Child Psychologist and Parent Coach
Name: Soumini Menon
Organisation: Circle of Life
Designation: Consultant Developmental Psychologist and Parent Coach
Educational Qualification: MSc. Psychology
A first time mommy, I am loving this new chapter of my life. When I manage to find some time between baby and work, I am ready to put on my dancing shoes and shake a leg or two. On the professional front, I have done my graduation from Delhi University, India; and post graduation from Essex University, UK. Over the years, I have been ardently working and researching in the area of developmental disorders.I has been involved in various early intervention programs for children with ASD and developmental disorders. Recently through my own personal journey of parenthood, I have started working as a Parent Coach, helping parents cope with their daily struggles and celebrate their personal victories.
Parenting is the hardest thing to do and the easiest thing to criticise. There is no template to follow, just some basic guidelines. Be involved, be nurturing, be happy, be patient, be consistent and most importantly ask for help and take breaks.
At birth the brain is very immature, and takes up to 20 years to fully mature. For the brain to develop it is highly dependent on and is modified and shaped by experience. However this plasticity of brain has certain critical periods of maximal growth. Research has shown that the sensory experiences, stimulation and language exposure during the first few years determine neural connectivity. If the person is not exposed to this experience until after this time period, the same experience will have only a reduced effect or in extreme cases may have no effect at all. After the critical period, the brain may never again show the same ability to make big changes in neuronal connectivity. Hence early life experiences can determine the course of development of an individual, making early intervention crucial.
Circle of Life is a Child and Family Guidance Facility. We operate on the philosophy that every child is a unique individual. To promote his or her socio-emotional growth and development we use strength based approaches such as socio-emotional learning, positive psychology and humanistic play therapy procedures. Our centre adopts a holistic approach to human existence and pays special attention to the phenomenon such as creativity, free will and human potential.
I believe in two basic approaches. One is a child centred approach i.e. although the goals are decided by the therapist, but the format of the session is decided by the child. I use the child’s interests to motivate him/her to gain an array of skills that can be later generalised into various settings. The idea is to use the child’s internal motivation to connect to with the world, and not create forceful interactions. My second approach is of family centred i.e. I believe in empowering families to be able to care for their child, along with enhancing their child’s skills. At the end of the day the maximum input the child receives from his natural home environment, hence creating a strong supporting and understanding environment is important. Also, it is a journey for the families too and need help and support as well.
I think today’s parents have their plates full, so along with managing home and work, they have limited time to spend with their children. And to make that limited time meaningful can be pressurising. Also, child care has changed over the years, due to which sometime there can be clash of thoughts between parents and extended families.
Slow down, enjoy every moment and be kind to yourself. Do things that come naturally to you, but be informed about typical milestones. Reach out for help from family and friends, and once in a while take a break.