when your child needs a counselor

When children have emotional or behavioral problems, the earlier they get treatment, the easier it is to help them. But as parents, you also want to avoid unnecessary treatment and costs in both time and money.

When you’re concerned about a child’s mental health, you might be told by family members, friends and maybe even your pediatrician to relax and wait—she’ll grow out of it. Sometimes this is good advice. Sometimes it’s not.

There are times when it’s clearly not a good idea to wait to get your child help for mental health issues. For instance:

Eating disorders: The longer a child lives with an eating disorder, the harder it is to recover. Getting treatment as quickly as possible can save her life.

Family history: If mental illness runs in your family, be aware of the increased possibility that your child will begin to develop a disorder. In this case it’s important to act promptly.

Cutting: If you discover your child has been hurting herself, even if she says it was a one-time thing, it’s important to get help. It’s dangerous behavior that may be her way of dealing with a serious mental health issue. Learn more about what to do if your child is cutting.