Signs That Something Is Wrong

Now that your child spends less time with you, it might be harder to spot the symptoms that something is wrong. If you need more information, remember that you can observe your child at school for a day. If you decide to do so, check with administration first, and if you decide to tell your child of your plans, just say that you want to see what school is like rather than tell him you want to see if something is wrong.

Learning Disabilities

If your child has a learning disability (LD), his teacher may be the first to point out something's wrong, but you might have to wait for that to happen. In a packed classroom, a learning disability can go unnoticed, especially if the child has pride or perfectionist traits that keep him from expressing what's wrong. Meanwhile, he'll grow more frustrated and angry each day. Children with LD also tend to struggle socially, missing body language cues and other complex, subtle patterns in their peers' behavior. If your child is doing poorly in school and you suspect LD, ask the teacher for a conference to talk about your concerns. You can also request academic testing. See Chapter 17 for more information.


The “homicidal triad” refers to three behaviors that are linked with homicidal behavior later in life. If your five-to-ten-year-old or older child displays chronic bed-wetting, fire-starting, and cruelty toward animals, it is extremely important that you seek outside help from a child psychiatrist immediately.

Illness, Injury, and Trauma

Though your child is more capable of explaining the details of playground accidents and headaches at this age, you are less likely to witness them firsthand. Take any account of a head injury or chronic headaches seriously. Note that headaches can be psychosomatic (symptoms of being emotionally upset) and should be first checked by a pediatrician; then seek out a mental health professional for help treating underlying issues of anxiety, fear, trauma, or depression.

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