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Children’s Behavior | When is it an Issue?

Counseling for Child Behavioral Issues

Children’s Behavior | When is it an Issue?


Children can be easily confused, so it is natural that they express their feelings and thoughts in their actions. Being an unspoken language of their emotions, their behavior can be used to measure the state of their emotional health. Therefore, their misbehavior could be a sign that something isn’t right and must not be ignored or trivialized.

It is true that most children occasionally exhibit “bad” behavior – throwing tantrums, lying about small things, manifesting anger and/or defiance towards others, etc. It is also a fact that your children aren’t perfect all the time. When their misbehavior, nevertheless, becomes consistent, intense and uncontrollable, it would be wise to pay attention. When your usual kind of discipline does not work, it is best to seek professional intervention.

What professional intervention should you seek? Seeing their pediatrician or your family doctor can help, particularly when they are showing medical signs and symptoms – nausea, headaches, tummy aches, etc. This can rule out the presence of a medical condition. If the doctor can’t find anything wrong, it may do a lot of good for your child to take him/her to a therapist. If the child’s behavior is linked to an emotional condition, they need their manifestations properly assessed for prompt treatment.


Behavior as a Symptom of an Emotional Condition

Children’s behavior can be a dead giveaway of a behavioral or an emotional condition. For example, children who have depression may not manifest sadness. The feeling of gloom can confuse them, so the presentation of depression can be defiance, anger, or tantrums. Children who are introverted or have low self-esteem may avoid people, speak less, seek reclusion, or exhibit excessive fears. Meanwhile, undesirable behavioral responses – shouting, crying, disorientation, etc. – can be demonstrated by children sensitive to excessive noise or glaring light/sunlight.

Imposing discipline is the usual strategy that parents use to modify their children’s behavior. Of course, it may work, but not all the time or in all children. It can be ineffective in children who have an emotional condition or issue. Harsh discipline may result in them becoming more afraid, stalling them from telling you how they are feeling or what is their source of fear, worry, anguish, sadness, or confusion. To help your child, their behavioral manifestations must be diagnostically assessed properly by a professional for the right intervention.

Your child’s behavior can be set off by a stimulus. The trigger can be anything. It can be internal (like a hormonal imbalance, hunger or sleepiness) or external (such as an exposure to noise, the school bus which represents the school, or big crowds). Knowing what causes your child to behave the way they do is important. Though a professional can provide the appropriate interventions, they need information from you and your child. If your child is unable to verbalize their “experiences,” you stand as their best source of information. 


The Symptoms to Watch Out For

What are the signs and symptoms that you must recognize to seek professional assistance? Recognizing these red flags isn’t easy because children can’t always effectively verbalize their feelings and have varied ways of expressing their emotions. What adds to the challenge is the fact that most symptoms are nonspecific. There are, however, unusual behaviors that may be considered as identifiable symptoms of certain emotional conditions.

For instance, the telltale symptoms of child depression are sadness, mood changes and hopelessness. They may also express sadness in the forms of social withdrawal, lethargy and psychosomatic complaints, tantrums, low self-esteem, guilt, lack of focus, and change in sleeping and eating patterns. For child anxiety, it has several types, so it has hundreds of possible symptoms.. Some noticeable symptoms are unrealistic fears, restlessness or fatigue, social withdrawal, and poor focus and school performance.

The common behavioral disorders among children include ODD or oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and CD or conduct disorder. According to the Child Mind Institute, children with ODD display “extreme resistance to authority, conflict with parents, outbursts of temper and spitefulness with peers.”  ADHD children are inattentive, easily distracted, move a lot, disorganized, impulsive and constantly do things without thinking.

CD “refers to a group of behavioral and emotional problems in youngsters,” says the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The mild symptoms are easy to miss, being perceived as simple manifestations of courage and confidence. Severe cases can cause a child to exhibit unwanted behavior – aggressive, destructive and/or deceitful – or “… in excess of those required to make the diagnosis, causing substantial harm to others,” says Web MD.


When to Bring Your Child to a Therapist  

Since children have varied ways of displaying their internal turmoil, the condition may not present itself in the usual signs and symptoms. So, watch out too for those behaviors that are unusual, such as clumsiness, anger, insomnia, etc. In particular, do not let the red flags go unnoticed. These include self-harm, cruelty to animals, violence, seeing/hearing things not visible/audible to others, lack of empathy, and lack of shame and guilt.

As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s emotional health. There is no better person to notice your child’s unusual or alarming behaviors, but you. Knowing them from birth, you are in a good position to judge if their behavior has changed or if their misbehavior is becoming more perceptible. This implies that these symptoms are becoming intense, pervasive, even irrational. As such, it would be extremely challenging to keep your child’s life stable.

When these behaviors become worse or they start to affect the little one’s daily life at home, in school and/or on the playground, it is time to seek help. When the red flags are becoming more obvious and the repercussions are becoming more serious, you must see that their symptoms are assessed without haste. Waiting for these behaviors to pass can be your biggest mistake because if these are symptoms of an emotional condition that won’t happen without professional help.


Modifying Child Behavior with an Expert

Studies reveal that more than 15 million or one in every five American youngsters struggle because of behavioral conditions. There are varied reasons that account for this discouraging figure, including the truth that there are many parents who miss the symptoms or dismiss them, considering them as something that will soon pass. If your child’s behavior is becoming noticeably discomforting, the best thing to do is to be sure that those manifestations are assessed by a professional therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC.

As a parent, you want the best for your child. This starts with good physical and emotional health. It would be careless to blame their behavior on them just “being bad” because these can be symptoms of an emotional condition. To be able to put your mind to rest, have your child’s unusual behaviors assessed. Counseling can help improve your child’s behavior. Only an expert can provide that through proper diagnosis of the condition and offer the proper interventions for resolution.

Seeking help early can significantly improve the condition’s outlook. Hence, do not delay seeking help. The right therapist/counselor independently contracted with CCS – North Fayetteville Office Fayetteville, NC can also help you with your parenting skills to better raise and guide your beloved child with behavioral issues. While the support of your relatives and friends can be a source of strength at this time, the best help your child needs might come from an expert.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Fayetteville, NC (North)

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC

Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Rex NC,and Wade, NC

Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

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  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
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    Location: Fayetteville, NC