Detecting early on what would constitute as a mental health problem among children and adolescents is key to ensuring that they are given clinical care and go on to live normal lives. One must see past their emotional problems and fully understand what’s going on. Here are some myths that must be debunked to truly help these young folks.
One is the dominant notion that certain erratic behaviors among kids are just manifestations of personal weakness. While it can be hard to separate a child’s character from symptoms of a disorder, it is critical to seek the help of doctors and not simply treat behaviors such as aggressiveness, impulsive behavior, or prevalent anxiety as aspects of personality. A psychiatric problem is an illness that must be immediately dealt with.
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Secondly, many parents think that if their child has a psychiatric disorder, the child is damaged for life. This is far from the truth; recognizing the problem and dealing with it early will allow for a great chance of both managing and overcoming the symptoms, allowing the child to lead a healthy adult life.
Parents should not blame themselves for their children’s disorder. Though relationships and the environment at home may contribute to it, they must not just indulge the guilt and instead focus on helping the child recover. Most cases of learning disorder, autism, and depression are biological in nature, not necessarily a result of bad parenting.
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Lastly, never treat a disorder as something the child can will themselves out of. Disorders like ADHD and anxiety are not just issues of mood, but a dysfunction that affects all aspects of the kid’s life. Seek professional help and, if needed, get them into therapy as soon as possible.
Jonathan Lauter, M.D., is an accomplished psychiatrist and a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is certified in both general and child/adolescent psychiatry. More on Dr. Lauter’s work and interests here.