Dr. Nandita Chaudhary
Child Development Specialist
Q. Is there a test for determining the aptitude of a child? Is it available in India?
A. Yes, such tests are available in all counseling centers run by the Ministry of Human Resource development. The test takes a total of three hours in two sittings and is normally fairly inexpensive. Children above 8 years can take the test.
Q. What does an Aptitude test actually evaluate? Should only people with special aptitude or learning problems take it?
A. An Aptitude test basically tests different kinds of aptitudes which a child can have such as numerical ability, linguistic ability, spatial ability, mechanical ability, clerical ability, etc. Anyone can take this test and it helps to determine where the child’s natural aptitude lies and what kind of career should be chosen for success.
Q. What are the principal signs of suicidal tendencies in teens?
A. Any change in behaviour for no apparent reason should be viewed with suspicion. A quite child suddenly turning chirpy or the other way round, is a sign that something is wrong. A change in sleeping pattern should also be viewed carefully. For help contact any of these helplines .
Q. When is a child old enough to be told the facts of life? How should these concepts be explained?
A. Opinions vary on the best time to educate your child about sex and biological functions. Apart from following your own instincts on the matter, I would recommend you try these two handbooks brought out by TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive & Sexual Health Issues). These are specially designed for exposing young children to sex education. There are two books – the Red Book is for the age group 10-14 years and the Blue Book is for ages 15-19 years. Each book is available for Rs 25.
Q . What are the best ways of coping with anger in a child?
A. Anger amongst children is usually a result of frustration. This can arise as a result of unfulfilled needs, inconsistent parenting and absence of adequate limits and rules within the family. There is usually a greater tendency towards anger when the child perceives some limit to the affections of the parents, i.e. where for some reason or other, the child does not feel loved and attended to. Coping with anger can be done by
- Talking about the triggering incident with loved ones. However, for younger children (who may not have the communication skills to discuss the matter and who may be lacking in the ability to see the incident in perspective or from another point of view), it will be necessary for a concerned adult to initiate a discussion on anticipating, discussing and experimenting with different methods of dealing with anger.
- Do not dismiss children’s feelings as trivial, they are as significant as your own.
- Discuss feeling of anger even when the episode is over. When you yourself are angry and need someone to talk to. Talk to the child. This gives practice.
- Discuss possible ways of coping with anger, such as you can tell the child to drink cold water, count to ten. This must be done without dismissal; otherwise a child gets very conflicting messages and anger can become exaggerated.
- Children are watching you all the time, if you want them to cope in a mature manner, behave in that manner yourself.
- Avoid preaching it is not an effective method.
- Help the child to see other’s points of view.
Q. How can you help a child cope with death or loss of a loved one?
A. A child can be helped to cope with death by talking about it as a natural process, even when no one has died. Whenever the child confronts a dead animal or bird for the first time, usually, it generates a lot of curiosity. The common reaction of a parent is to look the other way or change the topic because we ourselves are very uncomfortable with the issue. Such regular discussions help the child to cope with loss as and when it happens. It will also help if you yourself are able to set a positive example.
Q. How can you help a child cope with depression because of poor marks?
A. This question assumes that there will be depression if there are poor marks. Some of the following will help-
- Examination results should not be equated with knowing things. If the child is reasonably good at learning and understanding things, relax and help the child to become more effective in remembering and handling questions rather than just advising him or her to study.
- Exam marks should not be the end of the world for you. Communicate to the child that you love him or her no matter what happens.
- Keep a regular discussion with your child about work at school with regard to understanding the content and strategies for studying and answering questions, rather than just nagging the child to do homework.
- Keep in regular touch with school and the teachers for feedback.
- Do not criticize the child; be constructive in your suggestions.
- Do not be depressed yourself, your tension will show and transfer itself to the child.
- Find things about your child that you can praise. All children have positive attributes.
- Remember, children who are emotionally stronger are more likely to be a success in life than children who are just good in academics are.
Q. What are the common childhood fears and how can parents help their child in dealing with these fears?
A. There are several fears that can be seen among children. These fears change with age, for instance, very young children fear being separated from their parents, or seeing strangers. Older children are afraid of imaginary creatures, darkness, insects, fluffy objects, unknown things, shadows, etc. It’s very important that such fears are handled correctly, as future reactions to fear will depend on this. Being supportive rather than dismissive is an important technique. Reassure the child that you are there with him or her; explore the source of fear at a later date, or at the same moment, depending on the child’s willingness. Hug the child and hold tightly until the fear subsides. DO NOT YELL at the child for being afraid.
Q. When and how you should tell your child that he is adopted?
A. It is very difficult to recommend a specific age and technique to introduce the idea of being adopted to a child. I think each parent should, at some time or another, definitely tell their child about adoption before the child finds out from another source. It is also true that the more the delay, the more the awkwardness. A comfortable session using stories, folk tales, books, should be used to start a discussion about the different kinds of parents – biological and caregivers. A parent should not expect the dialogue to generate disappointment in the child, as usually these problems exist in the minds of adults.
Q. In a school how does grouping according to ability affect the child?
A. I think grouping according to ability or disadvantage is artificial and inappropriate. Mixing ages , genders and abilities is a much more natural way of working with children. This allows a lot of learning to take place from each other.
Q. How does rejection from admission in a school affect the child and how should parents handle this problem?
A. Admission to school should not be seen by the parents as a rejection of the child. Actually, it is a process of elimination. Parents have to understand that if not one school, then another will be good enough for their child. Usually when families are hung-up on one school, there seems to be a greater problem. The child has no preconceived notion of failure; it is something brought upon them by the adult world. Apply to several schools and relax. If you want an education for your child, the child will not stay out of school.
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