Articles on child mental development

5 Skills Your Child Must Know at 5

Dr. Rahul Varma, Pediatrician
Today, the world has become very competitive and everyone wants their kids to excel in just about all competitions. However, in this race many a times as a parent we forget to keep a tab on the developmental milestones of our child.There are yearly milestones that a child attains as it grows and these milestones are very important to ensure the growth of your child. As many psychosomatic disorders are seen in children too, these milestones help in spotting them early on and taking steps to preventing worsening. Here we are going to talk about few skills that a child should know by the time he/she turns 5.Communication skills: By the age of 5, children should have good command on their language. They should be able to speak clearly and their pronunciation should be perfect. They should be able to speak complex and compound sentences and tell a simple story using full sentences. They should be able to strike a conversation and learn to wait for their turn to speak in group talks.Social and emotional skillsBy the time a child turns 5, they learn to make friends and make efforts to please them. They can tell difference between real and make-believe things. They start showing concern and sympathy for others. They like participating in activities like singing, dancing or acting. They start becoming independent for e.g. they can go alone to your next door neighbour’s place, won’t need you to come along anymore. As they become more social, they like to participate in activities that involve other kids.Cognitive skillsAt 5, kids are creative and enthusiastic problem solvers. They start asking analytical questions and also give imaginative ideas for how to do a task, or make something. They become aware of things being used daily like food, money etc. They can easily count 10 or more things and can even do simple addition and subtraction. They have understanding of shapes and can even copy them. Five-year-olds understand and use words related to position, such as "under" or "behind." They can even use instruments like thermometers, weighing scale etc.Physical skillsPhysically, five-year-olds are full of energy and look out for active games and environments. They are able to balance and coordinate movements, therefore can ride a bike with training wheels, swim, jump rope etc. They have better control and are able to change the direction, speed and quality of their movements. The flexibility of their fingers is also, improved to great extend and hence they have improved control over writing and painting tools and even manage zippers and buttons.Creative skills Five-year-olds are able to compose and arrange music within specified guidelines. They can enact simple plays and perform puppet shows. They can create realistic art with recognizable subjects and more detailed settings.If your child is completely lacking one or more of these skills, then it might be a good idea to visit a child developmental specialist or pediatrician to rule out developmental disorders or focus on training in a special way to develop certain basic survival skill sets.

Nurturing Young Minds - The First Five Years of Child Development!

Dr. Sulata Shenoy, Psychiatrist
It is universally acknowledged that the first five years of life are probably the most crucial in an individual’s development. There is no other time in human life when so much is learned in so brief a period.  In our short – term concern for preparing the child adequately for formal academics, we sometimes tend to neglect the true nurturing of their minds.What do we mean by mental stimulation? What are the intellectual needs of the young child? To put it succinctly, it consists of giving children certain opportunities, which facilitate them to:make sense of the environment and adapt to its changing requirementshave as many experiences involving the senses communicate and express themselves  explore and experimentsolve problemscreateHOW DO CHILDREN LEARN? Anyone who has ever spent time with young children knows how strong their impulse is to see, hear, touch, taste and smell everything they encounter. This behavior illustrates a fundamental fact of early childhood experience. Young children learn best when they are actively involved, when they can handle materials and try things out for themselves.Early learning must, therefore be based on sensory experiences. Play is an indispensable avenue for learning.  The crucial value of play in the development of children’s thinking is yet to be fully appreciated by many of us.  Adults who have watched young children at play know the intensity and seriousness they often bringing to it. Play clarifies concepts and gives children opportunities to explore, to imagine and to translate experience into something meaningful to them. Play is the natural and most effective means through which a young child learns.Activity and play by themselves are not enough to enhance a child’s learning. Children need asocial environment with peers and adults to help them interpret or clarify their experiences and to relate new learning to their previous experiences and to assimilate new learning to their existing repertoire of knowledge. This type of social interaction is crucial. As a parent or teacher, how do you enhance a child’s learning ability?  Evidence from recent research suggests that the kind of dialogue or interaction which seems to help the child most, is one in which a caring adult engages with the child, enters the child’s psychological space, listens to the child, makes appropriate comments and helps clarify concepts.

Brain Development In Kids And The Importance Of Monitoring It!

Dr. Vykunta Raju K. N, Neurologist
What is Child Neurology?Child Neurology focuses on the issues concerning the development and maturation of the nervous system(brain and spinal cord) and disease affecting the nervous system in children upto 18 years of age.What is the need and scope for monitoring the development of children?There is a normal variation in achieving milestones in different children who are otherwise normal. Hence there is a need to detect the “abnormal from the normal” early so that appropriate investigations can be done for detecting cause and institute early treatment or interventions.What is developmental screening?Developmental screening is a procedure designed to identify children who should receive more intensive assessment for detecting potential delays.What is developmental surveillance?Child development is a dynamic process and difficult to quantitate by a one-time assessment. During surveillance repeated observations on development are made by a skilled caregiver over time to see the rate and pattern of development.What are birth defects?Birth defects are abnormalities of structure, function or metabolism (body chemistry) present at birth (congenital) that results in physical or mental disability.What causes birth defects?Birth defects can be caused by defective gene function, pregnancy related problems like intra uterine infections, uncontrolled diabetes and exposure to certain drugs, alcohol,chemicals or toxins during pregnancy.What are the consequences of these birth defects?Birth defects can cause either physical defects or developmental disabilities.What are neural tube defects?Neural tube defects are birth defects related to the growth and development of the brain and spinal cord. It includes conditions like spina bifida, in which the membranes around the spinal cord don’t close properly and a part of the spinal cord comes out through the defect (myelomeningocoele). People with spina bifida may have problems with walking and controlling urination and passing stools. What are the developmental disabilities caused by the birth defects?Developmental disabilities caused by birth defects are those that cause lifelong problems with how a body part or system works. They affect the brain, spinal cord and nervous system functioning causing mental retardation, learning and behavioral disorders and certain degenerative disorders like Rett syndrome and Adrenoleucodystrophy. Some of them might become apparent only when children are grown older.How are children with developmental disabilities managed?The management of children with developmental disabilities revolves around screening and early detection of the disability, finding the cause of the disability by appropriate imaging, metabolic genetic and neuro-electro physiological tests as required.Is there a cure for these developmental disabilities?Though a majority of the developmental disabilities have no cure, it is possible to prevent the progression and limit the disabilities by appropriate treatment strategies.Physical, speech and occupational therapy, special education classes and psychological counseling can also help.What are the causes for fits in children?In majority of cases,the cause is not clear, the so called idiopathic epilepsies. These are more common in childhood and adolescence and some of them may run in families.Injury to the brain during birth and development derangements of brain are two important known causes for fits in children. Febrile fits is special situation in children between 6 months and 6 years of age, where children gets fits during episodes of fever.What is the treatment of fits?In case an under lying cause of seizures is detected, appropriate treatment for the cause is initiated. In majority of cases, anti epileptic medications can control the seizures effectively. A small proportion of children continue to have uncontrolled seizures despite the best medical treatment, in whom surgical treatment may be tried.What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?Cerebral Palsy is primarily a disorder affecting the movements and actions performed by various muscles of the body (motor disorder). Though described as non progressive the disability (due to the damage sustained at a time during early childhood) can progress.How is CP managed?The management of CP revolves around the management of associated conditions (like seizures, mental sub-normality, visual and hearing loss) prevent the progression of disability and rehabilitation.Who does the CP management team consist of?The CP management team consists of a pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician,physiotherapist, a child psychologist, orthopedic surgeon, speech therapist,occupational therapist and a social worker. The neurologist coordinates the functioning of the tam and is primarily involved in diagnosis, assessing development and disability. Control of fits if any and determining the need for any interventions-medicines, surgery or otherwise.What are the other causes of motor disability in children?The muscle diseases like myopathies and muscular dystrophies constitute a major cause for motor disability in children. The aim of management of these children is towards diagnosis, reducing disability, rehabilitation and in some cases genetic counseling.How can a child with a muscle disease diagnosed and managed?The diagnosis of the muscle disease is based on the careful assessment of the child,electro physiological investigations like NCS, EMG, blood enzyme analysis,muscle biopsy and genetic studies. The parents of such a child need to be counseled at the possibility of having another child with a similar illness and how to prevent the same (genetic counseling).Finally why child neurology?Children are not miniature adults. They are growing and maturing. The physiology and hence the way they react to disease processes is different from adults. Hence children with neurological problems need attention by child neurologist.

4 Home Hacks That Can Help You Monitor Your Child’s Health Like a Hawk

Dr. Rahul Varma, Pediatrician
As a parent, one of your topmost concerns is that your child’s physical as well as mental health is in the right direction. Your child’s health and development needs to be monitored and reassessed regularly. Development is a continuous process, but changes from time to time depending on new demands.Learning skills in a child need to be evaluated periodically especially because they are seen only when the child is asked to perform a certain function. Generally, health clinics and schools keep a check on children’s growth, but it is crucial that you too monitor your child’s health regularly.1. Physical healthHeight and weight – Measure your child’s height and weight at home each month and note it in a logbook. Take this logbook along with you during your child’s health visit at the doctor’s office. Each child is different in a way that while some kids grow fast, others do not grow tall or gain weight as they should. If your child is not growing as fast as his/her peers, do not panic. Some children have a late growth spurt, but make sure that your paediatrician is aware of it during the health visits. If it’s a drastically off the normal limits, early interventions could be put in place.Skin changes – Look for any changes in your child’s skin from time to time including changes in the thickness, acne or rashes, pigmentation. Medical conditions are often presented as changes in the skin to begin with.Sleep cycle – Children generally need approximately 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night. Any changes in sleep patterns, such as too much or too little sleep, should be noted and reported to the paediatrician. In addition, a lack of sleep will make it difficult for your child to function well throughout the day, especially in school. Try to set a bedtime for your child to ensure adequate amount of sleep.2. Mental healthParents are recommended to get their child evaluated at 9 months, 18 months and then every 24 months thereafter. Evaluate for any learning or memory disabilities. Paediatricians may also examine them at health visits by asking them a series of questions and seeing how they respond to them.DietFresh fruit and vegetables contain essential vitamins and nutrients for growth that our body cannot produce. Although, many kids are picky eaters, keep a track of any major changes in their eating pattern. Too much or too less food, both, can be unsafe and must be corrected. Importantly, iron, calcium and vitamins A, B, C, D and E are essential for your child’s optimal growth. Offer your child at least three cups of milk and four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. On precautionary side, limit food that is high in added sugar.ExercisePhysical activity is extremely important for your child’s growth. Usually, a child requires at least an hour of exercise or any physical activity daily. However, keep your child away from too much sun. Furthermore, limit television, video games, smartphones, tablets or computers to no more than 2 hours a day. Make a note, if your child wants to be sedentary all day, this could be a sign of a problem or lead to obesity in the long run. In conclusion, your participation in your child’s development and growth plays a crucial role and sends a strong message that you will stand next to them for support. Taking your child to a pediatrician for routine health check-ups, getting them immunized and looking out for any changes in habits, such as delayed speech, throwing tantrums at bedtime, crippling shyness with friends and family, difficulty in toilet training and finicky eating habits, will help you recognize and seek early inventions to keep their development in check.

Psychiatry and Mental Health Related Myths Busted !

Dr. Darpan Kaur, Psychiatrist
Psychiatry is a branch of medical science that deals with the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Psychiatrists are specialist medical doctors who deal with treatment of psychiatric disorders. Delirium, Dementia, Schizophrenia, Substance dependence, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Psychosis, Depression, Anxiety Disorders , Stress and Somatoform disorders, Personality disorders, Sleep disorders, Eating disorders, Sexual Dysfunctions, etc are classified under the DSM and ICD  classificatory systems in Psychiatric disorders. Despite modern advances in psychiatry globally and nationally in research and clinical care, there still exists lack of knowledge, misconceptions, stigma and discriminatory attitudes towards psychiatric disorders in the community. I have attempted to write this psycho-educative  perspective in form of myths and reality which I hope can be helpful in reducing stigma and creating awareness towards psychiatry and psychiatric disorders in the community.Myth 1: Only a mad person visits a psychiatrist!Reality: This is a common myth held in certain societies that only mad people visit psychiatrists. Although it is true that psychiatrists do treat patients with certain chronic psychiatric illness who can  appear emotionally, behaviorally and socially abnormal in society, however a lot of mental health has moved towards positive preventive mental health as well . Psychiatrists nowadays, cater towards all groups of patients such as children, adolescents, adults, elderly, etc. for mental health problems. Exam stress, financial stress, family stressors, relationship stressors are very common nowadays and can occur to anyone. Stress can lead to depression, stress disorders, anxiety disorders, addictions, etc. It may be a prejudiced and negative view to hold that only mad people visit a psychiatrist. Consequences of long standing untreated mental health problems could be even worse, if one ignores mental health issues and does not seek professional help at the right time from mental health care professionals just because of the stigma attached to it. Myth 2: Psychiatry is an old outdated forsaken branch of medicine dealing with crazy people all the time!Reality: Psychiatry has really advanced with Neuropsychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Consultation Liasion Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry etc. are emerging as sub and super specialty clinical care.  Medically sick patients such as those with Cardiac Illness, Hypertension, Diabetes, Thyroid Dysfunction, Vitamin Deficiencies, Tuberculosis, Bronchial Asthma, IBS, Cancers, HIV AIDS, Epilepsies, etc can have psychiatric disorders because of their medical illness.  There has been a broadened scope of mental health where today mental health plays an important role along with one’s physical and cosmetic health. It may be incorrect to hold a negative stereotypic attitude in today’s world towards psychiatry as a field and psychiatric disorders at large in the face of global and national advances in research and clinical care in mental health!Myth 3: ECT( Electroconvulsive therapy) is given to all psychiatric patients regardless of their disorder! Reality: This myth that the common man can sometimes have could be because of lack of awareness or hearsay stuff from his friends or relatives or an unfortunate unintentional  depiction of such stuff which he may have come across  from other sources of information. Psychiatric treatment has evolved globally and nationally. There exists proper guidelines and protocols for giving ECT . Psychopharmacology, Psychotherapy, Counselling, Occupation therapy and Rehabilitation are all modalities of care in mental health.  ECT is a modality of treatment which has its own specific indications, advantages and disadvantages. ECT is certainly not given to each and every patient who presents to a psychiatrist for treatment.  It is reserved for its specific indication when needed and clinical expertise as per school of training with proper protocol followed.Myth 4: All that Psychiatrists do is to put their patients to sleep with medications! Reality: Psychiatrist do a detailed history taking, clinical examination, and then plan some tests and assessments and make a clinical impression of the patients problem from a psychiatric and psychological perspective. Psychiatrists prescribe medications and also, do counseling and psychotherapy to patients and their families. The Psychiatrist uses his best knowledge to treat the disorder as well as take care of side effects. In today's generation, most people are working and a steady job forms an important part of everyone’s life, hence the psychiatrist will preferably choose medications that give less or no sedation Although it is true that for a lot of psychiatric conditions like Schizophrenia, delirium, substance withdrawal, depression, anxiety disorders problems in falling asleep (insomnia) can be a part of the disorder or a chief complaint and certain medications do cause excess sleep, it is untrue that all that psychiatrists do is to put all patients to sleep. Nowadays, there are so many advances in psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, counseling, all of which holistically work towards helping patients recover. However, when there is a serious psychiatric disorder, certain medicines may be given which can cause excess sleep to help the patient recover from the serious problem in the best way possible as per guidelines and expertiseMyth 5: All Psychiatric medications have to be taken life long for all psychiatric disorders!Reality:  Different psychiatric disorders have different course and duration of treatment as per guidelines. It is incorrect to consider that all psychiatric medications have to be given life long for all psychiatric disorders. It depends on the expertise, guidelines, type of disorder, severity, relapses and there are well formed guidelines on duration of treatment and tapering and stopping the medications for the psychiatric disorders for holistic care of the patients. Myth 6 : All Psychiatric patients are dangerous and harmful!Reality:  Kindly note that many patients with psychiatric disorders can be the nicest, respectful and kindest people on earth. Society may wrongly judge them as being weird and misfitted . People can sometimes unknowingly hold discriminatory negative attitudes towards all patients with psychiatric disorders, because of lack of awareness and negative attitudes and tend to change their mindset only much later when they themselves or someone in their families gets affected with some problem. Remember depression, stress disorder, OCD, anxiety disorder, psychosis, delirium, addictions can happen to anyone anytime! Although a certain group of patients with psychiatric disorders can have some dangerous behaviors, it is untrue to hold a prejudice that all patients with psychiatric disorders are dangerous. However with proper treatment consisting of psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, family therapy, rehabilitation, outcomes may be improved holistically!Myth 7: If  someone is facing a psychiatric or psychological problem, it is failure of their will power!Reality: It is sad that when  people blame a person suffering from a psychiatric disorder that it has happened to him only because of failure of his will power and that he was not strong enough, etc . There are many psychiatric disorders such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Depression, Anxiety Disorders, OCD, etc which maybe due to chemical abnormality in their brain such as their neurotransmitter systems and there maybe absolutely no role of will power failure in that. It would be incorrect to blame the person for something which may not be totally in their control!Myth 8: If someone is facing a psychiatric problem, they and their family must feel ashamed and hide it and feel stigmatized about it!Reality: In certain societies, because of misconception, the stigma can be very high! It is our duty to keep fighting the stigma!  There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you or your family member suffer from a psychiatric disorder. Nowadays, there are many support groups available online consisting of patients and caregivers. Kindly do not let the stigma affect you!Myth 9: If your friend or relative  is having some psychiatric problem, one must avoid them and stay away from them!Reality: If you genuinely care for your friend, you must help your friend and be there for them always irrespective of them having a psychiatric problem or not. Infact, your friend or relative may need your support and care and friendship even more when he or she is depressed, anxious or fearful. You must help them recover better by including them in your conversations, valuing their opinions, emotions and thoughts and avoid judging them as they are also a part of the same world that you live in!Myth 10 : If your friend is having a psychiatric problem, its okay to make fun of them and crack jokes on them even when u know it is a problem.Reality: Its often sad that some people make fun of patients with psychiatric problems and make jokes on them and their behaviors. Certain psychiatric illness can have associated deficits and disabilities in their speech, social behavior, emotions, intellect, etc. Certain disorders can have certain disability in social life, educational and occupational life. It would be wrong to make fun of them as they too have their dignity! One must give them their deserved respect and dignity in our family and work towards rehabilitating them in society!

Clinical Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist, Who Should You See?

Ms. Aarathi Selvan, Psychologist
Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists often work together to ensure the mental health and well-being of a client is taken care of. While their job descriptions often overlap, there are many crucial differences between a psychologist and psychiatrist. The most important difference is the nature of treatment within the two professions. Treatment differences between Psychologist and Psychiatrist:PsychiatristA psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor. In India, a psychiatrist completes MBBS degree and additional gets trained in psychiatry at a post graduate level. Psychiatrists prescribe medication for mental illnesses like Major depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,  Anxiety Disorder and more. They spend much of their time on medication management as the primary course of treatment. Psychiatrists are medical doctors first. Most of them do not have additional training in counselling or talk therapy as a clinical psychologist. It is important to understand this: I have had several clients reach out to me and express that when they went to a psychiatrist, the doctor did not spend time listening to their deeper issues which lead them to the mental illness (like depression/anxiety,etc). Psychiatrists focus on the presenting symptoms of the patient. In conditions where the mental illness is severe and basic self care is impossible, taking medications to stabilize becomes necessary. They are not trained as clinical psychologists to approach mental illness with talk therapy.Clinical PsychologistIn India, clinical psychologists have a license by the Rehabilitation Council of India to practice professionally. They typically have a Bachelors & Masters in Psychology and an MPhil in Clinical Psychology.  A PhD in clinical psychology/psychology is not a licensing degree for practicing as a psychologist.Clinical Psychologists are trained to understand a variety of aspects of mental health and are also trained in different evidence based therapies to work with clients with mental illness or difficult life situations.Clients with severe mental illness will be concurrently seen by both Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologist for best results. Often times clients/patients with less severe kinds of mental health problems don’t like to use medications, they’re afraid they’re going to get addicted. These clients are more likely to see a psychologist first.Clinical psychologists help clients learn different tools to help transform their attitudes, behaviours, thoughts and emotions into those that support optimal well-being. As opposed to a psychiatrist who may spend less than 15 minutes in medication management with a patient per session, clinical psychologists typically spends over an hour per session in working with the client. Clinical psychologist are additionally trained in Testing and Assessment, that helps in diagnosing clients with mental illness. Clinical psychologist also work with individuals with normal life issues that seem to cause stress, anxiety and depression.  Talk therapy is the most effective for clients in these situations.I am a National Certified Counselor in the US and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in India with additional certifications in Evidence Based Therapies. If you are still wondering who you should see in therapy, get in touch with me to help you assess your situation and recommend to you the accurate form of therapy for your situation.

Today Is Mental Health day.use Intuitions and 6th Sense.

Dr. Neelam Nath Bhatia, General Physician
There is No person with 100% correct mental /physical health. Every test carried out in blood has a range. A person is labeled diseased only if the limits exceed normal range or fall below the rangeThere are 3 types of personalities according to Ayurveda.Type A is like Air , Flighty ,always on the go , multitasking ,and result oriented. Type A need not be physically active all the time to achieve their goals. A racing mind is also associated with type A personality. Creative people ,leaders , intellectuals are Type A and the world is dependent on Type A types because They are the Leaders.Type B is like Water, flowy but slowly , working but without much strain on body or mind & We can call them Cool !Type C is like Earth , steady, accepting , not keen or adventerous ,dependent ,ready to please or get pleased.It is a colorful world consisting of all of the 3 types of people.Be Careful of manipulative people who can read the mind and trap the person , knowing well his/her vulnerabilities , exploit them and label the supposedly 'weak ' person as Mad.Remember the programme- Kamzor Kadi Kaun ? ( Who is the Weakest in the link ?)Bottled up Stress can make any normal human behave like Mad.Every Mental Illness does not require Medicines . A good counsellor can do a wonderful job.Who is a good counsellor? An MD doctor, An MA Psychology or an elder in the family or a close friend?It can be any of the above. I am sure one retains some of 6th sense / intuition to know about whom to confide without getting exploited More to get really Mad.Stay away from medicines for anxiety if possible.If none of the above is available as in our country Mental Disease is still a tag , unlike other physical diseases like heart and lung disease or the ones the person is borne with.Start writing a diary about positives and negatives that has happened in life so far. Write a page daily. It is like cleansing our souls. Give a pat to self for good job done daily and a slap for being bad and nasty.One has to maintain both Physical and Mental Health & we take care of physical health by going for a walk /exercising /eating the right food etc. Similarly Mental Health needs to be Protected by each one of us through our own ways.Know yourself before knowing others and analyse self before being Judgemental.Social isolation can increase the risk of both cardiac and mental illness and sometimes it can be a Deliberate attempt to Isolate Seniors of family for Selfish purposes. Do Not Yield in. Remain connected with like minded people and do contribute to society like volunteering,mentoring,joining a civic club or scheduling outings with friends.Medicines should be the last resort of cure of mental disease for a person of any age, a mother can read her child and analyse the demands,adult child of same mother can be able to read the mind of mother. Never mind if child is settled well far away.Dementia or forgetfulness are 1st stages of routine mental illnesses and these are preventable by just doing simple Self Analysis.

7 Steps You Can Take for Mental Well-Being

Akshata Bhat, Psychiatrist
Take care of yourselfAs simple as it may sound, the mere act of taking care of you is the first step to good mental health. Eat healthy, exercise and get adequate sleep every day. These are the building blocks to good physical health, which translate into mental well-being.Prioritize It is not possible to do everything. The constant effort to do so creates unrealistic expectations. It eventually results in disappointment. Life is too short to waste on unnecessary things, so figure out what your priorities are and focus on them.Invest in yourselfEnvision yourself as a company set up and funded by you. Whatever you invest, you will get the returns accordingly. Give yourself the best; whether it is moral support, top notch grooming or courses to equip you with skills in the field of your choice. Hold nothing back when it comes to you.Let it goHolding on to anything, be it anger, pain, jealousy, failing relationships, dead end jobs or toxic friends will only bring you unhappiness. Let it go. Cut the cord. Break the cycle. Letting go will make you receptive to newer and better opportunities in your life.Take a breakGetting caught up in the daily grind leave you with little time for yourself. Your mind and body need to recharge from time to time. Take time out for yourself everyday to do something you enjoy. ‘Me’ time will help you relax, and motivate you to meet your daily challenges.Be ridiculousLaughing helps to reduce stress and is an instant mood elevator. Having a good sense of humor helps you see the bright side in difficult situations. It makes you optimistic and hopeful. Humor is also a very attractive quality, and it will draw people towards you.Ask for helpOften people feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness; or that by doing so, it lowers your prestige. Thus, even in very tough times, we tend not to ask for help and try to handle everything by ourselves. The truth is that it takes immense courage to admit that you need help, and there is nothing wrong in asking for it.

Dental Health and a Child’s Development – Are They Related?

Dr. Vandana, Dentist
A child is the most innocent and beautiful creations of God. Innocent because they don’t think or act grey, its either black or white and anything so pure and unadulterated ought to be beautiful. They don’t know the little intricacies of smiling like we adults do, when to smile, when not to, formal smile, pleasing smile and sometimes even plastic smiles. A child’s smile is just that, sheer pleasure, fresh like dew drops and soothing like sunshine on a winter morning!!I have my little daughters, elder one being nearly 5 years old. Like any other child she is also not very regular with her brushing regime (ironically yes!!). Being a dentist myself, I tried to convince her of the bad effects not brushing can have on her teeth but she just gave me one of those ‘I don’t care’ smile and moved on. Initially I thought to just let it go for I was also tired at the end of day but then the consequences dawned upon me.I have seen many pediatric patients during my practicing years with lots of dental problems mainly decay and pain. One common thing which I noticed among all those children was a lack of confidence, and that pure, never caring, confident smile was missing. They were conscious of the fact that their teeth did not look good, social pressure you see! And the main motive behind coming to a dentist was to get appreciation from friends, teachers and peers. This all set me wondering what would be going on in their little heads to handle all that pressure at such young age. I realized that the dental problem is not only giving child a physical discomfort but also hampering their overall physical and mental growth. I would not let that happen to my child.I think it’s not their fault that they are suffering rather ours .We as parents should make that extra effort to give our child a helping hand to get through that 5 minute regime of brushing, morning and evening. Believe me these 10 minutes daily you put in with child, ignoring their tantrums will definitely add on to your child’s physical well being and developing her confidence and overall personality. In a way we would be helping our society and country prosper.A child should smile like one free, confident, fun and fresh!!Until next time smile healthy and live happily!!!

Busting Common Counseling Myths!

Ms. Damini Grover, Psychologist
Of course we know what Counseling and Therapy is...right? That's why we end up making fun of people who may need help at some point. That's why, we conveniently put our guards up when someone says we might need help. I mean we have to be 'mad', 'crazy', 'unstable', 'psycho'  to get help. 'Normal' people don't need help. They are almost like superheros- can handle everything-anytime-anywhere. If that was the case, the concept of therapy wouldn't have existed at all.But the fact is, that therapy and counseling exist and that too as a profession. There are people who spend a major chunk of their lives studying to become therapists. It's not because they couldn't find anything to do. Rather, they are doing this, because they realise the importance of well-being and they want to help as many people as possible in leading a good quality life.Life is moving so fast that we don't even realize that we are getting caught up in a web. A web consisting of demands, commitments, responsibilities; and a multitude of events that constitute our daily routine. Without any conscious effort, we start hoarding of a lot of unwanted and unwelcome thoughts, emotions and actions. These in turn, give rise to many pertinent issues like stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and mood swings, aches and pains and many other health issues. These days, health issues are almost becoming our second nature. We all are aware of this fact. Yet, reluctant to change it.And for some strange reason, we find it easier to take medicines than to actually make the effort of solving our problems. Yes, times have changed and more and more we are realising the importance of this profession called ‘Counselling’. However, we all still operate under some fundamental misconceptions about it. Here are some common facts and myths about Counselling that we all must know. So that, if and when the need arises, we can make an informed choice of approaching a counselor and seeking help.Mental health is as important as physical health for our well-being: When things don’t go our way, it’s very natural to go through a gamut of negative emotions. However, a healthy mental condition allows us to evaluate our situations and problems objectively and enables effective problem-solving and decision making. Sometimes, prolonged or severe acute stressors can create a whirlpool within us. Thus, giving rise to sleep difficulty, anxiety, excessive anger, irritation etc. When we find ourselves unable to handle our daily functioning effectively, it is an indication that we need help. It is the same as going to a doctor when we experience some physical symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be ‘mad’ to seek counselling or therapy: Counselors function much like doctors-they listen to your symptoms,diagnose what the problem and the source is. But instead of giving medicines, they help us to explore the issues from different perspectives, until we arrive at a feasible solution. You can be stressed or anxious over your job, family issues, relationship problems, emotional set backs etc. and you can still seek the help of a counselor, who is trained to help you cope better.Counselling does not make you ‘weak’: Going to a Counselor, discussing your issues and inner most feelings does not certify one as ‘weak’!If anything it does, is widen our thought process to include different understandings of a particular event. It enables us to vent out our emotions. This is can be termed as ‘emotional cleansing’ or ‘catharsis’ which makes us feel relaxed. But, the most important thing it does, is to ‘empower’ us so that we can handle our thoughts, emotions and actions better. Talking to friends and family members is not a substitute to Counselling : Yes, we must share our thoughts and emotions with our loved ones. We all have that one person who is our best friend, our confidante. Yet, when going through a difficult phase (internally or externally), sometimes it’s not enough. Simply, because when we talk to people close to us, we are listening to their opinions, ideas and judgments. Sometimes, a situation demands much more than just an opinion. What works for one person, may not work for someone else. Situations and problems require an objective, unbiased view of what’s going on and the possible solutions available. Someone may be losing sleep over an irrational fear of something, while someone may be anxious about a future occurrence. A counselor is a trained professional, who helps you to objectively evaluate and solve an issue because the solution lies within us.What if other people find out?: Well, Counselling is based on mutual trust and confidentiality. As an ethical practice, counselors do not discuss client’s information with other people. It is only in special cases where there is a potential risk involved, that a Counselor will feel the need to inform other relevant people.How can I talk to a stranger?: Wasn't your best friend initially a stranger? The fact is, that most of our relations outside of our families, started off with a level of unfamiliarity. It is the unfamiliarity that creates space for objectivity and facilitates free-flow of thought. Doesn't it feel nice to just let your heart do the talking, without worrying about what the other person is thinking about us? In times like now, don’t we just want to be heard and not talked to all the time? Having an hour or two, just to ourselves..Isn't that what we all want? Counselling is expensive!: So are all the luxury items that we spoil ourselves with! It may seem like the counselor does nothing except listen to our rants. But that is his /her actual job! He/She listens so that he can get an in-depth understanding of what’s going on within us. A counselor invests a lot of time and energy on every individual client. Thus, he/she charges the amount that he/she thinks is feasible.Counselor only talks or listens and does nothing!: The fact of the matter is,that Counselors and therapists invest a lot of time and money in getting trained. It's a profession that requires interaction! And not just that, it employs many kinds of therapies and techniques. It's all about finding yourself, placing the pieces of this puzzle called life- together! And yes, he/she does listen! That's one of the ways to know what's going on inside us! And then, there are those times when always crib that 'we have no one who listens to us!' Counselling is life-long: Well, if you end up establishing a good rapport, then why not! After all, we all have people whom we call our ‘guides’ or ‘mentors’ and they are there to guide us all along! But, Counseling involves a lot of time and effort from the Client and the Counselor. Depending on the nature of the issue and the need of the client, Counseling can be long term or short term. Counselling does not provide you with tailor-made solutions or fixes!: It is a guided self-exploration process. And we all know, how complicated our inner and outer lives are! Just like we can get stressed over many things; there are many solutions to problems. Sometimes, it takes a long time to find the solution. Sometimes, it comes to us in a flash! The idea behind counselling is, to keep exploring, till we find the solution that fits best without losing our mind!Counselling is magic!: Yes, it is! If, we have the will to work for our own betterment. Just by sitting in a Counselling session, our problems won’t vanish. It requires focus and commitment to our own self. Only then will the sessions be effective. Counselors, therapists can only guide us to a better life. They cannot live our lives for us.The big question then is, when to approach a Counselor? The harsh reality is, that stress, anxiety, worry etc have all become intricately tied to our lives. We do manage to lead our versions of a normal life. However, when these issues begin to interfere in our daily functioning (unable to sleep well, anger, aggression, feeling low etc); when we are no longer able to cope with life's challenges and demands and need a reorientation; that's when we should seek help.And yes, Counselor and Psychiatrist is not the same! A Psychiatrist is a doctor. He gives medicines. A counselor is a different person and approach altogether.A little patience demanding and lengthy process in comparison. But, with long-term benefits! At the end of the day, Counseling, Therapy etc are professions - like all others!It is not a taboo. Rather, it's a resource that we can use to improve and empower our lives!Stay Healthy. Feel Good!