Now parents turn to counsellors to understand their child (October 10 is World Mental Health Day)

October 9th, 2009 - 4:14 pm ICT by IANS  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) They say nobody understands a child more than his or her parents. However in this highly competitive world where marks and peer pressure are an everyday challenge, parents are at a loss to understand their moody adolescent. No wonder, a number of parents are now turning to counsellors for help.

Saying that he has started getting a number of such cases in recent times, well known Delhi-based counsellor Sameer Parikh said that most of these parents come with a “helpless” attitude.

“There has been an increasing number of cases of parents coming to counsellors to seek help to handle their adolescent children. The problem mostly concerns change in behaviour, bad grades, mood swings and a feeling of alienation that seemed to have suddenly developed between the parents and the child,” Parikh told IANS.

Adolescence is a difficult time, what with the hormones wreaking havoc and for most youngsters, this phase comes as a shock when their bodies change and much of that is not within their control.

“Add to that the cut throat competition in schools and colleges for marks, high cut offs, peer pressure to keep up with the latest fad and the child is bound to behave differently. It’s a child-adult metamorphosis which leaves her totally confused,” psychologist Akhila Srivastava said.

“Generally, this is a phase which just passes. But at times you can’t ignore when things seem to get out of control. Very often parents who come to me say that they just fail to understand what the child wants and are at a loss as to what to do to make him or her happy,” she added.

Talking about the rising number of suicides among youngsters, mostly in the metros, experts said that like the youth, their parents also need counselling.

“Parents are a harried lot these days. On one hand there is competition in every step of life and on the other kids are taking drastic steps when unable to cope with stress. Parents don’t know where to draw the thin line of being gently persistent and demanding,” Parikh said.

According to Praveen Thapar, chairperson of the Sanjivni Centre for Mental Health, in 95 percent cases of adolescence stress, parents play a major role.

“In one case, a mother came to me seeking help for her daughter’s falling grades. As in all cases, we don’t give too much advice, we listen and try and help the person understand himself. In this case I asked this lady what her expectations were of the child and is she being demanding,” Thapar, who is a counsellor, told IANS.

Srivastava added: “It’s important for parents to understand that every child is different and adolescence is a phase when more than anything, they need a strong fall back system at home. You have to convince your child that you are there whenever she needs you, but give her her space as well.”

So that there is a better understanding between the two, Thapar said that they sometimes have joint sessions where both the parent and child can talk and listen to one another.

“But it’s only when both parties are comfortable with the idea. Otherwise it will be the same scenario of just one talking and the other listens half heartedly. The child however has to be 16 years of age,” she said.

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