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When to Seek Help for Behavioral Concerns

By Thomas Reimers, Ph. D.

Teen suffering from behavioral concerns.

One of the things that we can count on in life is change.  Sometimes those changes are positive, but at other times they create challenges. Parents understandably become concerned when there child is experiencing changes emotionally, behaviorally or in school. Sometimes those changes come and go while at other times they persist. Parents often seek the advice of friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. When that is not enough, parents question whether they need to seek professional help.  Below are some suggestions in regard to whether you should seek additional help.

  • Changes in behavior and mood. As a parent, you know what is typical for your child.  Sometimes there is a noticeable change to your child's behavior, mood or routine. If you notice significant changes to your child's mood or behavior, and if that change persists for long periods of time, there may be a need for further evaluation. 
  • Changes are disruptive. Sometimes a change in a child's behavior or mood has a negative impact on his or her relationship with others, school performance or is disrupting the environment at home or school. A child's change in mood or behavior can cause discomfort or distress for the child as well as others around them. It can also lead to a disruption in the home environment or may impact the child's ability to participate in extracurricular activities, school, etc. When your child's behavior or emotional composition is affecting their ability to perform typical daily routines, further professional advice may be helpful.
  • It doesn't always get better with time. Parents often hope that a child's behavior or emotion will improve with time.  It is common to think that "they will outgrow it." Sometimes this does happen. At other times however, the change in behavior or emotion persists for long periods of time causing greater disruption and discomfort for the child and family. Early intervention almost always leads to greater success in a shorter amount of time.  Consulting with your pediatrician or a psychologist as to whether your concern is something that warrants further intervention and treatment may be helpful in a number of ways. It can provide you with reassurance that in fact this is something that will get better with time and no intervention is needed. On the other hand, if your child will benefit from having additional services, receiving them earlier than later will likely be very helpful. Many parents meet separately with a psychologist to get their questions answered and determine whether their child needs services. You may find that this is helpful for you. Your pediatrician is also a great source of information, and consultation with your pediatrician can help address some of those questions as well.

There are a wide range of services available to families through the Center for Behavioral Health. We would be happy to answer and address any concerns that you may have about your child.