Close navigation

Behaviour changes

Many children will show changes in behaviour on some occasions. These might be related to changes in their home or school life, developing into adolescence or ill health. 

When changes in behaviour are caused by a brain tumour, a child will usually have other symptoms. You should look out for these carefully.

When might behaviour changes be a sign of a brain tumour?

Behaviour changes related to a brain tumour are likely to happen often, over a period of days or weeks and in different settings, such as school, home, while playing or on a trip away.

The most common behaviour changes in children caused by a brain tumour are severe tiredness and reduced energy. This is sometimes called lethargy. Signs of lethargy include:

  • reduced activity levels
  • more time spent resting
  • loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
  • becoming tired more easily or quickly than they used to
  • struggling or progressing more slowly at nursery, school or college.

If you're worried about your child, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. If they have two or more symptoms, you should request referral to a consultant as soon as possible.

If symptoms appear suddenly or are severe, visit A&E or call 999.

I think I have a brain tumour, what should I do?

Brain tumours are rare, however, if you're worried and a symptom persists or if your child has more than one symptom of a brain tumour then:

  • Talk to your doctor
    GP appointments are usually quite short, so make sure you find out how to best prepare for your child's appointment.
  • Get an eye test
    If your child's symptoms are limited to changes in vision and/or headaches, get their eyes tested by an optician before seeing your GP.
  • Go to A&E
    If the symptoms are sudden or severe, you should go to your emergency department or call 999.

Should I speak to a doctor during the coronavirus pandemic?

We understand you may feel worried about seeking help from your GP during the coronavirus pandemic – but please don't delay speaking to a healthcare professional.

The NHS and your GP are still here for you and have made changes that make it easier to safely speak to a healthcare professional and get medical help if you need it.

It's more important than ever for you to prepare for your appointments by understanding what might happen during the appointment and what questions you want to ask.

Share your experiences and help create change

By taking part in our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys and sharing your experiences, you can help us improve treatment and care for everyone affected by a brain tumour.