Problems with friends, parents or teachers? Arundhati Swamy, a professional counsellor, will help you.

I often get scolded by my parents for not keeping my things neat. They scold me very badly and insult me before my family members. I cannot get into this habit yet I try. I feel that completing the work is more important than doing it neatly. Due to this I avoid talking with my parents, fearing a fight will arise. What do I do?

I can understand how unhappy you feel with frequent scolding from parents, and it is very humiliating to be insulted in the presence of others. If you are a teenager, neatness and tidiness may not be your priority and is often a source of conflict with parents and adults, especially if they are perfectionists. However, it is necessary to maintain a decent standard of neatness because other family members also share the same home environment. Sometimes adults tend to be harsh while correcting children. Explain that you would feel more cooperative if they approached the issue differently, without hurting your feelings. If the problem is restricted to the home only, it could be that you are expressing non-cooperation because you are unhappy about certain things at home. If the problem exists irrespective of the people and environment, it is probably a trait you have developed through your growing years. As you grow towards adulthood, you will find more and more importance is given to personal presentation, quality of work and effort.

In my class, there is a group of hi five girls. I always get scared of them and act in a dumb way before them. They too take advantage of me and tease me. I am trying to be normal and keep telling myself to act fine.. But none of that works. Please suggest ways to be normal.

Every class seems to have its exclusive group of people who seem to have it all. Their confidence, popularity, dominance, power, life- style and behaviour are often the envy of those who aspire to be like them. I can imagine the dread with which you go to school everyday, wondering how you will face this hi-fi group which you fear so much. Your fears put you on the defensive, make you feel weak, timid and helpless, thus the ‘dumb' image that you project makes you an ideal victim for teasing. The best way to feel normal is to value your self, realise your self-worth, recognise and develop your own strengths and potential. Explore those fears, understand where they are coming from and learn to deal with them. People who are comfortable with themselves have positive self-esteem and never allow others to intimidate them.

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