Signs of Adjustment Problems in Children

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When negative feelings persist, your child may have a disorder.
When negative feelings persist, your child may have a disorder.

Stress is a natural response to experiencing life changes that are dramatic. Kids can be especially prone to this kind of stress. Children who endure divorce, death, problems at school, surviving a disaster, moving and other major changes to their lives may have difficulty adjusting and begin to exhibit signs that require attention. This natural response does not necessarily warrant the title of being a disorder, but the Mayo Clinic advises that a child may qualify to be considered in the midst of a disorder if symptoms still persist three months following stressful life events.

  1. Behavioral Signs

    • Children can find it difficult to voice the emotions they are feeling. Without an outlet for overwhelming feelings, their issues with adjustment can manifest themselves in other ways. Children may begin to get into fights, commit acts of vandalism, withdraw from family and friends, and ignore responsibilities like chores and schoolwork.

    Emotional Signs

    • Problems with adjustment can also have an impact on how a child feels about himself and his life. Feelings of hopelessness and sadness can lead to bouts of crying. You may notice that your child no longer has an interest in the things which previously brought him joy. Insomnia, anxiety and excessive worrying can also point to adjustment issues.

    Duration

    • Acute signs of adjustment problems are defined by the Mayo Clinic as lasting for six months or less. Acute symptoms may dissipate on their own with home and family-care methods, such as talking and adjusting behaviors. Chronic symptoms last for more than six months and continue to upset and disrupt the life of the child consistently. Seeking professional guidance in this instance assists children in improving their symptoms and halting them from getting any worse.

    Seeking Help

    • It can be hard to determine when to wait things out with your child and when to seek professional help. Any indication that a child is having suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously and you should get help from a physician, pediatrician, or mental health professional immediately. If your child is consistently overwhelmed, hopeless, unable to cope with everyday situations or to maintain interest in the things that she once loved, then it is time to consider asking for help. You do not want your son or daughter suffering any longer than is necessary with thoughts and emotions that dampen and hinder their quality of life, when relief can be found through talk therapy or temporary usage of medication

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