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Children's Mental Health

It's easy to know when your child has a fever. A child's mental health problem may be harder to identify, but you can learn to recognize the symptoms. Pay attention to excessive anger, fear, sadness or anxiety. Sudden changes in your child's behavior can tip you off to a problem. So can behaviors like exercising too much, or hurting or destroying things.

Some common mental health problems in children are

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Mental health problems can disrupt daily life at home, at school or in the community. Without help, mental health problems can lead to school failure, alcohol or other drug abuse, family discord, violence or even suicide. However, help is available. Talk to your health care provider if you have concerns about your child's behavior.

All kids misbehave some times, but behavior disorders go beyond mischief and rebellion. With behavior disorders, your child or teen has a pattern of hostile, aggressive or disruptive behaviors for more than 6 months.

Warning signs can include:

  • Harming or threatening themselves, other people or pets
  • Damaging or destroying property
  • Lying or stealing
  • Not doing well in school, skipping school
  • Early smoking, drinking or drug use
  • Early sexual activity
  • Frequent tantrums and arguments
  • Consistent hostility towards authority figures

If you see signs of a problem, ask for help. Poor choices can become habits. Kids who have behavior problems are at higher risk for school failure, mental health and even suicide.  Classes or family therapy may help parents learn to set and enforce limits.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration