Teaching children to navigate life through a volatile world

3 min read

Dr Amrita Dass

Counselling, mentoring and psychotherapy can play an important role in healing students as well as their families. (Photo for representation only).

According to data available with the National Crime Records Bureau, 28 students on an average committed suicide every 24 hours during 2018.

The rise in cases of students committing suicide in recent years is indeed tragic, heart-breaking and a serious concern, which all stakeholders must address at the family, school and societal levels.

While the reasons behind these suicides may differ, my work as a career counsellor across the country has revealed that today many more students are suffering from anxiety, depression and other emotional disorders because of parental pressures to secure marks above 90%, regardless of their potential.

They also feel pressured to take up subjects/ careers that don’t match their aptitudes/ interests.

Many have complained of unfair comparison, constant nagging and lack of appreciation for their accomplishments.

We need to understand that all this leads to a stressful life wherein sleep-deprived students rush from school for tuitions and entrance exam coaching centres without getting any time to relax and unwind.

Many children also lead a solitary life at home, as the practice of a family meal with pleasant conversation or playing a game together is rare.

Thus there is an increasing communication gap between parents and their ‘Generation Z’ children.

Some of the other serious psychological problems among youngsters today are related to gaming/ social media addiction, easy access to pornography and drugs, sexual abuse, bullying, and physical and emotional violence with negligible access to trained counsellors.

Why is counselling essential?

The need of the hour is to empower our children to navigate their lives through an increasingly complex and volatile world.

The first and foremost step in this direction is to provide a secure, loving, caring and positive environment at home and in school/ college. One step with which this can be achieved easily is by giving quality time and attention to children of all ages.

In the Iceland Model to provide more activities in which teens could get engaged, coordinated efforts were made between schools, government programmes and families. They also wanted to keep teens more accountable and connected to their parents. The key elements of this model proposed by Harvey Milkman, a professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, included: Healthy Activities, Quality Time with Parents and Community Commitment.

While interacting with our counsellors at the Institute for Career Studies (ICS), students often mention their desire to spend quality time with parents. They also say that they appreciate teachers who are approachable, understanding, encouraging, non-judgmental and impartial.

We, as a society, need to take cognisance of this and ensure that our children have access to trained counsellors at all times.

In fact, counselling, mentoring and psychotherapy are essential not just to heal individuals but also families.

Awareness about these issues and necessary actions to tackle them will go a long way in saving precious lives while creating an environment that is conducive to a happy and fulfilling life.

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