Parental influence in behavioral disorders

By – Dr C H Asrani (DNB; MBBS; DAc)

What exactly is behaviour?

Behaviour is the way we react. Behaviour may also mean conduct – that is, how a person’s actions fit society’s idea of right and wrong.

What can affect Behaviour in a child?

  • Heredity
  • Environment
  • Learning Conditioning
  • Positive reinforcements

Behaviour grows !

Behaviour has patterns and shape just as the physical structure. Just as the body grows in a reasonably patterned manner, so also does the behaviour.

Like the physical growth, behaviour too is strongly influenced by the home and other surroundings in which the child grows up. The strongest and the longest environment to affect the child are the parents. Most parents consider it their responsibility as well the privilege to provide the best possible environment conducive to child’s physical growth. It should be ditto for behaviour growth too!

The more a parent knows about the normal changes that take place in a child’s behaviour when he grows up, the more successful they can be in guiding the child along the complicated path leading to maturity

Mother Child relationship

Mothers should know

  • What to expect?
  • Different types of personalities & how they behave
  • Scolding, beating and constant reprimanding does not work &
  • Constant supervision is not possible

A mother must know about the behaviours, which commonly characterize each different age level, so that she can do a better job in dealing with the child.
Also the problems she will face are not all unpredictable, they too follow a set pattern.


5 yr old is loving, docile and obedient in his relation with the mother
51/2-6 yr tends to thrust out and resist her in his effort to be a big boy
7 yr may feel she is mean & cruel

The adolescent, if he is to grow up into a mature capable adult, must learn to think and act for himself; must grow beyond the places where he is completely guided by what “Mummy says…”

Father Child relationship

Father is supposed to be a vital factor in the baby’s development. Not many, of course realize/accept this. Fathers should find time to get involved in bringing up children and not merely to provide the funds and an occasional hug or pat!

Child needs a Role Model and who better than Father.

What are the different types of behavioural disorders in chidren?

A. Developmental Problems

  • Poor School Performance
  • School refusal (school phobia

A. Developmental Problems

  • Poor School Performance
  • School refusal (school phobia

B. Disruptive Behaviour Problems

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD)
  • Conduct disorders

C. Emotional Disorders

  • Eating disorders – anorexia nervosa / bulimia nervosa obesity / pica
  • Phobic disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Overanxious disorders
  • Conversion disorders

D. Behaviour c physical Manifestations

  • Failure to thrive (without a disease)
  • Encopresis
  • Enuresis
  • Sleep disorders

E. Chronic illness

  • Shock & disbelief
  • Protest & Anguish
  • Restitution

F. Separation experiences

  • Death of a parent, sibling or other significant person
  • Hospitalization
  • Divorce
  • Working Parents

A study of over 100 Behavioural disorders in children showed the following reactions of parents very commonly lead to behavioural disorders.

RejectionA child who feels rejected may react by
– Feelings of insecurity & isolation.
– Attention seeking, negativistic.
– Unable to give and receive affection
Overprotection-DominationIn today’s time of precious child and 1-2 child families norms, overprotection is the commonest emotion. Most parents also tend to mould the child just the way they are (domination).

Exposure to these may manifest as Submission, inadequacy, lack of initiative, tendency to passive dependency in relation with others

OverindulgenceJo mangoge, Milega’
Parents feel they earn for the child. They all want to provide what they themselves never got. The feeling of NOT depriving the child leads to overindulgence which makes the child Selfish, demanding, with inability to tolerate frustration. Rebellious to authority, excessive need of attention, lack of responsibility
Perfectionism-unrealistic ambitions for childChild internalizes parents unrealistic standards. Inevitable failure leads to continual frustration, guilt and self-devaluation
Faulty disciplineOverpermissiveness, associated with insecurity, antisocial aggressiveness. Severe discipline typically leads to excessive condemnation of self for socially disapproved behaviour, anxiety over aggressive behaviour. Inconsistent discipline commonly results in lack of stable values for guiding behaviour with tendency to inconsistency and vacillation in meeting problems.
Sibling rivalryDirect or indirect hostility, insecurity, lack of self confidence, regression
Marital discord and broken homesAnxiety, tension, insecurity, lack of secure home base, tendency to evaluate world as a dangerous and insecure place. Conflicting loyalties, lack of adequate model for proper ego development
Faulty parental modelsInternalization of unethical and socially undesirable value attitudes which frequently lead to difficulties with law
Contradictory demandsLack of integrated frame of reference; confusion and self devaluation

What are the common presentations of Behavioural disorders in children?

What steps can parents take to ensure their children are safe from all these?

  1. Be a parent, not a pal – being a parent means setting limits and making rules
  2. Discipline early – consistent authority and vacillating – permissive now, clamp down next does not work
  3. Spend time with your kids – overplaying the quality time bit! The busy parents of today keep postponing spending time with their little one under the pretext that on a holiday thye would go out or for a picnic etc, Child needs it then and not whenever. For the child the quantum of time matters more than the ambience they spend it in.
  4. Don’t get carried away with “self-esteem” – praise only genuine achievements. Not to protect too much.
  5. Control the electronics media – TV programmes to be controlled and monitored by parents.
  6. Know what your child is upto – Unsupervised kids: more problems
  7. Stay married – children with only one biological parent are more likely to present with behavioural problems.

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