All names and questions sent via the column page will be seen ONLY by the Counsellor. Therefore, details shared will be kept highly confidential.
QUESTION 1: I am 21-years old. Since 16-yrs old I have not been able to get good sleep. I sleep maybe 3-4 hours a night. I am feeling sick also nowadays in the morning. Please heeeelllpp!!
RESPONSE: Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc, not only on your physical health but also on your mental and emotional well being. I am glad that you have reached out for help because lack of sleep is not good for you.
There are many reasons why people cannot get good, uninterrupted sleep. For a person your age, 6-8 hours of sleep per night is sufficient. How you sleep at night depends on how your day went or what is to come the next day. It all boils down to good time management and following a routine, keeping in mind your priorities.
Start by working backwards, taking time to introspect on what has been bothering you all this while and work on finding solutions or what I call closure on such issues(if any), rather than let them build up leading to breaking point, which again will not be good for you. It could be as simple as tidying or de-cluttering your room. Once you have sorted all that out, you need to work on a bedtime routine. Please keep in mind that this bedtime routine is important regardless of whether you have unresolved issues or not.
So what does a bedtime routine comprise of? Well, I would suggest that you start by working from outside in, starting with the room environment. In order to get good sleep or be preparing for bed, one needs to have a conducive environment, for example a clean and tidy room, lighting which is soothing. A clear room= a clear mind. Also, keep things that tend to distract you away, like your laptop, phone etc. If there is too much noise coming from the road or TV in the next room, get ear plugs or put on white noise to buffer the distracting sounds.
The next thing to do is to establish a regular sleep and wake up time, keeping in mind the next day’s schedule, giving yourself ample time to get ready, eat and not rush. Also, before bed you can do whatever relaxes you, like read a book, listen to music, light aromatic candles.
Remember to manage time (for the day as well) in such a way so that your bedtime schedule is not disrupted, therefore a routine (starting from the time you wake up) for each activity leading up to your bedtime can be worked out. For example, if you have a presentation in 3 days times, start working on it before hand, rather than doing things last minute and stressing yourself out and losing sleep unnecessarily. Hope this helps. All the best!
QUESTION 2: We just welcomed our 2nd child 3 months back. The older one (now 6) is very jealous and now he wants all the attention. What can we do?
RESPONSE: It is very natural for an older sibling to get jealous when a new baby arrives, especially after he has been the centre of attention and the only apple of your eye for 6 years. It can be very overwhelming for children, especially for someone your son’s age. He is still in the process of understanding what emotions are and may not even know how to deal with them just yet, therefore as parents and in order to avoid any untoward incidents leading to sibling rivalry later especially; you will have to work with your older child, by being very patient and empathetic.
In my personal experience with parents during my sessions there are a few methods/ways which have worked when dealing with a similar situation:
- Involving your older child in activities related to the baby. For example, helping you wash the feeding bottles, pushing the stroller, helping you wash baby’s head during bath time or alerting you when baby cries etc. More importantly, please acknowledge his efforts and do not force him to do things he does not want. Ask him nicely, by building up his self-esteem to start with. This will give the older child a sense of responsibility and appreciation.
- Show equal affection and make sure to spend quality time with your older child so that he does not feel left out. Time spent with him can be divided between the parents.
- Teach your older child valuable lessons on empathy and care with the new baby. A lot of times due to jealousy and attention seeking, the older child may pinch or hit the baby. The baby cries, but rather than yelling or punishing him, explain to him why the baby cried; because pinching or hitting him/her hurt and asking him how he would feel if someone did that to him. You can also tell him that being the baby’s older brother he has to protect him/her from harm.
- Take time to sit and talk about how your older child is feeling or reflecting on an incident which you were not pleased about. This will help your child understand the situation and the emotions he is going through. Also, please make it a point to reassure him that your love for him has not changed and that you will always be there for him and encourage him to reach out and talk to you whenever he is feeling ‘sad’ or ‘angry’. Good luck!
QUESTION 3: I think my child is getting bullied in school because of his height. He is smaller than the classmates. He avoids going to school. How can I help?
RESPONSE: I am glad that you have identified the issue and have reached out for help.
You will need to start by talking to him about it very carefully, because it is a very sensitive issue. Even if he refuses or pushes you away, tell him that you are there for him and most importantly that whatever is happening in school is NOT his fault.
People who bully are the ones with problems, not the one getting bullied! They are the ones who get the jollies by making people feel miserable because they have no conscience. Bullying is a serious issue which affects millions of youth. Your son should not pay attention to what the bullies are saying; otherwise he will start seeing himself in a negative light for no fault of his. He should try and ignore the bullies because they will target and keep taunting him till they get a reaction out of him.
You can help him build his self-esteem by helping him develop positive body image, since the focus of the bullying is his height. Another way to help him boost his self-esteem is by pointing out and writing down affirmations of the positive/good qualities about him. Put these on colourful cards and then put them in an envelope or put them up in his room, so that the next time he gets bullied or feels low, he can look at them and feel good about himself. For example, I am a kind and caring boy! I am a strong person! I am unique and special!I am perfect just the way I am!
You can also tell him that some of the most powerful people in the world were bullied in school; Barack Obama was bullied because of his ears, Bill Gates was bullied for being a ‘nerd’, but look where they are today. They survived, looked passed their ‘imperfections’, moved pass the negativity and pursued their dreams. Tell him that all these great people are strong on the inside just like your son is.
You can advise him to stay away from ‘bad’ company or people who make him feel bad about himself. He should surround himself with people or things that make him happy. Bullies tend to pick on their victims when they are usually alone. Children who are bullied will often say they do not have friends, hence I advise them to make an effort to look for ‘their crowd’, enrol themselves in workshops or clubs which have children who share similar interests.
He should also get into the habit of telling someone about the bullying whenever it happens, it could be a trusted friend, teacher, a counsellor or parent. Or you can also approach the school authorities about the issue, once you have discussed it with your son. You should reassure him that he is not alone and that there are people and ways he can be helped. Help him set priorities and goals which will give him direction, and help him with ways to achieve them. Uncontrolled bullying can have devastating affects if not tackled on time. Therefore, you need to act fast to help him. All the best!