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Kids need more than just food and clothes

Life&More October 30, 2018
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Rajkumari Sharma Tankha

Love & Rage, The Inner World of Children by child psychotherapist Nupur Dhingra Paiva (Yoda Press, 235 pages, Rs 450) talks about the inner world of children – children, most of whom she has counselled over the years, and whose stories she has shared with their permission. “By sharing these stories, I want to start conversations in people’s heads, between the child in them and the adult exterior and between generations in families, even if it is only a silent conversation with one participant,” the author writes in her preface.

But the book doesn’t just talk about children, it is also about their parents. And as its back cover mentions, “The book also takes a reader for a journey into their inner world of intense raging emotions which often goes unheeded by the outside world”.

No one can deny that these are pretty difficult times for children. With both parents working, the crime graph on the rise and a host of information available on the Internet, the emotional challenges kids face is huge. Theirs is a daily struggle with two equally strong emotions, love and rage, and in absence of “involved” parents, they often turn to their peers to get answers. Not a good thing, but that’s how it is.

Most adults, be it parents, relatives, teachers and even doctors tend to focus on a child’s physical and cognitive development. Social development comes a close second but emotional development is often an ignored aspect, says the author. Sadly, parents’ interaction with their children revolves around studies, instruction, advice and expectations they have of them. While a mother is much bothered about her child’s need of food and physical comfort, she is not as quick to respond in case her child is facing emotional issues, says Paiva.

Drawing from the cases she has dealt with during the years of her professional career, Paiva talks about this and many other issues like sibling rivalry – this comes into force when a mother pays more attention to the new born that gives a feeling of neglect in the elder child and behavourial issues that are borne out of an absent father and kids impacted by the tumultuous adult relationships at home. In most Indian homes, a father plays an insignificant role in the upbringing up of his children. Strangely the importance of a father’s involvement in a child’s life is often not talked about and this is one major issue that Love & Rage talks about. A big thank you to Paiva for bringing up this much-neglected issue.

The author also talks about usual incidents of everyday life which she says may look harmless but leave a long-lasting and deep effect on children.

Through the pages of the book, the author gives some nuggets of knowledge, the most important being that one must take care of oneself, and must, must value oneself. Citing her own life as an example, she says that being undemanding, restrained and self-effacing is not a good recipe for valuing self… Born out of frustration, resourcefulness and productivity are more grit and less love. It is the phoenix out of the fire…

She also gives a word of caution, actually many words of caution in the book, for the parents, the most important being that our early relationships are our blueprints. We treat others the way we were treated as children. So treat your kids right, she says, and look after their emotional needs.

This book helps us understand our children and the child within each of us, their emotional needs – our emotional needs – and the consequences of ignoring these. It offers a deep understanding of a child’s inner world that can greatly help parents and other adults. Kids, the author opines and rightly so, need much more than food and clothes – it is high time parents understood this.

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