Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Concerns in Children!

Signs of Mental Health Concerns in Children

Children on their way to adulthood have much to contend with, be it bodily or emotional changes. Moreover, they deal with academic pressures, peer pressure, and more, and it can often turn out to be challenging for their mental health. Children are less expressive than adults, making it difficult for parents to read their minds and understand their feelings. However, children can show their discomfort and worries in various ways. While adults may dismiss a child’s distress as inconsequential, it is critical to identify and address any indicators of mental health issues. Here are some indications that your child may be struggling with mental health.

As parents, if you are concerned about what signs to look out for that indicate that your child is struggling and, more importantly, what to do in such times, here is help.

Pressures faced by children

Let us first begin by trying to list down some of the pressures that teens particularly face:

  • Academic pressures, including getting good grades, securing admission to colleges of choice, figuring out their future, and more.
  • Body image issues with changes occurring in their bodies and stereotypes related to body images as perpetuated, among other things, by media.
  • Peer pressure in several areas, including but not limited to academics, being perceived as “cool,” and more.
  • Bullying, Self-worth, and discrimination issues related to sexual orientation, weight, and more like Romantic break-ups.
  • Tough schedules do not leave enough time for self-care.
teen may be having mental health difficulties

Signs your teen may be having mental health difficulties

While every child is different, and there is no one-shoe-fits-all when dealing with stressful situations, here are some broad signs to watch out for.

  • Mood swings, anger, irritability, breaking down into tears over seemingly minor issues.
  • Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, and more.
  • Loss of interest in things that they liked to do.
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Academic Struggles
  • Not talking about what is bothering them.
  • Signs of substance abuse.
  • Signs of self-harm, and more.

Pro tip: It is important to mention here that hormonal changes may make the child prone to some amount of irritability, anger, mood changes, desire to be alone, and more. The above indicators, in isolation, do not necessarily indicate a mental crisis and aren’t a cause for alarm.

Common Mental Health concerns for teens

Some of the common concerns when it comes to teens include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Self-harm

It is important to note that substance abuse is common among teens, which can further exacerbate mental health issues. While substances are used often to deal with difficulties, the fact that they aggravate the problems is a given. We have heard enough and more instances of teens drinking and driving and being involved in fatal accidents. Substance abuse, however, isn’t just a coping mechanism; it can also result in a response to peer pressure and a desire to fit into the social group.

Additionally, the rise of social media could lead teens to form unrealistic views about other people’s lives and strive to reach an unrealistic goal. Putting pictures online and deriving validation from the number of likes and comments that they draw can be highly exhausting. Social media also comes with the risk of cyberbullying, which can severely impact mental health. Additionally, social media could also expose teens to online predators who might try to exploit them.

Eating Disorder in Teenagers

What to do?

The above is not to paint a picture of doom when it comes to children’s mental health. While fear is potent, there are enough and more things that you can do to ensure that you catch the issues well in time and that you offer a supportive environment.

The most important aspect is to have open conversations with the child. While this sounds like a small tip, the fact is that you will need time and effort to do so. First, the child should feel confident to approach you with issues. If they feel judged or feel that you will lecture them or punish them, they will instead bottle things up. Much as you want the child’s well-being, the fact is that if you jump to give the child advice without hearing him out, or worse still, jump to say, “I told you so,” the chances of the child opening to you will be slim. In fact, you need to listen to them deeply. When the child feels heard, he or she is likely to confide in you. Habitually, though, most of us listen to respond instead of practicing deep listening. Another thing that you need to be mindful of is practicing speaking in a manner that doesn’t put them on the defensive. I-messaging, the correct body language, and the appropriate tone of voice are all areas to be mindful of.

Despite all of this, do not be disheartened if the child takes time to open up and if all you meet with in the beginning is silence. It is easy to fall into the trap of blaming yourself for the child’s struggles. It is as essential to remain compassionate for yourself as for the child.

To Sum up

The importance of mental health cannot be overstated. Overall, it is important to ensure that you promote resilience and positive mental health in day-to-day activities. Make it a point that there is scheduled family time, as strong relationships can go a long way in offering every member the much-needed strength. It is also important to impress upon children the need for self-care.

While you watch out for signs of any emotional struggle in children, also be mindful of the fact that there should not be a stigma around mental health. If at all you find the need to approach a mental health practitioner, do not hesitate to do so.

At Pragyanam, one of the best CBSE schools in Gurgaon, our focus is on the holistic development of the children. To this end, we focus on instilling several life skills in our students. Aspects such as coping with stress, coping with emotions, and more are important aspects of our curriculum. We ensure that children’s mental health is never compromised in the pursuit of other goals and that self-care is always on the radar.

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June 2024
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