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Mental Illness: When your child’s behavior is troubling you

*Photo credit: Fox News

In a recent Fox News article, child psychologist Dr. Bonny Forrest discussed emotional, behavioral and developmental challenges all parents may face with their children.

How can parents differentiate between behavior a child will grow out of and a mental illness? Here are a few questions parents should ask themselves:

Duration: Has the child’s concerning behavior been repeating over several weeks or months?

Intensity: Where is the behavior occurring? Is it in one or several different settings? Is the behavior getting worse/more disruptive?

Overall impact: How is the child’s behavior affecting their development and his or her family?

The more extreme the duration, intensity and overall impact, the more likely parents should consult a professional.

Children experience and express stresses differently at different ages. Infants and preschoolers may exhibit temper tantrums; children of elementary school age may develop fears or have difficulty in social settings; pre-teens and adolescents may experience bullying or begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

It’s important for parents to look for these challenges and to also consider the positive things they can do to take care of their child’s mental health. Set aside certain times to have an open dialogue with your child, listen and allow them to express themselves, and play with your children in a way that lets them explore and learn about their environment on their own.

Click here to read more from Dr. Bonny Forest about how to take care of your child’s mental health. If you believe your child is exhibiting extreme behaviors and would like to consult a professional, contact our children’s psychiatric hospitals at 1-866-KVC-CARES (582-2273).