Parenting - Infancy and Young Chilhood


“The reality is that parents never produce children as they weren’t parents until their arrival, rather it’s the children who produce the parents”

Parenting-InfancyandYoungChilhood Children and adolescents can be complex, unpredictable and moody but unfortunately, they do not arrive in this world with a How-To-Do-It manual ! Naturally, parents worry constantly about their growth and development, and their future too. Parents, though reluctant to admit it, are usually clueless about handling their children’s ‘growing emotional pangs’ and usually turn to experienced mothers and grandmothers for advice. Such wise advice, distilled through experience, is frequently sound and valuable but being anecdotal, it does not address the entire range of issues a child throws up during development

Thankfully, the range of problems addressable and correctable through psychological intervention is pretty much vast. Sample the following:

Developmental Delays
School Anxiety
Learning disabilities
Lack of academic interest
Academic Under-achievement
Traumatic childhood experiences
Depression and Anxiety
Anger, indiscipline and hostile behavior

INFANCY

Nothing can beat the thrill of holding your little bundle of joy in your hands. Mothers expect their little angel with hope tinged with concern as they expect it to throw up unexpected moments, both uplifting and worrying. This is so because babies keep no time-table or calendar or regime and even if one religiously followed Dr. Bejamin Spocks’ parenting Bible What To Expect When ......, there would be simply no answers in some cases.

Infancy (0-2 years) is one of the richest and most challenging developmental phases from the parenting viewpoint, given the rapidity and variety of physical, emotional and intellectual changes. It is at this time that the foundations of secure and happy adult relationships are laid by an affectionate mother-child bond. An affectionate and secure mother-child attachment is the first social relationship for a baby. Grown-up adults who had poor attachments with their mothers in infancy often report personality and relationship problems later.

First-time parents may wonder about the multifarious changes their baby is undergoing so fast. Though most babies attain various developmental milestones (reclining, sitting, standing, walking, spoken language etc) sooner or later in their natural sequence, some of them may suffer from

Delayed speech
Poor hand-eye (neuro-muscular) coordination
Delayed reflexes and
Delayed intellectual development

A parent ought to be able to recognize such symptoms early so that remedial measures can be put in place.

YOUNG CHILDHOOD

Many everyday stresses cause changes in a young child's behaviour. For example, the birth of a sibling may cause a child to regress i.e. temporarily act much younger. It is important not only to recognize such changes, but also to differentiate them from more serious problems. The signs of a mental disorder among young children may differ from those of older children or adults. Such problems deserve attention if they are severe, persistent and affect daily activities. Some such signs are

Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
Social withdrawal or fearfulness
Regressive behavior (like thumb-sucking, bed-wetting)
Sadness or tearfulness
Self-destructive behaviors such as head-banging or frequent injuries

Besides, in such cases, it is imperative to review overall development, any medical problems, family history of mental disorders and physical and psychological traumas that may trigger stress.

Some major mental disorders among young children with a possible onset in childhood include

Anxiety Disorders

Includes Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Marked by fear, uneasiness for a month or more; affects the child's quality of life. Both medication and counseling can be effective relievers.

Conduct Disorder

Difficulty behaving appropriately as expected of the child i.e. running away from home, stealing, setting objects afire, harming property, animals, siblings or peers.

Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders (ADHD and ADD)

Problem focusing on homework or inattention in class, sitting still, staying in line or waiting his turn to speak. Treatable with medication and behavior modification.

Autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Little interest in communicating with peers and others. Learning difficulties and a rigid, routinized behaviour instead of interest in new things. Proper treatment and a conducive learning environment can maximize the child's potential.

Learning Disorders

Children with learning disabilities have problems beyond those in Reading, Writing, Maths, Memory or Organization. For many, the strong feelings of frustration, anger and shame can create psychological difficulties such as anxiety, rejection, depression or poor self-esteem, or even substance abuse or juvenile delinquency. Unfortunately, these problems can be far more devastating than the academic challenges themselves and can find continue well into adulthood.

Detailed evaluation is required to determine the specific disorder and develop a specially tailored learning plan. Some children may lag behind peers; for others, reading is easier vis a vis visual demonstration.

Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia)

Underweight, feeling of being fat even when he / she is thin, calorie-counting, frequent excuses for not eating. Treatment for eating disorders involves counseling.

Substance Abuse Disorders

Commonly involve use of alcohol, marijuana and expectorants like Fancdrill, Corax and even Iodex to get a "high" or "kick". Those psychologically or physically addicted require treatment for recovery. Both counseling and medical intervention work in tandem to treat the problem.

Schizophrenia

Visible in late school years. Social withdrawal, unusual speech, seemingly emotionless. Magnifying suspiciousness.

Mood Disorders (Depression, Bi-polar Disorder)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder

Among them, Mental Retardation, Learning Disorders, Communication Disorders, Autism and Schizophrenia seem to have biological components. Consequently, psychological intervention runs parallel to medical intervention by a qualified psychiatrist. Overall, the therapy focuses on mitigating the ill-effects of the disorder and helping the child maximize his performance within the constraints.