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Signs of a Troubled Child

Children can struggle with many issues they are confronted with everyday

There are myriad reasons why a child who's struggling to cope with stress may try to hide it. Bullying or physical abuse can provoke embarrassment and shame. Divorce may cause children to feel blame for the situation or that they need to "be strong" for their parents' sake. If a parent or anyone notices any of the following symptoms, it may indicate that a child needs help.

Abrupt Behavioral Changes

The biggest indicator that a child is in turmoil is a marked changed in behavior. If a child begins isolating himself or herself, stops hanging out with friends, or starts neglecting personal hygiene, it could indicate symptoms of trouble. Communication changes such as an increase in back-talk or a refusal to talk at all are also serious indicators. Changes like these are common after a parental separation or divorce.

Issues at School

Kids go through many stressful situations during school hours

Stress may also manifest itself at school. A sudden drop in grades or a decision to quit extracurriculars that used to bring joy are both indicators of trouble. Frequent sleeping in class often indicates a lack of quality rest at home. If a child starts going to school unprepared — whether that's showing up late, not completing assignments, or not studying for tests — it may be cause for concern as well.

Signs of Violence

Evidence of physical injury is often the most alarming sign of potential trouble. Cuts and bruises can be symptomatic of bullying or abuse, or they can be signs that a child is dealing with stress and anxiety through self-harm. Conversely, if a child begins outwardly exhibiting violent behavior towards parents, siblings, and even pets, it's likely time to intervene for the benefit and safety of all those involved.

Identifying Problems and Taking Action

Childhood is a trying time for most children, even without excessive stressors. When these signs are evident, the best thing a parent can do for their child is be an involved, whether that means personally helping them or enlisting the aid of a trusted ally, expert, or other parenting resource. When the signs of a troubled child are due to parental abuse or divorce, a child custody lawyer can help alleviate the problem by arguing before a judge to have the child placed in the custody of the more responsible parent or other family member.