Ask the Expert- June- 2015

Category: Behavioural Issues

My daughter is 6 year old and lately I have noticed that she makes up a lot of stories which have no truth to them. I overheard her tell her friends about going on holiday to places we have never gone to. This has also put me in awkward situations in the school as her teachers have often asked me about things that have not happened in reality. She often compares herself with other students and complains that other children are better than her or have more things that she does. What is going on in her mind and how do I handle her?
Dear Parent,
Thank you for sharing your concern. Many children your daughter’s age tend to come up with stories that are not based on reality as they seem to fulfil some need or insecurity in them. Understanding that hidden need and then helping her deal with the fears and insecurities directlywould be the key to getting her to stop making stories. From the kind of things that you have shared, it appears that there is a strong need in her to fit into her peer group by wanting to appear better or equally important as her peers. The need to appear better seems focused on material objects and facilities. Try talking to her about how she feels about things that she does not have? Why she thinks that other children are better than her? How it makes her feel and what she can do to deal with these feelings? Help her focus and value her abilities and traits as opposed to the material things that she does or does not have. Help her understand  the negative implication of making up stories of this sort. Check your and your spouse’s own said and unsaid communication around material objects, class consciousness and social influences. Children can pick these values both from school and the home environment. Since the home environment is more in your control, the best is to look at that and change any patterns of communication that may be reinforcing this behaviour in her. If possible, talk to  her class teacher who may be able to conduct a general discussion on this topic. Good Luck!
Category: Adolescent Development Issues
My son is 15 years old and he is an obedient and hardworking student. However, lately I notice that he is behaving very odd. He does not seem to be paying attention to his work and is not getting very good grades. He seems disturbed and preoccupied. My husband and I have given him a detailed lecture on the importance of his studies. He listens and agrees but we don’t see any progress. What can I do to help him?
Dear Parent, There could be two possible explanations for what is happening with your son. One possibility is that since he is 15 years old and going through teenage and changes associated with it, he is distracted by these.  The teenage years bring with it a host of positive and negative emotions and thoughts that could make children preoccupied, confused and distressed at times. Lack of information and guidance further adds to children’s confusion. The other possibility is that something has recently happened in his life that is disturbing him and causing this sudden change. This could be conflicts or problems in the family, bullying in school, peer pressure from friends to engage in some activities that he is not willing to or any other similar situation. Both the above mentioned possibilities could be creating the distress. Lecturing him about his studies (which is just a symptom of his problem) would not be useful alone. The best thing would be if you or your husband, whoever, he is closer to talk to him about the changes that you notice in him and share your concern. Communicate in an open and friendly way and encourage him to share his thoughts, feelings and concerns not matter how strange or uncomfortable they may seem. Let him know what other children his age experience so that he is able to understand and normalize his own feelings. Even if he does not share much the first time you speak to him, let him know that you are available for him whenever he feels like talking. Keep the communication channels open and check on him time and again to see if he is ready to talk. Best of Luck!