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Does My Kid Need Therapy?

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"I'm writing to ask for some advice about my 6-year-old son. I think he might need to see a therapist," began an e-mail we recently received from a single mom.

sad looking little boy

Single Mom Seeking: She went on to say that her son has always been melodramatic and assertive -- but she's concerned his behavior is getting out of control. He's more aggressive. And he's arguing and back-talking a lot more often.

"He seems so angry," she adds. "My ex and I got separated two years ago and this has been tough for our son. We moved out, and he has changed schools twice. I'm seriously dating someone now, and his dad has moved in with his girlfriend and her daughter. His teacher wants me to talk with the school counselor. I talk to the teacher on the telephone almost every day.

"So, my question is: How do you know if your kid needs therapy?"

Here's what the Sanity Fairy, a.k.a. Dr. Leah Klungness, suggests:

No one knows your child better than you. When you know in your heart that things are not right for your child, this is the time to consider speaking with a mental health professional.

'Not right' can take many forms, such as moodiness, sadness, aggression, acting out, or changes in sleep and/or eating habits. Frequent and lengthy conversations with your child's teacher are a red flag. If your child's teacher suggests that you speak with the school counselor or school psychologist, this is 'teacher speak' for 'your child is experiencing difficulties out of the normal range.'

Some children adapt more easily to change than others. If your child has experienced many changes, like frequent moves, new school, or adapting to parents' new partners, your child may be at higher risk for emotional problems. If your child is not right, he/she is suffering just like a child would from a physical ailment.

Don't let pride, denial, or the 'blame game' with the other parent interfere in getting the help your child needs.

Often the best place to start is by getting some help yourself. Consider getting short-term counseling focused on your parenting choices and challenges at home.

Here's why: For things to get better for your child, things must change. Deciding what has to change and how these changes will be implemented are adult decisions. Your little guy has basically no control over what's happening in his home life.

If you've been through a divorce, did your kids go to therapy? Comment below.

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24 comments so far | Post a comment now
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Kristine H. Cho April 8, 2011, 8:26 AM

Very helpful

Ricky '. O'Connor April 9, 2011, 2:13 PM

Many thanks

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