6 Signs Your Child Needs Counseling | Children's Bureau



6 Signs Your Child Needs Counseling

Changes in your child’s personality can leave you wondering, “does my child need therapy?” Sometimes these changes become prominent as a result of a traumatic experience, while other times they can emerge out of the blue. Regardless of the reason, these changes are important to pay attention to as they can help you determine if and when to seek counseling for your child. Read on to learn about six signs that may indicate that your child could benefit from counseling.

#1 Defiant behaviors

One of the most common signs that your child may need counseling is if they are having behavior problems both inside and outside of the home. You may find your child more inclined to argue, complain, and become defensive, even over the smallest request or conversation. Pay attention to these responses, especially if they occur more frequently than usual. Oftentimes, this is your child asking for help without them even knowing it.

When it comes to school and other activities outside of the home, stay connected to the teachers and other parents that interact with your child on a day to day basis. Consider letting them know you are concerned and to let you know if they see any abnormally defiant behaviors in your child.

#2 Sudden shift in usual interests and habits

Similar to the shift in behavior, changes in your child’s day to day interests and habits can signal that your child may need counseling as well. Most commonly, significant changes in eating, sleeping, and personal interests are easiest to spot and typically the most suggestive. If these changes last longer than two weeks, consider scheduling a check-up with your child’s doctor. In fact, they may be able to point you in the right direction if they believe emotional stressors are the cause.

#3 Excessive worrying and sadness

Perhaps the most direct and evident of this list, excessive worrying and sadness are sure-tell signs that your child may need help beyond your reach. While worrying and sadness can be normal, especially during life transitions and changes, when these emotions become excessive and begin to consume your child and their thoughts, that is when you should take a closer look.

#4 Regressions

Regressions are common when a new sibling is born, when divorce occurs, or any other major life changes take place in the home. However, when regressions happen for seemingly no reason, consider taking a closer look. Here are a few of the most common regressions that signal that your child may need counseling:

  • Bedwetting (when already night trained)
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Separation anxiety and clinginess
  • Excessive anxiety and fearfulness
  • Language regression (using “baby talk”)

#5 Social isolation

If you notice your child withdrawing socially, this is also a sign to take a closer look at what is going on emotionally. Oftentimes, when children are sad or anxious, they will withdraw from social situations and turn inwards. When this begins to happen on a regular basis, and starts to take away from their interpersonal relationships, that is when it comes time to consider that it may be more than just a sad day. This is especially true if shyness and introverted tendencies are not common personality traits for your child.
Not sure what social isolation may look like as a child? Here are a few ways that children socially isolate when they are upset:

  • Eating lunch alone
  • Avoiding playdates and other social activities
  • A lack of desire to leave the house for any reason

#6 Talking about self harm

Lastly, and most urgently, if your child expresses any feelings or ideas of self harm, it is important that you seek help for them right away. Sometimes this can present itself subtly with hints of hopelessness and feeling alone. However, other times it is much more direct and can be acknowledged through the presence of suicidal thoughts and cutting.

While suicidal thoughts and cutting may seem excessive for younger children, it is important to note that  feelings of self-harm can be expressed in a number of different ways. Hitting oneself, banging one’s head against something and digging nails into skin are all signs of self harm in young children. If you are noticing any self harm behaviors, take note of them and get help for your child right away. 

Get Your Child The Help They Deserve

Getting help for your child should not be an emotionally draining and tedious task, and luckily it’s not! Children’s Bureau offers an extensive range of counseling programs and services for your child up until the age of twenty-one years old. With a large focus on vulnerable communities and those who typically may not be able to receive the right support that they need, Children’s Bureau goes far beyond by offering various mental health services specifically targeted to each child individually.

The sooner you pinpoint the signs your child needs counseling, the quicker you can get them the help that they need. With the signs listed above, you can be sure that you will know what to look out for when it comes to your child’s mental health and emotional well being. 

Check out our blog on online therapy for kids today.


Reviewed by:

Susan J. Wood, Director of Mental Health

Susan J. Wood, LMFT is the Director of Mental Health at Children’s Bureau and has over 20 years of experience working with children in a community mental health setting. She joined Children’s Bureau in 2015 as a Program Manager in the Antelope Valley and became the program director in June 2018 where she was instrumental in opening and expanding mental health services to the Santa Clarita Valley and Long Beach.



  1. https://www.boystownpediatrics.org/knowledge-center/self-harm-behavior-children-adolescents 
  2. https://www.guelphmercury.com/living-story/2729649-children-of-all-ages-experience-regression-as-they-grow-up/
  3. https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=6984368d-4325-4a59-bda4-58b95909b740


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