Whether we realise it or not, life can be demanding on the young minds of children and like adults, they too can experience problems that they struggle to process and talk about.
While it isn’t always easy to understand your child and know what exactly goes through his or her mind, sometimes we tend to pick up on certain behaviours or signs that feel a little “off” or out of character – maybe he or she is now more withdrawn in general or performs poorly in school all of a sudden.
As parents, it is our duty to monitor our kids and their activities as well as understand if there is an issue that is troubling them. After all, early intervention can do wonders in getting them back on track.
If you’ve been feeling concerned lately, here are 5 warning signs to look out for and what you can do to help.
1. Having changes in their mood, sleeping and/or eating habits
Perhaps you’ve noticed that your child tends to have bouts of insomnia and stay up late at night or reject his or her favourite food and maybe not have much of an appetite lately.
These changes can potentially suggest that your child is experiencing problems in life: be it with keeping up in class or getting bullied in school.
Along with these disturbances to his or her sleeping and eating habits, you may also notice some shifts in your child’s mood – whether it’s appearing preoccupied or distracted when you talk to him or her or seeming sad, anxious or fearful when you try to talk to them.
2. Receiving low grades despite studying
It is not uncommon for parents to feel like a bad score is an indicator that their kids are not studying hard enough.
While it could be true in some cases such as when a child is lazy, there are also other instances where it could be related to learning disabilities, the need for more instruction or any other issue that could affect the child.
Instead of punishing your child, take an active role in his or her study habits so that you can then personally evaluate whether he or she genuinely studied for an exam and draw a more accurate conclusion regarding the score.
3. Misbehaving in school or at home
It can be difficult for children and even teens to speak up and discuss what it is they are having trouble with.
Thus, if your kid is usually well-behaved, sudden bad behavior in school or at home could be an indicator that he or she is going through something, be it academically or socially.
4. Changing their group of friends suddenly
If you notice that your child suddenly stops hanging out with a friend group he or she spends a lot of time with, you may wish to have a conversation with him or her to find out what happened – especially because relationships tend to be more complex and challenging for kids to navigate.
In the event said friend group got replaced by a totally new group, you may also want to suss out how or what drew your child to them. After all, this might be an unhealthy coping mechanism to distract or numb from the pain of losing friends.
5. Getting a call from their teacher who voices out concern
While it can be easy to brush off any concerns that teachers raise about your child, perhaps it could be a better idea to pay attention and hear what they have to say.
After all, teachers spend more time with your child on weekdays than you do and chances are, they are more likely to see things that you don’t.
Hence, it is important to be open to the issues that come to light when speaking to the teacher and also work together with the teacher and your child towards a sustainable solution.
Here’s what you can do to help
Now that you have a better idea of what to look out for, you might start to feel worried especially if you suspect your child is struggling.
Fortunately, there are ways you can help.
Firstly, reach out to your child by initiating a heart-to-heart conversation. Try to connect with him or her by really listening rather than offering unsolicited advice or brushing off issues that may seem insignificant to you.
Besides that, let your child know that you are always here for him or her and that it is safe to confide in you, as you will not get angry or judge despite hearing what they may say.
After which, you can start to understand what the problems are and then work together with your child to come up with solutions.
However, if the problem is a lot bigger than you expected, another option is to seek professional help.