Stubbornness, poor attention span, impulsivity and hyperactivity in children can drive parents nuts. Dealing with ‘difficult’ children obviously isn’t easy. MetroMela spoke to Annlee Chandy, teacher and counselor at Gregorian Public School, Maradu, Cochin, who offers tips and advice on dealing with problem kids. Annlee has done her masters in psychotherapy and counseling and has previously worked as a volunteer counselor for an NGO in Mumbai.
Problems noticed in children
Most common complaints noted in children are poor performance in academics, sometimes specific to languages or Math, or behavioral problems. Lack of self confidence, low self-esteem, disturbed home life, poor motivation, anxiety etc., are some of the reasons.
However, just because a child has symptoms of poor attention span, impulsivity, or hyperactivity please do not label the child as dyslexic, autistic or a case of ADD or ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD typically appear before the age of seven. Children with ADHD are often able to concentrate on activities they enjoy. But no matter how hard they try, they have trouble maintaining focus when the task at hand is boring or repetitive.
There can be, however, other reasons that cause symptoms that are identical to the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
- Separation anxiety that causes stress (e.g. first timer in school, language different from that spoken at home, separation from a loved one).
- Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills or language. This can be diagnosed based on individually standardized tests.
- Psychological problems including anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
- Behavioral disorders such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.
- Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, neurological conditions, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.
Tips to deal with these problems
- Parents should spend more quality time with their children. Listening to them can be of some help. Most often the root cause is lack of family time. Children are usually rushing for tuitions or for some other classes after they return from school.
- It may be advisable to test vision and hearing.
- Parents and teachers should find ways to make even the most boring tasks interesting. Plan activities that are interactive and hands-on. Use of visuals, colors, etc. can be helpful.
- Believe in and support your child. Recognize everything that is positive, valuable, and unique about your child. Trust that your child can learn, change, mature and succeed.
- Nurture your child’s talents.
- Let your child make mistakes and learn from them, but be there for comfort when mistakes cause pain.
- Frequently interact with your child’s teachers to monitor his/her progress and to adopt the same method of teaching.
- Pay attention to the siblings. Educate them about ADD/ADHD.
- Establish a clear set of rules that everyone in the home must follow. Spend quality time with all your kids by planning activities that are enjoyable for the whole family.
We, at MetroMela hope you will find these tips useful. Remember it nothing works, you may want to seek an expert’s help. Don’t make your own diagnosis as this can only harm your child.
By Nina Nair