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How to help a complex child

A long lock of brown hair falls into Lola’s green eyes (1). Sitting on the stairs to the garage, she puts on her sneakers while her father mixes “His magic potion”. Half an apple, half a banana, lemon juice, Granola and water, “To drink when things are not going”. Every morning, Jehro slips the gourd into his 7-year-old daughter’s satchel. “It won’t take away her complex, but it might help her gain self-confidence.” “

→ MAINTENANCE. Child welfare: “The complexes are sometimes transmitted from generation to generation”

Lola’s complex is camouflaged under her bangs. A slightly raised mole above her left eyebrow. “The same as my grandma”, confides the little girl who hesitates to lift her lock of hair. “A few days after the start of the school year in September, last year, some CM2 greats called me a witch at recess”, Lola remembers. “From that point on, she only talked about her birthmark. She asked us to give her bangs, she wanted to put on foundation to cover it up, Jehro says. I knew children can be very hard on each other, but I didn’t expect my daughter to suffer from complexes this young. “

Physical or intellectual

Children can “Suffer from the remarks of others from the age of 5, confirms Stéphane Clerget, child psychiatrist (2). And from the age of 7 or 8, they begin to be aware of their body and it is often from this age that they form their first complexes. A phenomenon that will be amplified in adolescence. “

The complexes can be physical (the nose, the weight, the size, the color of the hair …) or intellectual (shyness, the impression of always being “Beside the plate”, not to have friends…). “The complexed person will focus on a real or imaginary defect and will maintain a distorted image of himself”, unrolls Stéphane Clerget.

→ MAINTENANCE. “The young person is no longer judged simply by his friends but by” likes “”

“I get 8-year-olds who have asked to ‘talk to someone’ because they are unhappy because of a physical or psychological detail, because they don’t look like their friends. However, individual appearance has never been so important in our society for children as for adults ”, assures the specialist.

Remarks that seem harmless

Sometimes, the complexes can also arise from the words or the behaviors of the adults in the close entourage of the children. Some remarks that seem harmless can be traumatic. Corentine, 36, still remembers the reflection of a friend of her mother’s. “We were at the table when she said: ‘Çit would do her good to swim a bit, she has big arms “, remembers this mother of two children aged 5 and 9. There was a terrible blank and as no one was reacting, I think I laughed to distract attention. Today I hate my arms and I know it came from there. “

More than the remark, she says she was hurt by her mother’s silence at the time. “This is why I am a real lioness today with my children. I don’t let anything go, even if it’s humor or it seems innocuous, because I know that it can generate complexes that are difficult to get rid of. “

Faced with the complexes of their children, parents often feel helpless. To imagine the scenarios of the comic strip Lulu, published in the magazine Astrapi (for 7-11 year olds), Stéphanie Duval, youth author, draws a lot of inspiration from her four children. In one of the issues, Lulu feels stupid. She does not know the Star Rock, she does not know how to locate Toulouse on the map and she forgets things. Like Lulu, one of Stéphanie Duval’s sons pretended to know the things his friends were talking about because there was no television at home, by educational choice. “I remember that I felt a lot of guilt at that time, we almost gave in and bought a TV but in the end he made up for it by watching movies and reading”, slips the author, for whom communication is one of the keys.

Beware of “immediate solutions”

How far to go to help your complexed child, especially when the latter suffers from a physical complex? Cosmetic surgery operations are very rarely performed on children, except when it comes to malformations such as protruding ears (the operation can be performed from the age of 7). However, Emmanuelle Piquet, clinical psychologist (3), warns against “Immediate solutions”.

“An operation to re-glue the ears can allow a child to regain self-confidence, but sometimes that is not enough”, she regrets. One of his patients, for example, continued to be taunted by his comrades because of the scars behind the ears left by the operation. “In fact, his posture had not changed, he was still in a vulnerable position, which the other children felt. This is why it is necessary to consult when the suffering generated by a complex is too important because this can be the symptom of a deeper malaise. “

She first advises children to try and show off their complex. “The more we try to hide a complex, the more suffering it will generate. So we have to put it under the spotlight of others by saying this nose, these ears, it’s me. Or, it’s true, I’m a little over the moon but it’s my way of being! “ That’s what Lola did. When a friend asked her what was in the gourd, she replied with a laugh: “Witch’s magic potion against warts”. Before adding: “But above all, don’t drink it, you risk having it too, like me”, says his father with pride.


When the complex becomes a cloudiness

According to Sophie Braun, psychoanalyst, the difference between a disorder and a complex lies in its “Intensity”. “If a young girl who is fat loses two kilos and then eats normally: it is a complex. If she swallows half an olive a day and finds that she has eaten too much, then it becomes an eating disorder. “

When physical complexes turn into obsession, it can be dysmorphophobia. This psychological disorder, which mainly affects adolescents and young adults, is characterized by an excessive and obsessive perception of a defect. “Almost 2% of the population suffers from it, indicates Stéphane Clerget, child psychiatrist. It is necessary to consult because it can be a question of a symptom of schizophrenia ”.


Testimonials: they wanted to “erase” their complex

“I wouldn’t have had the same life if I had kept my ears sticking out”

Thomas, 34 years old

“When I was little, my ears were sticking out. It was my grandfather who insisted on my parents that I have an operation. He didn’t want me to be made fun of like him. I have no recollection of my protruding ears, nor any remarks that could have been made to me. But I came across a photo of myself as a child and at 5 years old the malformation was already very visible. I am very grateful to my grandfather because I don’t think I would have had the same life without this operation. I work in the media and in my job physical appearance is important. I didn’t think about it again until my 6 year old son asked me when he got home from school: “What’s a Dumbo?” He has a slightly protruding ear, I didn’t think the other kids would laugh at him. We discussed this with his mother and ultimately decided not to talk to him about the operation until his ears got in his way. “

“I found myself even uglier than before”

Mounia, 22 years old

“I am the only redhead in the family. As a child, everyone made fun of me: my brothers and sisters said that I had been adopted and my friends called me Foil de carrotte. when I was 12, I asked my mom to change my hair color. At first she refused, before finally giving in. She bought a brown color that would fade in a few washes. And fortunately ! When I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself and I felt even uglier than before… I tied my hair and put on a cap until I turned red again. My mother told me that I looked like the Moroccan princess Lalla Salma who I found beautiful. Since then I have never done color again and my hair is what I love most about me. “

“Hair removal was the only solution”

Ania, 30 years old

“When I was 8, I already had hair on my legs, down on my back and a single brow. One day, at the swimming pool, my friends called me a gorilla. I came home crying but didn’t want to tell my parents what had happened. I went back to the pool and the teasing continued. One evening I picked up my dad’s razor and shaved my eyebrows. When she saw me, my mother immediately hugged me. There were holes everywhere, it was even worse than before. When my eyebrows grew back, she took me to a beautician and bought me some hair removal cream. I believe that waxing was the only solution to stop the teasing, but unfortunately my complex did not disappear. A few months ago I went to see a dermatologist to find a definitive solution. He told me that my hair is normal and that the brown hairs are bound to be more noticeable on fair skin. Since then, I put “on pause” the idea of ​​a permanent hair removal and I try to assume these hairs which also remind me of my Hispanic origins. “


Books to help children gain self-confidence

The green wolf (from 3 years old). By René Gouichoux, illustrated by Éric Gasté, Bayard jeunesse, Les Belles Histoires collection, 32 p., € 5.90. In the middle of the other gray wolves, we only see him. Raoul is a green wolf, rejected by his fellows. So he tries everything he can to change the color of his skin. The apple green wolf will even put itself in danger to achieve its goal. Fortunately, a fairy will save him and push him to accept himself as he is.

All different, all the same (from 6 years old). By Arnaud Alméras, illustrated by Robin, Gallimard jeunesse Giboulées, 36 p., € 14. Some children are strong while others are shy. Some are worried, others lonely. But all of them love stories, partying or having a friend. They are all different but all the same.

Us Boys – A Guide for Soon to be Teens (from 9-10 years old). By Raphaël Martin, illustrated by Anne Pomel, Milan, € 18. There can be a lot of turbulence during the transition from childhood to adolescence. This book is divided into several themes to answer the questions of boys aged 9 to 13. The chapters on “The strange mutations of the body” and “The keys of the personality” deal in particular with self-esteem.


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