ASK THE EXPERT - May 2018

Note: Dear parents, Thank you for sending in your queries. Some of the queries put up by you were not related to children's emotional and behavioural problems but about admissions and results. Please note that this page does not address such questions. Some of you have also sent incomplete queries, with one or two word sentences, such as ‘rude behaviour', ‘happiness' and ‘aggression', which are difficult to respond to, as there is no explanation or description given about how the problem has started, what you find difficult to manage as a parent etc. The more descriptive the problem is, the better we would be able to respond to it.

Thank you

1. My daughter is too weak that she hardly pulls her bag to her class room on first floor. Kindly tell me how can i make her an iron woman because there is no solution according to her section head n she said to make her strong.Thnx .

Gender: Female Age: 6 to 8 Category: Others (General)

Response: The best would be to show her to a children's doctor who can assess her and guide you accordingly about suitable nutrition and physical activities. It is also recommended that you ask your daughter to only pack books and copies needed for a particular day to avoid carrying unnecessary weight.

2. How to deal with stress? Personal and related to academics?

Gender: Female Age: 14 to 18 Category: Exams and Studies Related Anxiety & Mental Health (Other)

Response: Experiencing some level of stress in our lives is natural and It is important to know that it is perfectly normal for most children to feel a bit of nervousness and stress related to their studies. In some ways a bit of stress helps children take their studies seriously and prepare better. However, for some children the anxiety becomes so intense that is no longer helpful and must be dealt with. Some strategies that are helpful both for academic and non-academic stress are:

•  Accepting that stress is normal and natural part of life and that if it gets too overwhelming, it can be managed.

•  Identifying the underlying reason for the stress, so that one can deal with it accordingly. For example, if the stress is due to lack of preparation for an upcoming test, then spending extra hours studying may help manage it. If the stress is due to too high or too many expectations from self, then making these expectations more realistic could be helpful. If the stress is due to how someone behaves or reacts towards you, then talking to the person about how his/her behaviour makes you feel, could be useful.

•  Talking to a trusted friend or/and an adult can also help figure out the underlying reasons for feeling stressed and possible ways of dealing with it.

•  Making a study plan in advance of the exams, keeping ample time for preparation of subjects that are most difficult, managing and planning the study time will help cope with stress and avoid the last minute panic and anxiety experienced by many students.

•  Ensuring ample enough rest and sleep and eating a balanced diet. A recent study has shown that people who sleep for 8 hours before taking a Math's test are three times more likely to understand and solve the math's problems as compared to people who stay awake all night.

•  Identifying and minimizing unhelpful thoughts such as ‘I will be a failure, ‘I need to be the best', ‘My parents will be so disappointed in me', ‘I am so dumb' etc. as they just add to the anxiety. Replacing these with helpful thoughts such as ‘ I am going to try my best', ‘I may not know a few things but will work to improve them', ‘I don't have to be perfect in everything'. If it helps write down the helpful thoughts and say these out loud while standing in front of the mirror.

Identifying physical and other activities that help calm down and making them part of the daily routine. Anxiety often produces bodily symptoms such as sweating, erratic breathing, fast heartbeat etc. and deep breathing and calming activities reduce these bodily symptoms. Other than that pursuing a pleasurable interest, talking to friends etc. can also help deal with the anxiety.

3. My child is very good in studies but shy in front of others.


Gender: Female Age: 3 to 5 Category: Lack of Confidence and Shyness

Response: Children at such a young age can naturally feel awkward and shy in certain situations and there is nothing wrong in feeling this way since it is part of growing up and learning to adjust to different situations and people. Some children are also naturally shyer than others owing to individual differences. Some of the things that can help you improve your child's confidence are as follows:

•  Praise your child for the little efforts, hard work, qualities and traits

•  Allow him/her an opportunity to explore interests and develop skills and abilities in those areas

•  Normalize feelings related to failures and help him/her identify ways of dealing with the weaknesses

•  Teach him/her to be assertive and share their thoughts and feelings with others. Teaching children the skills to say ‘No' to situations and things that make them uncomfortable is very important since they may find it challenging to do so.

•  Keep expectations age appropriate as well as to a level that the child can handle. Check your own unrealistic expectations about how the child should look, behave and what he/she should achieve.

•  Set limits and discipline the child through respectful measures instead of resorting to put downs, insults and corporal punishment

•  Respect individual difference and avoid comparison with other siblings, cousins etc.

Listen to the child's needs and explore reasons that maybe making the child feel under confident e.g. bullying in school, inability to attain the grades he/she is aiming for, stressors at home, a change in life circumstances etc. Help him/her work through these feelings and develop skills to deal with the different situations.

4. How to cope with Test anxiety among college students.


Gender: Female Age: 14 to 18 Category: Exams and Studies Related Anxiety

Response: It is important to know that it is perfectly normal for most children to feel a bit of nervousness and stress related to their studies and exams. In some ways a bit of stress helps us take our studies seriously and prepare better. However, for some children the anxiety becomes so intense that it is no longer helpful and must be dealt with. Allow students to talk openly about all their fears and concerns related to not getting the marks they want to despite working hard. Make sure adults own expectations from students regarding their studies are not contributing to their heightened stress. Help students identify and minimize unhelpful thoughts such as ‘I will be a failure, ‘I need to be the best', ‘My parents will be so disappointed in me', ‘I am so dumb' etc. as they just add to the anxiety. Encourage students to replace these with helpful thoughts such as ‘ I am going to try my best', ‘I may not know a few things but will work to improve them', ‘I don't have to be perfect in everything'. If it helps tell students to write down the helpful thoughts and say these out loud while standing in front of the mirror. Try to identify physical and other activities that help students calm down and encourage them to make these part of their daily routine. Anxiety often produces bodily symptoms such as sweating, erratic breathing, fast heartbeat etc. and deep breathing and calming activities reduce these bodily symptoms. Other than that pursuing a pleasurable interest, talking to friends etc. can also help deal with the anxiety. All the best!.

5. Take tension of any very light issue very seriously & disturb her self. What should I do for her please guide me.


Gender: Female Age: 9 to 13 Category: Mental Health (General)

Response: It would be important to understand what you mean by “light issues” and why you feel that her reaction to these issues is more than it should be? It is important to assess all possible factors that may be contributing to her reactions so that these could be addressed accordingly. For example, Is this change in her behaviour/reaction a recent one or do you feel that this is part of her temperament?

Communicating with her in a friendly and open manner about your concerns about her reactions can also help her open up and share her thoughts, fears and feelings. Then based on what she shares, you can enable her to cope and deal with these situations better.