(KXNET) — Raising a child can be challenging under the best circumstances.
Children’s behavior and emotions tend to change frequently and rapidly. So sometimes, when a child is having a mental issue, it can slip under the radar.
“A lot of times when parents come through,” explained Sanford Neurologist Dr. Jonathan Preszler, “we can identify cognitive issues — but often, underlining those are previously undetected mood and anxiety problems.”
However, these undetected problems can be spotted by observant parents. Here are some signs Dr. Prezler says parents can look out for.
“Withdraw is a big one,” Dr. Preszler said. “If the kid quiets down a lot and stops engaging in things they used to really enjoy, it can be a sign.”
You may also notice your child become more emotional and more easily irritable.
Dr. Prezler says helping your child’s mental health and stability can be as easy as limiting the amount of time they spend on phones or computers. But this is easier said than done, especially during the winter time here in North Dakota.
“It’s really important for parents to be intentional and going out of their way to find areas or places where the child can engage in some sort of free play,” said Preszler. “It provides the context in which the child is engaging in the environment.”
Dr. Preszler says it’s important to make time for your child to engage in unstructured free play.
“Unstructured really means there are no demands or constraints on the child,” he explained. “The kid can play without having anything implemented for them — even rules. If there are already rules, they are self-generated by the child.”
Another simple tip is to just talk with your child about their feelings.
“I think check-ins by parents in particular are very important,” concluded Preszler. “Just asking how they are feeling is good. A big thing, I think, is that parents are starting to share with their kids when they are feeling frustrated. That can really model for the kid that it’s okay to share emotions, and what that looks like.”