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Warning Signs: When to be Concerned

At times children may exhibit behaviors that concern parents. Often these behaviors are as expected for the developmental age. However, some behaviors that significantly impact a child over a period of time may be worthy of additional consideration.

Behaviors and Concerns

Below are behaviors associated with common childhood concerns, including: ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Behavior Disorders, Developmental/Learning and Alcohol/Substance Use. Links to additional resources are also provided.

ADHD

Pre-K

Inability to sit still for calm activities such as eating or having a book read to them; running from toy to toy; displaying extreme impatience with others.

Elementary

Inability to focus on one activity; trouble completing task before getting bored; difficulty following directions that require planning or executing a plan.

Secondary

Struggle in meeting expectations for turning assignments in on time and/or being organized; Does not comprehend the consequences of risk-taking behavior.

Facts for Families – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF))

Additional information and source material: CDC.gov

Anxiety

Pre-K

Worry may be evidenced by separation anxiety and refusal to attend school or camp or to demand that someone stay with them at bedtime or selective mutism, which is a refusal to speak.

Elementary and Secondary

Excessive worry about a variety of things such as grades, family issues, relationships with peers, and performance in sports, may include obsessive-compulsive behaviors, social anxiety and/or panic attacks.

Facts for Families – Anxiety (English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF))

Additional information and source material: aada.org

Depression

These symptoms may occur within any age range.

Pre-K

Frequent crying, irritable mood, mood swings.

Elementary

Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school, low self-esteem, feeling angry, depressed or irritable.

Secondary

Withdrawal, change in eating or sleeping habits, loss of energy, thoughts of death or suicide.

Facts for Families – Depression (English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF))

Additional information and source material: aada.org

Behavior Disorders

Pre-K and Elementary

Often angry or lose their temper; often angry with adults or refuse to comply with adult’s rules or requests; often blame others for their own mistakes or misbehavior.

These behaviors are more likely to occur around people they know and more often than other children their age.

Secondary

Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school, low self-esteem, feeling angry, depressed or irritable.

Facts for Families – Oppositional and Defiant Children (English (PDF))

Additional information and source material: cdc.gov

Developmental/Learning Disorders

Pre-K

Difficulty meeting developmental milestones, such as crawling, walking and talking; Share concerns with your child’s doctor

Elementary and Secondary

Difficulty remembering what was just said or just read; Difficulty understanding and following directions or staying organized; Difficulty with reading, writing and/or mathematics

Additional information and source material: cdc.gov

Alcohol/Substance Use

Pre-K, Elementary, and Secondary

Sudden moodiness or irritability; argumentative, disruptive or rule-breaking behavior; poor judgment or irresponsible behavior; withdrawal from previously preferred activities; increase in secretive actions.

Facts for Families – Substance Abuse (English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF))

Additional information and source material: cdc.gov