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I have regularly sought the help of Counselors when I am faced with an issue with the children or even otherwise. I think speaking to a professional and a trained person helps you bounce off ideas and lets you understand the dynamics of parenting and relationships better. I am not a qualified professional and whatever I have learned has been through my experiences and observations in relationships along with sharing of thoughts and experiences of those close to me. As parents of young kids, we are always stressed and hard pressed for time. There are 10000 different things to do in a day, and then the child throws tantrums or just makes life more difficult. It is natural for us already tired and stressed selves to hit out at the child. But, all the yelling and threatening does not seem to have much effect, does it? All it does is it helps us vent our frustration and momentarily makes us feel okay. But the solution to the problem is far away. It becomes a vicious cycle, and the child takes a turn for the worse because the root cause of the problem is not addressed.

This is where I have personally benefited from both reading articles as well as talking to a professional Counselor especially this lady who has the credentials and the skill to boot. When I spoke to her over the phone, she told me that despite what we may think, the problem is always with the approach of parents than the child per se. The child is often grappling with an issue that the parent is unable to comprehend. The parent is only thinking from their own perspective not from that of a child. And trust me, even with a5-year-old one can have powerful conversations if one has invested the time in building trust and strengthening communication lines with the child. One thing that I’ve known for long and that she reiterated is that parents have the crucial responsibility of molding a young child. A child will imbibe the behavior a parent exhibits, and you will see it manifested in the child’s own behavior when he is an adult. And, it is very difficult to correct bad behavior patterns or wrong habits then. What is desirable is to nip such behavior in the childhood when we still can. This places a powerful responsibility on the shoulders of all parents.

She also said that empathyand firmness are two very important attributes in parenting. Empathy means going down to the level of the child and thinking from his perspective and why he does what he does. Sympathy is feeling for someone, and empathy is feeling with someone. Not being judgmental but just understanding what the other person is going through. And every action and every tantrum will fit into a behavior pattern. Firmness or assertion is equally important. Parents find it very hard to do that. Firmness or assertiveness is not equated to anger in any way. Firmness means that you are serious about saying and enforcing something without demeaning the other person or yelling at them. Discipline is very important for children. Without discipline there is no structure, and the child just drifts along without understanding the importance of rules and adherence to them. Parenting is not about pampering and giving in all the time. Parenting is about striking a balance.

I had a lovely positive chat with her, and she reinforced for me that yelling will take me nowhere. Some of the things like positive reinforcements, timeouts etc. I do personally. Yet I lose my temper. I am not awfully proud of that. I must tell you an incident that happened yesterday. I went to play Table Tennis with both my sons. Now, the younger one is still learning. We decided that the elder one will play first with me and then the younger one will take turns. But Gautam started throwing a huge tantrum, screaming and yelling, kicking the table – the works. Well, we tried to calm him. He was being obnoxious but to my credit :)I kept calm. I brought him home – he came kicking, yelling and crying all the way. I did not react. I left him at home, told him that I refused to play with him because he misbehaved. Then I came out with Sid. We played a couple of games and came home. I again asked Gautam who was calm by now if he wanted to play. I made it clear that I will bring him back home if he whined, yelled or cried. He nodded. You would not believe that he was well behaved and actually played pretty well, and then waited for his brother’s turn to get over.  So well, the approach of being calm and collected works best with kids even when they are at their worst. And, if it does not work for the first time, it will work the second time or the third time. Consistency is the key.

Yes, he will throw a tantrum again, but if I deal with it correctly, I am sure very soon he will really understand what the correct behavior is. In a way, yes it can be said that a bad behavior in a child is a failing of a parent who might not understand the cause of it. It is not easy for me to stay calm especially under such trying circumstances, but I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do. And, I will keep trying to do the right thing.

I am just sharing this wisdom with all my blogger friends. Try it with your friends, colleagues and kids. If you are calm and don’t overreact, you will find the aggressive party slowly losing steam. And, it will definitely help with the children. I am going to make the effort to do it as much as possible. I hope you can try too.

But, I can only delve deep into this reserve of calm and patience if I am at peace and tension free. Now that is not my state of mind most of the time, but I can make it better. Reduction of stress at the level of parents can be achieved by being aware, by being better organized so that deadlines and tensions don’t make you edgy, and by seeking help when you are really at your wits’ end. I have always maintained that Counseling is very healthy. It is also important that one goes for Counseling with the intent to listen, understand and bring about change. I have noticed that change can only come from within when you convince yourself that the need for change is real. Often among Indians, we do not turn to Counseling considering it useless or having negative connotations. On the contrary, it may make the difference to your relationships when you are struggling.

I am not under any illusion that I can always be calm and collected. But, with the awareness, I will endeavor to be a better human being and a better parent.

PS  On a different note, I had submitted a story idea for Indiblogger Harper Collins Get Published that stems from my own story:
Here is the link, do vote for it if you like it:
http://www.indiblogger.in/getpublished/idea/47/

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79 Thoughts on “Does Counseling help?

  1. Yes counseling is very helpful for clearing the mind,seeking answers,finding solutions & unloading the worries.Just sharing your woes & doubts, lessens stress & calms the mind.

  2. I have benefited from counseling myself and also work as a counselor. So I nod in agreement with you.

  3. i liked that kicking, yelling, and crying part because that’s exactly what i used to do when i was a kid and i still feel like doing that every now and then.

    lovely post as usual.

  4. Never been to counselling but been to the psychiatry sessions for my son in the past years. I abhor them. That is a different story anyway. But I agree with you. We have to be strict in what we say and not give in to them easily. I know how demanding life is and it’s not all that easy to stick to the rules chart. I remembered a similar incident like the one you had with Gautam. A friend’s toddler was real cranky during food time and everyday eating is one hell of an episode for her. She was so tired and upset, she put him in the high chair and closed the room door. After few minutes when she was composed, she went and opened the room and started talking moral lessons to him like, why do u do that baby? why can’t you eat and then play? why are you troubling me etc etc..Can you believe the baby started eating his food and within a minute he said, amma, sorry amma and it seems he said the same thing thrice in 5 mins that too with a very sad voice and face. err….big comment again? I think you got used to my lengthy comments by now..hehe 🙂

    • I agree Latha! Sometimes the kids do surprise us. I have seen that in my experience as well. You should try Counseling too but perhaps with an Indian counselor :). I lovvveeee big comments :).

  5. Speaking to a counselor and listening very carefully to what teachers/class teachers tell about my kids have always helped me. Once again a detailed and very helpful post Rachna.
    Have a happy Sunday!

    • That’s wonderful Kavita! I have seen that going to a Counselor is still looked down upon in our society. It is nice that many of us are going beyond that thinking. Thanks so much!

  6. Your post illustrates the benefits of counseling very well.I have been to a counselor couple of times for my son, not for behavior issues but for dealing with other learning problems etc..and as you very rightly pointed out, you need a scientific understanding of why kids do what they do and learning to deal with it the best way.Though I have not followed the advice to the ‘t’ but have understood the spirit and made modifications to suit what I felt was best for my son.

    • I agree themoonstone! It might not always be possible to do everything to the T as you pointed out, but it helps to take at least some corrective steps. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  7. Yes keeping calm and composed helps. But it is extremely difficult when the child is throwing things around or yelling. But I suppose with time and practice i will improve. Wonderful and timely post Rachna

    • Thank you Bhagya! I know how difficult it is. Believe me, I see it everyday :). But this is one way in which I can do something long term, I feel. Let us see how it goes.

  8. I generally consider myself quite calm and collected, Rachna. But there was a specific period when it seemed like my son drove me nuts. It was a very stressful time at home with Mom in hospital and all the running around made for a very hectic time. Plus trying to get him to school and all the related stuff.

    A family friend, who is also a counselor visited Mom in hospital and after that, we chatted for a while in the lobby. She said I looked so very worked up which was natural and she asked how Vidur was doing. Well – I whined a little and she suggested that much of it was possibly in my mind.

    Well, I thought about it and realized it was I who was stressed, not my son. From his perspective he was actually being very cooperative. In fact, that was the time he also surprised us by learning the Tamil alphabet on his own and wrote a letter to my Mom in Tamil.

    Even if we don’t have access to a counselor, it helps to share and talk about this, I feel; the moment the stuff in our heads comes out as words, things start to look much better already. Somehow, in my experience, children are such great teachers. 🙂 I find that talking to them logically almost always gets the desired results.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Parenting is about creating a balance…and oh, we’re learning all the time!

    Love, Vidya

    • Great post, Rachna, I agree with you that empathy and firmness go hand in hand while dealing with the child. sometimes when I go mad on my child, I also consider going to a counsellor. You have answered many my questions here. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Vidya. But, kids also come in different temperaments. My elder son was hyper when younger. He is so responsible now. I remember how difficult he had become when his brother was born. He threw persistent tantrums because he wanted me to do everything for him. I had a C-section and had another baby to tend to. I was physically and mentally exhausted and his resentment towards his grandmother really hurt me. That was the first time I sought help with the counselor. Yes, difficult circumstances make different kids react in different ways. But, for us to figure that out sometimes we require external help. I know I can be very calm and composed, but there are circumstances in life when I need understanding and help, but the child is unable to understand that and becomes even more demanding and difficult. A parent is always supposed to maintain calm, but we are human too with our failings and frustrations. This is life.

    • Thank you so much, Meenakshi! My purpose for writing this post is to not feel shy or embarrassed to seek help. Seeking help is a sign of strength not weakness. Sometimes, hearing it from a third person always gives more weight to the advice that a near one gives you, but it does not seem to cut ice with you. I think there should be no shame attached with seeking Counseling.

  9. Absolutely agree, Rachna! It can certainly help us in dealing with our children better, if we keep ourselves calm and learn to empathize with them. I cant tell you how many times I end up loosing my patience, turning into this screaming banshee only to regret it later :(.

    That was an immensely helpful post! Loved every bit of what you said 🙂

  10. I don’t know.
    But,in my opinion,who can be a better council than elders at home?

    • With due respect, Chowlaji, the advice of elders can be sought, but I prefer a third party that has no stake and is professionally qualified to provide an opinion. Besides, it is not necessary that when it comes to parenting, our methods are in sync with those of our elders.

  11. Amen to counseling.

  12. I have no clue about parenting but a calm approach does help in most conflict resolution. About counselling, I don’t know. Maybe it helps. But I am deeply distrustful about any commercial service, especially in India.

    • Yes, calm approach does help in conflict situations though it is not always easy to do so. My personal experience has shown me that it helps. Though, I did encounter one counselor who was not much good and was promptly changed. Commercial? Well, all skilled professionals will charge, won’t they? And, one session is enough to tell you whether the Counselor is capable or not.

  13. I hope times are changing, and if one seeks counseling, it isn’t automatically seen as a sign of incompetence or weakness. In India, I think that was a case some years ago.

    • Exactly Rickie! No, it is still not much different in India. You tell people to seek Counseling whether it is related to marriage or children, and they just brush it aside. It is still not accepted easily. My point of the post was to share that there is no embarrassment in seeking help from a trained professional.

  14. A very useful post.But you have left out the third dimension to the problem that I see in many houses.When mom is disciplining the kid, the dad comes in and tells”A small kid,don’t be harsh”.All her efforts to correct the kid comes to naught.The kid learns to play one against the other.The first lesson would be for the spouses to be supportive to each other before the kid and any difference of opinion on disciplining the child or the right or wrong what the child did ,discussed privately.
    In joint family grand parents add to the problem siding with kid when they should not.Being elders they cannot be told bluntly.
    Kids observe the parents and are quick learners.They copy the same behaviour they see in their parents.The spouses should avoid what they do not wish the kids to do.Very difficult to follow I agree.Nevertheless should be practiced.

    • True KP Sir. I think husband and wife have maximum tiffs over parenting styles and issues. And, it can work very negatively when children are used to score points against the other parent. Children also learn to use it to their advantage. When communication lines between the parents dim, it is a sign of very bad times to come. Yes, elders sometimes also do a lot of harm.

      I agree wholeheartedly that we have to practice what we preach. And, I agree that it is very difficult to do despite all the awareness! Loved your comment.

  15. Oh yes Rachna. Certainly counseling is helpful. I follow the same approach with my son and tantrums do decrease. The lid is blown off very frequently but knowing about how to handle the situation helps.

    • Glad to know that, Jas! You and I are similar in more ways than one :). I am proud of my generation of mothers who don’t hold back in seeking opinion.

  16. My first visit, Rachna! I believe counselling should be an integral part of everyone’s life. How else are we to reflect and improve on how we live our life? In the UK counselling can have a stigma – only people who go wrong seek the help of such a professional, the thinking goes. But to me, counselling is a way of being mentally and spiritually healthy. A preventative, rather than a cure.

    The chance to talk to someone detached from our lives, who can look at our situations dispassionately and help us work things out – well, that’s not something to turn one’s nose up at…

    • Hi Kate, Welcome to my blog! I agree wholeheartedly. Really, I didn’t know that this was the attitude towards Counseling in UK. In India, definitely there is a stigma attached. People either have no faith in it or are scared to acknowledge that there might be a problem. Like you, I believe that it is a preventive and it can expedite healing as well.

      Absolutely 100% agree with your last paragraph. I also look for a person who is detached, not emotionally charged and a professional who can provide cues. That is all we seek, don’t we? The actions are always in our hands.

  17. Rachna,

    One surely needs to understand from child point of view to reason it out. I always maintained that logical talk works better than imposing self. I had also written a post about Parents relationship with children some time ago. One needs to understand them and give due space. Firm when needed but no dictatorship. Navigated and read JAB WE MET and his comment. May you both have many many years of togetherness full of love and happiness.

    Take care

  18. personally i have never been to any cousellor or professionals but i do agree that counselling does help at times, no matter it is from professionals or someone who is more experienced or logical……hence its not neccessasary that every time one has to look for a counsellor rather he/she can get benifitted from other’s experience too….

    • Seeking advice from close friends or elders is quite natural. But sometimes, they cannot be completely detached in the situation at hand. That is where an external person might be more useful.

  19. I am handling 17 month old twin grand children and know how difficult it is to handle them when they are in no mood to listen. Not only one has to be very patience but imaginative too to handle them.Its a herculin task indeed.

  20. A great mind opener post. It does help understand the other’s point of view, gives an idea as to why someone did that or thought that way.

    If you ask me, personally, its all in one’s mind. There are good counselors but they only help you to heal yourself; they dont heal you

    • Thank you Insignia! Very true about it being in your mind. And, of course, when it comes to these issues, only awareness can be created. But one has to believe that this is the right way to go to bring about constructive change.

  21. Such straightforward, honest, and truly helpful advice, Rachna! Hoping you reach many, many parents who need help and support from time to time.
    Blessings!

  22. Dear Rachna,

    I truly enjoyed reading about your experiences and the wisdom you’ve gleaned from them. Your authenticity is refreshing and most parents can relate to what you’ve said because of your honest and straight-forward treatment of the subject.

    I have used counselors many times throughout my adult life to deal with personal, relationship and family issues. I also brought each of my kids to their own counselor privately, when they were teenagers, so they would know what to expect and would have that option in their ‘well-being toolbox’, so to speak, in case they ran across challenges in their adult lives when they might need some extra help.

    Thank you for sharing these valuable parenting tips!

    • Thank you so much, Dangerous Linda. I don’t know how your comment landed in spam, but I rescued it just now. Thank you for sharing your experience as well. It helps me to fine tune my parenting methods.

  23. “Counsellor” has been a much maligned term in India. We aren’t born with parenting skills and there’s no harm in asking the experts – prevents such a lot of heartache. Good advice about keeping cool, Rachana. It might not make us even tempered immediately but it is something worth striving towards. And now, I’m heading over to read your idea for a story.

    • Thank you so much KayEm. You have aptly summarized what I was trying to say int he post. And, I read your story idea too. Loved it! Wish you the best.

  24. There are no laid down rules for bringing up children but some basics help! One must be open to all suggestions but listen to one’s own heart in matters of judgement, Rachna:)

    • True Rahul! I have always believed that seeking suggestions from all quarters definitely widens our perspectives and gives us more inputs about handling the strife.

  25. I have definitely benefited from counseling at various times in my life, about parenting as well as other things. I carry many lessons with me from those skilled professionals.

  26. I have no idea on parenting issues but what I can identify with is a calm and relaxed approach towards situations that we face in our day to day lives. A mind at peace definitely works better than a stressed out mind and helps to bring the things back on track, the right way.

  27. Well I am sure councelling does help , not sure about the parenting issues but otherwise I have seen it does help ..

    I mean sometimes after a shift where we had to deal with something out ofthe blue , We were asked to meet this person and just talking to this lady helped a lot to get over the issue , which hit a couple of us after the whole drama was over .. In the moment the adrenalin is rushing and it doesn ot effect but later it does hit

    and All the best for the indiblogger , already liked 🙂

    Bikram’s

    • Thanks Bikram! You are so right. Sometimes talking helps to cool things down. But with kids, their behaviour patterns can be so baffling. And they choose to throw their tantrums at the worst possible times. When you are hard pressed to get them ready for school. You are rushed for time and they make life difficult for you. Or when you are working or on the phone or shopping. And, it is important then for us to really figure out how to get rid of that behavior altogether. That is when I’ve benefited from speaking with a professional counselor personally. Besides, when we are really down and out and out of ideas, it at least makes sense to try it out. You know how it is in India, we just don’t seek help for all these issues.

  28. The stay-calm method sounds good. Not just with children, but anyone who throws a tantrum. Thanks, Rachna. 🙂

  29. Able to identify with your post, line by line – about maintaining the inner calm when handling children, getting down to their level to understand the root of the issue and so on. But like you said, the tantrums happen at the worst times, eg. when I’m on the phone with the client (no warning by sign language or rolling of the eyes seem to work then!) and I lose my cool! I have not been to counselling myself. But I sometimes feel I need to learn yoga or something like that that would help me keep my cool, not give vent to my frustrations at not being able to handle my children tactfully!

    • Long time RGB! Hope you are doing well. Absolutely agree about the bad timing, not to mention public places like shops, malls, theatres. Yes, yoga is very helpful especially meditation. You can try even 15 minutes in a day before going to bed is helpful. The key lies in us not feeling stressed despite the terrible pressures we face everyday. And the awareness goads us towards striving for it especially when we see the goal of a well-mannered child as a consequence of it :).

  30. Counseling is a good way to thrash out problems, but as Rickie has pointed out, it has negative connotations in our country. Moreover, unless it is a case of severe depression when medication is prescribed, it is perfect, provided the counselor is good and sensitive. Obviously the one you spoke to, seems so. I do admire you for being so calm and patient, but that is the best way (if you can grit your teeth and bear it 😀 )Also consistency is the key, as is firmness. Changing the rules and being unsure only confuses the kids, sometimes making them take advantage of the situation.

    • I agree, that Counseling has negative connotations. That is one of the reasons why I wrote this post hoping that people would start believing more in it. My experience especially when related to parenting issues is that no medication is every prescribed. But in other issues,medication can be provided to cope with serious cases of depression. It is then important to take second opinion as well. As a society, we treat emotional and psychological issues with a lot of frivolity often not realizing that they need to be treated or at least require professional attention. There must be no embarrassment in approaching a Counselor when grappling with issues that seem to be overwhelming at times. And parents face these issues so often. And, I hardly can call myself patient :). I am trying hard to attain that calmness. It is only human to feel exasperated. I am trying. Yes, one needs to seek a good Counselor. And these days you find some of them attached with schools and colleges. I came in touch with this lady via a school. I think it is very important that each school has a Counselor too. Children are suffering from so many emotional issues themselves.

  31. Empathy and firmness. I’ll keep that it mind. I think I could be a little more empathetic. 🙂
    I totally agree with the consistency part. That was the biggest lesson I learnt in the past 3 years.

    I’m sure turning to a counsellor is great when a parent needs somebody to talk to. It’s tough being a parent. And we can take all the help we can get. In some other cases, I’m not so sure; I guess it would depend on the person who’s doing the counselling.

    • It is tough being a parent, Divya! The world judges you; you judge yourself, and the kids are always driving you up the well. We have to be on our best behavior so that the kids imbibe good behavior. We can’t let off steam on them no matter how they behave! Phew, it is tough. But talking helps and so does sharing and seeking help. You are absolutely right. Only a good Counselor will make a difference.

  32. Not much experience there but from what I have seen around me, a majority of parents are not calm with their children. A slap comes too easily. I think it is an impossible task but yes it is more about restraining yourself. I am sure books and counseling might help but most of the parents will not take the latter route.

    • Yes Amit. Unfortunately, this is a part of Indian culture that we are very easy with physical punishments, and yelling and saying insulting things are rather common too. The key is in the self control bit. True, I’ve seen many parents struggling for answers but they never give counseling a try, which is pretty sad.

  33. I think counselling helps in all spheres of life.in all relationships .

  34. Agree with you completely! Counselling and professional help, certainly helps. You get some new insights and perspectives or your own beliefs get strengthened. Being cool and calm and being consistent in approach despite difficulties is the key.
    All the best for the Indiblogger contest! 🙂

  35. This is a very valuable and important article. There are so many valuable and wonderful tips for both parents and for others too which would help us to be better in our relationships. It is so easy to lose our temper and cool when things are not going our way and maintaining our calm at such times would help immensely to handle the situation well. Very good advise and wonderfully written.

  36. counseling does help.. But there is no fixed formula … even after being calm n quite trying to ignore sometimes doesn’t help.. and in a country where laws are hard you cannot hit or spank a child its worst with an indian parents!.. I have seen parents who are very calm n quite at worst situations not loosing temper their kids create worst scenario and not to forget parents say ..we have compromised with situation if we yell kids retaliate ..so we keep quite.. in this case most of the time people avoid such parents .. its basically (kids)they need to differentiate ..what they should ask and wht they would get..our kids as Indians are more pampered and spoon fed .. more loved and given attention for which they create scene in public .. and anytime I go to a store or mall I see an indian mom handling a cranky kid .. I guess we all know why!!

    • There is no fixed formula in parenting, Harman :). But I have seen in my experience that the more frustrated I get the worse the child behaves. It is difficult to keep calm when the child behaves so brashly, but this is the only way of teaching them acceptable behavior. If we react by yelling or hitting, then certainly that is the cue they pick up. Behavior is imbibed from our behavior first and foremost. Since Indians are louder in normal life, boisterous and yelling, no wonder our kids are the same.

  37. What an amazing post, Rachna. Pity, most of us choose to react rather than respond to situations.

  38. Rosario on February 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm said:

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  39. Pingback: How to handle tantrums of the adult kind? - Rachna Says

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