The Signs of Mental Illness In Children That Every Parent Should Know

Child Mental Illness | Improve Your Child

As a parent, the last thing you want to think about is your child dealing with mental illness. Yet, children are just as vulnerable to mental problems, such as depression, as adults. Sadly, many parents overlook the earliest signs of mental illness due to a lack of awareness, and this delay in care can affect a child’s recovery. Although the signs of mental illness can vary according to a child’s age and maturity level, it is important to seek help from a professional if you notice any of these occurring on a regular basis.

Behavior Problems at School or Daycare
Children often act out their problems, which means parents frequently receive negative behavior reports from their child’s teachers when something is wrong. For some children, this could involve violent, angry outbursts, or you could receive feedback that your child is inattentive or refuses to cooperate. Either way, avoid assuming that negative behavior is just your child breaking the rules. It could be an underlying mental illness showing itself through their actions.

Persistent Nightmares
At night, repressed emotions often rise to the surface. The occasional nightmare is normal for children. However, frequent nightmares accompanied by screaming and night waking could signal that something more is happening. Nightmares are especially common among children that have experienced a severe trauma or who struggle with anxiety. Teenagers, however, may not talk about their nightmares. Instead, they may put off sleep for as long as possible or seem tired upon waking.

Excessive Fears
Many types of mental illness cause extreme anxiety that could be expressed by your child as fears. While it is normal for a child to have a mild fear of things such as thunder, you may need to worry if their fears cannot be calmed with reassuring words or a soothing touch. For example, a child who is terrified of speaking to others may be struggling with social anxiety.

Changes in Eating Habits
Sudden weight gain or loss is a common symptom of mental illness. Young children may suddenly become picky or slow eaters. Children of all ages may engage in frequent snacking or binge eating. Teenagers who have more control over their food may also hide their changing eating habits, yet you may see fluctuations in their weight. You may also notice symptoms of eating disorders in older kids such as hoarding food or purging after meals.

Loss of Interest in Favorite Activities
Children tend to go through different hobbies and friends as their personality develops. However, most children have at least one interest that they remain passionate about throughout their childhood. If your child suddenly stops playing their favorite sport or refuses to spend time with their friends, then they may be struggling mentally.

Disturbing Drawings or Writings
Children with mental illness are often creative, and they will use their preferred craft to express feelings that they may not be able to put into words. At the preschool level, this may involve heavy, angry scribbles using harsh colors. Older kids and teens may draw actual depictions of violent images, or they may write stories with upsetting plots. Talk to your children about the things they create, and ask open-ended questions to find out what is on their mind.

When a child has a mental illness, they rely upon their parents and other trusted adults to find out what is wrong. Although many of the signs are subtle, they do tend to get worse as time goes on. Fortunately, acting quickly at the first sign of mental illness is the best way to ensure your child gets the help they need to enjoy positive mental wellbeing.



How To Improve Your Child’s Attendance to School

If you discover at some point that your child is not attending school, you’re probably upset and wondering exactly why he or she is not going to school. At first glance, you might think that your child is avoiding school because most children don’t want to go to school or to rebel or to avoid what he or she doesn’t like.

However, there might be a significant reason that you don’t yet know. For instance, there might be some bullying happening or your child might be having feelings of depression and feel left out from peer groups at school. Furthermore, your child might be experiencing a form of a mental illness, such as anxiety, and he or she doesn’t want you or friends to know.

So, the first step in trying to get your child to return to school is to uncover the source of the problem rather than jumping to conclusions. Furthermore, your child might be hiding report cards, throwing away letters from teachers, or avoiding discussions about classes. If grades are declining, children might be fearful of punishment or embarrassed to admit their failures. For this reason, get in touch with teachers. Email or call the school to be clear about how your child is doing academically. This will provide you with the information you need to support your child and to have a better understanding of what’s really going on. Continue reading


Improve the Health of Your Family with Exercise

Up until recently, it was clear that exercise was an essential tool for improving health when health was not so strong. However, research shows that regular exercise can actually help prevent illness as well. Exercise can keep a heart, mind, and body healthy for all members of the family.

 Obesity | Improve-Your-Child.comMore than 1/3 of American adults are obese.  Obesity is a physical illness in which there is excess body fat for the height and muscle structure for an individual. When there is there is a caloric imbalance – too few calories are being expended for the amount of calories being consumed, the body will likely gain weight. However, the amount of weight gained depends on genetic, behavioral, environmental, and psychological factors. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

Furthermore, Rutgers University recently did a study to explore the link between obesity and depression in female adolescents. The link between these two disorders has long been evident but the details behind the relationship are less clear. In fact the evidence that indicate a relationship exists has actually been conflicting. The goal of the study was to find clear evidence for prevention and treatment of both obesity and depression in girls. One of the large dangers that come with weight gain for teens is depression, anxiety, and emotional strife. Given the pressures of looking good and being accepted by their peers during adolescence, teens can be vulnerable to mental illness if weight gain is continuing to take place. Continue reading