So you worry that your child is acting strange?

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When you think your child is acting a little strange, it's immediate natural reaction to tone this voice down because, well, your child is perfect and moms have tendencies to panic. Or so they say. Right? What to do when you worry that your child is acting strange - justredefine.com

 

Being a worried mom is nothing unusual.

When you think your child is acting a little strange, it’s immediate natural reaction to tone this voice down because, well, your child is perfect and moms have tendencies to panic. Or so they say. Right?

I am not a medical professional and you must know this while reading the post. There’s one goal here: I want to encourage you to listen to your intuition and fight for the wellness of your family. That’s it. No diagnosing should happen based on this blog post. This text is just an inspiration, a stimulus to make you think.

Like I said, every parent worry and that’s a natural mechanism. Sometimes it goes too far and you need to be more intentional about adding some joy to your life. But what to do if some behavior of your kid brings your attention more often than others?

You don’t want your child to be this “weird one”.

Even though we, as a society, are being more and more educated, let’s not kid each other, mental health stigma is still a thing. How many times have you heard kids naming others weird, strange, or crazy? And I bet I only chose the “nice” words to publish here.

The statistics about depression among children are absolutely terrifying and I’m saying this as a mom of three. It’s not only just the fact that every parent wants their children to be healthy. Be honest with yourself, can you imagine how much harder would their childhood be with this label?

Just in the U.S. approximately 1.9 million children age 3-17 was diagnosed with depression; 6.1 million with ADHD. Those data are shown in the article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So yeah, this is scary.

How to know if you are panicking?

Here’s the thing, I don’t see being worried as panicking. If you worry that your child acts strange, worrying is parenting, not overreacting. And then, on the other hand, let’s say it is overreacting. Let’s say you worry but in the near future, it comes out that everything is fine. What can happen? Someone will call you out? They say “hey, you overreacted”? What’s the worst thing that may happen? Do the risk and gain assessment and I am sure you’ll come to the conclusion that sometimes it’s better to overreact than miss the possibility for early diagnosis.

In 2018, in collaboration with the Child Mind Institute, magazine Parents published an article calling mental illness “one of the most common pediatric health issues in America”.

So no, Mama, I don’t think you’re panicking. Observe your child. Make notes about the behavior that you’re losing sleep for: what are the circumstances? is there any pattern? what is the frequency? Then talk to your pediatrician as a first form of verification. If you are concerned, take action.

every mother is worried when her child have some behavioral issues like sleep problems or aggressiveness

What behaviors parents should be worried about?

Please remember that every child is different and also that you know your child the best. Many behaviors are simply driven by the child’s personality and temperament. Plus, some ages are known for being troublesome (terrible twos, anybody?)

What could be a red flag though?

    • troubles with sleep – now, alarming might be if it takes hours for your child to fell asleep and then they wake up after just a couple of hours (plus are active whole day). When you have a baby – sleep schedule can be all over the place and there’s nothing strange about it. In general, kids are supposed to sleep about 10 hours per night. So 8 or 12 hours from time to time is most likely nothing to worry about, but sleeping 4 hours a  night on a regular basis or being sleepy whole days might be a sign of many disorders. Depression, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and DMDD (disruptive mood dysregulation disorder) included.
    • more than negative thoughts – many kids can be self-conscious, insecure but if you often observe themes of death or self-harm during play and you see no reasonable explanation for that* this may be a sign of developing depression. Also, when a child feels guilty often and usually when it is about something small.
      *Kids process emotional situations by play. If lately there was a funeral in the family it would not be surprising if a child uses this theme repetitively while playing for some time.
    • fears and aggression – there’s a difference between being scared of monsters under a bed and a child having a severe anxiety attack when they are supposed to leave the house.  Also, throwing a toy in frustration is not the same as a tantrum when a child systematically hits his head into the wall.
    • somatic symptoms that are not connected to any illness – frequent stomachaches that are not caused by constipation, etc. might signal some psychological issues.
    • lack of engagement in play, family life – it is rare to see a child who would not be excited about anything at all, so if that’s a case it might be worth taking a closer look.

Where to look for help if your child is acting differently?

Your pediatrician is the first person to ask. Dr. Google will tell you a lot, but you know that you can confirm ALL of your diagnosis there, right? You don’t need that stress. If you want to read more about your concerns choose only reliable sources. Usually, those are the .gov and .org pages like the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists or American Psychological Association (where you can also search for specialist’s help by the way).

As I mentioned in the beginning, trust your intuition. If your guts tell you that something is happening to your child, be relentless in seeking help. Don’t worry about being seen as the overreacting parent. It’s about your child’s health we’re talking about. You wouldn’t hesitate if it was about gallbladder or tonsil, right?

mom worried that her child might have mental illness will stay relentless in looking for help for her child

What if you were right?

When it comes to mental illness it’s really hard to talk about treatment options without having a specific case in mind. Various sources I checked before writing this post mentioned:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT)
  • interpersonal therapy (IPT)
  • play therapy
  • psychotherapy and medication

and there are many others.

I would not be myself if I didn’t add that a caregiver also needs support in those hard life moments. Mama, please remember about your own health and self-care while taking care of your family!

 

 

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