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Child & Adolescence

Is your child having difficulty at school, home or with friends? Have your tried talking to him or her and it just doesn't seem to help? Sometimes, kids are also affected by emotional strains that need to be resolved through counseling. Low self-esteem, depression, separation anxiety, poor school performance, social isolation and shyness, and substance abuse -- are just some of the issues that young people struggle with today. When not attended to, these issues can have a disruptive impact on your child’s well-being and ability to get along in daily life. Through counseling your child can work through and resolve these difficulties so that he or she can get back on track.

Low Self Esteem

Here are some signs to watch for in determining if your child has low self-esteem:

  • Negative statements about themselves. For example, children may say, "I can't do anything right."

  • Lack of self-confidence.

  • Lack of perseverance. Children with low self-esteem give up easily.

  • Difficulty accepting responsibility. 

  • Constant need for reassurance. Children with low self-esteem need continuous guidance and praise for their efforts.

  • Anxiety in social situations. Children feel inadequate and worry about not being liked.

  • Frustration over their lack of achievement. Children may exhibit frustration by being disagreeable and noncompliant.


Children do not always exhibit depression in the same way as adults. While some children do appear sad and tearful, others display depression through irritability, misbehavior, and physical complaints. Here are some symptoms to determine if your child is depressed:

  • Sadness

  • Loss of interest in fun activities

  • Feelings of guilt

  • Low energy level

  • Poor concentration

  • Loss of appetite

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Numerous physical complaints such as headaches or stomach aches

  • Acting helpless

  • Making negative comments about self

  • Expressing dissatisfaction with life

Seek immediate professional assistance if your child makes comments about hurting himself/herself or if your child is so depressed that he/she cannot meet the usual demands of life.

Separation Anxiety

Children with an separation anxiety may:

  • Display an unreasonable fear of school

  • Feel unsafe staying in a room by themselves

  • Display clinging behavior

  • Display excessive worry and fear about parents or about harm to themselves

  • Shadow their mom or dad around the house

  • Have difficulty going to sleep

  • Have nightmares

  • Have exaggerated, unrealistic fears of animals, monsters, burglars

  • Fear being alone in the dark

  • Have severe tantrums when forced to go to school

Poor School Performance

Common indicators of a child or adolescent at risk for school failure may include:

  • Attention problems as a young child- the student has a school history of attention issues or disruptive behavior

  • Multiple retentions in grade level- the student has been retained one of more years

  • Absenteeism- the student is absent five or more days per term

  • Lack of connection with the school- the student is not involved is sports, music, or other school-related extracurricular activities

  • Behavior Problems- the student may be frequently disciplined or show a sudden change in school behavior such as withdrawing from class discussions

  • Lack of Confidence- the student believes that his or her own ability is insufficient, and nothing can be done to change the situation

  • Limited goals for the future- the student is unaware of career options available or lacks motivation to pursue these goals

Social Isolation and Shyness

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Canceling social events at the last moment

  • Avoiding situations that provide positive social interaction

  • Few or no friends

  • Avoidance of activities that are otherwise pleasurable

  • Passivity, pessimism and low self-esteem

  • Friends, family members, teachers, or mentors are concerned

  • Excessive computer use that is not social in nature and creates social isolation

Substance Abuse

The following are signs of possible substance abuse:

  • Neglectful of personal hygiene

  • Secretive

  • Frequent school absences or cutting class

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Impulsive behaviors and lack of self control

  • Difficulty in school and declining grades

  • Physical symptoms: red eyes, dilated pupils, constricted pupils

  • Unhealthy lifestyle

  • Borrowing or stealing money

  • Frequent, volatile mood swings or explosive bouts of anger

  • Increased or unusual anxiety or nervousness

  • Isolation from family, friends or pets




Lisa Montalvo, MFT, CEAP, SAP

1395 San Carlos Avenue, Suite C#4

San Carlos, California 94070

Phone (650) 631-0909

Fax (518) 671-2884



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