I think my child is struggling. What are signs my child might need help?
You are often the best judge if your child is struggling. Trust your instincts. If you notice something is different about your child’s behaviour, be curious about it. Look for changes in behaviour, mood or relationships. Keep track of changes for a short period of time (i.e. 2 weeks) and write them down. It is valuable information if you decide to speak with your child's doctor about your concerns.
Perhaps your child doesn’t seem like their usual self. They might seem more withdrawn, moody, or anxious than usual. It can look different for everyone. Mental health challenges and disorders can impact how a person thinks, feels and behaves. There are many different signs and symptoms.
If there is a specific mental health challenge that you are wondering about, visit our challenges and disorders section on our website to learn more.
Some examples of behaviour that might raise concerns:
- sleep problems
- changes in eating patterns (loss of appetite, refuses to eat, eats an unusual amount at a time)
- feeling sad for long periods of time
- mood swings
- anxious or refuses to go to school
- more difficulty at school
- doesn’t want to leave the house
Children may complain about a tummy ache or other physical symptoms. They may cry more often or be easily upset. Children may cling to a parent or sibling and need more attention but not know how to ask for it. It’s important to pay attention to these clues and respond in a kind and gentle way. With older children and youth, you might notice changes in their school work or social relationships (withdrawing from friends and activities). They may push against rules and act out.
If you are concerned about your child, a good first step is to get an assessment by your family doctor or pediatrician. You can also visit your local Child and Youth Mental Health office during their walk-in intake clinics (for ages 18 and younger).