The recent spate of student suicides has prompted many debates about academic pressure, stress during teenage and even reality shows. But experts feel we are missing the real issue: inadequate or poor parenting.
“If parents build a strong foundation, children would not get emotionally affected by other factors,” said paediatrician Dr P.V. Vaidyanathan, who has written a book on stress in children.
He added that in most suicide cases, the pressure comes from home. Parents expect high grades and excellent performance in extra-curricular activities. “Parents should sometimes just let the child be rather than pushing him or her,” Vaidyanathan said.
Counsellor Jhonson Thomas blamed the non-availability of parents due to hectic work schedules and social commitments for low self-esteem among teens.
“One often hears parents saying they spend ‘quality time’ with their children. This is just a fancy term to camouflage the fact that they don’t spend enough time with their children,” he said, adding that the more time one spends with the child, the more secure he or she feels.
Thomas, who runs Aasra — a suicide prevention helpline — said parents often cater to children’s material needs but neglect the emotional needs. “Parents should talk to their children more, understand their inherent desires and gauge their moods,” said Thomas.
“One needs to develop a child’s coping abilities rather than capabilities so that they learn to deal with failure and rejection,” he said.
Child psychologist and parenting educator Rupal Patel agreed that children should be taught to deal with emotions like anger, jealousy and depression so that they don’t give in to suicidal thoughts in a moment of weakness.
Patel, who has a 10-year-old daughter, said that unconditional love was a very important part of good parenting. “Parents should assure the child that they will love and support them no matter what happens,” she said.