Young children like to draw their parents’ attention by making funny faces and dancing circles around us. Usually it stops at that. However, sometimes it’s not about your kid trying to be cute. You may find him constantly repeating a gesture, over and over, which ends up driving you nuts. That is called a tic.
Nervous tics are involuntary spasms of different muscle groups. They typically appear at around six years old, and last under twelve months. The onset of these symptoms is caused by age-related peculiarities in the development of the nervous system. Tics in children, such as Trichotillomania, characterized by pulling of the hair, the habit of the persistent biting of fingernails, and even Tourette’s syndrome, occur in all races, cultures and social groups.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD HAS A TIC
- Don’t make a big deal out of the child’s tic and do not ask him to stop doing it because he, simply, cannot.
- Check with a specialist who will guide you and help you to deal with and treat your child’s tic properly.
- Explain the condition to your child. As it is usually genetic, you can easily help your child understand their particular tic by explaining his family history related to this.
- Teach the child to do something that will help him take charge of his tic. For example, if he bites his nails and he learns to identify triggers such as being nervous before an exam, teach him to put his hands in his pockets, or clench his fists as soon as he feels he’s under stress.
- Try strengthening the child’s social support network and exposing him to situations that can lead to the tic resurfacing, without letting him act it out. This is called desensitization.
- Pull together as a family and let your kids know they’re loved unconditionally. Unfortunately, these children may suffer taunting, exclusion or bullying, so family support is very important.
- While there are medications to decrease or eliminate tics, some specialists say that, in the majority of cases, they aren’t necessary.
Read Related: 7 Medicines You Should Never Give Your Children
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND IF YOUR KID HAS A TIC
- Although, by definition, tics are a neurological condition, sometimes a child may have a “tic-ish” behavior, gulping hard, biting his fingernails or swearing constantly. This behavior is usually a response to a stressful situation, perhaps caused by changes like a new school year, the arrival of a new sibling, moving houses or problems in the family, like a divorce.
- See a doctor first, and if appropriate, check with a psychologist or a school counselor to help the child overcome it.
- There are various cognitive tests to make a diagnosis and different play therapies that help identify the trigger of the tic.
- Today, the treatment of tics in childhood is done using a multifaceted approach, i.e., using different types of techniques in combination, not only the behavioral or cognitive strategy. Also, in some disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome, psychiatric drugs are often necessary for effective treatment.
Tics can be stressful and embarrassing for children. Feeling confident that their parents love them no matter what will help keep them healthy and happy as their tic runs its course. Thank goodness, they tend to subside!