Does my child need professional help? Clues from RIISE Social & Emotional Advisor

Delia Farquharson, LCSW

Delia Farquharson, LCSW

Does my child need professional help?

Delia M. Farquharson, LCSW & RIISE Social & Emotional Advisor

If you are ever concerned that your child is seeing, hearing or feeling things that others are not experiencing, or that your child may be suicidal, do not delay. Seek help immediately, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

So, how do you know if you need to seek professional help for your child? Are you concerned that your child may need additional support to manage stressors or a recent significant life event?

Sources of stress for children can include:

  • Outside Sources – bullying, competitive school, expectations
  • Internal Perceptions – developmental challenges, physical
  • Major life Changes – Divorce, Deaths
  • Change in Routines – Delay in being picked up, caregivers
  • Parents’ own level of stress – Arguing, finances, illnesses


Has your child’s behavior changed? Are they more isolated, withdrawn, eating less or more, do they seem more irritated and edgy? These signs may indicate that your child is having trouble coping, and warrant some extra attention from parents or responsible adults in their lives.

Sleeping too much or not sleeping at all? Mood fluctuations that seem different than before? Perhaps this is a good time for parents to pay attention and begin with gentle probing questions.

How are you feeling? What’s going on with you? How can I help?

As developmentally appropriate, do not be afraid to ask your child the big “ S” question. Contrary to some beliefs, asking a child about suicide does not encourage the behavior. Are you thinking about hurting yourself? This question can be used to discuss thoughts of suicide as well as self injurious behavior like cutting.

How can I help? Will it help to speak with someone like a school counselor or a therapist?

These questions engage children in the process and allows the child to exercise some choice, some level of control over what is happening in their lives. It is usually a good idea to include your child In the decision making.


Remember the three ”Cs” – Communication, Clarification, Compassion.

Listen to you child, as much as possible try to do more listening than lecturing.

Ask clarifying questions, try to stay curious and reserve judgement.

Be compassionate, if your child is feeling stressed at this time what they need more than anything is your love and compassion

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