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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Seek help fast - Ask your counsellor Q&A column

[The following column answered by me appeared in the Deccan Herald Education supplement on December 15, 2016]

Dear Madam,
My son is in Class 8. He likes reading story books and gets immersed in it most of the times. We do appreciate his habit and want to support him by getting good books. He has been reading the same type of books for some time now and we feel that he should get to read a variety of books. But we are confused as to what kind of books we should buy for him. Also, sometimes we get concerned as he doesn’t devote even 10% of the time to read textbooks. Kindly suggest as to how should we go about and help him strike a fine balance between studies and reading habit.

Dear Adithi,

It is commendable that your son is fond of reading in this day of electronic media. Please don’t try and control what he is reading and what he ‘should’ be reading. Just ensure he has access to different kinds of books – get him a good library membership – so that he can browse different kinds of books and pick the ones he wants. If you try to steer him to a particular kind of book rather than another kind, he is not going to listen to your advice and is going to view it negatively. 

It is best to let him have an opportunity and make whatever he wants of it. As far as studying is concerned, please separate your anxiety around the issue of your having been a good enough parent (as borne out by the fact that your child gets good marks) versus genuine anxiety around his performance and his future success. At one level, we have to believe in our children and support them in whatever path they carve out for themselves. And, also believe in your own capabilities as a parent that you are doing the best you can in your child’s interest.

Dear Madam,
I am studying B.Com and want to take up CA. Of late, in spite of my constant 
effort, I am not able to concentrate on studies. I tend to check my WhatsApp and Facebook accounts frequently, and most of my time gets lost in reading messages and responding to them. Even with friends, the discussions evolve around social media. I know that what I am doing is not right and I have to get good marks to achieve my dream of becoming a CA. Please help me come out of this.

Dear Niharika,

Technology addiction is affecting many youngsters these days and it is important to try and understand what need this technology addiction is fulfilling. Cognitive behavioral therapy should be able to help you modify your behavior in various situations and you may work with a therapist for this. All the best.

Dear Madam, 
I often find myself getting distracted when I sit down to do any task. While I have tried various techniques to help me concentrate better at the task at hand, it invariably fails. With my board exams fast approaching, I fear that this will hamper my study plans. Could you suggest a few ways that will help me?

Dear Radhika,

I was wondering if you have ever been assessed for attention issues. It may be helpful for you to see a psychiatrist to be evaluated for problems related to attention, especially if you are thinking this is something beyond your control. Once you know if it is a medical problem, or not, you will need to approach it differently. So that’s the first step. 

Dear Madam,
I am a smart boy who has been doing well in academics so far. I am in Class 9. I study well and understand concepts well in school. But sometimes, in exams, I feel afraid. I become nervous and under pressure, I tend to forget things and perform badly sometimes. Please tell me how to get rid of this exam tension.

Dear Manik

I have written about exam anxiety at great length in this column. All of my previous writings have been archived at and it may be helpful for you to read some of them. In particular, I want to point you to “Why exams are nothing to worry about” at and Demystifying exam anxiety at

The first step for you is to understand the fear that is immobilizing you. What is your worst fear? What do you think is the worst thing that can happen if you do not do well in the exam. Once you are able to name this, you may realize yourself that the worst possible outcome that you are dreading, if not something you cannot live through. Just that realization helps you acknowledge the irrationality of your fear. It may be helpful for you to talk to a counsellor who can help you work through this as well. All the best.

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