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Child and Adolescent Issues Teen and Relationship

Children and adolescents, or teens, build social skills and emotional intelligence as they grow. These things often lead to healthy, happy lives. But some kids have emotions or behave in ways that disrupt their well-being.

Learning about children's mental health issues can increase your knowledge of how to help. Certain skills can teach you to interact more effectively with your child. Seeing a therapist can teach you these skills. A therapist or counsellor may also benefit children or teens. Therapy can be a safe space for kids to process thoughts and emotions.

STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT: BIRTH TO TEENS

Children go through changes in their moods and behaviours as they grow. Some of these changes are predictable. They can be challenging.

When a child's behaviour matches their age, "growing pains" need not cause concern.

  • Infancy: Trust vs. Mistrust. In the first stage of human development, infants explore the world. They learn if their environment is safe and predictable. Infants need attention and comfort from their parents. It is from parents that they develop their first sense of trust or mistrust.

  • Early Childhood: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. Children start asserting independence. They develop preferences and start making choices. Defiance, tantrums, and stubbornness are common. Children begin developing interests. They also gain a sense of autonomy, shame, and doubt.

  • Preschool Years: Initiative vs. Guilt. Children continue to display their willpower as they grow. Parents' and caregivers' reactions will impact their child's behaviour. They can affect a child's will to act on their own as well as their attitudes about misbehaviour.

  • School Age: Industry (Competence) vs. Inferiority. Relationships and schoolwork become more important in this stage. Children begin to show a wide and complex range of emotions. Problems in school or with friends may lead to mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. Academic and social tasks become more demanding. Conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) and oppositional behaviour may interfere.

  • Adolescence: Identity vs. Role Confusion. Adolescents, or teens, become more independent. They may form identities by trying out new behaviours and roles. Puberty usually occurs in this stage. It brings many physical and emotional changes. Changes during these years may strain parent-teen relationships.

CHILD AND TEEN MENTAL HEALTH RISK FACTORS

Each phase of development brings specific challenges for children. They tend to work through these as home.

Every child responds differently to life changes. Some events that may impact a child or teen’s mental health include:

  • The birth of a sibling

  • The death of a loved one, such as a family member or a pet

  • Physical or sexual abuse

  • Poverty or homelessness

  • Natural disaster

  • Domestic violence

  • Moving to a new place or attending a new school

  • Being bullied

  • Taking on more responsibility than is age-appropriate

  • Parental divorce or separation

Age and gender can influence a child or teen’s resilience to life changes. For example, younger children often have an easier time adjusting to divorce than older children. Genetics also play a role. Some mental health issues, like bipolar, can run in families.

CHILDREN AND TEEN MENTAL HEALTH STATISTICS

Almost 4 million children and teens may experience mental health issues. These can cause difficulties at home, school, or with friends. One study estimates the rates for some conditions in children and teens:

  • ADHD: 6.8%

  • Behavioural conditions: 3.5%

  • Anxiety: 3%

  • Depression: 2%

  • Autism: 1.1%

  • Tourette syndrome: 0.2%

These issues are only a portion of those children and teens experience. The statistics do not include all conditions they may experience

TEENS AND RELATIONSHIPS

When children reach adolescence, relationships can cause strife. Platonic and romantic relationships may cause stress. Relationships between parents and children are crucial to healthy development. But they may become strained by the changes that come with adolescence. For example, teenagers may worry about romantic relationships. Some teenagers become overly stressed by worrying about relationships. This may lead to mental health issues or a lower quality of life.

A poll reports 35% of teens to have some experience with dating or relationships. Of this 35%, nearly one-third reports being sexually active. Another study reports that a third of teens in relationships will experience abuse from their partner.

FOOD AND EATING ISSUES IN CHILDREN AND TEENS

Social pressures and stress can cause disordered eating in teens. One study suggests these affect almost 10% of young women in the United States. Anorexia and bulimia are two common forms of this condition. In the past, it was believed that disordered eating occurred mostly in young women. But it is now known that disordered eating behaviours and related concerns occur in people of all genders.

Disordered eating can harm physical health and self-esteem. Stay aware of your teen’s eating habits. Be mindful of how you talk about food, nutrition, and weight gain or loss around them. Promote a healthy and positive mind-body relationship. If your teen shows patterns of disordered eating, approach the issue with care. Work with them to find any help they need.


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