‘Lack of care by parents is evident from the way the children come dressed to school’

A five-year-old boy studying UKG in a CBSE school becomes unwell and throws up more than once during class hours. The principal calls up the father’s mobile number that is given in the school diary of the child. He answers only after repeated attempts. When he gets to know that the call is from the school his voice shows irritation. He is further agitated when he is asked to take the child home.

On arrival, the father enters the classroom of the child and slaps his son thrice. “I was in an important meeting with the General Manager and you had to do this only now” he berates the five-year-old in front of his classmates and stunned teacher and principal.

The shock was not only over the lack of the parent’s concern about the condition of his child, but also over the irritation that he exhibited on being disturbed during an office meeting in spite of an emergency.

The principal says that this is not a one-off incident. There are other incidents, though not of such an extreme nature, which are showing clear signs of lack of parenting among parents of young children. The school has now engaged a counsellor on a three-day a week basis to talk to parents and children who have been identified with problems.

Pushpa Raghavan, a teacher handling kindergarten says that lack of care of children by parents is evident from the way the children come dressed to school, the snack that is packed, the way the homework is done, and the general confidence level of the child as he mingles with classmates.

“The difference is not in whether the mother is working or not, but in the quality time she spends with the child. While the father’s role is restricted to playing with the child or taking him out for a ride / drive, the ‘burden’ on the mother is heavy. It is not that children of all working mothers lack care or children of all homemaker mothers receive it,” she says.

R. Hemambika, psychotherapist and counsellor, says that schools are increasingly engaging counsellors, though not on a micro-level, at least at a macro-level to organise general counselling sessions. With problems relating to lack of parenting on the rise, she expects that more schools will be engaging counsellors on a full-time basis so that children do not become victims.

“Young parents, without providing children the necessary emotional support, expect them to excel in the face of competition just because they provide them with material comforts. When this does not work, the reaction phase sets in with parents beating the child, or displaying emotional outbursts, or the father blaming the mother. The change is visible when this is addressed through counselling at an early stage,” the counsellor says.

In earlier years, when a child exhibited deviant behaviour in school, he was scared of being ticked off or asked to bring the parents to school. But now it is not so. According to a school principal, some young children deliberately get into trouble so that parents are called to school and reprimanded for their wards’ behaviour.

Lack of familial bonding, discord between the husband and wife, ego issues, lack of values among family members, are seen as factors that deeply affect the psyche of the child that he exhibits the same behaviour in school.

Schools are realising that effective parenting is the need of the hour to ensure their wards a secure childhood. And, they are engaging counsellors for making this possible for those who need help. But with ‘counselling’ still remaining a taboo term, counsellors believe that parents have to stop viewing any psychological problem as a stigma and seek help for themselves and their ward as soon as symptoms surface.

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