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It is more difficult to come to terms with mental illness of the child than with physical illness. Parents feel guilty that it is brought about through some fault of theirs. Others may feel a social stigma will be attached to their child if his mental illness becomes a public knowledge.

Mental illness is easier to cure if treated earlier and the child will come to less harm in the long run. So parents should not delay in consulting a psychologist as soon as they notice abnormal behaviour. Small aberrations are no cause for concern as every child undergoes some personality changes when angry or sad. He may also have emotional outbursts when upset. These do not constitute mental problems.

If there are drastic changes in behaviour in a short time period, then there may be problems. They may not be noticeable in the beginning but if the temperament and sometimes even the look on the phase changes very quickly, then consult a psychologist as soon as possible. For example, a calm child may start shouting and screaming for no apparent reason or for small things.

Other disturbing signals may be suddenly starting to wet the bed at night, after bladder control has been established. The child may cry uncontrollably or scream or use abusive language. He may begin to bite and scratch other people or himself, and think nothing of injuring anybody. These symptoms can start when the child is as young as two years old. No one can be very sure of the reason behind these disturbances but they could be due to emotional upheaval.

Other warning signals are that the child may stop practising basic hygiene and may not sleep much. He may keep repeating certain actions, copy someone and get irritated easily. His actions will be extreme and he will want things as he fancies. The parents should not remain in denial if they observe any of these things.

Punishment for such behaviour will be of no help. Parents should not feel that this is a disciplinary matter or the child has reached this condition due to the parents’ shortcomings. Save the child from harming himself and others by taking him for psychiatric treatment. Join in the discussion with the doctor and follow his advice properly. Within a few weeks your child will show improvement.

If need be you can ask community leaders for help both monetary and otherwise. They can introduce you to parents who have faced the same problem and will be able to suggest a good therapist. All information is kept confidential so do not have any worries in that regard.