine the best course of treatment for you child. And more importantly give them a chance to meet with their counselor before starting treatment to see if they feel comfortable. We promise, that we will help you find the best services for your child, even if that means outside of Cache Valley Counseling.