Children's Mental Health: A Guide for Parents

11 Jan 2022
According to the CDC, 1 in 6 children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old have a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in six children aged 6-17 experiences a mental health disorder. Given this alarming statistic, it's crucial for parents and caregivers to prioritize children's mental health, just as they would their physical health.

A child's mental health is integral to their overall development, well-being, and future success. As such, it's important to be aware of the signs of mental health problems in children and to know how to provide support when needed.

What is Children's Mental Health?

Children's mental health encompasses their emotional, behavioral, and social well-being, and has a significant impact on their ability to cope with stress, build relationships, and make choices.

Mental health problems can affect children of all ages, from infancy through adolescence, and range from mild to severe.

It's important to understand the complexities of children's mental health, including the signs of potential problems and the available resources for support.

Common Mental Health Problems in Children

Mental health problems can affect children of all ages, and recognizing the signs of these problems is crucial for early intervention and support. Here are some of the most common mental health problems in children:

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry, fear, or nervousness that can interfere with a child's daily life. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child's ability to focus, pay attention, and control their impulses. Children with ADHD may also be hyperactive and have difficulty sitting still.


Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. Children with depression may also experience changes in appetite or sleep patterns, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.

Behavioral Disorders

Behavioral disorders are characterized by persistent disruptive behaviors that violate the rights of others or societal norms. Examples include oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder.

These conditions can manifest in a variety of ways, and may be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors. If you suspect that your child may be struggling with a mental health problem, it's important to seek professional help as soon as possible.

Related: Top 5 Common Mental Health Disorders in Children

Recognizing Signs of Mental Health Problems in Children

woman in gray long sleeve shirt holding yellow fruit

Mental health problems in children can be difficult to recognize, but early intervention is key to providing support and resources for those in need. Here are some common signs to look out for:

Changes in Behavior

This can include sudden changes in behavior or habits, such as increased aggression, impulsivity, or defiance. Children may also become more withdrawn or avoidant than usual.

Changes in Mood

Mood changes can manifest in different ways, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, irritability, or emotional outbursts. Children may also experience unexplained physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches.

Changes in Appetite or Sleep Patterns

Mental health problems can affect a child's eating and sleeping habits. These changes may include loss of appetite, overeating, insomnia, or oversleeping.

Difficulty Concentrating

Children with mental health problems may have difficulty focusing on tasks or completing assignments. They may also have trouble remembering things or following instructions.

Withdrawal from Social Activities or Relationships

Children who are struggling with mental health problems may avoid social situations or relationships with friends and family members. They may feel isolated and unsupported.

If you notice any of these signs in your child, it's important to seek professional help from a mental health provider who specializes in working with children and adolescents.

Read about: Children and Mental Health: Is it Normal Behavior or Not?

Educate Yourself on the Signs of Mental Health Problems in Children

As a parent or caregiver, it's important to educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in children. This knowledge can help you recognize when your child may be struggling with their mental health and seek professional support.

Resources to learn more

  • Visit reputable websites such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) or the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).
  • Talk to your child's pediatrician or school counselor about any concerns you may have. They can provide guidance on what is normal behavior for your child's age and developmental stage, as well as refer you to a mental health specialist if needed.

By educating yourself on the signs of mental health problems in children, you can play an active role in supporting your child's emotional well-being and overall development.

Can Childhood Mental Disorders be Treated?

The short answer is yes. With early intervention and appropriate treatment, children with mental disorders can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

Treatment may include medication, therapy, or a combination of both. It's important for parents and caregivers to work closely with mental health professionals to develop a treatment plan that meets the child's unique needs. This may involve regular appointments with a therapist or psychiatrist, as well as ongoing support from family members and teachers.

Types of Therapy

Some common types of therapy used to treat childhood mental disorders include:

These approaches can help children learn coping strategies, improve communication skills, and build stronger relationships with others.

Supporting a Child's Mental Health

In addition to professional treatment, there are many things parents and caregivers can do at home to support a child's mental health. This may include:

  • Creating a structured routine
  • Encouraging physical activity and healthy eating habits
  • Providing opportunities for socialization

It's important for parents to remember that seeking help for a child's mental health is not a sign of weakness or failure. By taking action early on, parents can give their child the tools they need to thrive.

Supporting Your Child's Mental Health

As a parent, you play a crucial role in supporting your child's mental health. In addition to seeking professional help if needed, here are some additional things you can do to support your child:

1. Educate Yourself

Learn about the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in children, and familiarize yourself with available resources for support.

2. Encourage Healthy Coping Skills

Teach your child healthy ways to cope with stress, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or creative outlets like drawing or journaling.

3. Model Positive Behavior

Children learn by example, so model positive behaviors and attitudes towards mental health.

4. Encourage Physical Activity

Regular exercise can have a positive impact on mental health, so encourage your child to participate in physical activities they enjoy.

5. Promote Healthy Sleep Habits

Adequate sleep is important for both physical and mental health, so establish a consistent bedtime routine and limit screen time before bed.

6. Stay Involved in Your Child's Life

Attend school events, extracurricular activities, and spend quality time with your child to build a strong relationship and show your support.

Remember, seeking help for your child's mental health is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it takes strength and courage to prioritize your child's well-being. By taking proactive steps to support your child's mental health, you can help them thrive and reach their full potential.

Help Your Child Develop Coping Mechanisms for Stress and Anxiety

Free photo smiling parents with their children

Stress and anxiety are normal parts of life, but they can be particularly challenging for children who may not yet have developed effective coping mechanisms. As a parent or caregiver, there are several things you can do to help your child manage stress and anxiety:

1. Encourage Open Communication

Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and emotions, even if it's uncomfortable or difficult. Listen actively and without judgment, and offer support and validation.

2. Teach Relaxation Techniques

Teach your child relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization exercises. These techniques can help reduce physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.

3. Promote Positive Self-Talk

Help your child recognize negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations. Encourage them to focus on their strengths and accomplishments.

4. Provide Opportunities for Play

Play is an important part of childhood development, but it's also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Encourage your child to engage in activities they enjoy, whether it's playing outside, drawing, or building with blocks.

5. Model Healthy Behaviors

Children learn by example, so model healthy behaviors such as regular exercise, good sleep hygiene, and healthy eating habits.

By helping your child develop coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety, you can empower them to navigate life's challenges with confidence and resilience.

Fostering a Positive Self-Image for Your Child

As parents and caregivers, we have a responsibility to help our children develop a positive self-image. By emphasizing their strengths and accomplishments, we can foster confidence, resilience, and healthy self-esteem.

Here are some tips for fostering a positive self-image in your child:

Emphasize Their Strengths

Every child has unique strengths and talents. Encourage your child to explore their interests and passions, and celebrate their achievements no matter how small.

Avoid Comparisons

Avoid comparing your child to others or putting undue pressure on them to excel in areas where they may not be as strong. Instead, focus on their individual progress and growth.

Provide Opportunities for Success

Provide your child with opportunities to succeed in areas that are important to them. This could be anything from joining a sports team or music group to volunteering in the community.

Model Positive Self-Talk

Model positive self-talk by speaking kindly about yourself and others. Encourage your child to do the same by helping them recognize negative self-talk and replacing it with positive affirmations.

By fostering a positive self-image in your child, you can help them develop the confidence and resilience they need to navigate life's challenges with grace and strength.

Talk to Your Child's School About Mental Health Resources

Schools can be a valuable resource for parents seeking support for their child's mental health. Many schools have counselors and other mental health professionals on staff who can provide guidance and support to students and families.

It's important to reach out to your child's school if you suspect that they may be struggling with a mental health problem. This can help ensure that your child receives the necessary support and resources to manage their symptoms and succeed academically.

When speaking with school personnel, be sure to ask about any available mental health resources, such as counseling services or referrals to outside providers. You can also request accommodations or modifications for your child, such as extra time on assignments or breaks during the day.

Remember, schools are there to support students in all aspects of their development, including their mental health. By working together with your child's school, you can help ensure that they receive the best possible care and support.

Read more: Best Mental Health Resources For Kids and Teens


Recognizing signs of mental health problems in children is crucial for providing early intervention and support. Parents and caregivers play a vital role in educating themselves on the signs of mental health problems, seeking professional help if needed, and supporting their child's emotional well-being at home. By developing coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety, fostering a positive self-image, and working with schools to access mental health resources, parents can empower their children to thrive.

It's important to note that seeking help for mental health is not a sign of weakness or failure. In fact, it takes strength and courage to prioritize one's well-being. If you or someone you know needs help with a mental health problem, there are many resources available. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA) are two reputable organizations that offer information and support for individuals with mental health concerns.


Recent Articles

How to Parent a Teenager: A Guide

July 23, 2024

Navigate teenage chaos! Learn how to parent teenagers effectively, from communication to mental health.

Early Signs of Teenage Anxiety

July 23, 2024

Uncover signs of anxiety in teens and learn about effective interventions for better mental health.

At What Age Teenage Mood Swings Stop?

July 23, 2024

Unravel when teenage mood swings stop, understand factors influencing them, and how to manage effectively.

When to Worry About Your Teenage Son's Mental Health?

July 23, 2024

Know when to worry about your teenage son's mental health. Spot signs, understand treatments, and safeguard their future.

Effective Strategies for Boosting Children's Social Confidence

July 19, 2024

Boost your child's social confidence with effective strategies! Nurture their self-esteem, encourage decision-making, and more.

Home-Based Therapy for Social Confidence in Kids

July 19, 2024

Empower your little superstars with home-based therapy! Boost social confidence in kids through engaging activities and collaborative approaches.

Community Support for Children with Social Confidence Challenges

July 19, 2024

Discover empowering community support for children with social confidence challenges. Unleash their potential and nurture their self-esteem.

Building Social Confidence in Kids with Home Care

July 19, 2024

Empower your kids with social confidence through home care. Build bridges to confidence and watch them soar!

Boosting Social Skills in Children at Home

July 19, 2024

Boost social confidence in children at home! Discover strategies, activities, and parental tips for nurturing self-esteem and social skills.

Enhancing Social Skills in Children

July 19, 2024

Unlock your child's social potential! Discover effective strategies and training to improve social skills in kids.

Fostering Childrens Social Skills at Home

July 19, 2024

Unlock the key to success: nurturing children's social skills at home. Discover the power of family influence and effective parenting styles.

Home-Based Social Skills Training for Kids

July 19, 2024

Unlock social skills for kids at home! Discover effective strategies and activities for home-based social skills training.

Community Programs for Enhancing Childrens Social Skills

July 19, 2024

Unlock brighter futures for children with community programs that enhance social skills. Discover the power of belonging and self-esteem today!

Social Interaction Skills Therapy for Children

July 19, 2024

Unlock the power of social interaction skills therapy for children. Discover effective strategies and therapies for building connections.

Does Health Plus Cover Home Health Care?

July 18, 2024

Health Plus insurance covers home health care services, but eligibility criteria and coverage may vary depending on your specific plan.

How Do You Deal With Intellectual Disability? The Power of Advocacy

July 18, 2024

Discover the power of advocacy for intellectual disability and how it creates opportunities and promotes equality.

Child Neglect Prevention Programs: Unleashing the Impact

July 18, 2024

Discover the power of child neglect prevention programs in safeguarding innocence. Learn how these initiatives combat neglect and support fa

Infant Chronic Lung Disease: Breaking Down the Risks

July 18, 2024

Discover the complications of infant chronic lung disease, its risk factors, and strategies for management.

NYS Childrens HCBS Services

July 18, 2024

Explore NYS children's HCBS services, offering vital support to young minds and their families for comprehensive care.

Causes of Cerebrovascular Disease in Children

July 18, 2024

Discover the causes of cerebrovascular disease in children, recognize symptoms, and explore treatments.

Asthma Symptoms in Children

July 18, 2024

Learn to identify and manage asthma symptoms in children, empowering you to ensure their health and well-being confidently.

Navigating Pediatric Cardiac Care at Home

July 18, 2024

Empower your pediatric cardiac care at home with our guide. Navigate emergencies and equipment with ease.

Top Pediatric Diabetes Management Programs

July 18, 2024

Discover top pediatric diabetes management programs for comprehensive child care and smoother transitions to adulthood.

Cardiovascular Emergencies in Pediatric Patients

July 18, 2024

Master managing cardiovascular emergencies in pediatric patients with expert home cardiac care tips.

Home-Based Heart Health Programs for Children

July 18, 2024

Discover the transformative power of home-based heart health programs for children. Better care at home!

Essential Home Care for Children with Diabetes

July 18, 2024

Gain confidence in home care for children with diabetes with our empowering guide for parents.

Effective Techniques for Managing Diabetes in Children

July 18, 2024

Empower your child's future with effective techniques for managing diabetes in children.

Community Support for Children with Diabetes

July 18, 2024

Explore community support for diabetic children, the role of health clubs, and access to care essentials.

Effective Home Treatments for Childhood Diabetes

July 18, 2024

Discover effective home treatments for childhood diabetes, from nutritional support to emotional care.

The Pediatric Out-of-Hospital Chain of Survival Steps

July 18, 2024

Master pediatric out-of-hospital chain of survival steps and empower your child's cardiac care at home.

Pediatric Asthma Care Programs That Make a Difference

July 18, 2024

Discover effective pediatric asthma care programs, from diagnosis to treatment, for your child's success.

Community Support for Kids Battling Asthma

July 18, 2024

Discover community support for kids with asthma in NY—enhancing care, school programs, and resources.

Best Practices for Children's Asthma Management at Home

July 18, 2024

Master children's asthma management at home with strategies on triggers, school challenges, and emergencies.

Effective Home Treatments for Childhood Asthma

July 18, 2024

Explore effective home treatments for childhood asthma, from natural therapies to allergy control.

Expert Advice for Managing Children's Asthma With Home Care

July 18, 2024

Gain expert insights on managing asthma in children with home care. Empower your family today!

Essential Steps in Heart Condition Rehabilitation for Kids

July 18, 2024

Empower your child's heart health journey with our guide on heart condition rehabilitation for kids.

Finding Autism and Mental Health Support for Kids in New York

July 18, 2024

Empower your parenting with our guide on autism and mental health support for kids in New York.

Specialized Therapy for Autism with Health Conditions

July 18, 2024

Discover specialized therapy for autism with health conditions, transforming lives for New York families.

Home-Based Support for Fragile Children with Autism

July 18, 2024

Exploring home-based support for fragile children with autism. Empower your child's journey with tailored guidance.

Integrated Autism and Mental Health Services

July 18, 2024

Explore integrated autism and mental health services, breaking barriers for quality care access.

Comprehensive Care for Medically Fragile Children with Autism

July 18, 2024

Explore comprehensive care for medically fragile children with autism and learn to support their unique needs.

Empowering Kids with Bullying Support

July 18, 2024

Empower your kids with bullying support strategies, understand the signs, and prevent long-term effects.

Community Prevention Programs Against Bullying:

July 18, 2024

Explore effective community bullying prevention programs, their strategies, and success in combating bullying.

Supporting Recovery from Bullying at Home

July 18, 2024

Discover strategies for recovering from bullying at home, empowering victims, and creating a safe haven.

Bullying Victims At-Home Therapy Strategies

July 18, 2024

Empower bullying victims with at-home therapy strategies. Transform trauma into strength and resilience.

Managing Bullying Effects at Home

July 18, 2024

Explore strategies for managing bullying effects at home and resources for creating a safe haven.

Overcoming School Refusal in Children at Home

July 18, 2024

Explore strategies for overcoming school refusal in children at home, from therapy to morning routines.

School RefusalCommunity Resources for Support

July 18, 2024

Explore community school refusal support programs and effective strategies to help your child thrive.

How to Help a Child Overcome School Refusal

July 18, 2024

Discover how to help a child overcome school refusal with effective treatments and supportive strategies.

Overcoming School Refusal with Effective Management

July 18, 2024

Unlock strategies for managing school refusal - from home interventions to anxiety relief techniques.

School Anxiety and Refusal: Symptoms & Interventions

July 18, 2024

Discover insights on school anxiety and refusal, learn to recognize symptoms, and explore effective interventions.

Pediatric Cardiology Resources For Families in New York

July 15, 2024

Discover pediatric cardiology resources for families in New York, empowering you with knowledge and support.

How to Support Children with Heart Conditions

July 15, 2024

Navigate strategies for supporting children with heart conditions, from diagnosis to lifelong care.

Community Cardiology Services for Kids in New York

July 15, 2024

Explore community cardiology services for kids in NY, helping build strong hearts with early detection and care.

What is a Pediatric Cardiology?

July 15, 2024

Uncover what is a pediatric cardiology? Learn about child heart conditions and expert care in New York.

Insights into Pediatric Heart Conditions

July 15, 2024

Navigate through pediatric heart conditions with expert insights - from diagnosis to long-term care.

Respite Care for Children with Special Needs

July 8, 2024

Explore respite care for children with special needs, from access to benefits, offering a lifeline for caregivers.

Is There a Cure for Sickle Cell Anemia?

July 8, 2024

Explore advancements towards curing sickle cell anemia, from gene therapy to FDA-approved treatments.

Impulse Control Disorders in Children

July 8, 2024

Conquer impulse control disorders in children with effective strategies and professional help. Get the support your child needs now!

Impulse Control Disorders and Substance Abuse: Exploring the Relationship

July 8, 2024

Unveiling the link between impulse control disorders and substance abuse. Discover the hidden dangers and find support for parents.

How to Treat High Blood Pressure in Teenager

July 8, 2024

Learn effective strategies to manage high blood pressure in teenagers, promoting healthier lifestyles and better long-term health.

How to Treat High Blood Pressure in Children?

July 8, 2024

Master strategies to treat high blood pressure in children through balanced diet, regular exercise, and medical interventions.

How to Teach a Child with Intellectual Disability to Read

July 8, 2024

Explore strategies on how to teach a child with intellectual disability to read. Empower minds today!

How To Support Teens During Major Life Transitions

July 8, 2024

Learn how to support teens during major life transitions with effective tools and strategies, promoting resilience and positive growth.

How To Support A Teen With Social Anxiety

July 8, 2024

Learn how to support a teen with social anxiety, from treatment options to creating supportive environments.

How To Support A Teen With Learning Disabilities

July 8, 2024

Discover how to support a teen with learning disabilities: from early intervention to empowering tools.

How to Support a Teen with ADHD: A Guide

July 8, 2024

Learn how to support a teen with ADHD through academic strategies, fostering independence, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

How to Obtain Respite Care For Your Child's Wellbeing

July 8, 2024

Learn how to get respite care for your child, ensuring their wellbeing and giving you peace of mind through reliable care services.

How To Help Teens Manage Academic Pressure

July 8, 2024

Empower teens to manage academic pressure with effective strategies for stress reduction and self-care.

How To Help Teens Develop Healthy Relationships

July 8, 2024

Learn how to help teens develop healthy relationships, from nurturing friendships to handling digital influences.

How To Help Teens Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

July 8, 2024

Empower teens with healthy coping mechanisms. Harness their inner strength and conquer stress wisely with effective strategies and support.

How To Help Teens Develop A Healthy Self-esteem

July 8, 2024

Learn how to help teens build a healthy self-esteem. Nurture strength and resilience for lifelong confidence.

How To Handle Substance Abuse In Teens

July 8, 2024

Learn how to handle substance abuse in teens: from recognizing signs to exploring effective interventions.

How to Get Respite Care for My Child?

July 8, 2024

Learn how to get respite care for your child, explore financial aid options, and locate trusted services to support your family.

How to Get Health Insurance for Your Child with Autism?

July 8, 2024

Navigate steps to secure health insurance for your child with autism, ensuring comprehensive coverage and effective care plans.

How To Foster Positive Body Image In Adolescents

July 8, 2024

Explore how to foster positive body image in adolescents, from mental well-being to social influences.

How to Create a Safe Space for Teens to Express Their Emotions

July 8, 2024

Learn how to create a safe space for teens to express emotions, using trust, dialogue, and technology.

How to Become a Respite Caregiver for ASD

July 8, 2024

Discover how to become a respite caregiver for ASD, join a rewarding field and make a real difference.

How to Become a HCBS Provider in NY

July 8, 2024

Learn how to become an HCBS provider in NY, from Medicaid enrollment to maintaining compliance and providing high-quality care.

How to Apply for Child Care in the United States

July 8, 2024

Navigate how to apply for child care in the US, from financial aid to state programs, with our guide.

How To Address Self-harm Behaviors In Teens

July 8, 2024

Learn how to address self-harm behaviors in teens - from recognizing signs to effective intervention strategies.

How To Address Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) In Teens?

July 8, 2024

Navigate 'how to address OCD in teens' - understanding symptoms, treatments, and the power of empathy.

How To Address Anger Issues In Adolescents

July 8, 2024

Learn how to address anger issues in adolescents with effective techniques and professional interventions.

How Sickle Cell Anemia is Inherited in Families?

July 8, 2024

Decode how sickle cell anemia is inherited and learn about risk assessment, testing, and counseling.

How Respite Can Help You and Your Child: Your Lifeline in Parenting

July 8, 2024

Discover how respite can help you and your child with disabilities – a lifeline for parents in New York.

How Rare is Childhood Dementia?

July 8, 2024

Unveiling the truth: Is childhood dementia rare? Explore the prevalence, impact, & advances in research for families facing this challenge.

How Much Time Should Parents Spend with Their Child?

July 8, 2024

Navigate the question of how much time parents should spend with their child, with a focus on autism.

How Much Is Child Support In NYC?

July 8, 2024

Get insights on 'how much is child support in NYC?' Explore factors, additional costs, and legal repercussions.

How Much Is Child Support For Two Kids In NY?

July 8, 2024

Discover how much is child support for 2 kids in NY? Unravel the factors, court's role, and services.

How Much Is Child Support For Four Kids In NYS?

July 8, 2024

Unveil the truth about how much child support is required for four kids in NYS. Explore the factors, laws, and guidelines involved.

How Much Does Health Insurance for a Child with Autism Cost?

July 8, 2024

Navigate 'how much is health insurance for a child' with autism. Uncover costs, subsidies, and more.

How Much Do Physical Therapists Actually Make?

July 8, 2024

Unravel "how much do physical therapists make" with our comprehensive guide on salaries and factors.

How Much Do Daycare Workers Get Paid in New York?

July 8, 2024

Discover how much daycare workers get paid in New York, and uncover the factors influencing their wages and overall compensation.

How Much Child Support Do I Need For One Child In NY?

July 8, 2024

Demystify how much child support is needed for one child in NY with our comprehensive guide, providing clarity and essential information.

How Many Weeks of Free Respite Care Are You Allowed?

July 8, 2024

Unravel how many weeks of free respite care are you allowed. Learn about options, costs, and coverage.

How Many Long Term Care Facilities are in the US?

July 8, 2024

Get the lowdown on how many long-term care facilities in the US, their impact, and trends shaping them.

How Many Home Health Aides Are There in New York - A Closer Look

July 8, 2024

Discover the number of home health aides in New York and how they support families with disabled children.

How Many Home Care Agencies Operate in New York State?

July 8, 2024

Discover how many home care agencies operate in New York State. Find the support your autistic child deserves.

How Long Does Group Therapy Last

July 8, 2024

Dive into the ins and outs of group therapy and discover how long group therapy typically lasts, ensuring informed participation.

How Long Can A Child Have Diabetes Without Knowing

July 8, 2024

Unmask the silent threat by learning about diagnosing diabetes in children, understanding symptoms, and effective management strategies.