Can conflicts at home impact a child ?

I have seen many such cases in past few years but after meeting this boy I actually asked own self- Can conflicts at home impact a child in this way?

I remember that day when Asif’s (name changed) entire family had come to meet me and discuss the kind of behavior that he was undergoing in past few days.

Sudden outburst of anger

Asif had suddenly developed this trait wherein he used to become very angry. His anger went to such a level that he would say bad words to his mother as well. He had difficulty while playing with his friends also.  The boy who used to play with his friends very nicely had issues while interacting with them. His uncle said he had become a loner.

The boy became cleanliness freak

Apart from this Asif had certain personality issues. He became too much inclined towards cleanliness. He started having bath with his clothes on at unusual time of the day. Not only this he refused to sit on the floor even at his home and would prefer standing whole day thinking the floor was dirty.

As per his family he would suddenly feel that he had become dirty and would run into the bathroom and start rubbing his hand vigorously with soap. There were days when Asif used so much of water to clean himself that the water would run short for any other activity at home. The father said that Asif’s grandmother kept crying whole day because of his such a kind of act and they all were very worried. All this increased with him in past two months and he was absolutely fine till then.

The boy started sharing

When I met Asif he came across as someone who would answer just in one word and with a very soft voice. It took me a lot of time to build rapport with him. He said that everything was untidy around him. He shared that he used to get angry very fast and started shouting on everyone and used fowl language with his mother. He added that he felt like giving bad words to his friends in school as well but didn’t have courage to do so.

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Many of the readers might have already identified that Asif had certain unusual habit.  Yes, he showed symptoms of OCD.  Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that causes kids to have unwanted thoughts, feelings, and fears. These are called obsessions, and they can make kids feel anxious. To relieve the obsessions and anxiety, OCD leads kids to do behaviours called compulsions (also called rituals). So, what was the reason for Asif to get into these compulsions and rituals? It was because of the conflicts in family.

Conflicts in Family

Asif shared during the sessions that he loved three members of his family the most. They were his mother, grandmother and his cousin sister. When we did sessions on Art Therapy he said there were everyday fights between his mother and grandmother and that too for whole day. He said that there were constant conflicts in family between his cousin sister and mother as well.

Simultaneously he used to get shouting by his mother on everyday basis. To sum up there were conflicts in his family. All the three members whom Asif loved the most had constant fights and arguments. He expressed that he used to feel very bad and didn’t know what to do about it. He had tears in his eyes while describing this and helplessness in his tone.

Changes in family was must

I requested both his father and uncle to bring his cousin sister for the session and also pass on the message to the elders to maintain peace as it was creating lot of negative impact. They said they would convey the message to both Asif’s grandmother and mother.

When his cousin sister came to meet in one of the sessions, she said that there were small arguments which kept on happening between her, Asif’s mother and the grandmother. This would then convert into big fights. She said her point of view what made her angry and this would add fuel to the arguments. It was nice of her sister to confess that she was some body with short tempered.  She said Asif doesn’t communicate to anyone about how he feels nor what happens with him in school. They come to know about things only from others around him.

Art Based Therapy

All the above what Asif felt was brought into notice with the help of paintings. We met for the sessions. Usually my first few sessions are only with child but in his case it was very crucial that the family also creates harmony at home. The parents promised me every time that they would see to it that the fights in the family would reduce but it still remained the same. On the other hand Asif started expressing a lot with the medium of paints and his family said after couple of sessions that his anger went down little bit. They said he tried to control the use of water as well and they could see change in him. However, we still had to work on him and his family.

Relapse of all the behavior issues

As per our protocol we called Asif’s family for follow up sessions however like many families they discontinued with the sessions since they felt Asif was all good. I suggested them that such things can’t be rectified so quickly and it is advisable to keep the continuity.  It was after a month when the school reopened, all the issues curbed up with double the intensity then before. They said his usage of water had increased to such an extend that he woke up at middle of the night to have bath and remained very irritate throughout the day.

This time when I met Asif, he shared that he had started using water from his bottle in the school as well and used to clean the benches without the knowledge of teachers. On probing further, he said that his friends laughed at him. Not only this he poured water on his books too in order to clean them. Asif said he isn’t able to control himself and just felt like cleaning everything around him.  His uncle and father were clueless about his behaviour in school. They said that the condition at home is still the same and we don’t think its never going to improve.

Conclusion

Asif was sent for a psychiatrist opinion as his behaviour needed medication. Even the psychiatrist suggested same thing that Asif would require medicines along with co-operation from home.

At this point we can only hope that the elders in family understand that he wants to see peace and love between the members.

Asif was somebody who used to love to play with animals, do cycling, listen to music, study and loved going to school as well. Since past two month he doesn’t like any activity apart from playing on mobile and watching TV or to sit quietly.

The medicines are on and we will start with his therapies soon once the medicines start acting on him. Every family has difference of opinion however if it starts impacting your child then be alert about it.

What do you do when you feel something is bothering your child? How do you handle such situations?

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