Samari Residences in Ras Al Khor from where a nine-year-old boy went missing on Saturday. He was found after 10 hours some kilometres away. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The case of a nine-year-old Indian boy in Dubai running away from home should be an eye-opener for parents, say psychologists.

Grade 4 student Sam (name changed to protect the identity of the child), had gone missing from his home in Samari Residences in Ras Al Khor for about 10 hours on Saturday.

He was found wandering near a shopping centre some kilometres away from the community.

His father told Gulf News that it was unbelievable that Sam, who is like other kids of his age, would do this.

He described Sam as a pampered child, a little shy to mingle with people, a cat lover and active in extracurricular activities like football, karate and the environment club. They give him whatever he requires and he also goes for tuitions for all the subjects since both parents work and his mother often works a night shift as well.

The only problem his parents have found in him is that “he gets agitated when we tell him to study during exams and, specifically, when it is Hindi or Arabic papers which are tough for him,” the father said.

This not just the story of Sam, experts say. The same story is happening in many expat families here especially when both parents work. This must be a wake-up call for many parents, said psychologists.

Dr Mohammad S. Tahir

“It’s a kind of an eye-opener,” said Dr Mohammad S. Tahir, head of psychiatry at the Westminster Clinic in Dubai Healthcare City.

He said there are two scenarios when parents do not realise the pressure their kids face in academics. “Sometimes there is a mismatch between the parents’ expectations and the realistic achievement of the child. On the other hand, for some parents with degrees and PhDs, class exams may not be a big issue whereas the child may be finding it very stressful.”

Fadwa L. Lkorchy

In both cases, the child is stressed out. What Sam did is probably a method of escape from his problems and a way of seeking attention from his parents, according to Fadwa L. Lkorchy, from the Dubai Community Health Centre.

“Children don’t have the abilities and skills to express that they are stressed and need attention.”

A developmental psychologist and personality dimensions trainer at the centre, Lkorchy said some parents put pressure on kids by pushing them to study only during exams instead of encouraging them to learn their daily lessons and be regular in studies. Sending children to too many activity classes also is not a good idea, she pointed out.

The experts said it is important that parents make sure to spend quality time with their children and understand what is happening in their lives and their issues every day.

“Spending some time daily with children and understanding what they are going through is a must. Appreciate the good things they do and understand how to support them where they are weak. Each child is unique and expecting everyone to be excellent in academics or comparing your child with another is also not correct,” said Dr Tahir.

“Exam time is different from non-exam time. Kids should be taught to understand it. Parents have to structure their time and give enough time for them to play and relax also. Giving gadgets is not the right thing as well. And if the parents do not have the time and skills to help children with their studies, they should find someone who has the patience and skills to do it,” said Lkorchy.

 

Seek help from schools

 

Ashok Kumar

Educationist and CEO of The Indian High School Ashok Kumar said successful solution of parental stress and child care lies in the ability of families to access appropriate support services provided by the schools such as counselling that help families cope with the child’s needs and also reduce problems.

“Some services are provided in the school setting and parents must typically make active efforts to seek these services. Schools on their part are required to motive parents to seek these services. When schools and families work together, student learning and outcomes improve, so do children’s attitudes toward school, their social skills and behaviour, and the likelihood that they will take more challenges in their lives and overcome them. Meet your child’s teacher/counsellor to share your concerns and seek guidance,” he advised parents.