Have you noticed a sudden change in a child's mood or behavior over the past couple of weeks that has affected his/her functioning at home, in school, or in the community? Have you had a hard time helping a child with this problem? If so, you should consider the following options:
1. (Parent) Discuss the child's problem with your significant other, spouse, or friend, to "let off steam" and better understand your own responses to the situation.
2. (Parent/School) Keep notes about each time the behavior occurs. Include what happens before the behavior, what the child does, and how you respond to the child's behavior.
3. (Parent/School) If the problem exists primarily at school, consider a call to the school to schedule a meeting with teachers, a counselor, and/or special education specialists to discuss the issue. Communicate with the school what behaviors you have noticed at home. You may need a series of meetings with the school to find an intervention that is helpful. If the interventions are not successful, you might want to consider outpatient counseling for your child. Here are some alternatives to counseling
4. (Parent) Have a discussion with your pediatrician, family doctor, primary care physician, or clergy. Have a detailed list of behaviors and symptoms you have seen from your child as well as any changes in eating, sleeping, or daily schedule. Have a written list of questions to ask the doctor. The doctor will rule out any biological factors contributing to the behavior of the child. Discuss how your child may have been affected by recent major changes in your family or community. Together, you may decide that your child may need mental health counseling.
5. Here are some checklists that can assist with a starting point for investigation. Home Situations Questionnaire, School Situations Questionnaire, Child Adolescent Psychiatry Screen as well as other screening tools
If you have questions feel free to call Division of Child Mental Health Intake services at 1-302-633-2571.