Years ago professionals did not believe that children could have emotional or mental health issues. As research in the area of early childhood development has progressed, we now know that very young children experience emotions and react to the world around them.
Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day. Some children with neurodevelopmental disabilities also have difficulties with controlling their behavior which can cause problems for them in their world.
For infants or very young children, it is often difficult to identify if they are in distress or having emotional issues.
This link is to an article published by the American Psychological Association talks about these challenges http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/02/babies-mental-illness.aspx
The CDC website is a good place to learn about statistics for very young children with mental health/emotional issues. Please click on this link to see the CDC information: https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html
The general rule of thumb for infants and young children are to look for changes in their behavior. For a child who has been happy and interactive, adults will notice if we see changes in their
- Moods (more tearful, clingy, angry)
- Behavior (this can either be less interactive/ withdrawn to being more aggressive)
- Changes in sleep, feeding, toileting and social interactions
For somewhat der infants/toddlers, you may also see:
- Regression in their ability to care for themselves (regression in skills such a toilet training, being social)
- Difficulties with getting along with others (classmates but also teachers and therapists)