Last week I met a friend whose 8 year old son was becoming excessively quiet at school .He was not communicating with the teacher and even though had some friends yet was not very keen to attend school. However at home he was becoming abusive and violent. With parents who were extremely soft spoken and hailing from a typical joint family the child’s behavior was baffling..Repeated enquiries as to why he was sitting alone, why he had his lunch alone etc met with a blunt denial, “No I’m not”..
Look for signs of aloofness and sudden withdrawal in the child .Sometimes these may be early indicators of later problems. Children stop communicating for a number of reasons.
- Sometimes a rude remark by the teacher and subsequent’branding ‘of children as ‘duffer’’ naughty’ ‘ ‘thief’ etc makes his classmates target him and isolate him . He feels left out and withdraws into a shell. However the frustration comes out at home and he becomes abusive. You need to speak to the teacher and rest of the classmates to know what has occurred in class A teacher should not humiliate or’ brand ‘a child
- If a child has fallen into bad company and feels compelled to do things he knows are wrong, he withdraws from contact with his parents. The peer pressure and the desire to belong outweigh the trust of the parents and to avoid lying, children simply avoid conversation. Keep track of their friends and make an effort to know their parents so you know what company they keep.
- Check the possibility of bullying. This could be in the classroom, play ground , cafeteria and most often in school buses. You are not likely to get any straight answers from the child directly so it may be worthwhile to get in touch with the child’s friends/teachers/coach etc to get a clearer picture. Report any bullying immediately
- Do not hesitate to discuss any change in your child’s behavior with the school psychologist/ counselor (most schools have one) or the teacher in charge. They spend a good amount of time with your child and can give an unbiased view about his/her conduct and relationship with other teachers and classmates
- Any unfair comparison with class mates or siblings who are more talented or competent can make the child withdraw into a shell. Each child is unique and there are bound to be individual differences .Appreciate the child’s smallest achievements to make him/her more forthcoming.
- The child may be facing some kind of physical abuse and does not know how to tell you..Children often develop feelings of guilt Gently explain the concept of ‘good’ and ‘‘bad ‘touch without any reference to his /her behavior and let him / her open up to you..
- The child may have an embarrassing habit such as bedwetting or thumb sucking or stammering for which he/she is being singled out for ridicule by the rest..Get medical help if needed to make the child more comfortable.
- Take a look within your family setup. Parental discord or domestic violence can make the child clam up and aloof. Try to keep your home a happy and safe haven for your child.
Whatever the reason the child holds back his emotions; the result of this repression is usually angry outbursts and tantrums when he is in more familiar surrounding—-home.
Parents and siblings are usually the punching bags. A little understanding and patience can usually work wonders.