How to speak to your child about sexuality

child-sexuality

There has always been contention about when the right time is for parents  to have the ‘birds and the bees’ talk with children. But in a day and age where technology is more advanced than ever and children are reaching puberty as early as 7, the need to talk about sexuality has become greater than ever.

These days, kids want to know about more than sex. When they’re younger questions will centre on body parts—and as they grow older the questions will become more about puberty. You will have to explain positive self-esteem, kissing, periods, erections, and all sorts of joys with them (including how often they NEED to shower).

Then comes the slightly more awkward topics—Pornography. Sexting. Contraception. Why some people are attracted to the opposite sex, others are attracted to the same, and some people, both.  Transexuality and gender fluidity. Why some marriages work and others don’t. Divorce. Cheating. What sexual abuse is. Rape. Boundaries for safe and consensual sex. STI’s. Understanding their unique sexual identity.

A parent can read all the self-help books in the world and sit their child down in front of any amount of awkward 80’s sex-ed videos, and still not have the answers to these questions. And often, the need to talk about these topics will come up before the questions even do; especially once a child grows older and starts exploring their sexuality on their own.

The need to discuss these topics in a safe and non-judgemental way is essential, because an educated child is prepared when they are confronted with all sorts of situations—especially the ones they may not tell you about. And if you’re not educating them, then you can be sure the internet, TV, magazines and their peers are.

So how do you broach the topic of your child’s sexuality and all it entails? We came across a fantastic article by Danish Psychotherapist and author Iben Sandahl. In it, she details 7 guidelines for speaking to your children about sexuality. She answers questions about how much detail you should go into and when, the language you can use, and takes away the fear factor of these conversations. Read it here and see what you can take away from it.

Does your child or teen have questions about their sexuality? Are you unsure how to approach these topics with them? Watersege has just added a child and teen specialist to our staff who would love to work with you. For more details, contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

How to find common ground in your relationships when you have different political values

politics-relationships

Politics has always been somewhat taboo in society. While we discuss the pros and cons of different laws and events, no one ever stated how they voted, at least until the events of the past few years occurred.

Since different Prime Ministers and Presidents have been inaugurated, it has become increasingly clear that society is more divided than ever. Hot topics such as same sex marriage, women’s rights, border control, gun control and health care have risen to such prominence that relationships are breaking because we hold different values and adamantly fight for them.

It’s not bad to disagree with people, or to speak up for what be believe in (that’s the basis of a democratic society after all), but when these issues start to break families, romantic relationships, friendships and community groups, we need to address the rift they’re causing. Why? Because if we’re not careful, they’ll destroy the relationships we value most in life and cause us bitterness, anxiety and grief.

This is not a blog about changing your political values or even how you express them—rather, it’s about how to meet the people you love and value where they’re at, so you can learn from each other and find common ground.

It can all feel a bit overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down to five steps. This is how to find common ground in your relationships when you have different political values:

  1. Figure out your common values

Any relationship is built on common values.  Political differences may currently cause a rift in your relationship, but your commonalities can help you build a bridge to meet each other in the middle. Figure out what you both value and go from there: it could be family values, a healthy economy, faith, health care or justice.

Use this as a springboard to empathise with your loved one or colleague. When they say or do things you disagree with, remember the core values they hold and where these actions come from.

  1. Create a safe place

To sustain your relationship, you need to create a safe place (either literally or metaphorically) where you can do life together without politics. This might sound impossible, especially when your political values are so personal, but it will enable your relationship to grow instead of die in bitterness and contempt.

Meet together for coffee, or play a team sport together.  Do something you both enjoy, and make it a ‘politics free zone’. This doesn’t devalue your political stance or assume you defer to theirs, it just means you value the relationship above your need to win them over.

  1. Be honest

If you have a problem with what your friend or colleague is saying, let them know, but keep is positive and avoid passive aggressive social media posts or gossip. Be aware that they may not understand your point of view, and come to peace with this. Respect their right to have a different opinion to your own.

Some people will be open to having discussions about political differences, and this can create a life-giving environment where you both learn and grow from each other. However, if discussion turns into an argument or slander, you need to exit. This is not deferring to their point of view, but valuing your time and dignity because you know the conversation is fruitless.

  1. Avoid it

Let’s be clear, avoidance is rarely ever a healthy strategy, but occasionally it is needed after you have established a difference of opinion.

For instance, if a family dinner or holiday is coming around and you know a relative will be there who has some radical opinions, it’s probably best you don’t start a conversation about that week’s hot topic. Choose to keep the peace and retain the relationship over changing their mind.

Some people love to argue. They will provoke you and bait you with their words and snide remarks. Make a conscious decision not to enter their game. Change the topic and ask about the family or talk about something less contentious—like the weather.

  1. Be wise

It is possible to have healthy, thriving relationships with people who have different political values from you, even in an intimate relationship. However, there comes a point for many of us where these differences show a dramatic division in our values that prohibit us from getting any closer.

It might be a deal breaker in a romantic relationship, or influence the decision to keep a friend as an acquaintance rather than a confidant.

This is okay. Allow the grief process to happen, and be wise about the boundaries you have around that relationship. The closer someone is to you, the more important it is they have similar values to you. And when you do disagree, remember to have grace—we are all just people after all.

Are you experiencing division in a relationship due to your political values? Are political issues and their prominence causing you anxiety or feelings of intense anger? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk

9-signs-a-young-person-may-be-at-risk

As much as we don’t like talking about it, self harm is extremely prevalent in society. It can take many forms, and often carries the stigma that the person doing it is seeking attention. This is not true—self harm of any form is a cry for help, but that doesn’t mean a person struggling with it will automatically tell you they need your support.

So how do we identify the signs that a young person might be engaging in this harmful behaviour? Pretty Powerful Girls recently published a blog written by Colleen for Australia Counselling titled: Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk.*

Take a look, and if you recognise any of these signs in someone you know, approach them gently. Remember, a lot of shame comes with self harm, and acting panicked or aggressive won’t help the situation.

Instead, speak to them about how they are feeling and encourage the person to seek further help. If you struggle with self harm, read this Hope Movement blog for more details on how you can find healing and use safe alternatives to manage your pain.

*Please note: This blog contains language and references to methods of self-harm, which may be triggering to some people.

Are you struggling with self harm? Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here. 

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Nine great World Suicide Prevention Day resources

Nine-great-World-Suicide-Prevention-Day-resources

It’s overwhelming to think that we lose 400,000 people every year to suicide. But we can all take small steps in our own lives to bring down the numbers and better support people in our community who are struggling.

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is this Sunday, September 10, and it provides us with an opportunity to talk about this oft-taboo issue and how it impacts so many of us. A great way to start is by educating yourself on the issue and speaking about it with a friend or a counsellor.

Here are nine great resources you can check out this WSPD. Not only will they inform you, but they will give you advice on the warning signs, how to help a friend, the best places to seek help and, highlight events going on locally and online that you can participate in.

This World Suicide Prevention Day, we are glad you are here.

  1. Suicide Prevention Australia
    Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body for the suicide prevention sector in Australia. Their official website for WSPD provides you with resources to print out and share with your community. This year’s theme is ‘Take a minute, change a life,’ and SPA have a terrific calendar of local events so you can connect with people in your own community who are advocates, survivors and loved ones of those gone too soon.
  1. Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” video

When US singer Logic performed his song “1-800-273-8255,” at the MTV Music Video Awards, the world was enthralled with his moving and beautiful tribute to people struggling with suicide. The name is taken from the number of the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and calls went up by 33% after he released the song in April. You can watch the video here and share it online via YouTube (Content warning: some images in the video may be triggering).

  1. To Write Love On Her Arms

Every year, TWLOHA run a World Suicide Prevention Day Campaign, and this year the theme is ‘Stay. Find What You Were Made For’. Over the US National Suicide Prevention Week (September 10-16) they will release new content online to create conversation around suicide prevention, and encourage people to seek help and, above all, stay.

  1. Stay. Find what you were made for’ video.

To correspond with their WSPD campaign, TWLOHA have released a powerful video, encouraging people to stay. Supporters, celebrities, athletes and musicians all make appearances on the video, telling the world why they have chosen to stay and what they were made for. If you want to begin a conversation about suicide prevention but don’t know where to start, this is the perfect video to share with your family and friends.

  1. ‘I’m Listening’

This new radio based campaign brings together some of the biggest names in music: Metallica, Logic, Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Halsey, Jack Antonoff (Bleachers), Khalid and more. Organised by Entercom, a two hour radio broadcast will take place on September 10 at 10am ET, and artists will share their own stories, talk about how to help family and friends, discuss how to navigate discussions around suicide prevention and mental health, and provide help and resources.

  1. Hope Movement

This Aussie charity is running a week-long campaign for WSPD called ‘You Will See The Morning’. Head to their website for daily content, free downloads and learn how you can take action in your own community to help prevent suicide.

  1. R U Ok Day?

Suicide Prevention Charity R U Ok? Have been convoying round Australia over the last six weeks, engaging with people and educating communities on how to approach the much needed ‘are you okay?’ conversation when we notice a friend struggling. Finishing on September 14 for R U Ok? Day, they have a slew of great events you can attend, as well as some fabulous resources on their website that will inform and empower you to seek help, or help a friend.

  1. Out of the Shadows by Lifeline

Australia’s primary suicide hotline, Lifeline, runs the Out of the Shadows walk every year to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day. The walk raises awareness, remembers those we’ve lost, and unites people with the common goal of erasing suicide once and for all. You can plan your own walk and find resources here.

  1. Watersedge Blog: On Chester Bennington and how to identify someone at risk of suicide

Earlier this year, we published a blog about the death of musician Chester Bennington. We know that the suicide of public and much beloved people impacts communities around the world, and in this blog we gives you some advice on how to identify if a loved one is struggling, and how to take action around this.

Are you struggling with thoughts of suicide? Have you lost a loved one and find this time of year particularly difficult? Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here. 

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

How one father explains mental illness and parenthood

How-one-father-explains-mental-illness-and-parenthood

Comics about mental health have been making the rounds on social media for the past few years, and artists like Toby Allen and Gemma Correll have changed the way many of us talk about mental illness. Now there’s another artist to add to the mix—but with a point of difference.

Toronto based teacher Chris Grady is the creator of Lunar Baboon, a series of comics depicting his everyday life. His comics are simple and sweet, showing the moments he interacts with his wife and kids. Notably, they also poignantly depict his struggle with mental illness.

In an interview with The Mighty, he explained that he began drawing to cope with his own struggles.

“After the birth of my first son, I was going through a really hard time. I wasn’t sleeping and started getting really depressed and found myself in a dark place. I needed something different, I was having a lot of negative thoughts and I needed a place to put them so I started drawing in a moleskin notebook and it’s taken off from there,” he said.

From comics about cheeky interactions with his son, to honest encounters with his wife, and brave attempts to find humour as he lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there’s something instantly relatable about Chris’s work. What’s more, it shows how to healthily communicate in family relationships and what we can do to support one another.

To see more of Chris’s work, visit LunarBaboon.com. His book Lunar Baboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood is out now.

Are you a parent? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? 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.

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.

13 Reasons Why: 10 Resources you need to see before you watch the TV show

13 Reasons Why

When hit TV show 13 Reasons Why debuted on Netflix on March 31, viewers quickly devoured the teen drama. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher, it depicted the story of a Hannah Baker, girl who committed suicide and left 13 audio tapes for people in her life, explaining why she died.

Public response to the show has been varied: some viewers praised it for openly discussing mental illness, while others found it triggering due to its graphic portrayals of suicide, sexual assault, gun violence and bullying.  Several episodes include warnings, however some people don’t believe this is enough, prompting Netflix to include more. Despite this, it is likely a second season of the show is on the way.

If you have yet to watch 13 Reasons Why, or know someone who is watching it, it’s essential you know what the series is about so you can make an educated decision about if you will watch it, who you will do this with and when this will happen.

Here are 10 resources we found discussing the pros and cons of 13 Reasons Why. Take a look at each one and talk to a friend, mentor or colleague about how you will approach the series. By being educated about this pop culture phenomenon, you can better care for yourself and the people around you.

  1. To Write Love On Her Arms
    Blog: In response to 13 Reasons Why
    A non-profit that presents hope and help to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and thoughts of suicide, founder Jamie Tworkowski discussed the show in a recent blog. Expressing concerns about the way it vividly portrayed suicide and the negative connotations it aired about seeking professional help, they praise people who “put [their] recovery first” by making the choice not to watch it.
  1. Headspace
    PDF: How to talk to young people about 13 Reasons Why
    After an increased amount of queries once the show aired, this Australian mental health service for young people released a PDF that clearly identifies the concerns people have raised about its content (eg. suggesting suicide is reasonable due to the ’13 reasons’). It also lists the research to support or dismiss each point, and suggests strategies to talk to young people about each topic.
  1. ABC
    Article: 13 Reasons Why: How to talk to teens about suicide and mental health issues raised in the Netflix series
    Dr Fiona Wagg a psychiatrist at Royal Hobart Hospital, discusses how parents can best approach their children and teens about the series.
  1. NY Mag
    Article: Teens explain what adults don’t get about 13 Reasons Why
    This piece by NY Mag is unique because it goes straight to the target audience of the TV show: teenagers. Revealing a variety of perspectives, you’ll find this enlightening as teens point out what they did and didn’t like about the series, and how it has impacted them individually, in their family and how its been received by the wider community.
  1. The Mighty
    Blog: 13 Reasons Why archive
    Mental health website The Mighty has published numerous articles on 13 Reasons Why. With blogs highlighting the impact it has on someone with PTSD and chronic illness, a parent’s point-of-view, how it has helped people find safety and overcome shame and even a piece where a young person discusses their regret upon watching it, this is an invaluable archive for personal responses to the show.
  1. Associated Press
    Interview with producer Selena Gomez
    This short interview with teen icon and producer Selena Gomez gives some insight into the purpose of the series.
  1. Vanity Fair
    Op Ed: 13 Reasons Why writer: Why we didn’t shy away from Hannah’s suicide
    Series writer Nic Sheff wrote this exclusive piece for Vanity Fair, detailing the very personal reasons he took on the controversial TV show. While this is important reading, it is extremely descriptive and graphic as Sheff talks about his own suicide attempt. Read with care.
  1. The Guardian
    Article: 13 Reasons Why ‘not helpful', suicide prevention summit told
    This piece by the Guardian gives a fantastic oversight of the response from the Australian mental health community, as well as a more general overview on the impact of suicide in society. Keep an eye out for quotes by Lifeline Chief Executive Pete Shmigel, who explains why they believe 13 Reasons Why has gone ‘too far’ in their depiction of suicide.
  1. CNN
    Long form article: Why teen mental health experts are focused on '13 Reasons Why'
    This extensive piece gives a thorough over view of the public’s response to 13 Reasons Why. Referencing the responses of mental health services across the world, the intentions of the show’s creative team and referring to appropriate statistics and research, if you’re looking for a single, overall piece to read, this is it.
  1. Netflix
    Documentary: 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons
    Also available on Netflix, this documentary accompanies the 13-part series and shows exclusive interviews with the cast, creators and mental health professionals, giving more context to the story. Please note that this documentary is rated MA15+ and could be triggering to viewers due to audio and visual content.

Have you watched 13 Reasons Why and had a strong, emotional response to it? Are you concerned about a loved one who is watching the TV show? 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.

Managing Meltdowns: Wisdom from over the fence

Managing-Meltdowns

It had been a particularly rough 12 months for our family. My father was terminally ill, one of our children had additional needs, which required at least one therapy session a week, and my husband had had an incredibly stressful few years at work and had just changed jobs which necessitated that we move to a semi-rural suburb on the edge of Sydney.

I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but our change of location brought with it some wonderful benefits. We were on a large block of land by suburban standards and rather than being surrounded by 6 foot high fences, our property boundary was marked by chicken wire held up by neatly spaced stakes. We had an uninterrupted view into our neighbours yard, complete with a sweet little staffy dog, a small tractor and two horses. Much to our delight—the horses were stabled right beside our fence line.

I quickly became friends with our next door neighbour. Her name was Chris. She had been a nurse in a busy Sydney hospital but, in her 40’s, she left that career behind to take on a quieter existence. She earnt a small income as the ‘photocopying lady’ at a local private school and spend her afternoons tending her property. Just before five p.m. everyday, she would be out with the horses and I would often meet with her for a chat over the fence. She was full of wonderful wisdom about ‘country-etiquette’, gardening plus motherly advice and support.

One of my children was going through a particularly rough patch and she often heard the tantrums and meltdowns through the open windows of our house. She would ask me how I was coping with motherhood and chat with me about the challenges my children were facing. She never judged, she always listened. We just chatted, sometimes even as my child was wailing and stomping by my side.

I was so, so tired. Some days I just couldn’t give my children the time and attention they wanted. Sometimes their wants and needs took me totally by surprise. And sometimes, those screams and tantrums just kept tumbling out of my children, one after the other.

As much as the fresh country air and slower lifestyle helped me, it still wasn’t enough to quell the anxiety and depression that I had been battling as a result of the events of the previous year. The crisis point came when I suffered a minor nervous breakdown. I was overwhelmed with life, with the things we had come through and with the uncertainty of the future. I ended up in bed for two days, on a steady diet of lemonade icy poles, staring at ABC 24 and unable to engage with my children.

When I finally got up again, I went to the Doctor and asked for help. She wrote me a prescription for anti-depressants and referred me to a counsellor who could assist me in making sense of my turbulent emotions. With time, I regained control of my mental health, my mood brightened and I was more engaged with my family. I began to read my children’s behaviour much better and took pre-emptive steps to divert and avoid their meltdowns before they happened.

A few months into my new regime of medication and counselling I was chatting with Chris as she fed the horses. “I haven’t heard many tantrums from your place lately. What’s happening?” Chris asked. My response was simple

“I started taking anti-depressants and went to a counsellor!”

My neighbour smiled knowingly. She knew full well that children aren’t always to blame when meltdowns and tantrums occur. The fact of the matter is, a parent’s state of mind and their ability to respond to their children are actually key factors in avoiding the conflicts and misunderstandings that lead to meltdowns. It was a lesson I had to learn on my own.

Five years later, I continue to monitor my mental health, taking medication and seeing my counsellor as needed. It has helped me cope with the passing of my father, an interstate move and more career ups and downs. Despite this, I usually manage to remain the loving, engaged parent my children need. And I can tell you now….there are a whole lot less meltdowns in our house when I am looking after my own mental health!

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.

Are your kids having a meltdown? Are you a busy parent who wants to care for your mental health? 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’

The-real-reasons-kids-act-out

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’.