Counseling Czar

Sandeep started by telling us the difference between a counselor and a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a medical professional, who heals through medicines. He may have clinical psychologists attached. Counsellors are people who are students of applied psychology. They are not allowed to prescribe medicines.

One of the common customers counselors have today are school students. Sandeep talked about one such student, who came because he was a slow learner. This is very common nowadays. A large contributor is an addiction to electronic gadgets, which leads to lowering of attention span, and with practice more on typing, reduced writing speed. Some of these kids cannot study, till they have a mobile phone in hand. Sandeep’s niece cannot study, unless the television is on. Sandeep’s lament is that parents are overdoing it by sending their 1st standard children for counselling. It’s actually the parents or need to be counselled.

The problem with students today is not so much in the storage of things, but in the recalling. What we feel are useless students are actually students who are used less. Sandeep talked about how academics is a bad measure for success. One of the toppers of his school, Saint Joseph’s, Khadki is a good for nothing today. Don’t measure people by marks. Every child is unique. Recognise that uniqueness.

A teacher, because she is unbiased, is a better judge of students than parents. Sometimes schools push parents into counselling. One of Pune’s leading schools sent one of its students to Sandeep, claiming that he had ADHD, which is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The prescribed solution is to have a shadow teacher. And the school charges the student a thousand rupees per day for this teacher! Most of the time this is done purely with profit motives in mind. A simple solution for ADHD involves use of games and the play-way method. In today’s world, with all the games being played only on mobile phones, there is no avenue for energy release. We have to get such hyperactive students involved in physical work.

There was a 2nd standard student who could not remember words. Sandeep used Scrabble to make her learn. Sandeep ensures that they are running around a lot when they come for his sessions. A teacher needs to spend a lot of time in observing kids, understanding their likes and dislikes. So that she can tailor the learning accordingly.

We then had the Question and Answer session.

Kalplata’s question who was: Should we carry our home troubles to school and vice versa? Sandeep’s advice was to get your life’s priorities and goals clear. This will help. Additionally, meditation techniques also help.

Rohini’s question was about one of our grade 2 students. She wanted to know if we should show him to a psychiatrist. Sandeep said that unless it’s an emergency don’t think of going to a psychiatrist. We need to understand him by going down to his level. Schizophrenia is a valid reason for going to a psychiatrist. It is caused by any chemical imbalances. Only psychiatry can treat it.

Neelam’s son is in 12 years old. And is hyperactive. Sandeep thinks that this is perfectly normal. If he were to be interested in his studies, it would have been abnormal! His advise was to get her son a GodFather. To ensure that the son is burning his energy. The age of 2 to 7 is when we are programmed – the software is written into our brains. After that, no new software gets added. From 7 to 12 the IQ actually reduces. After that it remains stable. This is called the child-script. 12 onwards is the age of experimentation. A newfound Independence. Parents at this time have to reign in their kids, but have enough leeway in their ropes. This is the age of setting do’s and don’ts for children. But it’s important for parents to tell them the reason for the don’ts. Sandeep gave the example of his 12 year old, who asked him about sanitary napkins. There was a very patient explaining that the family did then.

Swati’s observation was that we are not staying too much in the present. Most of our life is spent in the kal – both yesterday and tomorrow. Sandeep promise to an entire session to deal with this. The next question was about Kshitij. His learning has stopped. Sandeep’s reaction was that if the glass is full, everything overflows. He asked us to explore is home environment. Kshitij was ok till he was in junior KG. He started behaving this way from January 18. We need to check whether there is a  problem between husband and wife.

Sandeep, by the way. also takes spoken English classes. We must learn the tricks for that from him soon. One interesting method used by Sandeep for people who are having learning disorders is imposition. Make the kid write the same thing many times. Fear of punishment will get them back on track.

Nishi wanted to know what to do with hyperactive children. Sandeep advised Nishi to use the token economy. Which is, to give stars for students if they do good deeds. This is one of the best motivators. Every 5 stars can be converted into a chocolate. Atul suggested dry fruit.

Nidhi’s questions was about the class complaining too much about each other. Sandeep said its natural for kids to complain. What we can do then is to get to the root cause of the complaint. And get them to think about what is right and what is not. Laughing on someone is not Ok. Self-defense is ok. Give them an incentive for fewer complaints.