Counseling For Children

By Nazia Islam, LPC-S, RPT

Just like adults children can experience stress. Stressors for children can include the death of a pet, the birth of a sibling, divorce, neglect, abandonment, moving, domestic violence, bullying at school, natural disasters, war, violence, and political climate.  Your child will not come to you stating “Mother, I feel quite saddened by the recent events of the world, and it is affecting my mental health. Here are my symptoms: emotional lability, lack of appetite and middle insomnia, irritability and hopelessness, and anhedonia.” Instead, they will show their distress through their behaviors. It can be confusing to identify the difference between developmentally appropriate behaviors (i.e kids will be kids) versus something more is going on and my child needs counseling. As a parent, you are the expert on your child and are best able to notice significant or subtle changes in your child’s mood, behavior, and actions.

The following is a summary of a list from ACD of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health Bureau of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and various other sources to help with identifying signs that your child may need professional help-

  1.       Are they having trouble with their feelings?
  2.       Irritability, aggression, crying spells, screaming, spitting, hopelessness
  3.       Have you noticed changes in your child?
  4.       Poor academics
  5.       Losing interest in things that they once enjoyed.
  6.       Change in sleeping patterns and appetite.
  7.       Day Dreaming
  8.       Hear voices  
  9.       Self-isolation
  10.       Separation Anxiety/Clinginess
  11.       Is your child’s behavior limiting parts of their life?
  12.       Inability to make decisions
  13.       Poor concentration
  14.       Unable to sit still
  15.       Racing thoughts, frequently worry
  16.       Ritualistic activities
  17.       Persistent nightmares
  18.       Is your child’s behavior problematic?
  19.       Abusing drugs
  20.       Self-harming behaviors
  21.       Comments about suicidal thoughts/ideations
  22.       Overeating/Binging
  23.       Bed Wetting
  24.       Regression
  25.       Is your child complaining about unexplained medical symptoms?
  26.       Stomachs
  27.       Aches, pain
  28.       Headaches

It can be overwhelming to consider bringing your child to counseling and acknowledging that your child may be struggling. However, it is important to remember that children are resilient, and facing struggles head-on is the best way to role model problem-solving. It is also healing for a child to have a safe space to talk about the difficulties they are experiencing and know that they are not alone in their struggle.  


Alleghany County Department of Human Services of Behavioral Health Bureau of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. (n.d). Taking Charge of Your Child’s Mental Health, a Parent’s Guide. Bethal Park School District. Retrieved March 25, 2020—-A-Parent_s-Guide2.pdf

Cleveland Clinic. (2021, March 31). Signs Your Child May Need a Therapist. Cleveland Clinic.

Ward, Christina (2020, September). Warning Signs Your Child Might Need Therapy. The Kid’s Directory Family Resource Guide.


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