Identifying Early Warning Signs of Aggression
CHARLOTTE, NC- Local experts are urging parents not to ignore early signs of aggression or potential violence.
"We need to get away from terms like bad child and naughty child and really understand that a child has limited ways of communicating," said Dr. Warren Steinmuller, a child and adult psychiatrist.
Steinmuller works with families and also works with teens in the juvenile system. With a stigma on mental health. He worries children in our area are not getting the professional help they need.
"It going to lead to a child who is having difficulties living with themselves and living with other people," said Steinmuller.
Child psychiatry experts say early signs of aggression or anti-social behavior vary by age.
In preschool or elementary school, look out for lots of temper tantrums or behavior problems in school.
In middle school, drug use or alienation from friends and activities can be a sign. In high school, they may threaten to run away or hint the desire to hurt themselves.
"A lot of times, they'll say things like I wish I weren't here or how would you feel if I died," said Shannon Orr, a therapist at Melange Health Solutions.
Orr says the signs are usually there.
"But the parents don't believe them. They say, oh they're not really going to do it. They say it when they're mad. But, it's something to take very serious because they may follow through with it," said Orr.
She says if something is off - in behavior, words on social media or withdrawal - find a mental health expert right away.
"Those are the things that indicate a child is suffering in some way and we want to help that child to prevent frustration from building over time that could ultimately result in an aggressive act," said Steinmuller.
According to the American Psychological Association, young children are less likely to get treatment than adults. It's the misconception that kids will "grow out" of emotional problems.