Some physicians often either get puzzled or neglect in differentiating the behaviour problems of children from that of their actual diseases from which they emanate. To avoid such mistakes or negligence, while treating children, careful consideration should at once be imparted to their behaviour before undertaking to prescribe medicine for them.
The attainment of mental health in children is now gradually receiving such attention as it has always been paid to their physical health. To understand the mind of a child a thorough study is necessary. Mental ill-health or disharmony is depicted outwardly in what are termed behaviour problems.
Most of the behaviour problems in children are the result of a wrong handling of perfectly natural tendency and the lack of understanding of what is both necessary and purposeful for the development of a well-adapted and well-developed personality. To inhibit both the behaviour problems of children and the neurosis of adults, it is necessary to study and understand natural phases of development, their behaviour associated with them and their purposeful nature.
Under the classification of Normal Development it is noticeable that when children of different ages play freely and naturally, certain activities are common to certain age groups. For example, most of the 15 months old children will be occupied in some activity incorporating fitting things into one another; fitting nests of boxes, putting stones into boxes, or sand or water into buckets. On the other hand, the three years old groups will remain busy with toys which push and pull, or which they can peddle.
They will fix things together, toy carts, horses or cars and then perform most complicated manoeuvres with them, trying to turn them and reverse them. In this activity two or three children may be co-operating. Through any activity the child makes contact with the objective world and is helped in his three -fold developments, physical through the use of his muscles, intellectual, adding to his knowledge of the qualities of the objects, and emotional, through having to accept the limitations inherent in any particular object. These are the outward expression of some unconscious inner urge or instinct.
The year old child banging bricks together does not consciously or purposely choose that activity. He acts in this manner quite naturally when he reaches a certain phase of development of this activity. Walking can be taught. The baby walks when he has reached that phase of development when he instinctively walks. No amount of teaching him to walk before this, will do the slightest good and no teaching will be necessary when he reaches the phase, because he will just walk. Sitting up, talking, cutting teeth, are all the natural results of a process of maturation. In gauging physical development these landmarks are used as standards for assessment.
Emotional and intellectual development follow the same laws in relation to maturation, the play-activity of children being dependent on and characteristics of the childs development phase. Its play again is the outward expression of an unconscious natural urge related to its development. Lack of recognition on the part of adults of these natural tendencies leads to difficulties and problems of behaviour, hinders development, and in many cases lays the foundation of endo-physic conflict and a neurotic personality.
In dealing with any behaviour problems in childhood it must always be decided if the behaviour under consideration is not natural for that particular age. Children of 3 or 4 years are often accused of lying, whereas it is often the result of their particular way of thinking at that time and their inability to understand what they see, or their wrong interpretation of reality due to their lack of experience.
A small boy was asked why he had broken the glass, who replied that he had not done so. When his mother asked he must have dropped it he immediately replied “Oh yes I dropped it but it broke itself.” He acknowledged dropping it but the quality of “breaking” was to him something belonging to the glass. The “natural lying” however, is often the basis of lying as a problem. The child who is punished for confessing his misdemeanour will in future deny his guilt in order to avoid punishment. Therefore, to prevent lying never punish a child for a misdeed confessed.
The actual behaviour problems for treatment are many, a few examples are given below.
A boy of about 6 years was once placed under the treatment of the writer, who suddenly and completely lost his conscience and became fast asleep. In the first place I put his tongue back in to his mouth, and loosened his dress just to have free air pass into and around his body; raised his head slightly and cleansed the foam issued from his mouth. Then felt his pulse, quick, breathing difficult, his face became pale and the veins of the forehead distended; his heart action was violent and irregular.
I concluded that the child got fright of being scolded for breaking anything, and on an enquiry was informed that he broke a marble Taj Mahal placed on a teapoy in his fathers room. I gave him 6 half-doses of Glonoine 30 and 6 half doses of Cuprum Met 30 in water Why both these medicines?
Was there no sure indication for any medicine, one at a time? Want of repertorizing leads to such gun-shot prescriptions. [Ed.] and gave the mother instructions to sponge the boys body especially the head. It was 11 A.M., and in the evening the boys father called at my place with the news that the child got back to his sense soon and on feeling hungry was given only milk diet.
I told him to continue the same medicines every three hours+ +Violation of philosophy, for the child was now normal and required no more dosing. [Ed.] and to give liquid food, such as either Horlicks or milk and sago. I did not give the boy any further medicine the next morning, but only six half doses of Sac lac.
A boy of two years was brought to me, his mother complained that he was crying at the slightest thing, sometimes becoming sick with crying. He had therefore been punished. Here is a child whose phase of development has been entirely misunderstood. Treatment in such a case consisted in giving the mother some understanding of the normal self-willed, as the child got nervous. As usual, after obtaining a short history I gave him Acon. and Hyos. both 30 alternately Alternation is violation of Hahnemanns Organon. for 3 days and after this the child was found O.K.
A girl of 3 years was placed under my treatment for screaming at night. She would not go to bed without the mother also retiring. What was wrong with the child? The causes may be hereditary tendency, tumours, inflammations, insects in the brain (?), malformation of, or deposits in, the skull, fright, nervous derangement mental and physical prostration, stomach disorder, worms, repelled eruptions, etc., etc.
A very careful examination of the whole body was made, but found nothing helpful; pulse, heart seemed alright. I carefully listened to all that was said by the girls father and concluded that she must have been suffering from stomach disorder and undergoing severe pains caused by it especially at night.+ +The physical side received all attention, while the mental side was overlooked.
She was afraid and timorous to go to bed without her mother. Lippes Repertory mentions 33 drugs covering this symptom and Belladonna is one of them. [Ed.] I remembered reading such a case in one of the leading authors books in which he described a similar case having been cured by giving the patient, who was brought to him after being treated by several Allopaths, a few doses of Bell 30.
The girl was thus given six doses of Bell 30, the first 3 doses at two hours interval and the balance at 3 hours. The next day the same medicine was repeated and by the grace of Almighty I became successful. The childs habit of screaming at nights has since never been complained of.
A boy 4 years old was once reported to have started vomiting after half an hour he had milk to drink in the evening. In the beginning he vomited curdled milk of a strong sour smell. After a while the matters vomited looked like clear water mixed with food which he had about 3 hours before. The belly was full, hard and tender, sour or foetid eructations occurred, the bowels were obstinately constipated.
There was no fever, but the temperature sank very low and the child lay with half-closed eyes and in a half-stupor condition. His skin was harsh, dry and loose, tongue ulcerated coated or cracked. Vomiting may be attributed to too early weaning and too early use of starchy food. I prescribed for him Calc. carb 6 which, I am glad to state, acted wonderfully. Instructed the parents to rub the boy with mustard oil and to sponge him at least twice a day with tepid water. After the crisis was over the boy was given Nux Vom.6 for 3/4 days.
With older children much can be done through getting the childs confidence when he will talk freely about his difficulties. Dreams are also useful in giving an indication of the conflict. In younger children contact is made through play in which the child freely expresses his thoughts, ideas and fantasies.