Parents can tackle Generation 'Anger'
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7th Apr 2013, 09:37 PM #1
Parents can tackle Generation 'Anger'
Parents can tackle Generation 'Anger'
Grappling intolerance and rage, adolescents are targeting their parents with sudden violent outbursts. Experts tell us how and when they should intervene
A 15-year-old girl planned to stalk a boy on Facebook, after he broke up with her. When her parents tried to talk her out of it, she broke their flat screen television set and hurled a paperweight and pen stand at her mother.
- A 16-year old girl was caught stealing Rs 80,000 from the home safe by her father. When he confronted her, she threw a stool at his head.
- A 14-year old boy killed his mother because she was often upset with him for not doing well in studies.
- A 13-year old boy thrashed his father because he did not permit him to go shopping with his friends. These are only some of the complaints that Mumbai psychiatrists have received over the past year, signalling a growing intolerance among today's youth, especially in the age group of 13 to 17 years, towards their parents. What is worrisome is that this is manifested through extreme violence. Recent news reports bear this out. The story of a 15-year-old from Palghar killing his father for refusing to buy him a mobile phone, is still fresh in people's minds. Two days ago, another 15-year-old from Thane reportedly killed his father who was planning to remarry.
"Call it momentary madness if you like, but the fact is, most kids today cannot deal with the emotion of anger," says psychiatrist and child psychologist Dr Anjali Chhabria, whose Juhu clinic sees a steady stream of concerned parents.
This seems to be a global trend if we were to go by a study published by the Harvard Medical School last year. Published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the study found that one in 12 adolescents in the States could be suffering from Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED that results in extreme short temper. Based on a household survey of 10,148 youngsters, the study also found that nearly two thirds had a history of anger attacks that involved real or threatened violence.
IED is a behavioural disorder characterised by extreme expressions of rage that are disproportionate to the situation at hand. So, why are city kids facing this?
According to Chhabria, IED is part of the problem here, too, but the rage could also be symptomatic of other disorders such as depression, anxiety or even personality disorders.
Trouble begins at home
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty argues that we must first consider the role played by parents in their child's rage, and he faults the lack of time spent between them at home.
"The conversation is restricted to 'Khaana khaya?', 'Homework kiya?', 'Abhi so jao'. If parents spend time watching TV after work, what does this do to the emotional contact between them and their children?" he asks.
Former president of Bombay Psychiatrists Association, Dr Kersi Chavda agrees. "Parents," he says, "lash out at their kid and lower his/her self-esteem. If parents don't display anger and anxiety, anger levels in kids are found to be lower." The diet consumed by chil- dren also adds to their emotional imbalance, Dr Shetty adds. "Excessive consumption of colas and fast food diminishes nutrients and leads to biochemical changes in the body. Irritability levels increase on account of excessive caffeine."
Dr Shetty is not alone in assuming that colas play a role in an individual's mental health. A recent study, which will be presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in March, has found a link between cola consumption and depression. In an AAN release, study author Dr Honglei Chen was quoted as saying, "Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical and may have important mental health consequences."
Nip in the bud
A Bandra-based homemaker, who has been a victim of her son's rage, told Mirror, "I have borne the brunt of my teenage son's blows. It was always a consequence of saying 'No' to him. Whenever my husband and I disagreed with his wants, whether a car or money, he became violent."
According to Chhabria, accepting a 'no' is a challenge for adolescents. "This is because they have been given everything on a platter since they were born. The 'no' if and when it comes seems humiliating."
Experts also point to the culture of might, propagated in Bollywood, that could be a possible cause for violent behaviour. When children see violence being valourised in films that don't depict the very real consequences of this behaviour (physical pain; emotional hurt), they are trained to think that this behaviour is okay. What's more, few parents take the trouble to explain the consequences of violence to their children.
Yet, if detected early, experts say that this behaviour can be corrected.
Role of stakeholders
Mumbai's psychiatrists have been offering anger management therapy to these teens, which includes counselling sessions coupled with yoga exercises. "Yoga inculcates self-discipline; to modify the lifestyle of kids indulging in violence, we teach them vipasna techniques," says Chhabria. Dr Shetty contends that working closely with the police will help curtail the trend. "Some cops make for very good counsellors," he says adding, "Therapy has helped many children lead normal lives."
Psychiatrists also work closely with schools to train teachers on how to deal with violent students. Some schools have professional counsellors at hand, while others have included anger management in their study course.
Utpal Shanghvi School in Juhu has two counsellors on board, and students from Class six onwards are taught human resources development, which includes lessons on managing temper. "The counsellors take turns to sit in classes to observe how children behave. They keep a record of every student," says Principal Abha Dharampal.
With doctors and school authorities taking cognisance of the issue, the question remains what must parents do?
Dharampal says it is vital to hand-hold the child facing anger issues, which she says, sometimes stem from helplessness. She illustrates with an example. "After an enraged Class 9 student smashed a window in school, we had to call his parents. We found out that he had a very aggressive father. The counsellors took over and counselled him right through Class 10. Their main message to him was that anger was a sign of helplessness and weakness. He sailed through his board examination."
David Gottlieb, a Harvardtrained clinical psychologist and author of books such as Anger Overload in Children: A Parent's Manual and Your Child is Defiant: Why is Nothing Working? keeps a blog called yourchildisdefiant.blogspot.in, where he advises parents on how to deal with what he calls, anger overload in their kids. While there is no anger 'antidote,' Gottlieb assures parents that with repeated practise, children can develop skills to cope with their emotions.
He advises parents to intervene in the early stages or after their child's fury has subsided. During the outburst, it is best not to say or do anything unless someone is getting hurt. He exhorts parents to recognise a pattern. For instance, if the child is likely to have an outburst when you switch off the television after dinner, one option is to not switch on the television at all, he writes. Another possible intervention is to distract the child from his anger.
"Parents need to make the child understand that 'feeling' angry and 'getting' angry are two different things. We team up with the child to help him/her deal with his/her anger. This way, we let them know that the anger is the problem, not them," says Chhabria.
Experts also advice parents to have certain non-negotiable rules for their children. Once they identify a source of rage, it is a good idea to involve the child in becoming aware of the triggers too.
Under no circumstances, experts warn, should parents dismiss violent behaviour by their children. Violent behaviour in a child at any age always needs to be taken seriously. It should not be dismissed as a phase they're going through," says Dr Chhabria.
Adding to the damage
Bollywood: Bollywood propagates a culture of might. When children see violence being valourised in films that don't depict the very real consequences of this behaviour (physical pain; emotional hurt), they are trained to think that this behaviour is okay.
Fast foods: Excessive consumption of colas and fast food diminishes nutrients and leads to biochemical changes in the body. Irritability levels increase on account of excessive caffeine.
Lashing out: When parents lash out at their kids, they lower their self-esteem. If parents don't display anger and anxiety, anger levels in kids are found to be lower.
10th Apr 2013, 12:11 AM #2
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Re: Parents can tackle Generation 'Anger'
OMG! Yes its really getting so pathetis these days,,,, Either they attack/hurt others or they kill/hurt themselves,,,, Needs to be taken with more care,,,,
Thanks for sharing this info,,, Reg Colas, fastfood,,,,