Does Your Child Need a Shrink, or Maybe Just You?

People from the younger generation can and do indeed suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Since they have neither the coping skills nor the knowledge to manage these problems by themselves, every parent should know what signs to look out for.

Of course, there’s a little hypochondriac in all of us and most parents are just a little unreasonable when it comes to their child’s welfare. If you suspect that your child may have a mental illness, there’s no reason to immediately launch into full-fledged sirens-and-screaming paranoia. Instead, take a deep breath, take stock of the entire situation, and take into account that you might well be overreacting due to your own state of mind.

Only Real Therapists can Diagnose Mental Illness

You may know your little bundle of squealy joy better than anyone and will, therefore, be the first person to notice any change in their behavior. This doesn’t mean that you can infallibly know what’s behind such changes, though: they may be a natural response to changing circumstances, your kid just having a bad day or two, or the normal speed bumps involved in growing up.

Plenty of aunts, friends, teachers and supposed “experts” will be happy to share their opinions, but how much stock should you put in these? Very often, their judgments will be backed by only a very limited amount of experience and whatever happens to be the last blog they read. Even medical doctors, who occasionally go as far as prescribing medicine for mental conditions, simply don’t have the training or outlook necessary to determine anyone’s psychological health, much less a child’s.

So, until and unless a licensed child therapist has diagnosed your offspring with a mental disease, treat them as if they’re perfectly fine. Talk to them about what may be bothering them, of course, but try to probe without prying. Most often, their worries and yours will be a thing of the past in a week’s time.

Taking a Step Back

Just in case this even needs to be said: all of our perceptions are filtered through the prism of our own mindset. Something a toddler gets up to can be cute and adorable when we’re having a good day, yet seem like one step short of pure villainy while we’re stressed out.

This tendency is perfectly natural, but also something every parent needs to be aware of and hopefully keep under control. If nothing else, there are few things more likely to make a child neurotic than dispensing praise and punishment at random, at least as seen from their perspective.

We should all keep in mind that, just possibly, the unwanted behavior we’re seeing in our child may be mostly in our heads, or even the result of our own actions. If you’re going through a rough time yourself, you have to take care of your own state of mind before you start worrying about that of your children.

Hire a babysitter once a week and go out for a date night, find a hobby you can do in short spurts while they don’t need your attention, or, if necessary, consult a therapist yourself. When other people are dependent on you, sometimes the best thing you can do for them is to help yourself first.


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