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Grandparents parenting grandchildren often find the children suffer from a variety of mental health issues such as, depression, anxiety, attachment disorders, and ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder.

I sleep better in Mama's nightgown

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Learn the Signs. Act Early"

Visit the "Learn the Signs. Act Early" website for information about childhood developmental milestones and delays. You'll be able to track the developmental milestones your child should be reaching, see how milestones change as your child grows, and download fact sheets on developmental milestones for children from 3 months to 5 years, along with information on developmental screening and developmental disabilities

Please take our Grandparent & Relative Survey   (only once per computer)

A must read article when raising troubled children:
"No Second Chance with Suicide."

Many children suffer from a variety of mental health disorders, even children  who may  live in healthy environments. However, children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect come to us having experienced severe emotional trauma. Even babies and toddlers can suffer with mental health difficulties. It is important as grandparents and other caregivers that we be alert to the behaviors that may signal a serious problem or disorder in babies, young children, and our teenagers. It is a tragedy for these children to suffer more than they already have.

The following disorders are unfortunately too common among children who are placed in foster homes as well as children who are being raised by grandparents or other kin. This information was in part taken from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).  For a more comprehensive list of psychiatric disorders visit their website at  www.aacap.org/.

Anxiety is something that all children will experience throughout their childhood in one way or another. A child may experience anxiety or distress when being separated from a parent or close caregiver or develop temporary fears such as fear of the dark. When anxieties become severe enough to interfere with normal daily activities such as going to school or playing with friends, a caregiver would do well to consult a professional for an evaluation and advice. Children with an anxiety disorder may experience the following:

  • Constant thoughts and fears about safety of self and caregiver

  • Refusing to go to school

  • Frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints

  • Extreme worries about sleeping away from home

  • Overly clingy

  • Panic or tantrums at times of separation from parents

  • Trouble sleeping or nightmares

Children with anxiety disorders may also experience phobias, (fears of specific things), obsessions, excessive  worrying, and low self-esteem. More

Depression is defined as an illness when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with a child or adolescentís ability to function. About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time. Children who are under stress, who experience loss, who have attention or learning difficulties, or who have conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Even babies and toddlers can be depressed. Depression also tends to run in families.

Children and adolescents who cause trouble at home or at school may actually be depressed but not know it. Because the youngster may not always seem sad, caregivers and teachers may not realize that troublesome behavior is a sign of depression.

Early diagnosis and medical treatment are essential for depressed children. This is a real illness that requires professional help. More

Reactive Attachment Disorder is a complex childhood psychiatric disorder that is characterized by serious problems in emotional attachment to others and is usually evident by age 5. It is associated with the inability of the child to bond with a parent or caregiver in infancy or early childhood.

Children may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Severe colic and/or feeding difficulties
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Detached and unresponsive behavior
  • Difficulty being comforted
  • Pre-occupied and/or defiant behavior
  • Inhibition or hesitancy in social interactions

RadKid.Org: Reactive Attachment Disorder & Detachment Issues

Most children with this disorder have had severe problems or disruptions in their early relationships. This can be caused by various factors, ranging from abuse and neglect to the child being born prematurely and/or being hospitalized for severe medical problems. More

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a serious brain injury that occurs when a baby is violently shaken. This is considered serious child abuse. It usually happens when a parent or caregiver is frustrated and angry and shakes the baby in a dangerous way. When this happens, the blood vessels in the brain are damaged, resulting in serious brain damage. About 1/4 of babies with Shaken Baby Syndrome die and those that survive may suffer blindness, mental retardation, paralysis, seizure disorder, speech and learning disabilities, neck and back damage, and dislocated bones.

Studies show that 50% of people who damage babies by shaking them are natural parents, 17% are the mother's boyfriend, 17% are non-relatives, 6% step-parent, and 10% other.

For more information on Shaken Baby Syndrome visit:



ADHD  stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is one of the most common childhood disorders. Symptoms include having difficulty staying focused, difficulty controlling behavior, and being over active. This disorder can be very disruptive in a child's and family's lives. It can easily be misdiagnosed and must be diagnosed by a competent professional or team of professionals.

ADHD has three subtypes:

  1. Predominantly hyperactive - impulsive
  2. Predominantly inattentive
  3. Combine hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive

When a child has ADHD which disrupts living a normal and productive childhood, there are medications that have been found to be helpful. Some parents welcome the medications, while others do not. A team of professionals can help determine the best course of action for a child. The National Institute of Health has a helpful online booklet explaining ADHD, it's symptoms and treatments. The booklet can be found by clicking here.

Conduct Disorder is a complicated group of behavioral and emotional problems in children. Young children and adolescents with this disorder have great difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way. They are often viewed by other children, adults and social agencies as "bad" or delinquent, rather than mentally ill.

  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Destruction of Property
  • Deceitfulness, lying, or stealing
  • Serious violations of rules

Many factors may contribute to a child developing conduct disorder, including brain damage, child abuse, genetic vulnerability, school failure, and traumatic life experiences. More

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not only experienced by adults. A  child who experiences a catastrophic event may develop ongoing difficulties known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The stressful or traumatic event involves a situation where someone's life has been threatened or severe injury has occurred. The child may have been the victim or witnessed physical abuse, sexual abuse, violence in the home or in the community, an accident, or a natural disaster. A child's risk of developing PTSD is related to the seriousness of the trauma.

A child with PTSD may show intense fear, helplessness, anger, sadness, horror, or denial. The child may learn to numb painful emotions in order to deaden or block the pain and trauma. This is called dissociation. Children with PTSD may exhibit numerous symptoms of the disorder. They  may withdraw emotionally and detach from feelings, have sleep problems, experience irritability and angry outbursts, obsess over the memories, act younger than their age, or even repeat behavior that reminds them of the trauma. More

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Children who experience major trauma from the loss of a parent or relationship are at risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders.

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