As a father of four (ages 8 to 14) and living with bipolar disorder I have always worried about the “genetics” of my disorder. My family history is riddled with mental health diagnosis’s with my mother’s major depression and anxiety and my father’s bipolar (uncontrolled until a few years before he died at 63 in 1996). I look at my kids and I have to wonder will they get it too? I then question what is normal “kid behavior” and what are real serious signs of troubles with their emotions and their feelings? When it is time to intervene and seek out a Charlotte Behavioral Health Care’s therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist? That’s when I thought I would put my mind to ease and ask one of the Licensed Psychologist’s at CBHC.
Ask A Therapist
I asked Molly C. Grossman, Ph.D. the Director, Outpatient and Community Based Services at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care a few questions.
Chato Stewart: What is normal “kid behavior” and what are real serious signs of troubles with their emotions and their feelings?
Molly C. Grossman, Ph.D.: “Normal” behavior in kids covers a wide range of emotional, behavioral and social functioning and depends upon so many different issues. [To name just a few: age, temperament, personality, IQ, learning skills, culture, peers, medical problems, family dynamics, current stresses in the family.] Kids are individuals and they are all different! Parents may learn of concerns about their children in many different ways — from teachers, caregivers, coaches, physicians or friends and relatives. Because parents usually know their kids better than anyone, the concerns expressed by others may mirror what is in the parent’s own heart. Kids “talk” to us with their behaviors, especially younger children, so changes in behavior are often an indicator that a child is also struggling emotionally or socially.
Chato Stewart: When is it time to intervene and seek out a CBHC therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist?
Molly C. Grossman, Ph.D.: So start by talking with your child, asking them to describe what is going on in their own words. If you are seeing a significant change from previous behaviors, or withdrawal from friends, family and activities, or a change from being an A student to failing, or ongoing refusal to attend school, or self-injurious behaviors, these may all be indications that professional assistance is needed. Any change in behavior, mood, or functioning may be an indication for an assessment. Early intervention is important, once a parent notices their child having some type of persistent difficulty. Anna Freud wrote about “developmental lines,” meaning that a child’s development progresses at different rates in different areas. She identified that lagging in one area may “snowball” into problems in another area. So this may be the time to seek professional assistance. At CBHC, when a parent calls, we usually start by scheduling a Mental Health Assessment with one of our Masters’ Level therapy staff. Many children and teens can be successfully treated in six to 10 sessions of individual/family therapy and soon be back in the groove!
Chato Stewart: Thanks Molly for helping us out!
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