10 signs your child may be unhappy

Children Speakin

Life is full of ups and downs! We all go through times when things are going well and we feel really happy and content and other times that are more stressful. It is also typical for a child to experience a range of emotions such as happiness, sadness, excitement, worry and anger. These feelings come and go depending on what they experience in life. You may notice that during times of change (starting school, changing schools, birth of a sibling, moving house, parents separating) or during specific ages (terrible 2’s, tween, teenagers) that your child expresses more emotions and can start to feel sad or worried. If you notice sudden changes in your child’s behaviour, be supportive and seek assistance (e.g. after the loss of a family member, parental separation or being bullied at school). As all kids are different and naturally have different personalities, it sometimes can be hard to identify when their behaviour crosses over from typical behaviour to behaviour that requires attention and concern.

All kids feel unhappy at times. It becomes a concern when a child is persistently showing signs of being unhappy and are struggling to bounce back from negative experiences.

Here are 10 signs that may indicate that a child is feeling unhappy:

  1. Withdrawing from friends or feeling lonely
  2. Sleeping more or having difficulty falling asleep
  3. Low mood – not laughing as much or expressing joy
  4. Reduced interest in activities they enjoyed
  5. Grades slipping at school
  6. Low self esteem
  7. Lack of energy – they may feel tired often
  8. Feeling restless or irritable
  9. Change in appetite
  10. Feeling hopeless or worthless

If many of these signs are present in your child, and have persisted for more than 2 weeks, then it may be beneficial for them to talk to someone who can help them to understand their feelings better and develop coping skills. Just as kids may have difficulty sharing their feelings openly, as a parent, it can also be difficult to know what to say to support your child. Telling your child that they are loved and valued, and that you want to help them to feel better is a great step.

It is important to note that if your child ever expresses suicidal or self-harm thoughts, this should be taken very seriously. Even if they do not intend to act on these thoughts, your child is expressing that they are feeling distressed, so it is important to seek support.

Where can I get support for my child?

Your child’s GP or paediatrician is a great place to start. They can refer to a psychologist for counselling and you may be able to claim a Medicare rebate for sessions. You can also see a child psychologist without a referral from a GP; however, you will not be able to claim a rebate from Medicare. A child psychologist will support your child to understand what is making them unhappy and work with them to develop ways of coping.

If you would like support for your child, you can contact Kids At Max on 03 9702 4447.

Written by Kids At Max – Psychologist

© 2017 Kids At Max