Child Psychology and Professionals

Lots of people get confused between Child Psychologists and Child Psychiatrists. Some important differences are-

1. Child Psychiatrists are always medical doctors. They typically have more than 10 years of training in medical and related fields.

2. Child psychiatrists are licenced to prescribe medications that are sometimes necessary in severe cases.

3. Child psychologists are graduates and post- graduates from arts and humanities stream. they often work in specialist fields like – school and educational psychology, counseling psychology, behavioural sciences, etc.

4. Child psychologists are trained to carry out various psychological tests like Intelligence Quotient (IQ), aptitude tests, tests for learning disbility, other tests that provide information about temperament of the child.

5. Child psychologists and Child Psychiatrists often refer patients to each other for specific work that requires specialist input.

Most good schools now have a in house counselor or child psychologist. They work with teachers to detect problems at early stage and help the child in classroom setting. they also conduct counseling sessions and specific interventions like play therapy, behaviour therapy in schools.


School counselors / Psychologists can conduct psychological tests and advice parents and schools about better ways of working with a child.

Good Childhood

Today I came across this report on BBC website.

It talks about what we can and should do improve the quality of childhood. I know that in India we are far behind international standards on education and social life, but that should not prevent us from knowing what is really good for children and society in general.

“Love Thy Child”

My recent activity on twitter generated
some interest. So here are all the tweets put together-



love is the best tonic u can give ur
children. there are no overdoses, toxicity and side effects if you
administer pure love. keep reading-




1. children r happier if you love
them, neutral if you MANAGE them, sad if you manipulate them,
vengeful you if u lie 2 them.


2. children in concentration camps
were happier than their guards! how? was it- hope/ curiosity/
ignorance/ energy/ enthusiasm?


3. working hard for family is parents’
responsibility. don’t demean it by verbalizing it. always remember
Walmiki’s tale.


4. remember the person who really
motivated you. what did they do? try that with your child. use same
time frame….no instant results.


5. what age was your first
infatuation? when were you ready for intimacy? Subtract 3 years from
that – that is when your child will do it. ( for normal parents



6.children listen to people they have
fun with. how much fun are you?


7.if you want children to listen to you
– speak less, speak with smile, give only one suggestion per 12
hours. lead by example.


8.respect generates from admiration,
interest from fascination, motivation from self-belief and all 3 from
love. what can u generate?


9. audit your time spent with your
child. what percentage is spent giving instructions, complaints,
suggestions, advice, etc.?


10. make a list of 10 of your idols.
read about their academics upto age 18. remember that while thinking
about your child’s academics. not be impatient while they are
talking. frame your questions with what and how instead of why.


12.make good eye contact with your
child and smile. difficult? try to exhale while you smile, works
best, almost natural




Recently a soon-to-be mother asked me-
” my mother and mom-in-law have both offered to stay with me for 3
months after my baby is borne. Who should I choose?” For a woman
who gets along well with her mom-in-law ( and her own mother as
well), it is a very tricky situation. To top it, the baby was going
to be the first grandchild on either side so both gradmothers were
very eager.


In a flash I remembered Sunita and
Rajiv ( as usual, names changed). Both successful careerists,
arranged marriage, very much in tune with each other and went for a
baby 4 yr. after marriage. Life couldn’t be better. Sunita took a 6
month break for baby and was promised support from in-laws.


Within a week of delivery, Sunita was
in a tight spot. Baby was hard to look after. He would cry every 2
hours, day and night. She had not slept well for that whole week and
soon naming ceremony was announced. The night before the ceremony
baby had colicks and stayed up most night. Sunita was like a zombie
in the ceremony, but saw it thru’ with dignity.


Her colleagues visited her often and
she missed the buzz of workplace. In- laws loved their grandson and
played with him when he was awake and smiling. Rajiv was trying to be
a good dad and changed occasinal nappy and did occasional baby feeds.
His company was going thru a lean patch and work was stressful so he
would came home late and crashed in front of TV to ” cool down”.


Sunita was getting edgy now. Her sleep
was still in bits and pieces, her body felt strange, smelled even
more foreign, her emotions were all over the place, tears and anger
were just below the surface all the time. She felt ALONE. Rajiv
seemed faraway, he was giving her space! Lots of it! In-laws were
being nice but they still had clear expectations from Sunita.


One day after she put the baby to
sleep, Sunita loked at the baby, herself and Rajiv sleeping next to
her and just burst into tears. She cried for the love she could not
feel for the baby, she cried for the anger she felt for her family,
she cried for herself who she could no longer identify. Strangely
crying did not make her feel good just more miserable and even more
tired. She wondered whether life was worth living.


I saw her a month after that episode.
She was thin, tired, angry and sad. But worst of all she felt lonely
and out of life’s race. Post-partum depression was not difficult to
diagnose but convincing her family that she needs support was ! They
could not understand ” support”, they offered to hire more maids,
Rajiv offered to come home early. Was that not enough?


What Sunita needed was someone looking
after her needs of rest, pampering, listening, sharing and just
having fun. She did not need people advising her on how to look after
baby she needed a person to look after her !


We know for a fact that husband’s role
after childbirth is to support the mother. Appriciate her efforts,
make sure that she gets enough rest, hold her emotionally and give
her positive feedback about her efforts to be a good mother. She
needs someone stable and confident while she is riding the hormonal
roller coaster.


Sunita was in a tight spot. I have seen
quite a few mothers with even more on their plate – difficult
in-laws, insensitive husbands, money problems, cranky babies and
worst of all babies with birth defects ! It is surprising, so few
actually become suicidal!


Eventually with lot of counseling and
family work and of course antidepressants, situation got a bit more
tolerable. I see Sunita now and then. Now baby is 4 years old. Sunita
works full time and Rajiv’s company has survived recession.


If you knew Sunita before, you would
not recognise her now. She aged 10 years in last four. She knows that
her world view has changed and so has her personality. She is not the
chirpy, competitive, fun loving, hard worker any more. She works well
and efficiently but can not watch violent movies and lovey-dovey ones
as well. She no more cooks non-vegetarian food and does not argue her
points that sharply. She has a happy family and is even planning a
second baby ! I know this time Sunita will do better and I hope Rajiv
will too.



All this flashed thru my mind when this
glowing, heavily pregnant, smiling mother to-be asked me about her

The answer is simple. Use following
criteria. The person to help you thru next 3 months should-

  1. Be willing to look after you and
    not your baby.
  2. Be willing to make sure that you
    get atleast two spells of uninterrupted 3-4 hour sleep in a day no
    matter what time that is.
  3. Be strong enough to tell off
    guests, noisy people if you are resting or feeding the baby.
  4. Not be offended if you are tired,
    irritable or just having a bad day.
  5. Be ready to tolerate mess,
    untidyness and smells in the house especially in living room.
  6. Be ready to ignore baby’s father !
  7. Will let you play with the baby
    when baby is playful and not hand over the baby to you the moment it
  8. Do all this with love, affection
    and sense of humor.


This is a tall order, very tall indeed.
But I know some women ( mothers and mother-in-laws) who did it !!

Children and Divorce

This has been a strange month. No less
than three times I was asked advice about protecting children from
effects of divorce. Once it was grandparents seeking help with the
issue because they were given custody by the court !


As divorce and seperations become more
frequent reality of a changing society, we need to have a clear
knowledge of protecting children from the emotional holocaust.


Many times I see couples who have
decided to go their own ways for their own reasons and want a stable
future for their children. Fact is – no matter how well you do it,
children will have trouble. Afterall they NEED both parents.


We can take some precautions to limit
the damage –


  • Be aware that children KNOW
    something is wrong. Do not keep telling them ” everything is going
    to be alright”. It will just make them more suspicious of you.Tell
    them clearly that things are not going well and it will take a while
    to get everything sorted out.
  • Don’t forget to let them know
    again and again that it is not their fault that you are seperating.
  • When finally you decide to move
    away into different houses, let kids know who goes where.
  • Do not go overboard with your
    promises about time to be spent with them, vacations, pocketmoney,
    etc. Promise only what is definitely possible for you month after
    boring / stressful month. This is very important as parent living
    away feels pressured to promise heaven just to be in kid’s good
    books and then come up with un- believable excuses.
  • Remember that you two have
    difference of opinion and kids have nothing to do with it. If kids
    make some choices, unfavourable to you, don’t hold it against them
  • Do not outsource your childcare
    responsibilities to grandparents / friends/ neighbours / new spouses


If you are the parent living away there
are some important things-


  • Do not undermine decipline of
    their permanent home.
  • Do not waste your breath to talk
    nasty things about your ex-spouse.
  • Do not spoil kids with material
    things and luxuries in whatever little time you get with them.
    Remember they are YOUR kids and whatever damage you do to them, will
    come home after a while.


Some common points-

  • Don’t expect kids to like your new
    partner / spouse straightaway. Do not force them to call your new
    spouse by – daddy / mummy names. It can just mess things up.
    “Aunty / Uncle” is also a no-no. First name is nice and
  • Be aware that kids can take you
    for a ride by telling horror stories about your ex-spouse. Do not
    believe everything they say !!


Now go ahead and enjoy that hard earned