what’s the prob­lem?

These five school-re­lated is­sues hap­pen more of­ten than you think. Nip them in the bud with these ex­pert strate­gies.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - FAMILY FUN IN SG ISSUE -

If your child PROB­LEM 1 is con­stantly com­par­ing him­self with oth­ers

“Matt has an iPad. Can I have one too?” Sounds fa­mil­iar? Mak­ing so­cial com­par­isons is a nat­u­ral part of life and it is how we build our self-iden­tity, start­ing from a young age.

How­ever, Desiree Wee, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist at the In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health, says chil­dren have a hard time dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween needs and wants. “They may think they ab­so­lutely have to have what their friends have or they will not be val­ued in so­ci­ety,” she ex­plains. “They may feel sad, angry or even lonely when they do not seem to live up to so­ci­ety’s stan­dards.”

What you can do Desiree sug­gests ac­knowl­edg­ing your child’s feel­ings. For ex­am­ple, say: “I know you would love to have that too” or “iPads are fun and it’s sad when your friend has one and you don’t”.

Avoid brush­ing off or ig­nor­ing your child’s re­quests or call­ing him “greedy” or “spoilt”. This can give him the idea that his needs are not im­por­tant to you or that he can­not turn to you for sup­port, Desiree adds.

Teach chil­dren that they do not need to have or do ev­ery­thing their friends do. High­light val­ues and char­ac­ter

over ma­te­rial goods or achieve­ments.

Model how to be happy with what you have. You can say: “It’s frus­trat­ing when you can’t have an iPad. But you know what? We have a tele­vi­sion to watch movies to­gether and I re­ally love our time to­gether.”

PROB­LEM 2 If your kid is a bully

Chil­dren bully for var­i­ous rea­sons, says Desiree. “Re­search has found that chil­dren who bully may have poor aca­demic per­for­mance and risk de­vel­op­ing de­pres­sion,” she ex­plains. “In the long run, ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour puts them at risk of poor pro-so­cial skills, smok­ing and al­co­hol use, and delin­quency.”

What you can do Hear­ing that your child is bul­ly­ing other chil­dren can be up­set­ting or em­bar­rass­ing, but it’s im­por­tant to re­main calm. He has difculty con­trol­ling his ag­gres­sion and needs to see you model good ways of han­dling conicts.

Desiree ad­vises: “Talk to your child and check if he bul­lied be­cause he felt sad, angry, lonely or in­se­cure due to ma­jor changes at home or at school.”

Help your child recog­nise his anger sig­nals, and tell him to stop and walk away when he feels angry. Seek help from the school coun­sel­lor if you need sup­port in teach­ing your child anger man­age­ment strate­gies.

It’s also a good idea to re­duce his ex­po­sure to vi­o­lent shows, car­toons and games. And you can go to web­sites such as www.bul­lyfree.sg, which has ac­tiv­i­ties and videos that par­ents can use to dis­cuss bul­ly­ing with their chil­dren.

If he is PROB­LEM 3 be­ing bul­lied

Vic­tims of bul­ly­ing tend to be those who ap­pear as if they are un­able to pro­tect them­selves, and are there­fore eas­ily picked on. Donus Loh, psy­chol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of W3ave Sin­ga­pore, says: “They could be in­tro­verts, pas­sive when it comes to conict and poorer in so­cial skills com­pared to their peers.

“Over time, vic­tims may think of them­selves as weak and help­less, and this can lead to very low self-es­teem and de­pres­sion.”

Se­nior clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist at Prom­ises Health­care San­veen Kang-Sadhnani adds: “Some other char­ac­ter­is­tics of vic­tims may in­clude be­ing good at some­thing and gain­ing positive at­ten­tion for it, be­ing in­tel­li­gent, de­ter­mined and cre­ative, or hav­ing few or no friends.”

What you can do You can be­gin by ask­ing your child if he un­der­stands what bul­ly­ing means, as most chil­dren tend to think that only phys­i­cal ag­gres­sion con­sti­tutes bul­ly­ing, Donus ex­plains.

“Par­ents can ed­u­cate their kids that bul­ly­ing can take psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional forms as well, such as name­call­ing, threats and con­stant teas­ing,” he adds.

Be pa­tient with your child if they’re a vic­tim of bul­ly­ing. “It may take a while for them to open up and talk about their feel­ings and ex­pe­ri­ences,” says Donus.

Should you de­cide to speak to his school, doc­u­ment all in­ci­dents with dates be­fore you do so. “Re­quest that the school share its anti-bul­ly­ing pol­icy and ex­plore how you can sup­port its ef­forts when work­ing with your child. In­volve your child in the meet­ing,” San­veen ad­vises.

If your kid PROB­LEM 4 cheats in tests or ex­ams

It is im­por­tant to get to the root of the is­sue. “Find out why your child cheated. It may be an in­di­ca­tion that he feels pres­sure to do well aca­dem­i­cally or to con­form to his group of friends,” says Desiree.

What you can do Ex­plain the con­se­quences of his ac­tions and how cheat­ing af­fects other stu­dents who have tried their best in ex­ams and the teach­ers who have put in ef­fort to draw up the exam ques­tions.

Help your kid avoid fu­ture temp­ta­tions to cheat, and de­velop his abil­ity to face peer pres­sure. Tell him: “Cheat­ing is not worth it even if all your friends do it.”

Pro­mote val­ues over aca­demic achieve­ments – praise and re­ward your child for be­ing hon­est and coura­geous when he stands up to peer pres­sure.

If your child PROB­LEM 5 gets bad grades

“The most com­mon re­ac­tion from par­ents when their child comes home with bad grades is to ex­press neg­a­tive com­ments, such as ‘care­less’, ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’ and so on,” Donus says. “Some par­ents think this will mo­ti­vate their kids, al­though I feel that it greatly de­mo­ti­vates a child and over time, may even cause the child to link poor grades with a neg­a­tive char­ac­ter.”

What you can do Re­mind your kid about his positive char­ac­ter­is­tics as this can boost his abil­ity to mo­ti­vate him­self.

You should also ask your child how he feels about his aca­demic re­sults. Be re­spect­ful of what is shared – that means, do not judge too quickly un­til you have sufcient in­for­ma­tion, Donus says.

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