An interesting article in The Age recently brought up concerns regarding parents who may be unnecessarily anxious about their children’s health.
The article cited a recent survey that showed that 75 per cent of pediatric specialists said many of their referrals could have been handled exclusively by the referring GP.
The relevant issue at hand here is that parents are increasingly seeking out specialist support for normal issues in childhood development…
Common issues such as bed-wetting, constipation, and even concerns about their children’s height.
This speaks to an increasing anxiety among parents, and their quest to ensure their child is developing ‘normally’.
Understandably, this kind of pattern of anxious parenting comes up not only in the physical development of the child, but also their emotional and psychological development.
So how can we know when we’re self- or over-diagnosing our children?
In the digital age, we are constantly bombarded with endless parenting advice, concerns, comparisons, and unavoidable questions of what is and what isn’t normal.
While in ‘simpler’ times, the lack of available information meant that parents had to rely much more heavily on their intuition.
This is both a blessing and a curse.
Undeniably, the increasing dialogue around mental health and learning difficulties means that we can identify and address these issues at a younger and younger age.
This results in a much faster and higher success rate of tackling them head on, and developing coping skills that will transcend into adulthood.
But on the other hand, it does create an environment of anxiety for so many parents, who may read normal childhood behavior as concerning or a sign of something more serious.
Thankfully, for child psychologist clinics, this is part and parcel of what we do.
We are trained to assess and understand the situation by engaging with both the child and the parent.
In the majority of cases, the issues at hand will be clear from the initial consultation, and the right course of action — whether it will focus more on the parent or the child — will be clear.
But in some instances, the initial consult will reveal that what you’re concerned about is totally standard childhood behaviour.
In others, it may reveal that your concerns are more challenging for you than for your child, and you could benefit from some counselling sessions to deal with your parental anxieties.
So all in all, when it comes to issues of psychological and emotional development, it doesn’t hurt to get in touch with professionals to either work on the issues at hand, or to put your anxieties to rest.
And when it comes to learning issues, a cognitive learning assessment is always beneficial in figuring out where your child is at, where they may need some help, and what will enable them to thrive in the academic setting.
But whenever you’re feeling concerned about your child’s psychological development, consider the following points:
- There is no ‘normal’. Don’t let comparisons or ‘competitive milestone checking’ cause you anxiety about the development of your child. Every child is different, and will develop at different stages.
- When it comes to emotional issues, learn the signs of what is standard and what may be of concern. There is a distinct difference between worrying and anxiety, sadness and depression, or tantrums and anger issues. You will find many of these distinctions identified on our blog.
- Be wary of self-diagnosing, or internet research. Google can be a hypochondriac’s or anxious parent’s worst nightmare. When researching childhood behaviour or parenting advice, stick to trusted, reputable, or professional sources.
And at the end of the day, even a reputable blog post can never give you concrete answers to your questions. So if you’d like to discuss your concerns with us over the phone and arrange an initial consult, please click the link below.