Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review: Managing the unmanageable child.

Managing the Unmanageable Child - A guide to Understanding and Tackling Tough, Recurrent and Persistent Problems in Children. Dr PV Vaidyanathan. Peacock Books, New Delhi. 2010. Pages 206. Rs 175.00

(Review by Dr P Vyasamoorthy)


Dr Vaidyanathan, a leading pediatrician of repute in Mumbai with more than twenty years of experience backing him, offers practical wisdom in understanding and handling problematic children.


The book is meant primarily for parents. The objective is to make them understand the reasons behind various ailments – both physical and psychological – a child may suffer while growing up.  By design, how to treat such conditions (therapy aspects) does not form a part of the book.


The book is divided into three parts. In the first introductory part behavior of children in general is explained chronologically. Suggestions to make the child responsible are then given.  Thereafter characteristics of bad parent and bad child are discussed. Thereafter methods to avoid unnecessary anxiety that parents develop over their children are mentioned.


The second part deals with Physical problems. Almost every ailment afflicting children is covered. Paraphrasing the chapter headings we come across topics like: crying too much, wetting the bed, eating and putting on fat, refusing to take medicines, speech problems, frequent attacks of cough and cold, suffering from constipation, stomach pain, refusing to eat and frequent vomiting. Which child has not had one or many of these?


The last section is devoted to Psychological or behavioral problems.  As one could guess this is the largest section – devoting some 26 chapters among a total of 42. Problems like holding the breath, throwing tantrums, telling lies, being hyperactive, autism, introverts, aggressiveness, adoption, sibling rivalry, child abuse, hypersensitiveness, manipulation – everything you might have come across in children around your home or among your friends families are dealt with. In this respect the coverage of topics is highly comprehensive.


The language of the book is very simple and straightforward. In an impactful but easy style,  Dr Vaidyanathan provides (through concise chapters) a lot of useful information for better understanding of the problem child – whatever may be the problem. He comforts us of many anxieties that are not necessary in the first place.  He says that sometimes parents become more unmanageable than kids they bring in! I learnt, for example, that it is neither fatal nor dangerous if a child holds the breath for a minute or so.


This book will be useful for ANYONE who has to deal with problem children – whether it is parents, grandparents, teachers, care takers etc.  I enjoyed those context sensitive verses strewn in between. They relieve monotony of text. You too can enjoy verses like this:


I was highly interested in becoming an artist

My parents saw to it that I become a dentist

Instead of painting pictures colorful and divine

I'm stuck, extracting molars, incisors and canine!


It has come not a day early because stress and anxiety among parents and children alike are increasing day by day. I wish he had penned this book a few years ago – my bother's daughter had, not one but two problem children and it was so bad that the mother dreaded coming home from office everyday. Every parent who can relate himself to the scenarios depicted in this book will find its contents immeasurably useful.




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