How Cultural Beliefs Influence Parental Perceptions of Child Well-being: Unraveling the Concept of the 'Evil Eye'

Kate Chered
4 min readJan 6, 2024

In many cultures, the concept of the 'evil eye' is deeply ingrained, often influencing how parents interpret various symptoms in their children. This belief, known as сглаз in some cultures, suggests that envy or malevolent glances can cause harm to individuals, particularly children. Parents observing symptoms such as lethargy, uncharacteristic irritability, constant crying, or changes in eating habits might attribute these to the 'evil eye.'

However, from a psychological standpoint, it's crucial to understand that these symptoms can have numerous causes. Children's behaviour and health can fluctuate due to various factors, ranging from developmental stages, such as teething, to more serious health issues. It's important to note that while cultural beliefs play a significant role in interpreting these signs, they should not overshadow the need for medical evaluation. Parents should be encouraged to seek medical advice when severe symptoms persist.

The psychological impact of these beliefs on both the child and the parent cannot be understated. In some cases, the fear and anxiety surrounding the concept of the 'evil eye' can lead to heightened parental worry, which in turn may affect the child's sense of security and well-being.

Addressing the Role of Superstition and Medical Care in Child Health

When to Seek Medical Attention: Distinguishing Cultural Practices from Essential Healthcare Needs

It's vital for parents to recognize when to prioritize medical advice over cultural remedies. Symptoms like high fever, lethargy coupled with loss of appetite, and signs of dehydration are medical concerns that require immediate attention. For instance, a fever above 38 degrees Celsius that cannot be reduced should be addressed by a healthcare professional, as it could lead to serious complications in infants.

Additionally, if a child exhibits signs of dehydration, such as dry skin, sunken soft spots on the head (in infants), or a significant decrease in urination, medical intervention is critical. These signs can indicate severe conditions that need immediate attention.

In situations where traditional beliefs and medical advice intersect, parents often face a dilemma. While respecting cultural practices is important, prioritizing the child's health is paramount. A psychological understanding of this conflict can aid healthcare providers in offering empathetic and culturally sensitive guidance to parents.

Understanding the Intersection of Cultural Beliefs and Medical Advice

What is the Psychological Impact of Cultural Beliefs on Child Rearing Practices?

Cultural beliefs, such as the fear of the 'evil eye,' can significantly influence parenting styles and practices. Parents might resort to traditional rituals or practices as a form of protection for their children. While these practices are often harmless and can provide psychological comfort to the parents, they should not replace professional medical advice when it comes to health concerns.

From a psychological perspective, children are highly perceptive and can pick up on their parent's anxieties and fears. If a child is constantly subjected to rituals or discussions about the 'evil eye,' it might lead to a heightened sense of anxiety or confusion. This underscores the importance of balancing cultural practices with a rational approach to healthcare.

Balancing Cultural Practices with Rational Healthcare Decisions

How to Navigate the Complexities of Cultural Beliefs and Child Healthcare in the Modern World

In today's globalized world, where traditional beliefs often intersect with modern healthcare practices, finding a balance can be challenging for parents. It's essential to create a space where cultural beliefs are respected, yet the importance of medical advice is not undermined.

Healthcare professionals are crucial. They should provide culturally sensitive care and advice, acknowledging the family's beliefs while emphasizing the importance of medical treatment when necessary. It is crucial to educate parents about the signs and symptoms that require medical attention and differentiate them from less severe symptoms rooted in cultural beliefs.

In conclusion, while cultural beliefs like the 'evil eye' are integral to many communities, distinguishing these from medical symptoms in children is vital. Parents should be encouraged to seek medical advice for severe or persistent symptoms while being reassured that their cultural practices are respected. By understanding and navigating these complexities, we can ensure a holistic approach to child healthcare that honours both cultural beliefs and medical science.

Ensuring a Holistic Approach to Child Healthcare


How Can Parents Differentiate Between Symptoms of the 'Evil Eye' and Medical Conditions in Children?

Parents can differentiate these by closely observing the symptoms and their duration. If symptoms like persistent high fever, severe lethargy, or signs of dehydration are present, these are likely not related to cultural beliefs like the 'evil eye' and require medical attention. It's important to monitor the child's overall behaviour and physical condition. If symptoms persist or worsen, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional regardless of cultural beliefs.

Where Should Parents Draw the Line Between Following Cul