Doctor says...

This week, we get a psychologist specialising in childhood and adolescent mental health to answer the queries you’ve sent to us

May 06, 2019 05:35 pm | Updated 05:35 pm IST

Man blowing his nose

Man blowing his nose

I get so emotional sometimes that I get tears when I read articles or watch movies or see someone suffering. I want to know if it’s just the empathy and me being sensitive or is something wrong with me deep inside and my locked-up emotions are getting out through these?

Emotions are a very normal part of being human and some of us do tend to emote faster or connect to certain emotions more than others. If this interferes with your ability to function effectively or limits you greatly, seeking professional help to just ascertain the cause and develop emotional regulation through therapy will be beneficial. Having said this, please understand that emotions need to be expressed or regulated and never controlled or suppressed. Tears are often cathartic and being empathetic when you can use that empathy productively is often a gift that can be used in various fields. In recent times toxic positivity where one is expected to always be positive has also led to faulty beliefs that dictate that crying or any emotion that does not lead you to feel “positive” is unhealthy. The key here is to understand if you are able to emote and then move on to being productive or if you are bogged down by what you feel and remain limited.

My three-year-old has started stammering and I think it’s because I shout at him too much. Can I ever, ever reverse this?

Let us not assume that this is a simple cause-and-effect equation. Though stammering (stuttering) does have an emotional component, just shouting at your child need not be the reason for it. Young children have non-fluent speech during the initial years of language acquisition, and this is more common in boys. This non-fluent speech will be severe sometimes and may be completely absent for a phase of time. You can meet a speech language therapist for support. At home, you can support him by allowing for a lot of free, gadget-free and unstructured play, especially in wet sand and with paints. Don’t make him conscious of speech when he experiences a challenge and don’t put him in a spot (like make him speak up in a group or in front of guests). Interaction with peers where he can confidently use speech in free play is also greatly beneficial.

Aarti C Rajaratnam is a Salem-based consultant psychologist at Million Smiles, and is specialized 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

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