Dr. Gautham's

Neuro Centre

(Established in 1988)

A Neuro-Behavioral Medicine Clinic

Dr. Gautham's Neuro Centre
4/68 P C Hostel Road
Chennai, Tamilnadu 600031

ph: +91 98410 10197
alt: +91 44 4285 9822








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I am 38 years old, and my daughter 15 years old doing her X std. I am living with my daughter in my parents house for the past 3 years separated from my husband due to his alcoholic addiction and now I am proceeding for divorce too. The problem now is my daughter till her 8th std. was scoring good marks not less than 80% and from ninth onwards it slowly reduced to 60's and 70's and now also in the same range, and more over always she feels frustrated, no respect towards me and my mom, and irritates me to the maximum even if I'm not responding to her teasing, always feels me as her opponent, fully engaged either with mobile, TV or computer, and not listening to our words even if we explain the pros and cons of importance of education. Always lethargic, tries to skip school and always wants to be in rest, not completing the given school work on time, usually she will be the first girl to submit her work, negligence in her daily chores, always with hatred and superiority complex, self boasting, possessiveness and mainly not concentrating more than an hour in her studies even in this 10th std. very lazy to get up from bed, we all will do most of her work and make her ready for school. I don't know what is her exact problem? And more over always she feels pain all over her body and for that we did diabetic test and rheumatoid factor test etc which showed normal. As I had depression, I took my daughter and we consulted for her too. He gave Attentrol 25mg, even then I couldn't find any improvement in her behaviour. She is not paying proper respect to elders, always harsh words and insultations, and some sort of escapism if she doesn't score well or complete her work within time. Kindly advise me how to proceed in this regard to make my daughter a good mannered, obedient,studious and calm active child freed from her irritation and frustration. I will be ever grateful to you if you suggest me the right way. My only source is my daughter and my aim in my life is to bring her up by giving good education. Kindly help me doctor. Awaiting eagerly for your reply. Thanks.

Dr. Gautham's Answer:

Many kids announce the onset of adolescence with a dramatic change in behavior around their parents. They're starting to separate from mother and father and to become more independent. At the same time, kids this age are increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and are desperately trying to fit in.

One of the common stereotypes of adolescence is the rebellious, wild teen
continually at odds with Mother and Father. Although it may be the case for some kids and this is a time of emotional ups and downs, that stereotype certainly is not representative of most teens. The primary goal of the teen years is to achieve independence and for this to occur, teens will start pulling away from their parents � especially the parent whom they're the closest to. This can come across as teens always seeming to have different opinions than their parents or not wanting to be around their parents in the same way they used to. As teens mature, they start to think more abstractly and rationally. They're forming their moral code. And parents of teens may find that kids who previously had been willing to conform to please them will suddenly begin asserting themselves � and their opinions � strongly and rebelling against parental control.

However, your daughter's problem seems to be more serious.  Many people once believed that severe depression  did not occur in childhood. Today, experts agree that severe depression can occur at any age. Depression in children  is marked by changes in: Emotions (Feeling sad, crying, feeling worthless or having low self esteem), Motivation (No interest in play activities, or schoolwork), Physical well-being (Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns or vague physical complaints); Thoughts (Disturbance in body image, feeling ugly, feeling unable to do anything right, or  thoughts of hopelessness). From what you describe, it appears that your daughter may be suffering from Depression.



Dr. Gautham's Answer (Contd...):

But, your situation is much more complicated. One of the causes of school
is a dysfunctional family. A dysfunctional family is one in which the
negativities including feelings of anger, fear, apprehension, sadness, hurt or
pain are very high when compared to the positive aspects as happens during
marital discord, and parents separating. In such dysfunctional families, one or more family members are weighted-down with excessive stress, which may manifest itself in the form of the members resorting to alcoholism, substance abuse and drug addiction, divorce, emotional conflicts, abuse, lack of emotional support, workaholism, perfectionism, sadness, or extreme parental rigidity and controlling, blaming, unreliability, etc. Such families are always faced with some or the other tragedy and children raised in such dysfunctional families are filled with mistrust for others and find it difficult to form or maintain a close relationship with other human beings

They suffer from a low self-esteem, and are constantly under the pressure of
retaining their power and control. These children are unable to handle stress
properly or device constructive strategies to cope with stress. Children from
dysfunctional families are wounded children who show symptoms of drug addiction, mental illness, crime, domination, and extreme unhappiness. Unresolved grief continues to linger in the lives of dysfunctional families. The child begins to feel neglected and rejected as parents focus more on battling each other than on parenting. The effects of being reared in such an environment continue to shroud their lives and thought process even after the parents separate or divorce, and these children grow up to be independent.

What ever may be her condition, one thing is for sure. She needs to be treated actively with medication combined with Cognitive Behavior Therapy. You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teen to be an individual and ask yourself questions such as: "Am I a controlling parent?," "Do I listen to my child?," and "Do I allow my child's opinions and tastes to differ from my own?" You may also need to attend parental counselling to understand your own feelings about your divorce, how they are affecting your behaviour towards your child, and how to handle the relationship better.