The secret to communicating with your kids

The-secret-to-communicating-with-your-kids

How many of these phrases sound familiar?

“I heard you the first time!”

“Alright, alright. Keep your hair on…”

“Okay, okay—I said I'm coming!”

“Wait a minute!”

“But mum…”

*Enormous tantrum*

When do you hear these phrases the most? When you're trying to get the kids out the door to school? When you've asked the kids to clean up their room? When you want them to put down their device ready for dinner?

These moments can be enormously frustrating and stressful. It's like our children work on their own time schedule—a schedule that works exactly 13 minutes and 34 seconds slower than ours. Of course, their schedules switch to working 3 hours ahead of ours when it comes to taking them out for a treat or putting on an anime DVD!

I've got to tell you, there are some days when I get so sick and tired of my children just not doing what I ask them when I ask them to do.

But let's flip the tables for a moment.

What do you say when you are happily pottering around the house, baggy track-pants and crazy hair and your partner tells you that he needs a to be dropped at the train station—NOW!

Or what about when you are the in the middle of typing a delicate work email and one of your kids start to nag you about making pancakes for their morning tea?

It's not always easy to be calm and courteous is it?

If only my partner had given me a thirty minute warning that they would need a lift.

If only my child had known how stressed I was about getting that email right.

Believe it or not, kids feel like this all the time.

“If only my mum knew that this TV show would be finished in two minutes,” they think.
“If only my dad knew that I didn't hear him when he said we would be going out soon,”
“If only my parents knew that I feel really tired and don't have the energy to clean my room tonight.”

However, our children don't articulate themselves in the way we would like—or perhaps we don't always listen when they try to tell us how they are feeling. So, we end up getting angry responses like “Okay, okay!” “I told you I'm coming” and *enormous tantrum*.

Our households could be much calmer, peaceful places if we just got alongside our kids and let them know what we need them to do ahead of time. What if we tried:

“At the end of your TV show, could you please go and clean up your room?”
“Just to let you know, later this morning we are going to be going out to the shops, so you need to start finishing up your game, okay?”
“I really want you to be on time for school today. Do you think you could go and get your shoes on? Then you can play your game in the car on the way to school.”

Maybe one of the reasons our children are becoming angry and frustrated with us is because we keep on asking them to do things without giving them warning. We like to be given warning when we are expected to do something, so why don't we afford our kids the same courtesy?

We need to think about what we want our children to do ahead of time so that we can give them time to finish up what they are doing and prepare themselves for what we want them to do.

Why not try an experiment this week. Give your child a friendly 5 minute warning before you need them to:

  • Get in the car
  • Wash their hands for dinner
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Leave the playground
  • Get in the bath
  • Clear their room

I wonder if the number of angry outbursts begins to go down with the more 5 minute warnings they get?

Louise Griffiths is the founder of Exploring All Options, an educational consultancy and tutoring service that provides alternative ways to teach young people in a way that works best for them. Visit her website here.

Do you struggle to communicate with your children? Does your household experience more tantrums than peaceful discussions? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

How to make time for fitness when you are a busy parent

How-to-make-time-for-fitness-when-you-are-a-busy-parent

Everyone struggles with making time for health and fitness. We simply live incredibly busy, fast paced lives. When you add parenting into the mix, it can feel like attempts at a regular exercise routine are impossibilities. When you can’t even find time to go to the bathroom or to cook a meal without some sort of interruption, how can you make time to be fit?

Although you love your children, they do make time management a foreign concept. Between chores around the house, the demands of your workplace, school, appointments, caring for your kids, and all the rest, there isn’t much time left to get your exercise on. But, there are a few things you can do to get the “me time” you need to be healthy.

Plan to exercise

If you made an appointment at the dentist or your child had a performance one evening, you would put it in your calendar and you would make sure that you showed up on time. Use that same tactic to find time to work out. When you put down a time in your planner, just as you would for any other important appointment, you feel like you need to follow through. Make your yoga or spin class part of the family calendar and treat it as non-negotiable.

Stop worrying about what to wear

When you practice fitness first thing in the morning, you don’t want to slow down to decide between black sweatpants and patterned ones or to pick a sweatshirt that matches them. First, let go of the idea that you need to look perfect. The important thing is that you get active—how you look doing it is secondary. Secondly, stop trying to decide in the AM. Pick out your clothes the night before and have them ready to go. Heck, if it helps, just sleep in them. Do whatever you have to do to make getting up early to exercise something you can maintain.

Bring the kids with you

You can’t always count on sneaking out of the house for a run while your kids stay at home with another caregiver. If you are a morning jogger and your kids are getting up earlier and earlier, you don’t have to give up on your run. You can throw them in a jogging stroller and take them along with you. During your run, you can chat with them and sing with them and enjoy each other’s company. You are also setting a healthy example. You will have to plan a little, like bringing books and snacks, but you can get those things ready the night before to streamline getting out of the house.

Evaluate your schedule

People who work out don’t magically find the time, they take the time. Most people have time in their day that is spent doing activities that kill time, like cruising Facebook or playing games online. When you assess how you spend your day, keep an eye out for times that could be carved out to get active. If you can, take a little time from multiple activities (so you don’t have to give them up entirely) and combine those small increments into one large chunk.

Be kind to yourself

There will be days when everything will go haywire and you won’t be able to do the amount of exercise you had planned to, or you may not be able to do any at all. You have to accept what you have available to you and make the most of it. Don’t stress and don’t compare yourself to other people. As long as you are making the effort to be healthy, enjoy your successes.

Do you feel overwhelmed by your parenting responsibilities? Would you like to like a balanced, healthy life? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Esmeralda A. Anderson is a health and wellness blogger that writes about parenting, mental health, kids, marriage, self-improvement, divorce, relationships, addiction treatment for heroin and more. Most of her works are published in health magazines. Follow her here.

The real reasons kids ‘act out’

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A few weeks ago, Warcry magazine approached Colleen about the issue of parenting children who are acting out. Here is what she shared with them.

It takes some hefty detective work to understand why your child is ‘acting out’, writes Colleen Morris.

A parent needs to be patient, curious, observant and attentive to what their child’s behaviour is trying to call attention to. Here are seven common reasons your kids may be struggling.

Marital conflict


Negative behaviours such as bickering, criticism, sarcasm, yelling and fighting create an environment that is stressful and unpredictable. Often a child acts out to draw parents’ attention away from each other and therefore lessen the tension in the relationship.

Parental separation

The years following a parental separation can cause emotional distress for children. Sadness, guilt and anger can all drive a child to ‘act out’ because they feel their whole world has been dismantled.

Grief


A child’s grief is as keen as your own and has no set time limit or method. The loss of a parent, grandparent, close friend or a pet are life experiences that are frequently confusing, sad and, when not given expression, can be toxic to our body and our emotions.

Loneliness


Being ‘time poor’ is one of the hazards of our fast-paced lifestyle. Many parents are simply preoccupied with the challenges of daily life, so when we fail to notice that one of our children is lonely and needing our attention, they can look for ways to draw attention to themselves.

Physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse


How does a child talk to a parent about ‘the unmentionable’ without feeling shame, terror, embarrassment or fear of not being believed? There are times when the abuse is within the family context—sometimes it is a family friend or neighbour, sometimes it is someone bullying them at school, and at other times it is happening in cyberspace. Acting out may be a ‘cry for help’ in this instance.

Rigid rules and unrealistic expectations

When children are young, parents create rules and boundaries—spoken and unspoken—that define acceptable behaviour. As our children grow and develop, we must continually redefine these. When a parent’s rules remain rigid and unrealistic with regard to their child’s changing world, a child typically feels resentful, annoyed and angry.

Generational trauma


When unaddressed and unresolved, you or your parents’ past trauma continues to be alive and present in the experience of your children.

Where there has been war, abandonment, neglect and other extremely traumatic experiences, the pain and distress of the past will continue to find its echo in the present as long as it is unacknowledged and the impact unrecognised.

Learning how to listen attentively, build trust and teach your child to name their emotions are vital for their behaviour to settle. If your child is acting out, sit down and listen to them. By addressing the real issues you can build trust with them during this difficult time.

Is your child ‘acting out’? Are you concerned about your kids’ wellbeing? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Thank you to Warcry magazine for publishing this piece in its week-to-week column. You can read it on its website here. It was originally published on Watersedge in September 2016 as ‘7 Reasons Your Child Might Be Acting Out’.

When the holidays aren’t the happiest time of the year

when-the-holidays-are-not-the-happiest-time-of-the-year

During the holidays, there’s an overwhelming sense that we should be happy. Christmas carols are sung, decorations are put up, family and friends reunite and people swap gifts. All of these activities can be wonderful, joyous things. But for many of us, they’re not—and that’s okay.

There are lots of reasons the holidays can be difficult, notably the fact that it feels like everyone expects you to be ‘happy’ and have the Christmas spirit.  But if we’re honest, that’s not always possible.

The holidays are a time when grief comes to the forefront. If we have lost a loved one, recently or in years past, we remember them all the more clearly when they’re not celebrating with us.

If a relationship has broken down with our spouse or significant other, Christmas can be an awkward time. We feel lonely, and disappointed that our life isn’t going the way we planned. If the relationship has affected children or extended family, this becomes even more paramount, as they try to maintain a congenial relationship with both parties.

Having to see an ex over the holidays, or feeling like you must ‘share’ your family with them makes the season fraught with tension.

If a loved one is experiencing a debilitating illness like dementia, depression or chronic fatigue, the need to care for them can take over any festive spirit we have. We wrestle with anxiety, frustration and anger, desperately trying to give them a wonderful Christmas experience at the expense of our own.

Or if we are ill, we are simply unable to join in the celebrations or enjoy them in any capacity. Whether we’re stuck at home, are in hospital, or are consumed by thoughts or feelings of anxiety, we feel isolated and lonely.

Throw in elements such as distance, monetary stress, estranged relationships with the family, trauma and work pressure, and this season can fall well short of the ‘happiest time of the year’ everyone boasts about.

So where does this leave those of us who don’t feel festive, but are expected to celebrate anyway?

It’s important you know it’s okay to feel broken this season. If you feel pressure to ‘get over it’ and your loved ones don’t understand your struggle, you don’t have to justify it to them. Recognise that your experience is just as valid as the friend who sings Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. Accept that your holiday season looks different to theirs, and know it’s okay.

When we accept our own brokenness and pain, we are able to work through it.

If you are grieving, use the holidays as a tribute to a loved one you miss. Visit their grave, or do their favourite activity in remembrance of them.

If you are heartbroken, allow yourself to cry, and then feel the love of your friends and family.

If your loved one is ill, give yourself permission to rest for a moment before you continue caring for them.

If conflict arises and there is no easy resolution, table the issue and give yourself permission to tackle it in the new year.

If you are alone, volunteer, attend a local church service, or a find a community group to belong to for the day.

If you are sick, love your mind and your body for what it does bring to Christmas Day—you. And despite the confines illness puts you in, give yourself permission to smile if you feel like it.

If the holidays are difficult time for you, tell a friend why. You don’t have to explain your feelings to the whole family or friendship group, but by opening up to a person you trust—someone who is empathetic and understands—you will find strength to get through the season.

If you find yourself in a crisis during the day, call a 24/7 hotline (find a list of international hotlines here).

It is okay to feel broken this holiday season, so be gracious with yourself. You can survive this Christmas, and you will.

Are you dreading the holidays? Do you want to begin the new year afresh? Here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

7 Reasons your child might be acting out

7-reasons-your-child-might-be-acting-out

‘I don’t know why my child is acting out. For the first 12 years of their life they have been happy, easy to get along with and easy to please. Then one day they just changed, and I feel like I have a complete stranger in the house. I don’t understand why they are acting out as they are’.

‘He was always a good kid—kind and co-operative. Over the past 2 years he has changed into a sullen, non-co-operative young person. He refuses to help around the house, is always angry and shows hardly any interest in anyone but himself.’

Does this sound familiar to you? The child who, for much of their life experience, has been reasonably easy to understand, agreeable and not so hard to live with, seems to disappear and a stranger occupies their room. You are asking yourself, ‘Who is this alien that has taken over my child and how do I get the, back?’ If this or a scenario similar is your experience, then you are not alone.

‘Acting out’ is the term we frequently use to describe behaviour that appears disruptive, aggressive, rude or just plain unusual and therefore inappropriate. Really, what we mean is that when a child acts out, they are not conforming to our rules.

As parents with numerous and competing demands upon our time, we rarely have the time or patience to tolerate these ‘negative’ behaviours, typically reacting to contain and discourage them. So we discipline in ways that send messages such as, ‘Do this again and you can expect to be treated like you don’t belong in this family’. ‘Behave like that again and you will not get your week’s allowance’ and ‘Act like this and you will lose the right to have your own mobile phone’.

Typically, parents regard their children’s negative behaviour as something that needs to be ‘fixed’ —like they have some major malfunction in their personality. A different and more proactive perspective is to regard their behaviour as an indication that the context in which they live (family system, school and/or friends) is not functioning in a way that supports and encourages your child to be their better self.

Rather than blaming or victimising our children, this approach allows you to be your child’s best advocate, recognising that their behaviour is a code language drawing attention to a system (i.e. family, friends or other significant groups that your child may participate in) that is in distress.

Our children rarely know how to talk to us about the things that they feel deeply. Perhaps they have tried in the past and we have dismissed or minimised their feelings, or, they are not even sure what it is they are feeling.

Understanding what your child is ‘reacting to’ takes some good detective work. A parent needs to be patient, curious, observant and attentive to what their child’s behaviour is trying to call attention to.

Here are 7 possible reasons why your child might be acting out.

  1. Marital conflict

Negative behaviours such as bickering, criticism, sarcasm, yelling and fighting create an environment that is stressful and unpredictable. Children are likely to feel numerous negative emotions including anxiety, sadness, anger, fear and confusion. Often a child acts out to draw parent’s attention away from each other and therefore lessen the tension in the relationship.

  1. Parental separation

Even the years following a parental separation can cause emotional distress for children. Whilst you may have processed your own emotional experience, your child may still be holding a number of unresolved issues; sadness that you are not a family anymore, feeling guilty that somehow they are responsible for their parent’s separation, and angry that their whole world has dismantled and disassembled in ways that continue to feel difficult to manage.

  1. Bereavement

The pain of loss for your child is as keen as your own and has no set time limit or method in how they process this challenging emotion. The loss of a parent, grandparent, close friend or a pet are life experiences that are frequently confusing, sad and, when not given expression, are toxic to our body and our emotions.

  1. Loneliness

Being ‘time poor’ is one of the hazards of our fast-paced technological 21st century lifestyle. Many parents are simply preoccupied with the challenges of daily life; paying the mortgage on time, financial concerns, mental health issues, physical illness, caring for aging parents and looking after the needs of other siblings in their family. When we fail to notice that one of our children is lonely and needing our attention, they can look for ways to draw attention to themselves.

  1. Rigid rules and unrealistic expectations

How do you establish the family rules? When children are young, parents create rules and boundaries—spoken and unspoken—that define acceptable behaviour within the family context. As our children grow and develop, it is necessary to continually redefine these rules and boundaries to accommodate their changing needs, and support them towards individuation in their teenage years. When a parent’s rules remain rigid and unrealistic with regards to their child’s changing world, a child typically feels resentful, annoyed and angry.

  1. Generational trauma

The trauma of your past and even of your parent’s past, when unaddressed and therefore unresolved, continues to be alive and present in the experience of your children. Where there has been war, abandonment, neglect and other near death experiences, the pain and distress of the past will continue to find its echo in the present as long as it is unacknowledged and the impact unrecognised.

  1. Physical, emotional and /or sexual abuse

How does a child talk to a parent about ‘the unmentionable’ without feeling shame, terror, embarrassment or fear of not being believed? There are times when the abuse is within the family context—sometimes it is a family friend or neighbour, sometimes it is someone bullying them at school and other times it is happening in cyberspace. Acting out may be a ‘cry for help’ in this instance.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Just as there are no two children who are exactly alike, the reasons for their negative behaviour are numerous and take on nuances we often fail to recognise as parents. What is important is that, as the parent, you learn to recognise negative behaviours in your child (at any age) as much more than ‘being difficult’, ‘attention seeking’ or any other description we want to name them.

Learning how to listen attentively, build trust, teach your child to name their emotions and give them confidence that you will believe their experience, are vital for their behaviour to begin to settle. Equally as important is your willingness to address the REAL issue, which is more frequently a task for the parent.

If you are concerned about your child’s behaviour and feel unable to understand or address it in ways that feel positive and engaging, Family Therapy provides a safe space where a family dialogue can be facilitated in order to reconnect with your child and understand their behaviour. As a Family Therapist, Colleen Morris offers a warm and welcoming space where families can learn and grow together as they experience new and different conversations that have potential to heal and mend.

You can call Colleen for a FREE 10 minute consultation on 0434 337 245 or if you would like to make an appointment. To see Colleen, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

The Impact of Separation on Children – A Case Study

The-Impact-of-Separation-on-Children

Heather* knew her son’s life would change drastically when she and her husband went through a separation. In this case study shared** with Colleen and published in the autumn edition of Living Magazine, Heather talks about the impact separation had on her child, and the strategies we can use to protect children through this difficult time.

I will never forget the look on our son’s face when we told him we were separating—the disappointment, hurt, bottom lip quivering and the tears. Both Dad and I sat down with our son and explained that we were going to go our separate ways. Our son was left feeling shocked, angry, anxious, hurt and scared.

This came out in many ways—through words, emotions, behavioural issues and separation anxiety. Our priority as parents was to make the best of a bad situation. We worked through the issues as best we could and came across many hurdles on both sides through a conflict in beliefs, personality, strategies and parenting styles, and this affected our judgement in working through some of the issues. Through the conflicts, it came down to the bottom line of ‘It is a child’s right to see a parent, not a parent’s right to see a child.’ This assisted us in focusing on the child’s needs and what was best for our son.

Things that helped were reading stories and brochures around separation, providing an explanation of why we as parents had separated, putting no blame on our son and making sure he understood that it was not his fault.

Through counselling we were made aware that we had to be careful of what we said. Words can easily be interpreted wrongly in a young child’s mind. For example “I moved into another bedroom to be closer to you could be read as “It’s all my fault”. It is also important to never put the other parent down or speak harshly of them to the child.

Play therapy, using toys and colouring-in, provided opportunities within the safe environment of the counsellor’s room, for our son to give expression to how he was feeling. Teaching him strategies such as the use of a visual thermometer to identify the level of anger he was feeling at any given time and ways to help the anger to dissipate gave him a sense of feeling more in control and allowed him to settle.

Children need lots of attention, affection and must know that their world is still safe. Lessons learnt from my experience—don’t move out of the family home—this just adds to the change and routine breakdown. It would be beneficial for the main care giver to remain in the family home. Children need to feel safe in their environment and even more so after a separation. There’s already a lot going on without them having to re-adjust to a new home. It also puts more blame on the parent moving out.

Try and make the rules/boundaries the same at both households, ensure they have their own things —toys, clothes, etc. at both houses. Allow extended families to visit them at both houses—this assists in their new normal. We found it beneficial to have a calendar to show what days will be spent where so there were no surprises and our son knew what was happening when. This will depend on the age of the child. We found that any small changes in routine caused a lot of confusion and anxiety and therefore tried to keep what we could the same. For example, Dad always did the pick-up and at the same time.

Sometimes children cannot express what they are feeling by using words, and this comes out in behavioural issues. In times like this we turned to books written by Tracey Moroney When I’m feeling angry, When I’m feeling scared and others in the collection. These were very beneficial as they were written in a way that children can relate to and understand. We also found the Kasey Chambers, Pappa Bill and the Little Hillbillies CD very beneficial, as it has songs and lyrics that were applicable but partly sung by children.

It’s important for any parent to take care of themselves. As a single parent, you are dealing with the challenge of your life being turned upside down and the feelings around failure and separation—but you now have the feelings of another person to address as number one to your own inner turmoil. It is important you get plenty of sleep, have some alone time when you can, social interaction when you need it and try and find a balance between closing yourself off to the world and being a part of it. You need time to yourself to reflect and feel your own emotions and grief caused by the separation, but it’s just as important to be around positive and like-minded people. I found that when I was better, my son was better.

We have been faced with many challenges and emotions throughout this journey and have learnt many lessons, some positive and some negative. We have decided to focus on the positive as we cannot change the past. Number one tip for any parent going through a separation—ensure that the child feels loved, safe and secure and this will make it easier for them to accept all other changes.

*Name changed for confidentiality reasons.
**This case study has been published with permission of the client.

Are you going through a separation? Do you want to protect your children through this transition? Here’s what you need to do: Contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

5 Ways I Found Youth Mentoring Helpful

5-Ways-I-Found-Youth-Mentoring-Helpful

The idea of having a ‘mentor’ is not always popular among teens. Visions of awkward meetings in sterile environments, where an out-of-touch elder badgers a teen to come up with a 5 year-plan, come to mind.

I am happy to say that those times are far-gone. We now understand that mentoring can help a teen to find a role model and a friend who will help them navigate the challenges of the adolescent years. As someone who has been both the mentored and mentor, I have a great understanding of the rewards that come from a mentoring relationship. Here are five ways mentoring is helpful for your teen.

  1. A mentor is a role model

When I was younger, I thought my mentors were the coolest people that had ever lived. They spent time with me doing the things I enjoyed. They laughed and cried with me and they always seemed to just ‘get it’. I wanted to be just like my mentors when I grew up.

Now, having been a mentor to many young people, I understand that what I found in my mentors was a role model. They gave me ‘unconditional positive regard’­—they never stopped believing in me and always encouraged me to reach my potential.

I also observed the way they handled situations, and through this learned about integrity and what confidence looked like. This has allowed me to develop confidence as I grew up.

  1. You are supported as a parent

Parents often say to me that their teen doesn’t seem to listen to their advice. Well, Mum or Dad, you’re not alone. It is really normal for parents to feel like this and for a young person to be somewhat resistant to their parent’s advice.

When a teen hits puberty they get confused and frustrated very easily. More often then not, teens will begin to value the advice given by peers or the media more then yours, simply due to the stage of growth they are in.

With a mentor you can stress less. They often become a voice of reason amongst the chaos, and your teen will generally be more open to their advice. I have been the recipient of many texts and phone calls from young people, who have asked for support in talking to their parents about what they are experiencing.

Rest in the knowledge that your teen’s mentor supports you as a parent. They will keep what your teen says to them in confidence, and if their safety is at risk, you will be the first to know about it.

  1. Your teen feels understood and valued

A youth mentor will engage with your teen in a comfortable environment. Whether that be in a room with some comfy couches, at the basketball court, or having a chat and coffee, a mentor will always aim for your child to feel secure when they meet.

The goal is to spend quality time with your teen in a setting where they will feel most at ease, whilst also creating opportunity for them to talk if they desire to. This approach allows a teen to feel valued and understood, as the mentor aims to specifically cater for their interests.

You may not hear much feedback from your teen as to what was discussed at a mentoring session, but you will hear something along the lines of, ‘we had a kick of the footy’, or ‘we listened to some music’ or ‘we went to this cool café’’. Connection is built through activity and spending time together. You can be sure that something of importance happened during that mentoring session and that it lead to your child feeling understood and valued as an individual.

  1. Your teen has another ‘safe’ person

A ‘safe’ person is someone that your teen feels able to talk with about whatever they are facing. A safe person knows how to handle crisis situations and is able to provide comfort, advice, encouragement and support, appropriate to your teen.

In a world where young people are significantly lacking in face-to-face connection, a safe person is essential in order for your teen to make positive choices and find the help they need.

  1. Your teen is able to set goals

During my teen years, many people told me what I should or shouldn’t do. After awhile it all got pretty confusing. I became stuck in a rut, feeling like I wasn’t able to do well at anything, even if I dared to try. Having my mentor come alongside and help me to identify what goals I could achieve was a Godsend. Together, we discussed the different options I had and what steps I needed to take to fulfill them.

This meant I felt empowered to make positive choices. Instead of feeling like a failure when I made a mistake, I knew my mentor supported me unconditionally and would encourage me to try again. A youth mentor wants your teen to thrive and become a fulfilled, giving member of society, and they will do all they can to help them to fulfill their potential.

Are you concerned about your young person? Would you like your teen to be mentored? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Rachel on 0422 177 193 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you or book online now.

7 Benefits To Having Your Teenager Attend Counselling

7-Benefits-To-Having-Your-Teenager-Attend-Counselling

“Counselling? You’re kidding! You mean I have to lay on a couch while some shrink asks me how I’m feeling?”

If you’ve ever talked to your teenager about the possibility of seeing a counsellor, it’s highly possible this is how they responded. Don’t be shocked if this happens–we know that therapy isn’t discussed very much in our culture, and the media often portrays it in a condescending and useless manner. So why send your teen to counselling, and what are the benefits?

I first entered a counsellor’s office at age 10 due to issues at school, and invariably went in and out all through my teenage years. Because of this, I can attest to the fact that counselling can be invaluable for a young person. It can be difficult to overcome his or her notion ‘no one else is doing it’ (that’s a lie) and, ‘there’s nothing for me to talk about’ (also a lie). In fact, seeing a therapist empowers young people to overcome and deal with their struggles, while also allowing them to feel understood.

If you want to have a conversation with your teen about attending counselling, then these 7 benefits (all of which I have experienced), will show you why it’s so useful.

  1. They experience independence

Independence is long pursued by some young people, and feared by others. Either way, seeing a counsellor is a healthy way for your teen to experience this as they take ownership of their feelings, experiences and their mental health. It also enables you to ‘let go,’ knowing they are in safe hands.

  1. It provides for a smoother transition

The transitions from child to teenager and teenager to adult are complex and fraught with conflict for the entire family. A counsellor will help your teen to navigate these transitions, empowering them to step into a new stage of life.

  1. Your teen is given space

Personal space and time apart from the family is a gold mine for most teens. They need to be understood. A counsellor is a safe outsider who your teen will feel validated by, rather than feeling like a child.

  1. It benefits their mental health

Puberty is like a glowing light that attracts every single feeling, emotion, experience and temptation into your child’s life. Your young person needs support in this time. Depression and anxiety are often seen in young adults, and self-medicating practices or self-injury are all too common. Wherever your teen is at, seeing a counsellor can help them care for their mental health.

  1. It benefits the family

Inevitably, when a young person attends counselling it will uncover behaviours and beliefs that permeate through the family unit. Having your teen attend counselling, and then listening and supporting them through it (or even attending yourself), can create a much more stable and happier environment at home.

  1. They are kept accountable

If you ask your young person where they’ve been, you’re likely intruding on them. If you fail to do this, it’s perceived that you don’t care. Living with a teenager is hardly a win-win situation for them or you. Allowing them to see a counsellor provides an alternate avenue to keep them accountable. Rather than feeling victimised for their behaviours, a counsellor will give them the space to explore why this is happening, and how to move forward.

  1. Your teen feels valued

Within the extreme emotions your teen feels every day, they simply want to know that they are ok. The world, their peers and even their family is telling them to do things better, or to do less of something else. They feel like they should be a completely different person and act as a chameleon each day depending on who they are with. The overarching need to feel valued, understood and accepted is what your young person is desperate for during this stage of life. A counsellor provides this in their sessions, allowing your teen to explore their place in the world in a safe environment.

Are you concerned about your young person? Would you like your teen to experience the benefits of counselling? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Rachel on 0422 177 193 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you or book online now.

10 Fun Ideas for the Holidays

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While Christmas is often called the ‘Happiest time of the year,’ for many people who are doing the holiday season alone, it actually leaves them feeling isolated and lonely. Maybe you don’t have any friends or family to celebrate with, you may not celebrate Christmas, or perhaps the stress of the season is all getting a bit too much? We thought we'd put together a list of 10 great ideas and activities that you might be interested in. Hopefully this will make the coming weeks all the more enjoyable, and something you’ll remember for years to come.

  1. Join in the SANE for their Virtual Christmas

If you love Christmas dinner but don’t have anyone to share it with, then check out SANE’s Virtual Christmas as they invite people to sit down with their own meal, and join in a festive online chat so they can share the experience with other people. SANE holds a weekly Friday Feast online, so this is something to pencil in for the New Year as well. Visit the official SANE website here for more details.

  1. Volunteer

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer over the holiday season. If you’re lonely, go and help people and not only will you be in community, but you’ll feel great as well! If you just want a shake up or feel like you’ve lost the true meaning of the season, then contact your local church, charity or community centre and ask them if you can help out with a food drive, community dinner, or other activity.

  1. Become a tourist in your hometown

Mix up your day and become a tourist in your hometown. Go and see the major attractions, visit a shopping hot spot, take a historical tour or splurge and go on a coffee crawl for the day. You’ll distract yourself and have a wonderful time becoming reacquainted with your own city.

  1. Go to a carols service or New Years Party

If you’d like to feel festive on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, going along to a community carols event is the perfect solution! Listen to your community radio station, read your local newspaper or call a near by church and see what they have on offer. There may also be New Years’ festivities open to the public that are being advertised. Check out what’s available and get along to see the fireworks.

  1. Call an old friend

This time of year is perfect for becoming reacquainted with old friends and making peace with those you’ve had a falling out with. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while and wish them a Merry Christmas. Ask them about their year, their family and what 2016 holds.

  1. Visit your local library, museum or art gallery

If you’re bored, head out and create an adventure for yourself by visiting the library, museum or art gallery. Take your time and enjoy the experience by visiting each section and appreciating what it has to offer. If there’s a café attached, bring a good book or buy one there and allow yourself to become engulfed in the environment after you’ve looked around for a few hours. 

  1. Make a Happy Box

The folks at Resilient App have come up with the great idea of putting together a Happy Box to soothe you when you are feeling down. Selecting objects like hand cream, a good book, M&M’s, bubble wrap (because who doesn’t like to pop bubbles?) or a scented candle and putting them in a box are all useful when you are feeling low or stressed. Make yourself a Happy Box over the holiday period and enjoy the long-term benefits of it in 2016.

  1. Treat yourself

Treat yourself to a nice meal and a movie. Sometime it’s more fun going and doing these activities by yourself, so go and choose a restaurant you’ve been bursting to eat at and see a movie you know you’ll love. It could be a chick flick, or it could be Star Wars- it doesn’t matter. Just treat yourself to an evening of pampering.

  1. Have coffee with a friend

We’re all busy this time of year, but you’ll find people are happy to catch up for an hour over coffee. Choose a near by café and take the chance to catch up with your friend while enjoying some yummy food. You’ll leave feeling happy and contented knowing you’ve truly invested in an important relationship.

  1. Learn something new

Pick up that cross stitch you gave up on, research a course you can join in the new year, or watch YouTube tutorials on how to become a photographer. The sky is the limit when it comes to learning something new, so take the time to read, watch, learn and practice a new skill. In the New Year you’ll blow everyone away with your brilliant new talent!

Are you lonely? Do you feel down? Here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

5 Steps to Survive the Festive Season

5 Steps to Survive the Holiday Season

I loved Christmas as a child. My excitement for the season would build up over December as school ended and the summer holidays began. Soon illustrious holiday decorations were hanging around town, the Christmas tree would go up, and presents were being bought. Christmas was always so magical as a child. Even as I grew older and knew that Santa was just another term for my parents, I still loved to imagine his coming on Christmas morning. Christmas Day was filled to the brim with good food, good times and family, and I felt like I didn’t have a care in the world.

As I’ve grown older, Christmas has slowly lost its magic. It often feels like another thing on my hectic ‘To do’ list, and on top of managing my normal work load and everyday life, I also have to navigate the ebbs and flows that come with holiday festivities. The holidays have become more about survival than enjoyment, which if we’re honest, is not what Christmas is really about. That being said, here are 5 steps I’ll be keeping in mind this coming week so I not only survive the holidays, but can learn to love them again.

  1. Have a ‘Child like’ mindset

We all have responsibilities over Christmas, and it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of simply crossing things off our list. Next time you feel yourself tensing up, stop and remember what you loved about the holidays as a child. If you’re stressed about Christmas dinner, remember why you loved it so much growing up. Perhaps financial stress is playing on your mind? Remember how simple gifts and cards surprised you as a kid. Use the excitement to find the fun of the season again.

  1. Make time to relax

I can almost here you exclaim, “Relax over the holidays? You must be kidding!” but hear me out for a second. While you’re working tirelessly to pull off a wonderful holiday season for friends, family or colleagues, you’re neglecting yourself if you don’t pause and embrace the festivities too. Make a decision to stop working, and sit down with a family member or colleague at a Christmas party. Allow yourself to join in the banter and games that take place, and don’t be afraid to take five minutes for yourself so you can be centred.

  1. Keep things simple

I know, I know, simple and holidays don’t really go together these days, but it’s the simple things that you will remember most about the season: the smell of the Christmas tree, the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you unwrap a gift someone has put thought into, and the warmth of a loved one’s hug. Don’t try to complicate the season with too many activities, over the top expectations, and stressful tasks. Just stick to the things that matter the most and focus on them.

  1. Keep family time light

The holiday season is prime time for family conflict to come up. Passive aggressive comments can arise over dinner conversation, arguments arrive over seemingly minuscule details, and issues and circumstances that occurred years ago can rear their ugly heads and make it a day we’d rather forget. While it’s important to work through your feelings, try not to let bitterness overtake your enjoyment of the day. Choose to not take things personally, and try to respond to remarks with positivity. Monitor how long you spend in difficult conversations, and allow yourself to debrief afterward in the privacy of your own home.

  1. Avoid negative coping strategies.

Yep, your mother-in-law just made another comment about how you’re running out of time to have children, so you reach for another margarita. Or maybe the stress of your holiday workload is getting to you, so you live it up one night in an attempt to forget about it. You regret it the next day. What do these circumstances have in common? You tried to survive using negative and harmful coping strategies. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy festivities, but don’t use alcohol, substances or other unhealthy habits as a crutch. You will hurt yourself and the people around you. Instead, try to implement steps 1-4. This will help you to cope with the season, and hopefully find the magic in it again.

If you are struggling to survive the holiday season, here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.