Depression getting common in children: Odisha-based councillor

Bhubaneswar: Depression, poor decision-making and problem-solving are quite common in children these days, says Bhubaneswar-based child counsellor, Sunanda Mohapatra. While there are various reasons for a child to be often unsocial, indecisive, anxious and depressed, a lot of it depends on their conditioning back home.

“What we notice often in the classroom is that very few, say 4 out of 40 students would question us but the rest remain quiet. Children are not at fault here. Their confidence level is brought so down that they stop questioning. Curiosity is the most common trait in children and if this trait isn’t upfront, there’s something wrong somewhere,” Sunanda expressed. She believes parents must encourage and teach their children to question everything.

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Children tend to find inappropriate ways of letting their opinions out when their voices are suppressed. “Most often, this makes them vulnerable and exposes them to the unkind world outside that will try its best to take an advantage. This is why it’s important you let them speak to you,” she said.

Comfort in the relationship with your children plays an important role, too. Sunanda said, if the family doesn’t give the child enough comfort or attention, children look for that recognition elsewhere which creates a huge gap in between the relationship parents share with their children. “It might further lead to self-doubts, feeling of unworthiness and they will never learn to value themselves. Make your child feel special and that they matter,” she added.

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Speaking of relationships, she further said that, the kind of bond family members share with each other affects a child. “If in a family, a father is dominant and shouts at other members over petty issues, the child picking up the impoliteness is inevitable. There must be a restriction on parents and family members about what and how they say things in front of their children. Avoid shouting out your frustration at home. Either your child will learn these habits or h/she will end up depressed. Providing a good environment to your children, at home, is the key to an emotionally stable child,” she said.

There are also instances when parents do not spend time with their children and compensate it with expensive gifts or by fulfilling all their demands, which again, is one of the worst things to be done. “Nothing can be a substitute for the quality time your children need,” she said. She also said rewarding your children can have positive effects than simply over-pampering them.

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“There’s a 90/10 principle given by Stephen R Covey, which says that 10% of what happens is external and out of control but 90% of what happens to you is how you react to the situation. A difference in your reaction can bring unbelievable changes in the situation. I think parents need to apply this when they see their children make a mistake. Instead of using harsh words, curse or beating them, parents can be gentle,” she said adding that it’s important for parents to let go of mistakes— forgive and forget.

The most cliché excuse by parents while dealing with kids, is ‘generation gap’, which won’t even exist if you decide the same, Sunanda thinks. “It is a mindset. There’s no generation gap. It’s your (parents) rigid perception which must change. For once, make your outlook flexible and be patient with your children. You’re going to learn so much if you only allow your children to be themselves. Teach them values, but with love,” she further said.

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