Counselling can be a useful way to help children develop skills, manage difficulties, overcome challenges, improve mental health, and build resilience.  While childhood can be a time of play, fun, growth, freedom, and enjoyment, it also involves many significant changes, challenges, and transitions and sometimes also major adversities, traumas, tragedies, and losses.  Children can benefit from the support provided by a caring counsellor to help them and their caregivers to deal with transitions, struggles, and difficulties and to build greater resiliency, coping skills, and stronger mental health in the process.  

While we use the term “child” here, it is important to recognize that your child may actually be a teenager or young adult.  Regardless of their age, they are still your child and it is natural to be concerned about their health, well-being, and success.  Someone may also suggest to you that it would be helpful for you and/or your child to meet with a counsellor to get support in managing an issue, such as a family member, teacher, school staff, doctor, pastor, or community member. Please reach out to us with any questions as we are here to support you and your child in accessing the information, resources, and support you need. 

It is important to remember that all children are resilient and will do well if they can.  At the same time, children often need support to learn new skills, strategies, and tools to improve their school performance, their family and social relationships, their mental health, and their overall well-being.    

It is also important to remember that every child is unique, original, and special in their own ways.  Every child has unique and diverse elements in their background, heritage, and characteristics and distinctive elements to their personality, identity, and experiences.  This means that children’s responses to life situations and challenges, including their actions, behaviours, thoughts, feelings, and symptoms, may look different depending on the unique factors impacting their life and on their age and stage of development.  However, when a child’s physical, social-emotional, language and intellectual progress is different from what seems appropriate to a child’s “stage” or level of development, then it is helpful to consult with a professional for further exploration, assessment, identification, and help getting back on track.  If you have a concern, please reach out to get more information and see how we can support your efforts.  

Some common challenges that children may need support in managing include:

  • Illness, injury, or trauma experienced by the child
  • Injury, illness, trauma, or death of a family member, friend, trusted adult, or pet
  • Family separation, divorce, conflict, or violence
  • Moving, changing schools, and changing friends
  • Difficulty learning and succeeding at school
  • Bullying, harassment, and/or abuse at school, with peers, in the community, or at home
  • Dealing with discrimination, unfair treatment, racism, sexism, and injustice at school, at work, or in the community
  • Relationships with family, friends, teachers, and other community members
  • Self-esteem, confidence, and social skills
  • Challenges related to gender identity and sexuality, including identity and orientation
  • Influence of peers including access to and use of drugs, alcohol, vaping, and other substances
  • Challenges with online activities including gaming, social media, and inappropriate content

You know your child best, and are uniquely able to notice changes in their situation, behaviour,  and emotions.  Other family members, caregivers, teachers, and trusted adults in the child’s life may also notice changes.  Often, when children are experiencing struggles and symptoms in more than one setting (e.g. home, school, activities, with peers), then it is especially important to seek help, support, information, and solutions.   

How would I know that my child is experiencing a mental health problem? Parents and caring adults may notice changes in a child’s situation, behaviours and emotions that could be potential signs of a mental health problem.  Below are some ways to consider whether your child might be experiencing a mental health problem.

Ask yourself if the behaviours and emotions you notice seem to be: 

  • new or out of character for my child
  • having a negative impact on my child’s ability to enjoy everyday life
  • negatively impacting family life
  • getting in the way of my child’s progress at school
  • happening more frequently, intensely, or lasting longer

    FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN – Some signs that may indicate a mental health concern for younger children include: 

  • frequently changing moods and emotions, including easily hurt feelings, crying, and/or anger 
  • anxiety and/or depression
  • impulsivity and/or hyperactivity
  • ongoing temper tantrums, throwing things, and hitting people
  • ongoing sadness and lack of interest in things they normally enjoy 
  • withdrawal from friends and family 
  • increased need for contact and reassurance 
  • little motivation or interest in schoolwork and other activities 
  • anxiety related to school, including reluctance or refusal
  • difficulty concentrating, irritability and low tolerance of frustration
  • increase in headaches, stomach aches, or other aches and pains 
  • decreased energy, appetite changes, problems with sleep or bedwetting 

    FOR OLDER CHILDREN – Some signs that may indicate a mental health concern for older children and teens:  

  • frequent irritability or outbursts of anger or distress
  • feelings of anxiety and panic 
  • excessive worries and fears about the safety of family, friends, and self 
  • increased defiance and opposition 
  • declining grades and/or anxiety related to school, including school reluctance or refusal
  • use of drugs and/or alcohol 
  • withdrawal from family, normal activities, and/or friends
  • ongoing negative remarks about self 
  • loss of interest in activities one normally enjoys
  • low motivation to complete tasks 
  • changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • frequent talk about death and dying 
  • giving away possessions

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