Getting to know your child can be one of the most satisfying parts of being a parent. Teaching your child new skills and learning how your child views the world and mentoring them as they route enormous new feelings and changes is all part of being a parent, but it’s not easy!
Dr. Mihir Parekh is a Psychologist and a Special educator. He has Ph.D in Psychology and is a counsellor in more than eleven schools in Mumbai. He is also the founder director of Urja Counselling and Remedial center. It’s a center for children with special needs. Dr Parekh deals with Autism, Learning disabilities, Slow learners, ADHD and other neurological and developmental delays. He started Urja Special school in 2008. The idea behind starting the school was that, education should be considered as basic need of all children, especially those detected with special needs. The main motive is to provide early intervention to children at risk; who need it most.
Child Psychologists can identify deviant behaviors in children early by detecting the root of common behavioral concerns such as hyperactivity, anxiety or learning issues and help children work through early childhood trauma. They also help to prevent, evaluate and diagnose developmental delays or abnormalities such as autism and other cognitive delays.
Everyone wants their child to have healthy development, but it’s not always clear if a child’s behavior is a symptom of normal stage in development or a mark of an abnormality. Dr. Mihir shares Child Psychologists aid you to understand the difference, accepting the normal and atypical developmental patterns of a child and help parents understand the best way to communicate and connect with their child, teach their kid coping mechanisms for managing emotions, help them progress and thrive in each new developmental stage.
According to Dr Mihir there are four main domains of child’s development.
Physical development in children is naturally in an expectable order of events. Your child grips his head up, rolls over, crawls, walks, and runs in this series. Any delay in the growth can be identified by your pediatrician, which serves as an important milestone to anticipate the child’s future growth. This information becomes utmost vital for the Child Psychologist to guide the parent in the direction to avail therapies if needed.
Cognitive development is the construction of thought processes and intellectual learning of a child. It includes the observation and understanding of the world around them, language learning, memory, decision-making, problem-solving, how the child uses their imagination and basic reasoning. All of these factors are influenced by a child’s genetics and environment.We now know that even newborn babies are aware of their environment and are interested in it, even before they have the language to express that. The Child Psychologist can guide the care takers to nurture the child by giving them the right exposure to enhance the brain development and also warns about the red flag if seen in the process.
The way a child feels, understands, and expresses their feelings has a direct impact on how they interact with other people. Social development is about how the child develops the values, awareness and social skills which are necessary to relate to the people around them; their parents, peers, authority figures, and animals. A child’s early relationships can have a huge impact on their development of age-appropriate social skills. Trust, friendship, conflict management, and respect for authority are examples of social development. Peer acceptance or rejection builds the child’s attitudes towards self and Society at large.
Emotional development refers to how the child feels, understands, and expresses their emotions. Emotional development is expressed in very young children through the expression of basic emotions like fear, joy, anger, and sadness. As the child develops, more complex emotions such as confidence, hope, guilt, and pride emerge. It also includes a child’s ability to feel and understand the emotions of other people through empathy. Learning to regulate and express emotions appropriately is difficult for many children. Helping children understand their emotions early can have a powerful impact on current and future emotional development.
As to why he chose to specialize in Child Psychology, Dr Parekh says; “it’s easier to counsel children than adults because they are more receptive, transparent and open to challenges and learning.”
At times it becomes very difficult to convey parents that their child has been diagnosed with Autism or Cognitive impairment or he/she is a child with special needs. Therapy is not always an easy go ahead for parents because of the stigma attached. This is when interpersonal skills and ability to win trust by establishing rapport with the client works. Through intensive counseling of parents, an optimistic approach to deal with the problem is built up; they develop positive coping methods which in turn helps the child to develop positive traits.
We focus on child centered therapy but in practice this isn’t always the most effective route. I have had far better results working with parents and children together. We adults with our jobs and high qualifications might think we know best but kids often heal themselves through their friendships. It’s a big thing to ask any kid to open up to a stranger they see once or twice a week for an hour. Children who constantly get in trouble tend to develop low self-esteem, no matter how hard they seen on the outside they get to be known as the ‘bad kid’ and they soon see themselves that way too. “The way we treat our children directly impacts, what they believe about themselves.”
Dr Parekh explains that Psychology is becoming more and more important to society because people are in danger of becoming isolated and lonely. People speak less to others face to face because they use many different media platforms to communicate. I believe in importance of human interactions so I train people in inclusive techniques such as storytelling and playground games.
In an ocean of chaos my wife Pooja has been the strength and pillar of my life and she has always guided me through my best and my worst and my daughter has been a blessing; she inspires me to live life to the fullest. “My highest accomplishment, my extreme pride and joy are my children who come to me for counselling, they truly are my greatest success,” Shares our mind doctor.
Dr Mihir Parekh is a fecund writer, his books Life Tweets for parenting part one and two both share useful tips for parents to understand their kids better. And his third book ‘Why’? Which will be published in November this year is based on questions and activities on curious and tender minds. The book encourages kids to explore and engage with the world around them by asking fun, open-ended questions. Dr Parekh has given more than 500 lectures on training parent and children and has written more than 300 quotes and tips for parenting on his page. He has also started story telling sessions every weekend and life skills videos which help parents to engage their children develop day to day skills and also for parents who can’t reach the therapist because of distance and financial strain. Please follow him @Dr. Mihir quotes and tips on Facebook.
A click on the screen gives immediate answer; the same is not the case with our children. Be patient when you teach them they are thinking beings and not programmed beings – Dr Mihir Parekh.
(Interviewed and written by Raavya Sarda)