By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

Expecting parents often worry about the well-being of their unborn child; whether he or she will be born normal or not, whether the child will have any physical defect, and whether they will be able to provide proper nourishment to their child. After the birth of the child, their worries often end when they see that the child looks and seems normal and has all the characteristics of a normal child.

However, it does cause some worry to the parents when they notice some of the following signs after the child starts growing older:

  • The child does not develop physically like other children his age.
  • The child does not show age-appropriate mental development.
  • The child does not think or feel the same way as other children.
  • The child acts differently, for example, has abnormal eating and sleeping patterns, inappropriate behavior at school, difficulty in getting along with family and friends, and inability in coping with stress.

More often than not, most infants, children, and teenagers are normal when, at the appropriate age, they fully participate in and enjoy their:

  • learning, school, and/or work
  • relationships within the family
  • relationships with friends, colleagues, teachers; and
  • engage in recreation activities

Parents and families can sort out whether their child is normal with the help of child and adolescent psychiatrists. They typically interview the child and ask the parents about the child's previous health and behavior. They may also ask about the family interaction and how they get along with each other.

Professionals can help parents determine the cause of such a condition and how it can be treated. Also, not all normality issues are permanent, a lot of time it is a phase through which the children pass and as they grow older, they grow out of it and exhibit normal behavior. The child and adolescent psychiatrist may reassure the parents, explaining how they can enhance normal development and be more effective in parenting. They can also provide or arrange for brief counseling to help the child and parents with minor developmental problems, stressful life situations or difficulties due to the child's temperament. There are also activities or educational programs for the child, and/or education for parents, which will support normal developmental processes.

However, in some cases evaluation by psychiatrist reveals a psychological disorder. In such a case, the child will be given the appropriate treatment or counseling for that particular disorder.

Parents know what normal behavior is for their children. If they notice any unusual behavior or symptoms, they must immediately seek professional help in order to detect a potentially threatening psychological disorder at an early stage.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,