Written by Monica Lazarescu, C.Psych Associate

Children, like adults, benefit from psychology services to either identify the source of a behavioral, emotional or a learning problem, or to help them develop strategies for coping with stressful events.

Kyle, a 10 year-old boy in grade 4, is a friendly child who was doing well academically during his first grades. However, in grade 4, Kyle started complaining about stomach aches or headaches in the morning before going to school. His parents and teachers noted that he looks sad sometimes, and that he spends less time with friends. Although he tries hard and he works every day at home to complete school work, his marks are declining. His teacher noted that he is absent-minded at school, and that he gives up easily when facing a novel problem.

Kyle’s parents decided to consult with a psychologist in regards to their concerns for Kyle’s academic decline and social withdrawal. They decided to have a psychoeducational assessment for Kyle that will look into both academic and behavioral concerns. The results of the assessment indicated that Kyle was identified with a learning disability that became more prevalent when grade expectations increased. Kyle was a smart boy who was able to learn and keep his marks up during the first grades, however his increased effort with lower academic results made Kyle feel that he is not capable enough. He compared himself with his friends and he blamed himself for not being successful.

The psychologist’s assessment offered a different light for Kyle to perceive himself. He was provided with support and strategies in school and his academic performance increased. In addition, Kyle’s parents accessed therapy services for Kyle to give him more emotional support and to teach him strategies to increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety related to school work.

Many children start blaming themselves when they cannot keep up with curriculum expectations. They feel they are not smart enough, they start avoiding going to school and they don’t enjoy being with friends anymore. They may complain about health issues frequently with no real concern. Parents notice a difference in their child’s behavior, and often their concerns are confirmed by teachers.

So when should parents consult with a psychologist? As a parent, you know your child best and you can tell that something is different with them. When a child displays behaviors underlying an emotional or academic problem, the sooner it is identified and treated, the better the outcome.