SINGAPORE – Wearing a mask daily has become routine during the Covid-19 outbreak, and it is a practice expected to continue under the “new normal”.
But parents and experts have raised concerns over the long-term effects of mask wearing for children.
A 2016 study by Frontiers in Psychology – a peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal – showed that facial expressions and visual cues are of great importance in that they allow children to share and identify emotions during social interactions.
Ms Aarti Mundae, director of Incontact Counselling and Training, said that wearing a mask could lead to developmental delays in communication matters just as children are learning to express themselves.
Said Ms Mundae: “Communication is deeply influenced by visual cues. It is only 38 per cent affected by vocal cues and surprisingly, seven per cent by verbal. This makes the need to express and see facial cues significant.”
Verbal cues refer to words while vocal cues encompass tone of voice, volume and pitch.
“It could also cause delays in their development of social and emotional intelligence as they are unable to pick up the finer nuances that are critical to their comprehension of feelings,” she added.
But pre-schools are finding ways to work around this.
A majority of the students experience significant or even chronic amounts of stress and this can take a serious toll on their grades, happiness and overall well being. The demands of an institution like university or school, like academic demands, being away from home and friends and family in case of boarding schools and hostels, or bullying and peer pressure from other students require a lot of effort on their part to adapt, adjust and flourish.
Moreover, a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that adolescents report stress levels as similar to those of adults. This means that often the stressors that students face may exceed their ability to cope efficiently. However, there are many techniques of stress management, and in severe cases, treatment also helps reduce the symptoms of stress considerably.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to adverse situations. Though stress is mostly perceived as something bad, it can in fact be good in some cases. The right kind of stress can help hone our skills and train our brain to help our body perform better and tackle tricky situations to suit our needs. Biologically, stress is a physiological reaction in our body where certain hormones are released resulting in physical manifestations of stress.
A Brief Overview of Stress in Students and Its Types
Student life, for most, involves dealing with a significant amount of stress which takes significant tolls on health, both physical and mental, and often grades too. A well reviewed study by the American Psychology Association (APA) found that teens usually report similar levels of stress as adults. This means that teens experienced significant levels of chronic stress, and a lot of them admitted to their stress levels generally exceeding their ability to cope with it effectively.
Usually there are three kinds of common types of student stress, or in other words, three broad categories of stress triggers:
- Social: Social stress puts enormous peer pressure on students. This includes dealing with new relationships, living with or without family members, balancing academic life with their social life, adjusting to new environments, all of these can trigger stress in students.
- Academic: Tight schedules, deadlines, projects and assignments, sometimes low grades, exams, managing personal chores and other academic responsibilities, challenging classes or subjects, and often overall poor time management can all lead to a extreme academic stress, just the sheer thought of not being able to finish tasks at hand can add to or cause stress in students.
- Daily life: Often non-academic aspects can act as stress triggers too, some students take up part-time jobs which have their own stress dynamic, another common cause of stress is traffic or commute related triggers or even financial issues, and so on.
Signs and symptoms that you might be stressed:
- If you are irritable and not enjoying whatever activity you are currently engaged in
- If you seem anxious, fidgety and worried all the time
- If you have a disturbed sleep schedule and have trouble sleeping
- If you cannot concentrate and snap at people too often
- If you feel short of breath or breathe very fast
Causes of Stress in Students
Identifying what causes stress in students can be the first step towards addressing it and eventually managing or treating it. Knowing the stress triggers and learning how to micromanage the molecular issues can help the students help experience less stress and also allows people around to support them better.
Following are the issues that can cause stress among students
- Tests on subjects that the student finds challenging or difficult: Often, when preparing or sitting for an examination that you have scored badly in earlier, or have negative presumptions about beforehand, a student may display symptoms of stress and develop test anxiety.
- Overloaded by homework, projects, presentations with the added burden of group projects: Excessive workload, just as it does in the workplace, often pesters students to the extent that they may even develop stress issues. This can happen due to bad time management practices or simply because there is too much to do.
- A heavy workload perhaps due to their part-time job commitments: Part-time jobs are just as tiring as students’ schoolwork. More often than not, they require dull work that the students simply do not enjoy doing and are paid peas for. This could be a source of stress as well.
- Lack of organizational skills and poor time management: Poor time management skills and bad managerial and organizational skills renders students, or anyone, unable to handle the daily hassles of life. This leads to the development of stress.
- Stress due to relationships: High school and college also overlap with the time period when adolescents begin to foster intimate relationships. Any conflict in these can also lead to stress.
- Getting too little rest and poor sleep schedule: A poor sleep cycle is linked to numerous mental and physical health issues.
- Lack of proper support leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms:
- Having difficulty transitioning to a new environment
Various effects of Stress on Students
Stress is a powerful feeling that can drive you to be successful in life, but at the same time, it can also be debilitatingly harmful. It can, if not handled properly, completely shake the foundations of your career and relationships.
If you’re living with an uncontrollably high amount of stress, you’re not just putting your mental health at risk, you’re also very likely to have poor physical health. It is a proven fact that stressed individuals are likelier to expose themselves to pathogens of illnesses. Around 60-80% doctor visits are stress-related. This is because distress impacts our immunity levels drastically.
Moreover, stressed students are also much more susceptible to taking part in health impairing activities such as:
- Consuming high amounts of alcohol
- High dietary fat consumption
- Substance abuse
- Unsafe sexual practices
- Risky driving
- Antisocial behaviour
- Violent or suicidal behaviour
Physical health problems and chronic illnesses like ulcers, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer have strong links with stress.
Few tips on managing Stress in Students
The only way to overcome stress is to learn about it. Practical stress management can help students deal with whatever worries them and eventually be more effective and productive with reduced negative feelings.
Usually students tend to have packed schedules and we are notoriously famous for skipping sleep, which leads to poor health which leads to poor hygiene and it keeps adding up until we fall ill.
Students can prevent staying in this vicious cycle by following these few tips to manage their stress:
- Getting Organized. Getting organized is often the first step to lower your stress levels. Clutter can often cause decreased productivity, stress and even cost you money. Get soothing lights. Have a minimal indoor setup that is free of distractions.
- Getting Enough Sleep. As stated before, a poor sleep cycle can harm a person’s mental and physical health drastically. So, cut back on your coffee intake, limit your screen time in the evening, and grab a book and go to bed at least before the clock ticks at 12.
- Maintaining a healthy diet, reducing eating junk food and sugar drinks. The gut-mind connection is stronger than we may give it the credit to be. A balanced diet can solve more problems than we can imagine. So, eat well and stop going for takeaways every alternate day.
- Getting enough exercise and getting some air and sunlight. Working out is as important as eating well. It helps release good endorphins into the system that are both immunity-boosting and help us counter stress.
- Listening to Music. Soothing music can help beat stress better than any other remedy. So, play some contemporary lo-fi or jazzhop or some classic Hans Zimmer or perhaps even Beethoven, if you wish, in the background when you study to beat the stress and tone down the mental chatter.
Childhood trauma is a consequence of overwhelmingly negative experiences that a child might have, which can have lasting negative effects. Some of these experiences include but are not limited to – abuse, neglect or violence, which mostly happen in relationships and are called interpersonal trauma. Children can also experience traumatic events such as, accidents, natural disasters, medical procedures or sudden loss of a parent/guardian. Another thing to note is that childhood trauma does not necessarily have to occur to the child directly. For example, watching their parents or a loved one suffer can be extremely traumatic to a child. Exposure to violent media or a violent household can equally traumatize children. However, just because an experience is upsetting it does not mean they are likely to cause trauma.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) does not list or define childhood trauma separately, however, under child mental disorders classification it provides a clear definition for diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD in children. PTSD is the most commonly diagnosed form of trauma and refers to the phenomena of re-experiencing the traumatic events again and again in your mind and the stress that comes with it. Therapy for childhood trauma is available but many of those in need live with the effects of trauma without ever getting a formal diagnosis or the sort of trauma treatment that could help them. There is an undisputed correlation between adult ill-health, both physical and psychological, and unresolved trauma.
Signs and symptoms of childhood trauma
Some children are at a higher risk than others for suffering from long-term effects from a traumatizing event. How a child processes or experiences these events and how it is handled by people around them can have a strong influence on the extent of trauma that they actually end up going through.
Children tend to have difficulty articulating their feelings and thoughts and are often unable to verbalize the emotions inside them. They use the only alternate channel and act it out. Therefore, these are a few overlooked signs and symptoms to look out for trauma related stresses in children:
- Psychosomatic symptoms: Children can complain of stomach upsets or headaches, but on seeing a doctor they might declare the child to be physically fit. It may seem as though they are using this as an excuse to avoid doing a task or going somewhere.
- Outbursts: Irrational and unexplainable anger outbursts might lead parents or guardians to believe that their child is becoming disobedient or mischievous and does not want to follow instructions and can be a sign of a trauma stress.
- Clinginess: Sudden clingy behaviour among young children towards their parents can be evident post a traumatic event.
- Restlessness: Loss in focus and concentration in academics or even play time. An obvious sign would be a sudden plunge in academic performance in an otherwise conscientious student.
- Intrusive thoughts: One common sign of PTSD is increased thinking about death and safety. While some kids are naturally more morbid and fascinated by death, others tend to develop an obsession with their and their loved ones’ safety.
- Other common signs: Anxiety, depression, fear of isolation, poor self-esteem, increased irritability, changes in appetite and problem sleeping.
Common causes for childhood trauma
Among clinicians, a common term that deals with researching trauma in children and its lasting effects that goes around, is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). The ACE study began in the mid-1990s and was done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, USA where more than 17000 people volunteered.
The study identified ten of the most traumatic events or experiences that a child is likely to encounter. The consequences of such events have the potential to leave lasting negative effects on the child for their entire lifetimes without effective trauma therapy. With more data and volunteers that list has broadened, and following are the ten common causes for childhood trauma:
- Growing up in the presence of a parent/guardian who is an addict or a chronic substance abuser.
- Growing up in a household where the parent or the main caregiver goes to prison.
- Growing up in a home where the parent has been diagnosed with a mental illness such as schizophrenia, or depression.
- Witnessing either of their parents being physically abused by the other.
- Experiencing emotional abuse. This can include parents being emotionally unavailable due to long working hours or parents being routinely demeaning, scaring or verbally abusing the child.
- Experiencing physical abuse. This can be experienced either at home by parents who use physical abuse to discipline, or outside home by an authority figure.
- Experiencing sexual abuse. Can be caused by parents, family members, even other children or sometimes people who have authority or power over the child.
- Losing their parent or guardian, which might happen due to their death, divorce or abandonment.
- Growing up with emotional neglect. Sometimes parents fail to notice or respond enough or appropriately to a child’s feelings and there is little or no emotional support or validation.
- Growing up with physical neglect -this applies when children are not adequately fed or clothed, kept clean, or kept warm in cold weather.
- Growing up with emotional abuse and neglect- when parent are very critical and may have unreasonable expectations that could hamper the development of the child.
Effects of childhood trauma
Early childhood trauma can lead to many complications both in childhood and in adulthood. It is a risk factor for many mental health conditions including adult depression, PTSD and most psychiatric disorders, as well as a host of medical problems like heart attack and stroke, cancer, and obesity.
Childhood trauma leads to behavioural changes in the sense that people who suffer from it try to find escape routes from traumatic memories through risky behaviours. Such risky behaviours are driven by impulsivity, and involve drinking, smoking, drug use and even bingeing for comfort. Again, these habits lead to health problems.
Moreover, there is a direct biological effect that occurs when one’s body undergoes extreme stress. When a person experiences something anxiety-provoking, the stress response activates which leads to the production of adrenaline, increase in heartbeat, etc. When stronger surges of adrenaline happen more often than usual and natural, it causes a lot of wear and tear of the body and leads to inflammation. Inflammation has been associated with many illnesses including cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases.
Diagnosis of childhood trauma
As mentioned earlier, it is important to note that not all experiences of trauma will lead to a trauma response or trauma-related disorder or diagnosis. Usually these experiences take their natural course of time until the signs of trauma related response become clearer, and they only meet a specific diagnostic criteria if they extend for more than a month or longer while disrupting the child’s daily life and start impacting their social and emotional well-being.
Broadly, there are two trauma diagnosis:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms including recurrent bad dreams, loss of appetite and or interest in doing things, flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the traumatic event by avoiding conversations. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) does not list or define childhood trauma separately, however, under child mental disorders classification it provides a clear definition for diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD in children.
- Complex Trauma: Also known as Complex PTSD, has been proposed as a potential new diagnostic category in the DSM-5. This describes how exposure to prolonged traumatic events impact development in children and its extended negative effects via emotional dysregulation through to their adult lives. Complex trauma is chronic and begins in early childhood and usually occurs with the child’s primary caregiving system and or social environment.
Dealing with childhood trauma
Family can be a good and often the only support system for a child and a key element towards reducing the impact trauma has on a child, because they are the most influenced by the people immediately around them. A few ways to support a child after a distressing event are:
- A reassuring pat on the back, or hugs gives them a feeling of security which is essential in the aftermath of a disturbing event.
- Children always look to adults for reassurance after traumatic events, so it is important that as a caregiver or parent you act calm. Try not to discuss your anxieties with your children or when they are around as children quickly pick up on anxiety.
- Encourage kids to play with others and enjoy themselves. The distraction is good for them and gives them a sense of normalcy.
- It is extremely important to listen and listen well. It is important to understand how the child views the situation and what is confusing or troubling them. Let the child know that it is okay to let you know how they are feeling.
- Help them relax by following breathing exercises because breathing becomes shallow when anxiety sets in and deep belly breaths can help children calm down.
- Try to acknowledge what they are feeling when they tell you, do not be dismissive about their concerns. Simply confirm whatever you are hearing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are some of the signs of PTSD in children?
In very young children, some indicators would be bedwetting, inability to speak, and being overly clingy with a parent or a caregiver. The adolescents, however, may show some disruptive and destructive behaviour.
Q. Does the DSM-5 enlist childhood trauma as a mental health condition?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) does not list or define childhood trauma separately, however, under child mental disorders classification it provides a clear definition for diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD in children. Moreover, childhood trauma is a critical risk factor for many mental and physical health conditions.
Childhood is the stage where a majority of our behavioural patterns are learnt and the foundation of our personality is formed. This stage is critical for the development of the basis for appropriate and healthy coping skills, emotion regulation strategies, and the ability to differentiate between feelings and behaviour. If at this point of time, a child learns inappropriate and unhealthy behaviours, then it can become difficult for him or her to unlearn it at a later stage. And so, when your child shows signs of not being able to tame his or her temper, it is time for you to incorporate some strategies for anger management for kids at home.
While anger is a normal emotional reaction, and meltdowns can be common among children, they can often become more destructive. Kids may try to vent out their bottled up frustrations by hitting, screaming, or breaking things in the house.
If left unchecked, smaller issues with anger and defiant behaviour can quickly turn into bigger problems that may stay with your child even during their adulthood.
Signs of Anger in Children
Some of the behaviours that are associated with tantrums and meltdowns among toddlers are:
- pulling or shoving,
- Hitting &
- Throwing objects, etc.
Toddlers, more often than not, respond to emotions like anger with tantrums. In most cases, children grow out of this phase as they develop communication skills and appropriate strategies. But there is a possibility that they don’t, and in that case, it means that they haven’t been able to attain the right developmentally appropriate skills yet.
You have a reason to be concerned if:
- your child’s outbursts are getting more frequent; as frequent as multiple breakdowns in a day,
- these outbursts last longer than usual despite of you trying to help them manage their behaviour,
- and you feel worried about them accidentally injuring themselves in these situations.
If this is the case then you must consider talking to your child’s pediatrician and opt for anger management therapy for kids.
Anger Management Activities for Kids
Trying to raise a child and helping them develop emotional intelligence is, no doubt, a difficult job. On top of that, handling frequent anger tantrums is even more challenging. There are going to be several ups and downs in this journey as your child learns self regulation. He or she is bound to lose control every now and then. But you must try to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for your child.
Anger management for kids doesn’t have to only be about disciplining. As you read on further, you’ll get to know some creative ways in which you can help your child deal with anger.
- Cozy Dungeon for Keeping Calm:
Make a safe place somewhere in the house or your child’s room itself where they can go whenever they recognize that they feel angry and need to calm themselves down. This place could be a kids’ tent with fairy lights and your child’s favorite stuffed toys in it. Or, it could be a corner where there are a bunch of pastel cushions, a giant teddy bear, and some crayons and sketchbooks, ready for your child to express themselves into. This soft and cozy place will help the kid to relax and at the same time avoid any injuries, both to themselves and all others in the household.
As for adults and for children, finding one’s triggers which set one off is very important. It can be even more difficult for children as they haven’t developed the kind of emotional intelligence that adults tend to have. Creating a checklist of common triggers will help them figure out what exactly really makes them throw tantrums. Consider discussing it afterwards and helping them understand their emotions even more deeply.
Anger is a very physical emotion. It is physical in the sense that whenever it is felt, anyone, be it a child or an adult, feels strong sensations in the body. Helping your child conceptualize anger using drawings or make-believe stories can be the first step for them to begin identifying anger is an emotion, and aggression as an unhealthy response to that emotion.
Your child may draw an image of them with a warm head and hands indicating that this is where they feel their anger. Or, they may tell you that they feel anger beating in their hearts as if it’s a canine, willing to lash out any second. You may be surprised with how elaborate descriptions children can come up with. This will not only help your child explore and accept what they feel and come to terms with it, but also help them vent it out in the healthiest way possible.
You can help your child create a chart in which they can tell you which triggers or situations makes them angry and rate them from 1 to 5, or 1 to 10 and so on. This may help you find the exact cause of their anger and prompt your child to think about it in-depth.
Breathing exercises help everyone to calm themselves down and be mindful of their emotions and their thoughts. These are the simplest relaxation techniques that can enable you to take control over your anger. For children, too, this is the best way to ensure that they remain calm and composed under all circumstances. A way to make breathing exercises interesting is to hold up your fingers and ask your child to imagine that they are birthday candles. Ask them to take a deep breath and blow them out by breathing out with their mouths.
Role of Parents
As parents, it is important for us to understand how central we are in our children’s little universes as agents of socialization and as the first teachers for life skills. The home environment is supposed to be, in a sense, a simulation of the outside world, which effectively helps children learn coping strategies and how to conduct themselves as they grow up. It is a parent’s duty to set ground rules and restrictions, but at the same time, positive reinforcement strategies are also very important.
Also, we must bear in mind that it is our behaviour that our children model after. We must keep ourselves calm and composed and give ourselves enough time for self care and nourishment to be fit in mind and body for handling our children and other aspects of our lives. Following are a few tips that may help in anger management for children:
- Stick to a daily routine for meal times, waking up and going to bed, studying, playing, etc.
- Make plans for when your child might throw tantrums using the activities given above.
- Let your child express themselves and their emotions with harmless and healthy behaviours like stomping or saying a sentence that may let you know they are angry.
- Help your child navigate through their problems and find the right solutions.
- Reward your child whenever they exhibit good behaviour.
- Try not to put your child in surroundings or with toys that they are not comfortable with.
- Control your own emotions and avoid any outbursts as your child will model after your behaviour.
Therapy and Options Beyond The Behavioural Plan
If your child is lashing out more than usual, it may be time for you to consider professional help. Behavioural therapies can help you and your child develop a positive relationship and at the same time reduce the negative effects of anger in your child. Options like PCIT (Parent-child interaction therapy) is known to be a very helpful option for children between ages 2 and 7. Other options are parent management training, in which the parents learn certain skills and techniques, and CPS (collaborative and proactive solutions) which helps children learn skills for emotion regulation and building resilience over anger.
At times, such behavioural plans may not work with some children. This may indicate that your child might have an underlying mental health condition that needs to be treated otherwise. A few such conditions include ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), anxiety, learning disabilities, sensory processing issues and autism. Such conditions have a different route of treatment plans which may involve further exploration and maybe seeing an expert in that particular field.
At the end of the day, learning how to handle your child’s aggression with behavioural approaches can prove to be difficult and challenging. This requires patience and willingness on the part of the parents, however, it proves to be worth the effort knowing that it will result in a better relationship, a warm environment at home, and a healthier, happier child.
Parenting is certainly one of the most important and challenging responsibilities that anyone can have. However, as a public health issue, it is still not given the kind of recognition and support that it needs in society. It is a large variable that can be associated with childhood illnesses and accidents, juvenile crime, underachievement, unemployability, child abuse and mental illness. At the same time, if done right, the outcome is that of a well-balanced individual who’s as nurturing as his or her parents and a responsible citizen who’s driven to contribute to society and tries to make it a better place.
What is parenting?
Parenting is simply the process of raising a child and supporting as well as looking after the child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development from the stage of infancy to adulthood. There are many delicate processes involved in parenting which require a lot of skill and sensitivity. Your parenting has the capacity to both positively and negatively impact your child. The aim is to expand the positive impact as much as possible and eliminate the negative impact that could occur unintentionally.
How does parenting affect a child’s development
It is difficult for developmental psychologists to find direct relationships between the specific actions of parents and the behavioural patterns and personalities of children. And then again, two children from very different backgrounds and parents who have contrasting parenting styles can grow up to be quite similar in their personalities and tendencies. At the same time, siblings often have starkly different personalities and temperaments.
However, certain linkages between parenting styles and their effect on children is found in the studies. These effects can be long term and manifest during adulthood as well. A good parenting style can lead to a positive self-esteem and self-competence of the child. Development in many areas can be encouraged by good parenting. The effects of various parenting styles are discussed at length below.
Parenting Styles And Their Impact
1. Authoritative Parenting Style:
Authoritative parenting style involves the characteristics of unconditional warmth, and responsiveness. The parent sets clear boundaries and rules for the child so that they can’t be misinterpreted and are well understood by the child. This allows for a good balance between discipline and affection for the child which enables them to develop in all aspects. Authoritative parents have high expectations from their children. This encourages the child to be more responsible, more ambitious and work hard at school, and otherwise. Authoritative parents also display supportiveness, and at the same time value their child’s independence early on in their development. As a result, the child develops a good self-esteem, better social skills, and is less likely to develop a mental illness. Cases of delinquencies of children are less likely to be reported from the households where authoritative parenting style is practiced.
2. Authoritarian parenting style:
Authoritarian parenting involves much more strictness and sternness on the part of the parents. They are unresponsive to the child’s emotional and social needs and often are emotionally unavailable. While authoritarian parents do set high expectations for their children, they also expect blind obedience on the part of the child which is anything but healthy. This results in poor academic performance, poorer social and emotional skills, higher chance of the development of a mental illness, low self esteem, drug abuse, etc.
3. Permissive Parenting Style:
Permissive parenting style involves a warm and responsive relationship between the parents and the child. However, due to the fact that lesser or no rules are set, and the parents are lenient and indulgent. As a result,the child is more likely to have poor social and emotional skills, display impulsivity and egocentricity in his or her behaviour, and have a problematic relationship with his or her parents as well as most other individuals in later life.
4. Neglectful Parenting Style:
Neglectful parenting style is the worst possible approach any parent can adopt for parenting as it involves an entirely cold, unresponsive, indifferent and uninvolved behaviour on part of the parent. Moreover, no rules are set. While they do provide for their basic needs like a home and food they are not really involved in their lives with very little emotional involvement with their children’s lives. They are more likely to get involved in delinquent and impulsive behaviour and drug/alcohol abuse.
Good Parenting Skills: Which Parenting Style is the Best Approach?
Good parents pay attention and cater to their child’s health and safety needs, emotional needs, social needs, and intellectual curiosity for learning new things. They also promote the development in these areas.
A simple way to do this is to have a balance between affectionate, warm behaviour and setting clear restrictions and rules which you must be strict about to an extent. The best parenting style is one which meets all the child’s developmental needs for attachment ( acceptance, stability, safety, nurterence), to express feelings and needs, need to build identity through competence and autonomy, the understanding of limits and boundaries and lastly to encourage play and spontaneity. Good parents will make mistakes but the key characteristic of a good parent, they will repair.
Poor Parenting Skills
Poor parenting skills can be seen in the two contrasting tendencies of parents. Some parents are overly involved in their child’s activities, are overprotective and do not allow for the space to grow for their child. They may be too strict, and stern and be a little cold. Another tendency that parents often have is being too uninvolved, too lenient, and too indifferent to their children. Both the authoritarian and neglectful parenting styles lead to similar consequences.
Permissive parenting is harmful, too, but may not lead to delinquency. In the end, parents do have to let their children explore their independence and failures and learn from their own experiences.
At the same time, it is simply unhealthy and unacceptable to avoid and overlook any of your child’s concerns and problematic behaviors just because it is uncomfortable for the parents..
Getting professional help for learning how to parent and navigating through this beautiful yet challenging and demanding journey is a sureshot way that you can adopt to become a better parent and bring out the best in your child. Through counselling, you learn better skills and techniques that are proven to help you raise your child into becoming a well-adjusted and successful individual. We believe in a systemic approach to create harmony in your parenting relationship and a big part of that is ensuring that children feel good, as only then can they behave well.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic intervention that aims at challenging and changing your thoughts and behaviours, especially the ‘unhelpful’ ones which are destructive and distorted, and replaces them with much more helpful, healthier thought and behavioural patterns.
CBT is relatively shorter in duration and is quite efficacious for a myriad of mental health problems. It uses the biopsychosocial approach for the treatment. Both cognitive and behavioural techniques are used. All of that makes CBT a comprehensive and easy approach to adopt which can be applied to a variety of disorders. CBT is also proven to be very efficacious according to the research into the outcome and the application of the treatment.
Uses Of CBT
CBT is a solution-focused & goal-directed treatment that is short in duration and helps you pinpoint the source of the problem quickly and efficiently. It requires a limited, small number of sessions for the completion of the whole treatment. It is thus one of the most preferred forms of psychotherapy for many disorders. The disorders where CBT can most effectively help improve the patient’s condition are as follows:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Panic Attacks
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders (like anorexia or bulimia)
- Sleep Disorders (like insomnia, sleep apnea, parasomnia)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Sexual Disorders
- Addictions, and drug abuse
- Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
It can also be specifically used as a tool for managing some emotional and/or challenges. CBT practitioners may also refer to the principles of therapy as lifestyle guides. They can be applied in many contexts, for instance:
- Equipping oneself with tools to lead a better, happier life in general
- Managing life challenges, difficulties, stressful environments or events.
- Managing anger
- Managing conflict in all sorts of situations, or relationships
- Coping with grief, loneliness
- Coping with trauma
- Coping with a medical illness
- Managing the symptoms of a mental disorder better
- Preventing relapse of a mental disorder
What are the types of CBT?
CBT principles are based on the fact that a person’s problems are based in the psychological, social and biological realms. Moreover, these problems are instilled in their thought processes and behavioural patterns which have to be reformed and unlearnt. There are many tools, techniques and concepts which can be applied for the same. These concepts are also involved in the following variations of psychotherapy:
- Cognitive TherapyThe cause of psychological distress, according to cognitive therapy, resides in an individual’s distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviours. These are refuted through a process of non-directive questioning.
- Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)REBT locates the causes of distress in irrational thoughts and beliefs of an individual which are tackled through an ABC analysis, which is the antecedent-belief-consequence analysis.
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)DBT involves usage of mindfulness and emotional regulation to address the unhelpful thoughts and behaviours of an individual.
- Multimodal TherapyMultimodal therapy involves addressing seven distinct, yet connected modalities that are behaviour, sensation, cognition, imagery, drug/biological factors, and interpersonal relationships and behaviour.
How CBT works
Cognitive Behavioural therapy is, as stated earlier, a very problem-focused and goal-directed psychotherapeutic approach. It has a basic principle that the way we think and perceive our life circumstances and situations, even the minutest details, have a drastic impact on how we behave and feel. It requires a lot of effort on part of the client as they are the ones working on themselves, while the therapist acts as an enabler. It is very present-orientated and the past is only relevant to the extent of understanding and identifying current behavioural and thought patterns that one could have picked up earlier.
Through CBT, the client learns to develop cognitive reflexibility, which ultimately helps them overcome their cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions, like catastrophizing, looking at things only in black and white, over-generalizing, personalizing, jumping to conclusions, being too negative or unrealistically positive, having self-esteem issues i.e an inferiority complex or a superiority complex, etc., affect our behaviour and moods drastically. When we become more aware of ourselves, and look at things around us differently and adopt a degree of openness in life, we’re able to fully transform the way we think and become healthier, wholesome, and more compassionate individuals. CBT equips us with many tools and regular exercises which one can adopt to live a better life.
The CBT therapist merely guides the session and helps you structure your thinking just by asking you open-ended questions, and you yourself identify your own unhealthy patterns. Upon identifying such problems, and fully understanding them, the therapist teaches you techniques to address these problems. Once these techniques are fully established and turn into habits which replace the earlier unhealthy habits, the treatment comes to an end. A follow up is also recommended for the prevention of relapse.
CBT for Children
CBT uses the same basic principles on children that it does on adults. All our thoughts, emotions, behaviours are interconnected and constantly affect each other, according to the CBT principles. Thus, for children, the core principles that are applied are the same. CBT is a very effective therapeutic approach for children with anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, behavioural problems and substance abuse.
While the basic principles used in CBT for children are the same, there are some differences on other levels. The commonalities, however, are:
- The treatment remains goal-directed throughout the course of it, and the child, his/her parents, and the therapist together mark their goals and assess the process.
- The therapist aims to simply enable and guide the client in his/her journey towards self-awareness, self-development, and learning positive behaviours and cognitive tools.
- The child behavioural therapist and client both develop a deep therapeutic relationship in which the client has respect for the therapist’s knowledge and expertise of the subject matter, and the therapist appreciates and acknowledges the client’s ability to understand himself/herself the best.
- The therapy is present-oriented and short-term. There are also more than often homework assignments for the client to work upon before the next session.
Along with individual or group CBT, the following approaches are also used:
- Inclusion of parents in the process
- Motivational-Enhancement Therapy (MET)
- Play Therapy
Frequently Asked Questions About CBT
Q. How do I know if CBT is working on me?
A big part of what CBT is involves constantly tracking your progress, and so both you and your therapist will know how you’re doing and whether or not you’re progressing towards your goals. This means that while we will ask you for your feedback during every session, we’ll also assign to you some questionnaires so that we can properly assess your symptoms throughout the course of the treatment.
Q. Is CBT based on all “positive thinking” and affirmations?
No. When we do CBT, we guide you through healthier ways of reacting to a situation. We’re aiming at being realistic here. If something really bad happens, or did happen, then merely thinking positively could mean that you’re ignoring how bad the situation was. That said, positive thinking isn’t always the healthiest option in all contexts.