Does my child have a mental illness
It is not an easy job to hear that you are not a good parent. It is even more difficult to hear that your child is a bad kid. Hearing criticism on yourself as a parent is the last thing you would like to listen to. Some people label the hyper or bad behavior of your child as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or the others label their bad behavior as lack of discipline. But what really is the cause of bad behavior in kids. Is it something related to mental health or is it just your child trying to tell you something you are missing.
Most parents question their way of parenting. Whether they are doing it all right or wrong, is the concern of every parent at some point in their lives. Some often wonder if it is some mental issue with their child that is the cause of his bad behavior. How can you tell if your child is having a discipline problem or some mental health issue? When you know this difference, you come out of your bad parenting guilt and start to seek help for your troubled child by making good and appropriate choices.
The ‘Bad Kid’
You child is not bad. Do not label your child before actually finding out the root cause of a certain action. There are three reasons for kids to behave badly.
- Children enjoy the bad behavior or what it gets them in return.
- They want to communicate something to their parents. For example when a child hits a sibling, it may be because he is feeling left out and wants to get the attention of his parents.
- They are trying to manage their own emotions and feelings for example anger or loneliness.
Parents worry that their child is just bad and difficult to handle. But in reality there is a reason for every action that a child does. He is not a bad kid and neither are you a bad parent. But to distinguish whether a child is having a behavioral issue or a mental health diagnosis is important. There is a three point checklist for parents to look at a child’s behavior with respect to his environment.
- Is your child’s behavior making sense with respect to his circumstances?
- Does your child want to tell you something by a certain behavior?
- Is he trying to manage his feelings?
When your child’s actions justify themselves when you consider them from a child’s point of view, then this is only a short lived action and not a point of serious concern. However, there are certain ways in which you can adjust your child’s life according to his environment and circumstances to stop the occurrence of a specific behavior.
What is a Normal Behavior?
Children do strange and surprising things. To understand a child’s normal behavior you must study your child’s environment and surroundings. For example, look at your child’s peers at school or at a daycare. If your child’s friends possess somewhat bad habits and behaviors, your child is sure to learn them. Similarly take your time out to study about typical development behaviors in children. For example, it is normal for a kid to develop a habit of lying. And this habit continues for most of his childhood.
When to Seek Professional Help?
When you cannot decide how manage your child’s behavior, you must seek help from your child’s pediatrician, a therapist or a child behaviorist. You must talk to your child’s teacher at school. How does he behave when he is among his friends and peers? Does his behavior meet the classroom expectations? Is his behavior relative to that of his peers?
Ask a pediatrician about the typical developmental behaviors and behavioral milestones that your child should be meeting. And if he is unable to meet them, is it a matter of concern?
How is a Mental Health Diagnosis Done?
When you are somewhat convinced that your child has a mental health disorder like ADHD, a learning disability, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) or a similar problem, it is important to know what a mental health diagnosis looks like. Children often behave differently in different situations, but if his behavior is consistent in every circumstance, then he needs a diagnosis. For example a child who has trouble to concentrate at home and school alike is more likely to have an attention deficit disorder as compared to a child who behaves differently at school and home.
If your child finds it difficult to get along with other kids because the other lids see him as different, then this child needs a diagnosis. Similarly if he does not get better with punishment or change and seems to get frustrated by his own behavior then you must seek help from a professional. Your psychiatrist or child psychologist will develop the best strategies to help you cope with your child.