NORMALITY
Articles for Parents
All Family Resources
Alphabetical List
  1. Children and Divorce
  2. Teenagers with Eating Disorders
  3. Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  4. The Depressed Child
  5. Child Abuse - The Hidden Bruises
  6. Children Who Can't Pay Attention
  7. Children Who Won't Go to School
  8. Children and Grief
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Teen Suicide
  11. The Child with Autism
  12. Children Who Steal
  13. Children and TV Violence
  14. Children and Family Moves
  15. The Adopted Child
  16. Children with Learning Disabilities
  17. Children of Alcoholics
  18. Bedwetting
  19. The Child with a Long-Term Illness
  20. Making Day Care a Good Experience
  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
  22. Normality
  23. Mental Retardation
  24. Know When to Seek Help for Your Child
  25. Who can be contacted to seek Help for Your Child
  26. Know Your Health Insurance Benefits
  27. Stepfamily Problems
  28. Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
  30. Children and AIDS
  31. When Children Have Children
  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  33. Conduct Disorders
  34. Children's Sleep Problems
  35. Tic Disorders
  36. Helping Children After a Disaster
  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80
NORMALITY

Parents are naturally concerned about the health and welfare of their children. Many parents correctly and comfortably see their youngster as normal. However, some other parents worry whether their infant, child, or teenager has a problem. These worries may be about various things, for example:

  • how the child is developing
  • the emotional well-being of the child
  • what the child says, thinks, and feels
  • how the child acts, for example, eating and sleeping patterns, behavior at school, getting along with family and friends, and coping with stress

Child and adolescent psychiatrists can help parents and families sort out whether their child is normal. They usually interview the child and ask the parents about the child's previous health and behavior. They may also ask about how the family gets along together. It is likely that infants, children, and teenagers are normal when, at the appropriate age, they fully participate in and enjoy their:

  • learning, school, and/or work
  • relationships within the family
  • relationships with friends; and
  • play

Many parents first discuss their concerns about their child's normality with a family member or friend, or with the child's personal physician, school counselor or member of the clergy--who may then refer the family to a child and adolescent psychiatrist. He or she listens carefully to the parents and child and sorts out:

  • the long-term factors that tend to lead to--or protect against-the child's developing problems
  • the short-term factors that set off the child's problem
  • the factors causing these problems to persist
  • the roles of other medical conditions; and
  • the combinations of school learning with social and emotional growth

Based on the evaluation, the child and adolescent psychiatrist may:

  • reassure the parents, explaining how they can enhance normal development and be more effective in parenting
  • suggest an activity or an educational program for the child, and/or education for parents, which will support normal developmental processes; or
  • provide or arrange for brief counseling to help the child and parents with minor developmental problems, stressful life situations or difficulties due to the child's temperament

If the evaluation reveals a psychiatric disorder, the child and adolescent psychiatrist will recommend a specific treatment program.

Parents, better than anyone else, know their child and know what is usual behavior for their child. If you feel your child has a problem, seek professional help. It is a very important first step in knowing for sure whether there is a problem, and if so, what measures will best help your child.

For additional information see Facts for Families:
#25 Know Where to Seek Help for Your Child,
#52 Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation, and
#66 Helping Teenagers with Stress.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).

 

Article #22 Updated 8/99

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Facts for Families is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To order full sets of FFF, contact Public Information, 1.800.333.7636.  Free distribution of individual Facts sheets is a public service of the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund. Please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund and support this important public outreach. (AACAP, Special Friends of Children Fund, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090).
   
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