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What to do if the child is not studying and eating properly?

Q: My ten year old daughter is in standard five and quite good in her studies. But she is very lazy and does not want to study on her own. She does not have a good appetite too. She takes almost an hour to complete her lunch or dinner (that too after a lot of verbal threatening), but finishes her favourite items very quickly. She has average health. We have to force her for every activity starting from brushing her teeth in the morning. She is a very good painter but does not want to practise it. Every time she wants something new to learn without completing her previous assignment. My wife has to put lot of efforts throughout the day to keep my daughter on track. We are having another son who is three years old. He certainly needs much more attention and care than my daughter. My wife is very very sincere and puts lot of efforts in making everything perfect (she is a housewife). The problem is- she becomes tired and frustrated occassionally. How can my daughter be made to realize the problem and take initiative in doing her own work?

A:Some of her problems could be connected to her feeling that her 3 year old brother gets more attention than she does. Both parents will have to talk to her and do things with her, to assure her that she is also important. You could suggest that if she paints a picture nicely, you will put it up on the wall. She can also be given small tasks around the house, like helping her mother. She could be asked to watch over her brother or play with him. When she does something well, give her a word of praise and a pat on the back. Dont let the mother do everything for her. Let her grow up and take responsibility. This will be gradual, of course, but there is no point in expecting perfection from ourselves or our children. Laugh it off when there are mistakes or incomplete jobs. Regarding mealtimes, children sometimes extend them because they are sure of the parents attention. You could try leaving her with her food and move away, telling her that after she finishes, you have a game to play etc. Instead of giving instructions like do this or dont do that, chat with her about other people, her cousins or friends or school and take the focus off the eating. You could also deny her some special food for a short while, to make her cooperate. Sometimes one dose of deworming tablets will take care of lack of appetite. So check with your doctor and take action. Find out about what goes on in school, who her friends are etc. Ask her what she would like to do. Children, like adults, are different from each other. There is no perfect mould and there are no perfect children. But with affection, we can guide our children to fulfil their best potential. Everything takes time and patience. All the best.

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