Treating Child Behavioral Issues
Specializing in diagnosing and treating disorders in children, a psychiatrist who treats children will use their specialized knowledge to help guide the parents in diagnosing behavior and thought disorders and then devising a treatment plan. This plan may include behavior modification plans, medication and therapy to help the child learn to control and minimize certain thoughts and behaviors.
If your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD), a psychiatrist who specializes in treatment of children, can be a valuable member of your treatment team. These conditions can be managed with psychiatric intervention and a treatment plan that may involve medication and/or behavior therapy.
A psychiatrist treating your child can also act as an advocate for your child with schools, other doctors, agencies or other organizations.
When to Seek Treatment for my Child’s Behavior Issues?
It can be a difficult task to understand a troubled child’s behavior and decide whether or not that behavior warrants evaluation. Even under the best of circumstances, children can display behaviors and emotions that are consistent with typical development and those that could be cause for concern. So it is important to remember that many of the symptoms of these disorders may, in fact, be typical childhood behavior.
In general, if a child’s troubling behavior stays active for a few weeks or longer or begins to have a negative impact on family or friend relationships or school function, then you might want to consider seeking professional help.
If a child’s behavior is deemed unsafe – or they talk about wanting to harm themselves or others, seek help immediately.
Some Helpful Tips:
Seek immediate help if a child engages in dangerous behavior or talks about a desire to hurt self or others.
Early recognition and treatment may help prevent more serious problems in the future.
An evaluation or treatment may be helpful if:
Disruptive issues are present for longer than a month and are interfering with school, home life, friendships or other relationships.
Fear or worry causes disruption to normal activity, such as sleep, activity outside the home, playing with others.
Your child has lost interest in things they used to enjoy or seemingly in anything.
Your child engages in risky or destructive behavior or encourages it in others or engages in self-harm activity.
You child believes someone is trying to control their mind or thoughts or believes they can hear things others cannot hear.
Your child spends excessive time alone or actively avoids social behavior.
If I am Concerned About my Child, What Should I do?
If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, where should you begin? To determine if the incidents are isolated or affecting him/her in other settings, begin by talking with your child’s teachers or caregivers from other settings. Determine what the child’s behavior is like in other social arenas such as school, daycare, church groups…etc.
Make an appointment to talk with your child’s doctor and describe the behavior and observations from others. Ask for a referral to a mental health professional for an evaluation and possible intervention.