Believe in yourself


Dear Madam,

My son, who is in the eighth standard, has anger control problem and reacts quickly in aggressive ways, sometimes even without a trigger. We are not able to find out when he is in a good mood and what angers him. He is good at studies, straightforward and doesn’t think about the outcome while expressing his views. This lands him in trouble many a time. How to avoid such situations?


Dear Shubha,

While there may not be a trigger apparent to you, it is important to remember that anger does not happen in a vacuum. There will be a trigger that is important to him. Anger is a secondary emotion and often indicates some other primary emotion. It is important not to focus on the apparent behavioural manifestation of anger, but rather to identify and help him with the underlying feelings that are resulting in the feeling of anger.

Anger is a valid emotion and often plays an important role in telling us that something is not right for us.

The more you are able to help him identify and work through the underlying primary emotions, the less there will be a build-up of anger within. It may be very helpful for him to talk to a counsellor to work through this anger because he may not feel comfortable discussing it with you. If you cannot organise for him to meet a counsellor face to face, you could ask him to call the free counselling helplines that are available to support youngsters. The Parivarthan Counselling Helpline is one such and can be reached at +91 76766 02602.

Also, the fact that he is able to express his views is behaviour that should be encouraged rather than reprimanded. If there are consequences he faces because of that, he will learn to handle them over time. You don’t need to help him avoid facing his opinions and getting into trouble. That only invalidates him and affects his self-esteem. You need to give him the skills to deal with the consequences effectively, in a way that is not detrimental to his long-term future.

Dear Madam,

My 16-year-old son binge-watches movies and can’t have food without watching TV or a video on the mobile phone. He even does his homework while watching TV. We know that this is not a good habit but do not know what we should do about it.


Dear Ganesh,

Technology and screen-addiction are becoming a real problem amongst today’s youngsters and you may want to take the help of professionals in dealing with this. If you are in Bengaluru, then NIMHANS has a SHUT (Services for Healthy Use of Technology) Clinic which could help your family work through this.

This is now regarded as any other addiction, and so needs specialised help. There is probably an emotional need that is being met by TV, and it is important to identify what that is and how that can be helped. Maybe it is a mind-numbing activity to distract him from the other real tasks at hand which are anxiety-provoking. Maybe it is a replacement for loneliness and other friendships and company in real life. It could be so many things. The important thing is to help him address those by getting him the help he needs, non-judgmentally and supportively. All the best!

Dear Madam,

Of late, we teachers are not able to discipline students. We can’t give homework, can’t raise our voice in the class. How are we going to make them good citizens without all these? 


Dear Asha,

I would like to draw your attention to the difference between disciplining and punishing which is highlighted in my article “Can you discipline your child without punishing them?” which can be read on my blog at

The goal of punishment is to penalise a child for past misbehaviour.

The goal of disciplining, on the other hand, is to shape future behaviour. This difference is something we often forget as we try to make the punishment as painful as possible, thinking it is shaping future behaviour.

When we understand this difference, the premise that punishment needs to be painful gets thrown out of the window.

Disciplining is about establishing clear limits and defining clear consequences. Learning happens not in the severity of the consequences, but rather in the certainty of having to face the consequences hundred per cent of the time. 

So, disciplining is possible without having to raise voices and use words that can scar children for life. Influencing and shaping values happen not by the harshness of punishments, but by living the values that we want to impart, and influencing the thoughts of young minds. Children do as they experience, not as they are told. So, if we want them to be gentle and respectful citizens, then raising our voice doesn’t do the trick!

Dear Madam,

I am a 20-year-old college student. I have good friends and I always want to be with them. But if they talk to each other without including me in the conversation, I get disturbed. I know it is not good but I can’t help sulking over it.

Please guide.


Dear N,

I understand that you may be feeling left out or insecure when others talk without including you. There is nothing good or bad about it. That is the way you feel and your emotions are valid. You may want to understand the reasons why you feel this way, which can then help you deal with it. Maybe that makes you think you are not important enough, or not good enough. Maybe it makes you think that they are judging you negatively.

A lot of these thoughts may actually be a reflection of what you are thinking about yourself. It will be helpful to reach out to a counsellor who can help you gain more confidence and believe in yourself and your worth. This will definitely help you in the long run. All the best!

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