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When to Seek Help for Your Child

Parents are usually the first to recognize that something is amiss with their child`s emotions or behaviour. When these instincts are confirmed by observations of outside resources such as teachers or family members, it is time to consider seeking professional help for your child. After an assessment by an appropriate professional, this help can take the form of individual, group or family counselling either at a community agency or through a private practitioner. The following are a few signs that may indicate that seeking outside help for your child might be of benefit:


  • Marked fall in school performance.
  • Poor grades despite good effort.
  • A change in mood lasting for an extended period of time.
  • A sudden reluctance to participated in activities usually enjoyed ` playing, going to school, etc.
  • Persistent sleeping difficulties or nightmares.
  • Persistent disobedience, aggression, or provocative opposition to authority.
  • Frequent unexplainable outbursts or temper tantrums.
  • Excessive worrying or anxiety about routine issues.
  • Hyperactivity, fidgeting, or constant movement beyond age-appropriate level of activity.


  • Marked change in school performance.
  • Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Inability to cope with routine stresses and daily activities.
  • Marked change in sleeping or eating habits.
  • Numerous complaints of physical ailments.
  • Aggressive or non-aggressive consistent violation of rights of others.
  • Persistent opposition to authority; truancy, theft, vandalism, or bullying.
  • Intense fear of becoming overweight, with no relationship to actual body weight.
  • Prolonged negative mood, accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty sleeping, thoughts of death, or self-destructive behaviour.
  • Frequent outburst of rage.
  • Isolating self from usual support systems ` friends, family, etc. for an extended period of time.
  • Wanting to sleep all the time and withdraw from day to day activities.

If you find that your child fits many of the above criteria, please refer to our fact sheet entitled Places to Get Help.

You may wish to speak to your School Social Worker to discuss your concerns regarding your child, and to obtain direction in seeking professional assistance to address your concerns.

The content of the above article is partially derived from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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