Tuesday, 8 March 2016

What Parents Need To Know About Their Children’s Imaginary Friends

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Parents could be initially worried when their child starts talking about an imaginary friend. Popular media has made the concept relatively frightening; there is a connotation that children with these types of friends later on develop to be mentally unstable adults. Mental health practitioners disagree with this misconception. Several medical studies have concluded that children having imaginary friends iscompletely normal.

Children, particularly those without siblings, need to explore their imagination and fantasies. Each child manifests these thoughts differently. More introverted and creative children tend to create another friend; someone who is close to their age and with whom they feel a special bond. The friend need not even be human. Some children befriend their toys or make a completely fictional character.

Parents do not have to actively encourage the behavior but must learn to adapt to their child’s new friend. It has been shown to be detrimental when a child is punished, even with negative language, for having an imaginary friend. Name-calling or incessant teasing may cause the child to withdraw within himself or herself. The friend should then be treated as with respect and acknowledgment, or as a regular human being.

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If parents are particularly worried, they may want to have their child hang out with other children their age. The socialization could help the child move on from the imaginary friend, although this is not automatic. Eventually the child will grow out of this phase, and begin to engage in more interpersonal relationships. It must be noted though that should a child continue speaking and being friends with something imaginary past the age of eight, he or she should be looked at by a professional for further assessment.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter is a reputable child psychiatrist. For more information about his practice, follow this Twitter account.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Helping your Child Deal with Bullying

Recent surveys have suggested that more than half of school-age children know someone who has been bullied or has been a victim of bullying themselves. These results tie in with several medical studies that have concluded that school bullying is one of the leading causes of low self-esteem and self-worth among pre-teens and adolescents. At its worst, bullying may result in cases of depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illnesses. Early intervention is critical to reducing the lasting effects of bullying on children. And parents play a critical role in how their child responds to bullying and how it will affect him or her as he or she grows up.

Image source: simpleacts.org
  
A typical reaction to bullying is projection. Bullied kids bully other kids who bully other kids. The cycle will never end until a child stops it where it is. It can only be done with the help of parents. Children should always be taught to respect others. Empathy should also be taught. Children who are better-rounded and who are taught the proper values are less likely to bully. If they are the ones who are being bullied, they can also use their empathy not to lash out at the bully. It must also be noted that bullies tend to continue their behavior if they see a big response (such as crying or being affected in a similar way). Children who ignore their bullies or who act like they don’t care usually have the bullying stop early on. If the bullying persists, parents should advise the child to seek help from their teachers or principal. 

Image source: goodtoknow.co.uk

Parents should keep an open line of communication with their children. They may do role playing scenarios with their child if necessary. It is also important that children feel that they can quickly go to their parents for help. Severe cases of bullying may even necessitate a transfer of school for victims. 

Jonathan Lauter is a trusted child and adolescent psychiatrist. He has helped hundreds of pre-teens develop the skills they need to develop into happier and healthier adults. View this LinkedIn profile for more on Dr. Lauter’s credentials.