Know the Signs
It’s normal for a child to act out, but there are certain red flags to mental illness.
Pay close attention to:
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Withdrawal from activities previously enjoyed
- Prolonged sadness or tearfulness
- Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there
- Family history of mental illness
- Any indication of self-harm
- Excessive talk of death or suicide
Talk to Your Doctor
If you notice any of these signs, speak with your doctor. A health care professional will be able to diagnose issues your child has, if any, and provide you with the proper resources to cope. They can also provide referrals if other professionals are needed. Ask questions and share your concerns.
Work Alongside Your Child
As always, provide proper emotional support for your child. Understand he or she may be more sensitive and need extra understanding. Be mindful of your child’s mental health just as you would be their physical health. Avoid getting angry or frustrated. If your child is struggling in school, talk with his or her teachers or guidance counselor.
Promote Mental Growth
In addition to warmth and love, parents can build a child’s confidence and self-esteem in many ways, including:
- Providing a safe home environment
- Talking about thoughts and feelings
- Developing strong relationships with adults and peers
- Making sure your child has time to play and learn
- Offering praise and encouragement
- Having and promoting realistic expectations
- Enforcing consistent clear consequences
Take Care of You
To take care of your child, take care of yourself. Children depend on their parents to set an example. It may take some adjusting but be mindful of balance. Lean on other members of family for support. If you feel any sadness or depression, contact your doctor immediately.