When you are raising a child, it can be difficult to know what is normal and what is not. It can be a very fuzzy line, and many unusual behaviors can come and go quickly. Is there a length of time for when to be concerned? Or is it more related to the severity of a behavior?

One of the best indicators of when to seek help is if you feel in your gut that something may be wrong. Even if you can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that is making you uncomfortable, seeing your child alongside peers or by comparing their behavior to how their siblings may have developed can give you an idea of what is typical versus what is atypical.

Sometimes teachers or other family members may recognize concerning behaviors and bring that up with you. This can understandably be hurtful and difficult to hear, but if you trust the person who brings it up to you, it may be worth paying attention to. You might not choose to act right away, but sometimes it is difficult to recognize what we aren’t familiar with. Recognize that it may have taken some courage for that individual to speak up and say something, so they may have something important to say.

All children are different, but if you find that you have to significantly adjust your own behavior to avoid potential meltdowns, that may be a reason to get help. I’m not talking about avoiding outings during naptime or those types of changes, but if your child will only eat one very specific type of food and you are driving through Wendy’s drive-through on a daily basis, or you find yourself tiptoeing around the house to avoid placing any demands on your child, dealing with those issues sooner can help your child learn to be more adaptable (and in turn, make your life much easier!)

I do Parent-Child Interaction Therapy with children and their parents, a behavioral parent-coaching model that helps parents improve the parent-child relationship, establish consistent, effective discipline, and helps young children learn to deal with strong emotions. Working with a specialist who understands young children can help parents understand what their children need from them, and guide them toward services that can help.