When Should a Parent Seek Professional Help for Their Child

As a parent, it’s sometimes difficult to determine when to seek professional help for your child. There is no “set-in-stone” answer to this dilemma, because every family situation is different. However, there are several warning signs that typically indicate the need for some type of therapy. Keep in mind that these warning signs vary depending on the age of the child in question. Here are a few of them to consider.

At Home

At home, one of the first things to watch out for is sudden isolation. If your child is usually outgoing, but suddenly rather spend most of his (or her) free time in his room, there may be a serious problem.

In addition, if your child refuses to do chores or argues with you on a regular basis, it may be time to consider professional intervention. Other signs to watch out for include frequent crying spells or bouts with hyperactivity – especially when these things were never a problem before.

Trouble sleeping and being hurtful to siblings are two more red flags. If your child doesn’t respond to disciplinary measures appropriately, is dealing with some sort of phobia or seems “joyless”, don’t rule out counseling as a possible solution.

At School

Since you don’t spend the day at school with your child, you typically have to rely on information provided by teachers and other school personnel. If you receive notification that your child is misbehaving in the classroom, professional help may be a solution.

Children who no longer want to go to school or have extreme difficulty doing their homework all of a sudden, sometimes benefit from therapy. Some children who experience anxiety issues refuse to talk to anyone about their day, or often come home from school angry. This is another reason to consider therapy as an option.

Socially

Does your child get into frequent fights? Does he lack confidence, especially when participating in extracurricular activities? Do his friendships seem to end quickly? These are all indications that he could benefit from professional counseling.

It’s extremely difficult to excel in this world without being socially comfortable. Getting help at an early age, when necessary, helps to ensure greater success as your child grows to adulthood.

Legally

Legal issues are another reason that a child might ultimately need professional counseling. If he or she has been arrested, is caught stealing, lies frequently or has a bad attitude toward all authority figures, this can lead to serious legal problems.

If this is something that you are currently dealing with, there’s no better time to seek assistance. The longer you wait, the higher the chance that legal problems will follow your child for many years to come.

Unfortunately, the thought of therapy is “taboo” in some households. But, what these parents need to remember is that seeing a counselor actually enforces the fact that it’s the absolute best way to curb and correct destructive behavior. The typical alternative of substance abuse or self-harm is much worse.

Therapy has two outcomes – either it’s successful or it isn’t. Never expect your child to be “cured” after just one or two sessions. Professional analysis takes time and patience. In the event that your child does not seem to communicate well with his or her initial therapist, don’t give up. Ask for a referral and try again. Many times, a second time is the charm.

It’s extremely important to remember that in the vast majority of cases, seeking professional help for your child doesn’t automatically mean you’re a bad parent. It means you’re a concerned parent who has your child’s best interest at heart.

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