Can very young children have mental health problems?
Unfortunately, they can. Symptoms
manifest differently sometimes compared to older youths and adults because of
developmental differences, and different thresholds are needed sometimes to
make diagnoses, but research suggests that 15% of very young children can be
diagnosed with psychiatric disorders.
Lots of things are changing relatively rapidly in the 0-6 years age
range. Psychiatric disorders are much
less common in 0-2 years children compared to 3-6 years children. The reason for this is usually because
language, autobiographical memory, and other abstract cognitive abilities come
online around three years of age.
Disorders we might see commonly in children six years and
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Adjustment disorders
When seeking help for very young children, you want
someone who has had extra training and hands-on experience with this age
group. Working with this age group
requires knowledge of developmental differences, different assessment tools,
and special intervention techniques.
What Should Parents Ask Potential Clinicians?
How many children 6 years and younger do you see per year
or more per year is a good indicator.
What extra training have you had for working with this
ought to be able to name special training they received in graduate school or workshops
What treatment techniques do you use for my child’s
ought to be able to either name a specific type of treatment model or explain
the treatment process to you clearly, and they ought to be able to describe
their prior experience using these techniques.
On the Find A Provider page of the Kid Catch Directory,
we have a special category under the Issues search filter for 0-6 Year-old
Children. Clicking on this filter will
return results of clinicians who advertise themselves as working with this age
group. Kid Catch cannot guarantee that
clinicians who advertise themselves this way are truly expert with this age
group. The following are clinicians that
we can confirm have extra training and experience with this age group:
Ruth Arnberger, LCSW (Child Counseling Associates, LLC)
Pat Blackwell, PhD (Pelts, Kirkhart, and Associates, LLC)
Jessica Hoff, MD
Claire Peebles, PhD
Michael Scheeringa, MD (Child Counseling Associates, LLC)
Tulane Infant Mental Health Service (limited to children
with Medicaid in the Metropolitan Human Services District catchment area, i.e.,
Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard parishes).
Child Counseling Associates, LLC is the only known group practice that specializes in very young children in this area.
(If you are a clinician who would like to be added to this list, contact us at [email protected] We
would need confirmation that you treat on average 10 or more children annually
in this age group for the past three years).
- Updated January 2, 2020