As a parent, one of your greatest wishes is that your child lives a happy life. But everyone deals with hurdles, and sometimes your child may be dealing with a situation that you’re not equipped to handle.There are also complex situations that kids today often have to deal with, which could be a lot different from those that you remember from your own childhood.
The challenge for most parents is how to provide the necessary skills their kids need to deal with life’s ups and downs and support them as much as they need. Most importantly, recognize when there might be a more serious problem or mental health issue that calls for professional help.
How Can I Tell if My Child Needs Help?
Before searching for a child psychologist near me, I would have to be certain that my child is dealing with a condition that requires professional help. How can I tell if my child is sad or struggling with a mental health problem? Sometimes, your child may not let you know that they’re unhappy, so it’s preferable to look out for warning signs that there may be a problem.
Is my child depressed?
It’s normal to feel sad at different points in our lives — it’s a natural response to unpleasant situations. However, when your child persistently feels sad and experiences consistent low moods that affect their normal social activities, it may be a sign of depression. Some of the symptoms of depression in children include:
- Irritability or anger
- Persistent sadness or hopelessness
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches that do not respond to treatment
- Fatigue and low energy
- Social withdrawal
- Sudden changes in sleep pattern
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Is my child anxious?
Anxiety is part of our survival instinct. When faced with a threatening situation, our brains and bodies respond by going into safety mode. Personally, I was not sure at what point I could decide to consult a child psychologist near me about my child’s anxious feelings.
You might notice some anxious behaviors even when your child doesn’t have an anxiety disorder. These symptoms may not clearly appear, unless they occur often or interfere with their daily activities. A child who is dealing with an anxiety disorder may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Heightened agitation
- Inability to focus
- Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
- Constant tantrums
- Persistent crying
- Meltdowns before school about clothing, hair, shoes, socks
- Meltdowns after school about homework
- Difficulties with transitions within school, and between school and an activity/sport
- Trouble sleeping
In addition to these, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America compiled a screening sheet with questions that parents who think their child may have an anxiety disorder can answer. As a parent, I’ve been very open with my children and shared the results of these screenings with my son after I consulted a child psychologist near me about his anxiety.
Is my child struggling with ADHD?
Most healthy children exhibit hyperactive or impulsive behavior at one time or another. For instance, preschoolers tend to have shorter attention spans and are unable to stick with one activity for long. Even older children and teenagers can have short attention spans, depending on their level of interest in a given task. This inattention doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is dealing with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a child with ADHD might:
- Daydream a lot
- Forget or lose things a lot
- Squirm or fidget
- Talk too much
- Make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
- Have a hard time resisting temptation
- Have trouble taking turns
- Have difficulty getting along with others
These symptoms alone are not an indicator of ADHD, so it will help to get an opinion from a doctor or licensed mental health professional before you attempt a diagnosis.
Getting Help For My Child
In the past, when I had concerns that my child was struggling with a mental illness, the first thing I did was reach out to a child psychologist near me for help. There are experts who specialize in treating children with ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders, so you should take time to find the right fit for your child.
There are different types of child psychologists who are skilled in different areas of child development. Keep that in mind when searching for the appropriate mental health services for your child’s needs. For instance, abnormal child psychologists specialize in working with children and adolescents dealing with mental health disorders. Adolescent psychologists are those most equipped in treating children between the ages of 12 to 18 who are struggling with mental illness.
These child psychologists work with different treatment plans, depending on which is most suitable for the child. These treatment methods include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches children to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, as well as social skills therapy, or grief counseling in case they need help coping with the loss of a loved one or a pet.
Apart from individual therapy, a child psychologist may recommend family therapy, if you’re going through a turbulent phase like a divorce. Group therapy also helps children build social skills and fosters their ability to communicate.
How Can I Find a Good Child Psychologist Near Me?
Parents want the best for their children, and this includes getting the right expert to work with them. This can be daunting, every child has their own unique needs. When I was looking for a child psychologist near me, I found a reliable therapist by researching and reaching out to different professionals. Finding the right psychologist isn’t always so easy, however — it needs to be a good fit for your child’s personality and their challenges — so you don’t have to stick with the first one you consult. By evaluating credentials and asking questions about their therapy procedures and background, you can find a terrific child psychologist who will be there to help your child without judgment.
It can also help you to speak with someone who might have an idea about what your child is going through, your child’s teacher or the guidance counselor at school. They may be able to recommend a skilled professional that can help. Most importantly, you should talk to your child about their struggles and their preferences — what they’re comfortable with — and make sure that they’re comfortable with the psychologist or therapist, before starting sessions.
Where To Find a Good Child Psychologist Near Me
There are several websites that can help you find a good child psychologist, like the American Psychological Association (APA) psychologist locator that lets you search for a professional nearby, using your zip code or address. The Talkspace therapist directory was also helpful when I was searching for a child psychologist near me.
You can make treatment a lot more seamless for your child by getting involved in the process. This involves attending counseling sessions, creating a more open environment for your child to communicate freely, keeping them busy with engaging activities, and encouraging them to write down their feelings in a journal to help them better express and process their emotions.
While focusing on your child’s health and well-being, don’t forget to get the support you need as well. Consulting your own therapist or opting for online therapy can help ensure that you’re your best self and can act as a strong support for your child.