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Q&A with clinical child psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin about helping your child deal with new and challenging situations - ANSWERS BACK

(57 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Sep-13 11:03:46

This week we have Dr Angharad Rudkin, a chartered Clinical Child Psychologist on hand to answer your questions on how to help children deal with difficult situations, for example divorce, separation, bereavement, house moves or starting school.  

Dr Rudkin has years of experience of working with children and their families who are experiencing difficulties ranging from toddler tantrums to family breakdown. She is also frequently consulted about child psychology issues by the media, including television and radio. Post your questions before midday Monday 16 September we'll post up her answers on Monday 23rd September. Everyone who posts a question will be entered into a draw to win a £40 hamper from Organix.

This Q&A is sponsored by Organix

DrRudkin Mon 23-Sep-13 17:55:52



For as long as I can remember my son has had what I would call a 'tick', or an action that he repeats obsessively in times of stress. Whenever one action appears to have stopped, it is not long before I notice he is doing something else with the same sort of compulsion e.g. for a few months it was blinking, then it was compulsively wiping food into his hair, the most dramatic was taking big gulps of air mid-sentence, and currently it is licking his finger and wiping it on a part of his body. I have never been able to establish who I should see about this - I asked a health visitor when he was going through his blinking phase and she just referred me to an optician and didn't really get it. The actions become more pronounced around the start of a new school term (now) or in new situations where he is overwhelmed. Should I just accept this is comforting to him, or should I be addressing it? Many thanks.

Tics are relatively common at some point in a child’s life. However, if they become constant and start interfering with life, then it would be worth meeting with a professional to find out more about them. Basically tics are involuntary movements. They feel a bit like sneezing; you have some control over it but when the urge is too great, you simply have to let it happen. Children describe feeling a build up to a tic, and, depending on how relaxed or stressed they are and where they are then can either hold it in or not. Somewhat confusingly with tics, the more stressed children are the more likely they are to tic, but also if they are very relaxed at home watching television, for example, they can tic a lot too then. Often, children can hold the tics in at school but as soon as they are at home, or in the toilet at break time, the tics come out in a flurry.

Tics can be part of a disorder called Tourette’s Syndrome, which covers a large spectrum of behaviour from small single motor and vocal tics to much larger complex tics. However, if a child’s behaviours are more like a compulsion to do something to stop a bad thing happening (e.g. jumping up and down 10 times to stop something bad happening to mum and dad) then that is more likely to stem from an anxiety based difficulty (such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and is treated slightly differently. For both issues, there are medication options but the main form of treatment would be behavioural treatment i.e. teaching the child about the tics, finding out the risk times for them and learning how to manage and accept them. If you feel that your childrens’ tics are getting in the way of their functioning, ask your GP for a referral to a specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). There may be a bit of a wait to be seen, but the professional there should be able to advise you on the best treatment, if any is required.

HeatherMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 23-Sep-13 18:04:20

Dr Angharad Rudkin's answers are now posted on the thread. Thanks to everyone who participated.

GrrArgh Thu 26-Sep-13 13:03:33

Can I say a massive thank you to Dr Rudkin, you have pinpointed a few things about my son which are indeed true. We've been on the verge of getting counselling help for him in any case, but the sensory issues - which aren't obviously serious - are something we'll look into. (It was a lightbulb moment for me because I have sensory issues, and we laugh about them, but there are times I can barely cope in certain environments. So of course this might be similar for a small child, who can't even articulate what's wrong. For me it's overhead lights and background chatter, which I know sounds crazy, but if it's something he finds difficult too then it won't be helping his behaviour.)

InmaculadaConcepcion Sat 28-Sep-13 16:45:41

Thanks Dr Rudkin!

HeatherMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 30-Sep-13 11:46:26

Congratulations impecuniousmarmoset you are the winner of the £40 hamper from Organix. We'll PM you with info about how to claim your prize.

impecuniousmarmoset Mon 30-Sep-13 11:59:12

Ooh! I didn't even notice there was a prize! But v. welcome, thank you.

Have PM'd you my name and address Heather.

And thanks Dr Rudkin, your reply gave me food for thought.

pickledsiblings Mon 07-Oct-13 12:20:16

Thank you so much Dr Rudkin for your very helpful and reassuring reply.

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