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Don’t Miss the Boat on Your Child’s Behavior

Don’t Miss the Boat on Your Child’s Behavior

J.P. Morgan attended the launch of the Titanic in 1911; he even had his own suite and promenade on board. But when it came time for the doomed ship to set off for America, J.P. decided to skip the trip. Sometimes it’s not so bad to miss the boat! When it comes to a child exhibiting emotional or behavioral problems, however, parents who miss that boat can end up regretting it.

A national poll on children’s health from the University of Michigan has found that when kids ages 5 to 17 have temper tantrums, attention problems or trouble organizing homework, about 50% of parents don’t mention these behavioral problems to the child’s doctor. Mom and Dad either think their kid is just “going through a stage,” or such behaviors don’t signal a medical problem. But the researchers warn that those types of issues could be signs of bigger problems to come: depression, anxiety disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and even substance abuse. So, talk to your doctor if:

  • Your child has temper tantrums that become destructive and/or happen after age 3.
  • Your child is often overly worried or anxious.
  • Your child can’t cope with organizing homework.

And, if your child starts developing headaches, stomachaches or a sleep or eating disorder, have him or her evaluated by a child psychiatrist. Getting appropriate intervention early could help your child thrive and avoid health problems (from being overweight to heart disease) associated with emotional distress. Don’t miss the boat on this one.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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