Common Behaviors and Symptoms in Children with Mental Health Disorders
- Problems across a variety of settings, such as at school, at home, or with peers
- Social withdrawal, isolation, separation anxiety, constant worry, or fearful behavior toward things the child is normally not afraid of
- Behaviors returning to those of a younger age (regressing), like bedwetting, throwing tantrums, becoming clingy, thumb-sucking, etc.
- Increased sadness, tearfulness, irritability, angry outbursts, or other mood changes
- Poor school performance, increased absences from school, or avoidance of school
- Hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, disorganization, etc.
- Persistent boredom, apathy, lack of motivation, and lost interest in activities the child once enjoyed
- Frequent complaints of physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches
- Sleep changes like sleeping too much or too little, nightmares, sleepwalking, low energy, tiredness during the day
- Increased/decreased appetite, changes in food consumption, preoccupation with weight or physical appearance, binging, purging, or restricting diet
- Decreased concern about appearance, diminished self-care and grooming
- Distorted thinking, odd body movements, acting overly suspicious of others, seeing or hearing things that others don’t see or hear
- Increased environmental stressors, including trauma, being the victim of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, the illness or death of a loved one, or being the victim of bullying or peer pressure
- Increased risk-taking and self-destructive behavior, such as rebelling against authority, head-banging, cutting or other self-injury, substance use, inappropriate sexual behavior, physical violence or bullying others, playing with unsafe items, destructive behavior, or repeatedly putting themselves in risky situations
- Repeated thoughts of death, prior suicide attempts, comments about not wanting to be alive or going to sleep and never waking up