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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Behavior Changes After Moving

08/24/2007

Question:

My 7 year old, for the past month has been acting out more than ever. We have tried everything to find out why she has been misbehaving. Im expecting my 3rd child, we just moved to a new home and she will be starting a new school. That is a lot to handle, but she insists that, that is not the reason. Her behavior gets worse at bedtime and refuses to go in her room. When I ask why she says, "I dont know." She has also started to cause harm to herself by hitting and punching herself and this upsets me to the point of breaking down. I'm at my wits end and I dont know what to do. Are there any tips or causes you can give me?

Answer:

This may be an exacerbation of behavior that has been ongoing for some time. Whenever family systems are under stress, the members in that system tend to escalate behaviors that has gotten them attention. It is possible that her self-harm is a reflection of that stress. Moving to a new home and school are a lot to take in for a 7 year old. I would recommend a visit for evaluation to a mental health professional.

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati