How to identify Domestic Abuse

How-to-identify-Domestic-Abuse

Have you ever wondered if your significant other is abusing you? Maybe they push you, lash out violently or pressure you to take part in unwanted sexual activity. Or perhaps you are unsettled by their passive-aggressive behaviour: they way they monitor your financials, your phone, or keep you from seeing other people.

When we’re in an abusive relationship, it is easy to excuse these actions as ‘normal’. Maybe your partner even makes you feel like these incidences are your fault, and this is what a standard, committed relationship looks like. Perhaps you’ve found every excuse possible for your spouse, because they promise they will change and you love them.

This infographic by NowSourcing and FreeDating.co.uk lays out exactly what Domestic Abuse is. Aside from detailing the stats that show how prevalent this is in households across America and the world, it also pin points the different types of Domestic Abuse you may encounter.

These include emotional and psychological abuse; physical abuse; sexual abuse; financial abuse and digital abuse. Take a look at the infographic and see if you recognise any of these traits in your relationship.

Are you concerned about the way your significant other is treating you and/or your children? Are you afraid for your safety, or are you scared to come home? PLEASE ask for help. This is not reflective of a normal, healthy relationship and you are worthy of feeling safe and secure.

In Australia, please call 1800-RESPECT, or 000 to access help immediately.

domestic-abuse

 

Are you concerned your significant other may be abusing you? Would you like support as you navigate the best way to move forward in your relationship? 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.

10 Things to do if you’re lonely this Christmas

10-Things-to-do-if-you-are-lonely-this-Christmas

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. 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!

  1. Give a gift

If you feel isolated this Christmas, one sure way of feeling less alone is by being generous. Lots of charities partner with major retail outlets over December to provide Christmas gifts to people doing it tough during the holiday season. Go to the Christmas tree in the centre of the store (like Kmart or Target), pick a tag and make it your mission to find a perfect gift for that person. Place it under the tree, and come Christmas you know that a parent, child, teen or a grandparent feels a little less alone this Christmas thanks to you.

Do you want to live a whole and healthy life? Would you like support as you navigate life-changing issues or circumstances? 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.

Eight ways to emotionally prepare for the holidays

Eight-ways-to-emotionally-prepare-for-the-holidays

As we head towards the holiday season, stress starts to build about all the obligations we have to fill. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Bodhi Day, Yule, Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, Christmas or the New Year, it seems like there is an endless list of events, and family and friends to see.

So how do you survive the season without completely burning out and burning bridges? Being emotionally prepared is the best way to tackle this time of year head on. It means that no matter what you face (or who), you can stay grounded, care for your health and actually enjoy the season.

Here are eight ways you can emotionally prepare for the holidays.

  1. Plan everything out

Take out a diary or calendar before December, and write in every event you have coming up. Note down work parties, family events, the date family flies in and out, the nights people are coming over for dinner, and the days you have time to go shopping for food and gifts.

  1. Decorate early

If your holiday celebrations generally include decorating the house, start early while you still have time. Make it a family activity, and you’ll have a great time while also easing the burden of having to make the holidays picture-perfect when you have a million other things to do.

  1. Get over your FOMO

It seems like there is something happening every day in December, but if you want to have a healthy and enjoyable holiday season, you need to get over your FOMO (fear of missing out). You can’t do everything, and you shouldn’t. Make a list of all your activities, and mark down what you have to go to, what you want to attend, and what can be missed.

  1. Pre-plan difficult conversations

Aunty Edna and cousin Jack have differing political opinions, and your mother in-law starts to cry anytime conflict comes to the fore. It would be lovely to avoid these conflicts, but we know that is nearly impossible. Instead, pre plan what you will say to ease the tension if a contentious topic comes up.

  1. Get a wing man or woman

Parties and celebrations are always easier when you have someone to bail you out of awkward and stressful situations. Whether it’s a work party, a family dinner or casual BBQ, ask your partner, colleague, friend or another family member to step in on your conversation, or whisk you away for an ‘emergency’.

  1. Make time to veg out

It’s impossible to go full throttle all through December, so give yourself permission to chill and zone out when needed. Watch your favourite TV show, exercise, meditate or read a book. Your mind and body need to disengage from the stress, so give them time to do so.

  1. Stop feeling guilty

There’s so much to feel guilty about over the holidays. You don’t invite the right people to the party, you accidentally offend a parent, and you consume a year’s worth of junk food in a matter of days. You need to consciously put a stop to your guilt every time it comes up. Try using self-talk like, “I don’t have to be perfect,” “I am a good person,” and “My worth is not determined by the food I eat.”

  1. See a counsellor

The holiday season allows a lot of our deeper issues to rise to the surface. Isolation, depression, family trauma and stress all rear their heads this time of year, and that’s okay. Take the opportunity to speak to a counsellor or confidant as the season begins so you can emotionally prepare for the month ahead.

Does the holiday season stress you out? Are you anxious about seeing family or friends over December? 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.

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.

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.

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.

Six Facts About Separation

Six-Facts-About-Separation

In an article for Geelong Surf Coast Living magazine, Colleen was interviewed about the impact separation has on the family, and, in particular, children.  You can read Lynda Taylor’s article ‘Separation Anxiety’ now by picking up a copy of the autumn edition at a local coffee shop.

Here are six valuable facts about separation anxiety in families that we can learn from the article:

  1. Children cope better when they see a counsellor

Irrespective of a child’s age, they will feel the pull between both parents and can struggle to work through their emotions. Allowing your child to see a counsellor will help them with this. As the article says, “working with a counsellor provides a safe neutral environment where [a child can] vent”. A counsellor will teach your child strategies to deal with anger, anxiety and conflict.

  1. Parents must be united

Any issues that caused a relationship to break down must be put on the back burner by parents in order to care for their children. Relationships Australia says parents should provide a “composed, united and reassuring” front. This means it’s important for parents to keep the same boundaries in place for their child, and should always speak about one another with respect.

  1. Children react according to their parent’s emotions

Are you angry, confused and indignant about your ex? If you express this to your child, they will take on similar emotions. Colleen points out that if parents are upset, children are often bewildered, confused and despondent. They will also blame themselves for the situation.

  1. Be honest

How you speak to your child about the separation will depend on their age. Always be honest, but explain the situation in a way they will understand. An older child or the first-born will often take the burden of the separation, and what you share will change according to this.

  1. There are different ways to talk about separation

When Colleen is counselling a client whose parents have separated, she will use different methods depending on the child’s age, understanding and interests. An ‘anger thermometer’ is useful for younger children to explain how they feel. Play therapy is a narrative based approach that is also useful for children of various ages, and helps them to explain the family system.

  1. Take care of yourself

While your children are a priority throughout a separation, you also need to take care of yourself. Take ‘me time’ and give yourself the space and time to reflect and heal. Make sure you spend time with like-minded and supportive friends, and don’t be afraid to have fun. As Beth*, the client in the article says, “I found when I was better, my son was better.” When you take care of yourself, you help your children to heal as well.

*Name changed for privacy purposes

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.

 

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.

10 Fun Ideas for the Holidays

holidays banner

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.