Children's Mental Health

Children rely on their parents to take care of them. It is easier for adults to see the potential for physical dangers and react to medical illnesses than it is to stop the indications to mental and emotional needs.

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It is not only important for parents to know the signs of mental or emotional problems in children, but also to react to them as soon as possible. Dr. John Sargent is a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Ben Taub Hospital.

The difficulty for parents, according to Dr. Sargent, is that symptoms in kids are often not directly related to the nature of the problem.

Dr. Sargent says a child's mental and emotional issues do not mean the parents did anything wrong. It only means the child has a problem that needs to be addressed, the same way a medical illness would be treated.

Some of the things parents should note are unexplained anger and irritability, a quick transition to aggressive behavior, a change in sleep and eating habits, a child who gets upset or cries easily, a lack of motivation, and boredom. Dr. Sargent says children will sometimes say they're bored when they're really sad.

Left untreated mental difficulties in children can have a long term affect on their lives.

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