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family with no routine leads to lack of discipline in the child and absence of a work or play habit, leading to behavioural problems.

e) Disciplining

Organization in a family also includes disciplining patterns. Both extremes of disciplining are faulty and can lead to psychological problems. A harsh, punitive parent is as much a risk factor as poor, inconsistent disciplining.

f) Psychosocial Stimulation

At times a family may be functioning fairly normally in all other areas except in communications and group activity. Children belonging to this family are prone to develop problems in the area of language, social skills and cognitive development. Not involving the child in play, inadequate conversation and lack of playmates at home and in the neighbourhood render a child vulnerable to a number of cognitive and emotional problems. If both parents are working and there is a dearth of caretaking such problems may arise.


Presence of a chronic or terminal illness in the family, particularly in the parenting figures poses a risk for the normal development of a child. A physically ill parent cannot perform his/her duties and might have frequent separation from the child due to hospitalizatio. Mental illness in parents, specially in the mother leads to constant understimulation or problems in disciplining and communication, causing stress in the children. A depressed parent may not follow routine, be inconsistent in disciplining or may not be emotionally warm towards the child. A psychotic parent on the other hand by her/his erratic behaviour and inconsistency may cause emotional problems in the child. Use of alcohol in any family member by virtue of discord and neglect is also a major risk factor.

It should be emphasized that though children in the above families are 'at risk', all of them may not go on to develop serious problems because of their own strengths and other support systems such as school, teacher and other family members. However it is important to intervene in any family with risk factors to prevent problems from evolving in any child.

Based on the above discussion of high risk families, a method was evolved by which, such families could be identified easily. There are certain indicators in a family which can sensitize us regarding the presence of

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