ASK THE EXPERT-January 2015

Category: Trauma and Grief
Age of Child: 14
Gender of Child: Female
Query: The blood curling events of December 18 has left my 14-year-old daughter traumatized. She refuses to go to school as she is haunted by the thought that something like that could happen again. I have tried everything but nothing seems to help. What should I do to get her to go to school again?

It is understandable for children to feel anxious, traumatized and afraid after the incident of December 16. The fact that she is also a student of an army school must be adding to the stress. Some of the things that you can do to help her through these concerns and fears are as follows:

  • Ask her about her main concerns and fears. Validate and acknowledge her feelings and let her know that incidents such as these make children and adults both feel the way that she is feeling. Tell her that there is no right or wrong about these feelings.
  • While you do validate her fears and concerns, let her know that the best way of dealing with these feelings is to identify ways of coping with them. Help her identify her inner strengths and strategies to cope and calm her fears. These could include, writing her thoughts down, talking to a friend about the issue, distracting herself from the negative thoughts by making herself busy in other activities, hobbies, physical exercise.
  • Help her differentiate between helpful and unhelpful thoughts and ways by which she can try reducing the unhelpful thoughts. Example of helpful thoughts could be, I am safe, I am with my loved ones, My school will help take care of us, One bad incident in a school does not mean that all schools would have similar incidents. Example of unhelpful thoughts could be, I am never safe, Everyone is out to get us, If I step out of the house something bad would happen to me or my family etc. Some ways of reducing the unhelpful thoughts are taking deep breaths, visualizing oneself to be in a calm and relaxing place, doing positive meaningful things in life such as helping someone in need, volunteering for a cause, writing about the issue etc.
  • Talk to her school administration and find out what security measures are being taken. Share these with your daughter, only to an extent that will help ease her concerns related to security.
  • Ask her to reconnect with her friends and see who all would be going to school.
  • Tell her to identify one or two ‘safe persons’ that she can talk to if she feels afraid and overwhelmed at school.
  • Help reduce any over generalizations and exaggerated fears by letting her know that such incidents may not happen in all the schools and that all people may not necessarily be out there to harm them.
  • Monitor her viewing of TV and social media news related to the event and school security issues as it may be adding to her distress.
  • Maintain her regular routine as that will help her normalize and get a sense of control on life.

 

Category: Others
Age of Child: 6 years 7 months
Gender of Child: female
Query: meribetiko asthma problem haiaksar hospitalize rehtihai attacks itnesevere hotayhain k ICU me rehtihai 1 or 2 weeks. kucharsay se hum ne note kiahai k wokchajeebsa behave krtihaimaslun koi b baharjaraha ho she wants to go with him or baharjanaywalaykijaannaichortijbtkwosath lay janaype agree na ho jaye.apni age se baribatainkrtihai.parhai me zadanailakinbehterhai writing bhtachihai.baatnaimanti.teacherskehtihain k "no commints for her" smjhnai a raha k kiakru??

Thank you for sharing your concerns. It must not be very easy for your daughter and your family that she has to be hospitalized frequently due to the severe asthmatic attacks. Frequent hospitalizations and ill health is not easy and can sometimes make children go through all sorts of feelings. Children often tend to miss the activities other children engage in and that they are curtailed from such as playing outside. Since she is very young, she may not even fully grasp the reasons for hospitalization and what all is happening to her. The best would be to understand what is going on in her mind so that you can address these concerns and help deal with the behavior you are having a problem with. Explore her thoughts through play activities, imaginary stories, puppets. Children this age often tend to open up when you ask them about how other children going through similar situations, would feel. You can say, ‘I want to tell you a story of a girl, Fatimah, who has to go to the hospital a lot. How do you think Fatimah feels about this?’ ‘What does Fatimah miss most? What are her fears?’ ‘What can we do to help Fatimah feel better and stronger?’ etc. These will help you open up the conversation with her and allow you an opportunity to address her thoughts and feelings by clarifying them, validating them and helping her identify ways to take care. You can also then directly ask her how she is doing. Best of luck

 

Category: Behavioral Issues
Age of Child: 8 years
Gender of Child: GIRL
Query: My daughter is 8 years old.She used to weep all the time.She did not show interest in any thing except playing computer games.IfI ask about her school,friends,homework or anything she just start weeping. I do not know how to sort out this problem.

I suggest that you speak to her teachers to find out if how she is doing in school both academically and behaviorally. This will help determine if the issue only arises when she is at home or that she is also exhibiting this behavior in school. How is she when it comes to other things at home, for example following house rules, doing her chores and her mood in general? Encourage her talk to you about what seems to be bothering her. Curtail her time spent playing computer games and direct her attention towards other activities.

Category: Behavioral Issues
& Trauma and Grief

Age of Child: 8
Gender of Child: male
Query: Why my child is so aggressive even then he has all luxuries of life?

Having luxuries in life is not the main and only way of attaining happiness and peace. Children resort to aggression for a number of reasons and you can try determining those in your child’s case and then help him deal with this aggression accordingly. Children are at times aggressive as a result of seeing aggression around them or being disciplined through physical force or physical punishment. Use of aggression and force makes children believe that it’s okay to use force when they are angry and that might is right. It also makes them more stubborn and less resistant to change. Lack of any discipline, structure or routine, no clear rules related to behavior etc. can at times confuse children about what is expected of them and thus cause them to be aggressive especially when they are used to getting their way.  Other reasons for children’s aggression is the result of stressful life situations that they are unable to understand and cope with. These could include death of a loved one, family problems, and difficulty making friends, some form of trauma or abuse being experienced by them etc.

 

Category: Others
Age of Child: 2 years 1 month
Gender of Child: male
Query: dear mamI don't know if i am allowed to ask about my son who is not in school, but please try to understand i have done every single thing possible. he doesn't respond to anything i do no eye contact and does'nt do the things that kid in his age do and doesn't even say mom or dad only bbbbbmmmmaaagagaggakakaka this kind and is very active moves all the time but he does respond to cartoons he like and if he wants something he does make that clear by pulling me. I am bit concern that he might have autism. i have also taken him to agha khan for ear test and that was clear and went to specialist.Please can u help me with anything that will really help me.if u can suggest me anything or recommend me any specialist or speech therapy please answer thank you .

From your email I gather that you are based in Karachi. I would suggest that you show him first to a good pediatrician in Karachi. Aga Khan would surely have some good ones on its panel. The pediatrician upon seeing the child and having a thorough discussion with you will ascertain if his developmental milestones fall in the normal range. Once that is done, he will be able to guide you to the best services. I am aware that Aga Khan Hospital has experts that deal with all sorts of childhood issues and would be able to help you with that. Best of Luck!

Category: Lack of Concentration, Attention and Learning
& Trauma and Grief
Age of Child: 10 Yrs
Gender of Child: Female
Query: My student is about ten years old.I have been noticing for the last one year that she is not showing that much response which I want from her regarding class participation. She does not read a loud,has nothing in excuse regarding home work why has not done. Understands me or not. Just stands with head in bow

You mentioned that you have noticed this in the last one year, does this mean that she was not like this before? Children show such behavior either if they are upset about something or if they have a learning issue. Try talking to her separately and ask her what you have noticed and how you can help her improve this. You can also share with the principal and ask if the other teachers who take her class, notice the same issue and how they have been tackling it. You can also meet with the parents to determine the root cause and how she can be helped. Working together with the parents can be very helpful as both of you would be helping her through using similar strategies.

Category: Behavioral Issues
Age of Child: 4
Gender of Child: boy
Query: My Child whose name is Muzamil Khan, on a daily basis demands new items like Erasers, Sharpeners, School Bags etc. If not provided, he gets upset and doesn't go to school happily, what to do?

He is young and learning to develop self-control and will naturally have such demands. This, however, does not mean that you give in to these demands. This is an age where children begin to understand that everything in life would not be according to their demands and that they will not get whatever they want, whenever they want it. Self-control is extremely essential for positive and healthy emotional development of children. You will notice that while he might get upset, he might also forget about it when you don’t bring the issue up or/and give too many explanations.  When he does that remain calm and let him know that he cannot have a new thing every day. At other times, you can divert the discussion to something happening in the school or home.

Category: Behavioral Issues
Age of Child: 6 yrs
Gender of Child: male
Query: My son gets aggressive and gets stick to one thing. sometimes he says" aapmujhaymarenge to marenmarenna." How should I deal with this behaviour?

Thank you for sharing your concerns. How do you normally deal with his aggressive behavior? If you resort to force or physical punishment then remember that this would need to stop so that you can teach him what you are trying to. Use of aggression and force makes children believe that its okay to use force when they are angry. It also makes them more stubborn and less resistant to change. Try to also identify if his aggression is due to some stress in the household that is having an impact on him. If that is the case, then his reaction would become better once the stressful situation improves or is addressed with him.

If that is not the case, then try identifying what are the things that make him aggressive and that he sticks to. Once you have done so, identify which issues are not worth struggling with your child for example, clothes he wants to wear, and which are worth disciplining him, for example, eating his meal, TV viewing timings etc. Making a routine and some rules in house, are useful ways to avoid the daily struggles about how much TV the children can watch, when they need to get ready for bed, cleaning up their mess etc.

If your child argues unnecessarily, diffuse this unnecessary power struggle by remaining silent at that time. You can express how you are feeling through facial expressions and body language, by stepping away from the situation and talking later. For example, you can say to the child, ‘I think you are angry and upset and I will talk to you about it later when you are less angry’.

You can use the the technique of logical consequence, instead of using physical force. Consequences that are related to the misbehavior, reasonable and given respectfully are called ‘logical consequences’. An example of a logical consequence would be to make a child skip her playtime for the day, if she has not finished the work, make her clean the walls if they are scribbled on, etc. let the child know in advance what the consequence would be.

Whenever you feel that he has not resorted to aggression in a situation where he normally does, praise him, as that can be the most powerful way of reinforcing the positive behavior.