ASK THE EXPERT - October 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. I want to counsel my student he is from broken family and extremely disturb emotionally. he is brilliant in academic and reserved nature now a days he is showing extreme aggression toward other children in class. and not participating in other activities nor in academic .

Gender: Male Age: 6 to 8 Category: Aggressive behaviour

Response: Thank you for sharing your concern. It is very encouraging to know that you want to spend your time and energy counselling your student and help him deal with his situation.

In order to counsel your student or help him deal with his behaviour, you will have to identify the reasons behind his aggressive behaviour. You mentioned that he comes from a broken family and is emotionally disturbed. It is, however, important to understand that children resort to aggression for a number of reasons. You can try determining those reasons in your student and then help him deal with the 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 be right. It also makes them more stubborn and less resistant to change. Lack of any discipline, structure or routine, no clear rules related to behaviour 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 are 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. Try to 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.

I would also advice that if feasible and the circumstances allow, you can also consider taking his parents in confidence and explain the situation to them. In such situations, children need help and support from both family and the school to deal with the stress. The parents can also device a plan or introduce positive changes in the household aimed at reducing the stress and tension. They can also be advised to seek professional help/ parent counselling.

Also, to address his aggressive behaviour in the class, you can try the following techniques: try identifying what are the things that make him aggressive and that he sticks to. Once you have done so you can use the technique of logical consequence. 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 his playtime for the day, if he has shown aggression towards other students, misbehaved in class, etc. Let the child know in advance what the consequence would be. Help him understand and see how his behaviour may be causing others to react negatively and how he can change his reaction from being aggressive to assertive to improve his school situation.

lso, 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. Try out these things consistently and repeatedly and if you feel that if there is no improvement with time, then have him assessed by a clinical psychologist with expertise in dealing with children. All the best.

2. My child is 9 years old. He is careless about studies. He is over confidence he never serious in our regular studies. He says i will do this everything but in exams he can't do this.

Gender: Male Age: 9 to 13 Category: Adolescent Development Issues

Response: Your worry about your son's attitude is understandable. During the adolescent age (roughly starting around ten years and above), many children go through a series of normal emotional, physical and social changes. As a result of these changes there is more interest in peers and opposite sex, less interest in spending time with family and adults, frequent arguments and need to exert their own individuality and identity etc.

The adolescent period can be overwhelming for adolescents, especially if they lack correct information about the changes that they are experiencing or/and if they feel that there is no one that they can communicate with. It might help if you talk to your son in an open and friendly manner about the change that you have noticed in his behaviour and what your concerns are. Make sure to do it in a manner that allows him the space to talk rather than it being a lecture. Validate and normalize his feelings and let him know that he can talk to you if there is something bothering him or if he has any questions related to growing up. By communicating openly, you will be giving him an opportunity to discuss and share with you in case he is bothered about something and going through a difficult time.

Besides this you can also work with him to come up with some key rules and norms that he agrees to follow related to the time he will spend studying, on the internet, with friends etc. as well as acceptable behaviour. Let him identify consequences, in case the norms are not followed so that he owns and follows the norms.

3. As it is known that in an army background a child has to move after every 2 years ! No matter how much we prepare our kids ...the emotional toll is a lot .... Are there any techniques to help the child through this tough time of leaving behind his comfortable environment ?

Gender: Male Age: 6 to 8 Category: Other

Response: Thank you for writing. I understand that the frequent moving must be tough for your son, especially because he is very young as well. However, in order to give you an appropriate response, I would need more details from you regarding the effects you see in your child after shifting places. These effects could be psychological, emotional or physical and the manifestation could be observed in the child's behaviour , social interactions, academic performance, participation in social and academic activities etc. Please do elaborate.

4. My son is unable to complete his class work, moreover he has started telling lies on minor issues after his admission in APS Chaklala garrison.

Gender: Male Age: 6 to 8 Category: Behavioural Issues

Response: Thank you for writing and sharing your concern. Children this age are still learning how to cope with the changes around them as well as learning ways to relate to others and communicate their thoughts and feelings. Starting school in a new environment can thus be a daunting task for some of the children who may have more issues settling down in the new environment than others. Making up stories is also part of these early years of development. How do you normally deal with his behaviour?

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 it's okay to use force when they are angry. It also makes them more stubborn and less resistant to change. Try to also identify if the reason for his lack of studies and lying is due to some stress in the house or school, which he is reacting to. If that were the case, then his reaction would become better once the stressful situation improves or is addressed with him. I also advice that you talk to his teachers and take their help in identifying any stressors in the class/school setting.

Nonetheless, some possible ways to deal with your son's behaviour could be:

•  Listen to his fears and concerns related to the school so that these can be addressed accordingly. Do not assume what he does not like without talking to him about it either directly or finding it indirectly through play and stories. The stories that he makes up may also provide you with cues to what might be going on in his mind. Also, make sure that when you speak to your daughter you remain calm.

•  Make sure that he is not having issues in understanding the concepts being taught which may in turn be contributing to his lack of interest school. Provide him the required support he needs in this regard.

•  If any practical or safety concerns (e.g. bullying) surface as you talk to your son, address these concerns with the relevant school authorities.

•  Appreciate and praise him for his efforts no matter how small they may seem to you.

5. Mera chota bhae hy bht hi gentle sweet decent kind heart bacha hy school or quran ki class leta hy .oski aik problem hy k jab kisi bachy say oski koe fight ya conflict ban jae to wo same manners me respond nahin kar pata ya to dar jata hy ya wo kabi senoire bachy k samny khud koweek feel karta hy.or wo is tarhan ki chezain ghar akr nahin batata kisi ko b k sab mujhe week samjhien gay.par wo aggresion khtam nahin hota or bht zid karta kisi b bat par or phr bhr rota bahany dhond kar.

Gender: Male Age: 9 to 13 Category: Behavioural Issues

Response: Thank you for writing. It appears that your brother's behaviour is getting affected by some external stressors and pressures. He seems to be upset and scared of something and one would need to explore the cause so that it can be immediately addressed.

Some of the changes that children react to include changes in the family situation, adjustment in a new class, conflicts in the family, exposure to any form of violence within the family or outside, death or illness of a loved one, an accident, experience of bullying, sexual, emotional and physical abuse, etc. If you are aware of a recent change and think that your brother maybe reacting to it, then talking to him about that change, allowing him to express his feelings and helping him develop better coping skills will help his behaviour to settle down. Try to understand his fears and concerns related to the change and address them accordingly.

If you are not aware of any obvious change, then finding out the reason would be essential before these can be addressed. Talk to your brother when he is alone with you, in a calm and non-threatening manner about the changes you have observed in him. Allow him the space to respond. Some of the statements that might help you start the conversation are:

“I have noticed that you appear afraid and sad and are not your usual self. Children can feel this way when something bothers them. This does not mean that children are bad or weak. I want you to know that no matter how big or small that issue is, you can talk to me about it. Talking about situations that make us feel sad, upset or angry or just talking about our feelings help us become strong. When we talk to a parent, a trusted adult, they can help us deal with it in a healthy manner.”

Make sure that you are not harsh, critical or too anxious when you speak to him as he may shy away for talking openly. He might take a bit of time to open up and in the meantime keep observing his behaviour and spend time with him on daily basis.

Once you are clearer about the issues bothering him, you can work towards both addressing that stressful situation and helping him cope with it. If needed, write to us for further support or consult a mental health professional for guidance.

Moreover, in general, some of the ways by which you can help your brother build his confidence and overcome his shyness are:

•  Praise him for his efforts, hard work, qualities and traits

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

•  Normalize feelings related to failures and help him identify ways of deal with the weaknesses

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

•  Set limits and discipline him 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 his needs and explore reasons that maybe making him feel under confident e.g. bullying in school, inability to attain the grades he is aiming for, stressors at home, a change in life circumstances etc. Help him work through these feelings and develop skills to deal with the different situations.

Good luck!

6. Please tell your teachers to stop beating our children, if anything wrong is done by the child then you should directly contact the parents.

Gender: Male Age: 14 to 18 Category: Physical Abuse

Response: Thank you for raising this matter, as this is a serious concern for APSACS. I hope you are aware that corporal punishment and hitting is strictly banned in the Army Public schools. We suggest that you also bring this matter up with the concerned authorities of the school.

7. Our ward has been constantly tortured by his section head although he is a boy but still. we went to the principal and he said that boys often get beaten up so not to worry as boys are tough and can prevail anything but as a parent our children are very precious to us and such kind torture has only brought misery to him, now he is even afraid to go to school please help.

Gender: Male Age: 14 to 18 Category: Physical Abuse

Response: Thank you for raising this matter, as this is a serious concern for APSACS. I understand that this must be a very distressing situation for both you and your child. I hope you are aware that corporal punishment and hitting is strictly banned in the Army Public schools. We suggest that you also bring this matter up with the concerned authorities of the school.