Does your child need pediatric counseling?

All children experience ups and downs throughout life, just like the rest of us. Feeling moody, having problems with friends and struggling with school are all normal blips kids go through. But sometimes, a major unexpected event can transform an ordinary rough patch into something which requires outside professional help.

Stress from the pandemic, parents separating or a new baby can all turn a child’s world upside down. While often things straighten out on their own over time, sometimes behavior which seemed a little unusual to begin with can spiral and become a real cause for concern.

If you’re worried your child’s mental wellbeing is at risk and you can’t do anything about it yourself, it’s time to consider pediatric counseling.

What is pediatric counseling?

Pediatric counseling is a form of therapy for children and teenagers suffering from mental illness. It’s an effective form of treatment for young people who have experienced significant trauma, as well as those currently living in a dysfunctional or stressful home environment.

Many of the problems children face are also experienced by the adults in their everyday lives. These include anxiety, depression and grief. In a similar way to therapy aimed at adults, pediatric counseling works by breaking down problems into bite-sized pieces, helping children to gain a better understanding of their issues so they can cope with them more successfully. 

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How a pediatric counselor can help

You might be uncertain of how a pediatric counselor can help your child manage their symptoms. After all, who knows your child and is in a better position to help them than you?

Before beginning therapy, it’s important to understand that pediatric therapists are trained mental health specialists who offer valuable insights into the emotional progress, social development and mental wellbeing of your child. Many times, the source of the problem is invisible to parents and guardians because they’re too close to the child. 

Pediatric counselors have the advantage of the expertise and knowledge needed to determine, analyze and diagnose a wide range of mental illnesses, psychological distress triggers and adjustment problems. These experts have been trained to dive into the minds of children, helping them make sense of what’s going on in their bodies, minds and lives. 

What do child therapists treat?

Child therapists treat a number of different problems children struggle with in their early lives. From helping a child work their way through grief after losing a loved one to managing their emotions and self-esteem after suffering from abuse, pediatric therapists can treat any issue which causes children distress.

Here are some of the most common issues dealt with in pediatric counseling:

  • Separation or divorce
  • Grief following the death of a loved one, friend, pet, home, etc
  • Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event
  • Psychological distress and mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety
  • Bullying at home or school
  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Problems with relocation, such as changing families, homes, schools, cities, etc
  • Family addiction or substance abuse

Signs your child might need a therapist

Sometimes unusual behavior is simply a normal part of growing up. But other times, it’s a cause for concern. Here are some signals which could indicate your child may have a more serious issue which needs professional help:

  • Has problems in many different areas of their life, such as maintaining family relationships, succeeding at school, making friends, taking part in typical children’s activities, etc
  • Repeatedly says things like “I wish I wasn’t here” or “Nobody would care if I disappeared”
  • Shows self-destructive behaviors, such as skin-picking or hair-pulling
  • Loses their self-confidence and starts feeling bad about themselves
  • Avoids socializing with friends and family
  • No longer enjoys activities they recently used to love
  • Experiences significant changes in sleep or eating habits
  • Is excessively anxious about the future
  • Engages in bad behavior more often than usual
  • Talks about or engages in self-harm
  • Explicitly talks about suicide
  • Expresses hopelessness

As a parent or guardian, it’s important that you go with your gut instinct. You know your child better than anyone and you’ll be one of the first to know when something’s wrong. If something is bothering you about your child, seek counseling.

It’s better to have a problem checked out and discover it’s nothing than to let a serious issue develop on its own. 

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741