Ask A Doctor Children

‘I feel my 12-year-old is facing stress in school’

Psychologist Aarti C Rajaratnam answers readers’ concerns about their children’s mental health

I feel my 12-year-old is facing stress in school, as he seems low when he returns, but I’m not sure what. Is it better to talk to him first or speak to the teacher?

Please take time to speak and more importantly listen to your son. As he is approaching the teen years, several factors, including hormonal fluctuations, toxic lifestyle with excessive gadget usage and less outdoor play, challenges in academics and peer interaction can contribute to what you are observing. In addition to the two-way communication, please also make sure that his lifestyle, including diet, exercise, opportunities to connect with his peer group and sleep, is balanced. You could connect with the teacher once you have understood the real needs.

We are shifting cities, and my daughter is in Class XI. She is very unhappy about moving, and expresses this with non-cooperation in most things, like packing and helping around the house. How do I deal with the situation?

Adolescence is a time when peer interaction, deriving a sense of belonging through cliques and developing a unique identity away from family, are essential. Shifting cities naturally challenges all these areas and is very stressful for the adolescent brain that already struggles with emotional regulation. Please take time to connect with your daughter and listen to her concerns without rushing to belittle or fix them with “adult wisdom”. It will be beneficial to use professional help if you feel you will not be patient enough to support her through this transition.

Aarti C Rajaratnam is a Salem-based consultant psychologist at Million Smiles, and is specialised in childhood and adolescent mental health with close to two decades of experience, working closely with parents, teachers and students

Nothing in this column is intended to be, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please seek independent advice from a licensed practitioner if you have any questions regarding a medical condition. Email us your questions at mp_health@thehindu.co.in

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 12:58:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/psychologist-aarti-c-rajaratnam-answers-readers-concerns-about-their-childrens-mental-health/article30319772.ece

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