Mental Checkups for Children

Recognizing psychological problems in children is extremely important yet difficult. Without recognition the mental issues can continue on into adulthood. Many parents are unaware that there could be an issue with their child whereas others tend to ignore what’s going on, thinking the child will “outgrow” the problem. What some parents don’t realize is that with early treatment most childhood mental problems can be treated with success.

We take our children to the doctor for checkups, even if we feel there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, but for some reason we’re afraid to get a mental checkup for our children. For the most part, we don’t get the mental check up for fear of what may be. We’re relieved when a physician gives our child a clean bill of health. And if a problem is discovered, we’re relieved that we found out in time, because of the checkup. Not so when it comes to our children’s mental health. We worry that people will think our children are crazy. We worry that people will think we are crazy. We convince ourselves that there couldn’t be anything wrong. And many parents have the mistaken idea that if they only show their child more love, more attention, more fun, that he will eventually get over what is causing the problem.

Most every child has some sort of psychological issue whether it’s a mild problem, like a fear of ladybugs, or a more severe problem such as abusing animals. Psychologists agree that any number of factors can be related to the child’s mental issue. Seeing a pet killed, getting beat up at school, getting lost once, or other frightening moments can lend to mental problems, especially when the event went untreated.

Normal tragedy and pain is part of life and different children respond in any number of ways. It’s not necessary to rush our children to a psychologist each and every time something dramatic happens in his life but certain events warrant a checkup by a psychologist.

Sometimes, as parents, we’re unaware that our child has had a terrifying or hurtful moment. Kids don’t always mention what’s on their minds. Even when we know our children have been through an emotional ordeal we often think they came through it unscathed, which might not be the case. Later, signs of something wrong may present themselves and either we recognize it as something else or we choose to put it out of our minds. No parent wants to admit that his child has a mental problem, no matter how mild.

Traumatic occurrences aren’t the only cause of mental problems in a child. And sometimes the origin of the child’s problem remains unknown forever. The origin of the problem isn’t quite as important as the therapy to follow, although finding the source of the problem can play a big role in how soon your child gets better and if there will be reoccurrences.

It’s in your child’s best interest if you have him speak with a psychologist when you see warning signs. If you think, even for a second, that there could be something wrong, take your child for a mental check-up. There’s no shame in admitting to yourself that there could be a problem and in the long run your child will fare better.

Some warning signs to be aware of are constant nail biting, having an invisible friend after the age of 8, being cruel to animals, siblings or friends, hiding food, more-than-occasional lying, throwing fits past the age of 4 or 5, cursing, and prolonged negativity or depression. Making comments like “I’m stupid” is another sign that your child may need to have some counseling.

A psychologist can better analyze what may be causing the problem with your child, or could tell you there really isn’t a major problem. In some instances, the psychologist can simply recommend tactics to try at home to help the child. In other cases the psychologist may want to meet with the child once a week to help him deal with whatever underlying issues are causing the negative behavior.

Most insurance policies do cover a psychologist’s treatment of a child or teen. If you’re uninsured and feel your child needs therapy talk to someone at the Department of Social Services for help. There are programs that can assist your child in receiving the proper treatment he needs and deserves.

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