In Parenting, Syndromes & Disorders

Why Your Child is Constantly Irritable

Everyone feels irritable from time to time, which is perfectly normal. However, feeling irritable on a regular basis usually signifies an underlying problem, whether it is stress-related or due to some other issue. If you are concerned about your child’s emotional health, then you should try to get to the root of the problem. There are many reasons why your child may be constantly irritable, as there are many ways to deal with it.


What causes a child to experience regular irritability?

Being irritable means showing tendencies to being very easily annoyed. There are many reasons why your child could feel irritable on a regular basis. If your child is old enough to inform you of his or her feelings, then you need to sit down and have a long talk. Question your son or daughter about how he or she feels. There is often always an underlying cause of chronic irritability, because being easily annoyed all the time simply isn’t normal.

Perhaps your child is experiencing problems at school, has experienced a recent breakup with a friend, or some other issue has arisen to cause him or her to feel sad and depressed quite often. Any of this issues could cause him or her to become irritable all the time. You should also let your child or teen know that you are always available to listen to whatever may be bothering him or her, and that there is no subject that is taboo.

Younger child who can’t yet fully express their feelings could be irritable because they feel unwell on a regular basis. Perhaps bullying is part of the equation. Regardless of the cause, you should investigate. Young children should not be irritable, they should be happy and carefree. A physical examination and psychiatric assessment should be obtained if your young child is unable to express how he or she is feeling.

When to see a doctor

As a parent, you will likely have certain instincts that tell you when seeking medical attention for your child or teen is necessary. However, when it comes to an irritable child or adolescent, it may be more difficult to determine when you should take him or her to a doctor. You should assess how your child behaves over a period of time, which will help you to make the best decision. If he or she is irritable more than he or she isn’t, and there are other symptoms involved, such as explosive anger, depression, and/or withdrawal, then you should make an appointment for your child to see the pediatrician.

Anxiety disorders

A doctor can determine whether your child suffers from an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a mental illness that causes nearly constant feelings of worry, nervousness and a general feelings of unease. There are different types of anxiety disorders, including GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) anxiety/panic disorder, and more. Irritability is a common symptom of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are a series of serious disorders that requires treatment. Your child’s pediatrician will have the ability to determine if a therapist is necessary in order to treat your child’s condition.

Other mental illnesses

If the pediatrician informs you that your child or adolescent doesn’t show signs of an anxiety disorder, then there could be another mental illness that is causing the frequent irritable mood. Bipolar depression, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and depression are just some of the various mental illnesses that could be causing your child to be irritable all the time. Mental illnesses need to be treated promptly, as a covert mental illness could lead to your child hurting himself or hurting someone else. Your child or teen could even threaten or attempt suicide.

If your child frequently speaks about death and dying, or there is a noticeable change in your child’s personality, then you should observe him or her closely. If child or teen threatens suicide, don’t assume that he or she is simply joking, as there could be a serious plan. You may need to seek immediate professional help in order to prevent a suicide attempt. You should also keep in mind that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 – 24.

Treating your child’s ongoing irritable mood

Helping your child to experience less irritability will be tricky, as it will depend on the underlying cause. If your child has been diagnosed with a mental illness, then the doctor might prescribe medication and/or recommend regular therapy sessions. Individual and group therapy sessions are possible treatment options that can eventually help your child or teen to feel irritable less often. Here is a list of medications that might be prescribed for a mentally ill child:

  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Medications to help with sleep
  • Medications to help with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

There are other ways for you to help you child deal with his or her irritable behavior. Distraction is frequently successful, but it depends on your child, the distraction chosen, as well as the situation. Engage your child in an interesting conversation, watch a fun movie together or participate in an activity together. Not only will this enable the two of you to bond, but it can lighten your son’s or daughter’s mood, which can effectively combat irritability.

If your child is good at expressing his or her emotions, whenever you notice that he or she is irritable, ask him how he or she is feeling. Inquire about what might be bothering him or her and offer suggestions and feedback that can help your son or daughter to feel better.

Outdoor activities as a cure

Getting your child involved in sports or other after school extra-curricular activities is a great outlet. It can help rid your child of anger and depression, major contributors to an irritable mood. Don’t force your child, but you can simply make a gentle suggestion. Explain all the benefits of the activity and encourage him or her to at least give it a try.

If your teen if of legal working age, then you might want to encourage him or her to get an after school or weekend job. Working 10 – 20 hours a week can be therapeutic and can work wonders for combating the negative feelings and thoughts related to mental illness that lead to irritability.

Growing up can be difficult for a child, especially when ongoing irritability and numerous other symptoms exist. As a parent, you need to be vigilant about protecting your child or teen, which means that you must be your child’s number one advocate. If you notice that your son or daughter is irritable on an ongoing basis, then this could signify a serious underlying issue, such as mental illness or another type of disorder. As long as you monitor your child carefully and seek medical attention if certain signs are displayed, then your child should be able to live with minimal irritability or any other problems.

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