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’.

25 Thoughts for Better Living

25 Thoughts for Better Living

It’s easy to find one inspiring quote on the internet, but a lot more difficult to come across a collection of compelling and relevant thoughts that allow you to instigate wellness in your own life.

HR Tech Weekly approached 25 wellbeing professionals and asked them to share their thoughts on better living. From relationships to self-acceptance and mental illness, their quotes give a well-rounded and positive perspective on what it means to be happy and healthy.

Colleen was also approached by HR Tech and asked about parenting. The stunning quote she provided is here:

colleen-morris-quote

We encourage you to read through each quote, and meditate on how it affects your life. While reading a quote is a small step towards a brighter future, it is no less significant when you put it into action.

Are you unsure what the next step to a brighter future is? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

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.

Geelong Counselling: How To Support Your Child’s Recovery From Addiction and Stay Sane At The Same Time

YoSee_the_sun_by_captivatedimagesu feel helpless, desperate and exhausted from lack of sleep and your constant ‘vigilante’ activity. You constantly question ‘what did I do to deserve this’ and, weighed down with the feeling that ‘I must have done something wrong’ you spend restless nights reliving all your greatest parenting catastrophes, wondering if ‘that was when things fell apart’.

You are a prisoner to your child’s unpredictable mood swings and anti-social behaviour. Your trust given is a trust broken and dangerously verging on irreparable. Repeated failed attempts to ‘fix the problem’ and a declining bank balance which is challenged only by your declining physical and/or mental health, have a ‘ripple effect’ on the wider family unit. Family relationships suffer as they are forced to take a back seat to the child whose substance issue demands complete attention. Family conflict erupts as the substance dependant member catapults the family from one crisis to the next.

If you identify with this experience, then this message is for you:

You did not cause your son or daughter’s alcohol or other drug problems.

You cannot ‘fix’ their problem.

 So here is how to  support your child's recovery from addiction and stay sane at the same time:

 1.  Try to provide support to your child rather than judging or criticising them. Criticism and judgemental words are powerful, having the effect of wounding your child further and creating distance. Your child will feel isolated, misunderstood and defensive.

2.  Avoid contributing to the situation, or colluding with your child’s behaviour by making excuses for them, paying their bills or apologising for them. Support your child not their drug use.

3.  Trying to avoid verbal and/or physical confrontation with your child will only worsen, not help, the situation. If you have fears for your own or your family’s safety, you should contact the police. You can discuss the possibility of taking out an intervention order.

For further information on alcohol and other drugs and Family Drug Support, go to the following links:

Information on alcohol and different drugs: DrugInfo.adf.org.au
Family Drug Support: fds.org.au
Family Drug Help: familydrughelp.org.au

 

If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.

5 Tips That Grandparents Who Support Their Grandchildren Due To Substance Abuse, Need For Self-Care

i_love_blossoms____by_captivatedimagesAre you a grandparent raising your grandchildren as a result of their parents’ inability to care for them due to a substance abuse problem? At a time of life where you anticipated being free of the responsibilities that come with raising a family, your daily life is preoccupied with the school routine, transporting children to extra curricula activities, time constraints, discipline, parent/teacher interviews and financial sacrifices (to name just a few). It can be a very lonely and isolating experience, observing your friends as they enjoy their ‘life after children’ and the freedom to pursue activities that you can only dream of!

It is normal to experience a range of conflicting emotions as you grapple with your present reality:

  • Grief and Loss – The hopes and dreams you held such as travel, financial freedom, work satisfaction, a richer social life, a new hobby has taken a ’back shelf’ to the necessity of providing a home for your grandchildren.
  • Happiness and Joy – The unexpected pleasure of being connected in a more intimate way with your grandchildren and experience their own development milestones and achievements.
  • Disappointment and Anger – You adult child cannot take responsibility for their children or their own wellbeing. Promises are repeatedly made and broken.
  • Sadness – You witness the sadness, disappointment and confusion that your grandchildren experience at the hand of their parent.
  • Helplessness – You are aware of your physical and health limitations having to parent for ‘a second time’ and you feel powerless to change the situation.

As care-giver to your grandchildren, you have a responsibility to access the support you need to care for your health and wellbeing.

Here are 5 tips that will provide you with the support you need as you raise your grandchildren:

  • Talk with a friend or counsellor. This may help to clarify things in your mind and help you to work out how to handle the situation.
  • Join a support group. Sharing your thoughts and experiences with other people who are facing or have faced the same issues, can help you to cope better and feel less isolated.
  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant drug and its effects. Understanding how it works and why people become dependent on drugs will help you understand what your child is going through.
  • Try to balance supporting your child with making sure the grandchildren are safe, happy and secure.
  • Look after yourself, both physically and mentally. It’s important to look after yourself so you can be a good carer and can support your grandchildren.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement as you parent, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.

Parenting: What Can I Do To Safe Guard My Child From Substance Abuse?

awaiting_the_day______by_captivatedimagesWhat can I do to safe guard my child from substance abuse? is a question that nearly every parent would like a ‘water-tight’ answer to.

From the moment of conception, your world changes forever as you are confronted by the knowledge that it is your job to nurture, provide and protect this precious life that shares your blood. Never have you felt more vulnerable than as you gaze upon your newborn child, wondering about the miracle of life and the intensity of your love for this child. In those early years, you are focused on the task of raising this child to be a ‘good’ person. You do all you can to protect your child from harm and teach them to respect and care for their own health and wellbeing.

However there comes the time when you can no longer protect your child. In order for your adolescent to develop towards a mature, well-adjusted adult, it is imperative that they separate from you and find their own identity. Called individuation, this is a biological imperative that drives your adolescent to learn independence in order to survive and thrive as they stand on the threshold of adult life. With their growing independence comes the need for you as a parent to step back and allow your child to explore their world and learn how to function independent of you.

But, you ask, can I you trust my adolescent to make wise and safe choices without me?

Seemingly overnight, your child undergoes a personality transformation: private and brooding, angry and insolent or just plain disagreeable and moody. Spending hours on social media, you feel shut out and unappreciated by this stranger in your household. Your anxiety heightens with the distance that has emerged between you and your child and with that, the fear that your adolescent will be vulnerable to other influences inviting them to experiment with drugs.

The good news is that you can have a very positive influence. There is a growing and strong body of research indicating that parental influence is the most underutilized tool in preventing adolescent substance misuse.

What does the research tell us?

  • Parents are most often identified as the individuals who have talked to a child about drugs
  • Young people consider parents to be credible sources of information about drugs
  • As agreements between young people and parents go up, drug involvement goes down
  • A supportive, warm relationship with one significant adult can be enough to protect a young person against adverse events
  • Effective parenting is a key factor in reducing adolescent risk-taking behaviour
  • The likelihood of alcohol misuse can be seen as a direct result of low levels of parental action

The key to ‘safe-guarding’ your child from substance abuse is primarily your relationship. Where your adolescent feels secure, accepted and encouraged, they will remain connected to you and therefore less vulnerable to negative influences. On the other hand, where your adolescent feels criticised, blamed, judged and misunderstood they will feel insecure and more vulnerable to the same negative influences. Above all, be aware that your anxiety is very likely to be communicated in ways that have a negative influence on your adolescent, so be pro-active about any anxiety you experience and talk to a counsellor about it.

If you are aware that the connection you have with your adolescent is insecure, give consideration to seeking professional help to support your relationship. A professional family counsellor can assist you to recover and rebuild a supportive and secure relationship with your young adult.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement as you parent, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.

8 Do’s and Don’ts for Step Parents

Father smiling at daughter with flower
Here's the story of a lovely lady 
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls. 
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, 
The youngest one in curls. Here's the store, of a man named Brady, 
Who was busy with three boys of his own, 
They were four men, living all together, 
Yet they were all alone. Till the one day when the lady met this fellow 
And they knew it was much more than a hunch, 
That this group would somehow form a family. 
That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch. 
The Brady Bunch, That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch. 
The Brady Bunch.
Are you singing along with me? I wonder if it was actually easier to be a step-parent back in 1969 when The Brady Bunch was first aired or whether in reality, the job of being a step parent was as tough then as it is in 2013? Coming from a blended family myself, I look back on my own childhood experience with the benefit of hindsight and acknowledge the enormity of the task  my parents faced. There were no books on ‘7 Tips to Step Parent with Confidence and Ease' or conferences on ‘The Secret to Forming a Happy Blended Family' or even talk shows or family counsellors. You were on your own. If you  followed The Brady Bunch to glean some useful step parenting tips, you might have been disillusioned by the discovery that Alice only exists in your television set and  real life Mr Brady's are not always as affable and accommodating as our television version.

So here are my 8 Do's and Don'ts for Step Parents

DON'T

  1. criticise the child's biological parent – whatever your personal feelings and issues are, refrain from speaking about them in the home. Remember that even when the child is not physically present in the room, there is always the possibility of them hearing pieces of information and coming to their own conclusions.
  2. get angry or frustrated at your child when they repeat something their biological parent may have said or they observed. Learn to contain your feelings in the moment, to find expression at a more suitable time and context. Your child does not need to hear it!  If you have difficulty containing your emotional reponse, talk to a professional counsellor who can assist you to manage your emotions in an appropriate way.
  3. be quick to punish or be punitive in your discipline. Your child will invariably feel conflicted in  loyalty and will frequently act or speak in ways that are different to your personal approach to life. Acknowledge that they are living in 2 families and their experience will be influenced by ways other than your own. Accept this. Where a behaviour is inapropriate be gentle and kind in the way you correct your child.
  4. keep secrets – your child is more resilient then you think. Speak to them at the appropriate developmental level so that they can form a more accurate and coherent narrative about their life experiences.

DO

  1. speak respectfully when referring to their biological parent, no matter how difficult this might be. By doing so, you also give respect to your child and role-model positive behaviour.
  2. encourage your child to talk about their biological parent. Be interested in what they do together and encourage your child to display and use gifts they receive from their biological parent.
  3. encourage open communication by spending time with them. Be curious about their interests and attentive to what they say.
  4. love them and treat them no differently to the way you  treat your own biological child. Children are highly intuitive to adult pretence so make it your aim to be the parent that they need you to be.
These are just a few tips to get you on the right track, however every blended family has its own unique personality and understanding the nuances of family dynamics takes time and care. If you are experiencing difficulties or simply feeling the need for support and encouragement, make a point to find a family therapist or family counsellor who is trained in family dynamics and can assist your family to communicate and adjust to the particular challenges that you face together.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your parenting or  need  support and encouragement as you parent, then here’s what you need to do, contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or you can make an appointment to see Colleen by booking online now.

Self Harm and Cutting: 7 Ways To Help a Young Person Who is Self Harming

 One of my greatest challenges of being a parent was ‘letting go' of my children. Right from the moment they began to cautiously make their first steps I  experienced  anxiety at a new level. The environment suddenly became a minefield of potential dangers to my vulnerable children. Do I need supporting evidence? There was that day when my 18 month old daughter pulled the television and the supporting cabinet beneath it, over, landing on top of her little body (thankfully there were no broken bones) and the day that her 2 year old sister almost drowned herself when, in a moment of unbridled excitement  she headed straight into the water with no knowledge of how swiftly the ground dropped beneath her feet (she still survives). Need I go on? From the moment my children learnt to walk, I felt like my heart had grown arms and legs and was happily engaged in exploring the world outside my body. Of course, you know that this is the way it should be but it doesn't prevent you from going on the emotional roller-coaster ride that having children takes you on. Your instinct and priority as a parent, is to protect your children from all potential harm. What do you do then, when you realize that your young person is harming themselves? How do you feel? Angry? Helpless? Anxious? Your own children may be adults with their own lives now however you may know other young people who are going through this.

Unfortunately, self-harm is not uncommon, especially among our young people, and the more you know about what is helpful and what is not helpful, the better your support will be. So let's have a talk about the issue of self-harm and strategies to deal with it.

 

What is Self Harm?

 
Self-harming behaviors are acts of doing intentional harm to your body and include cutting, burning, biting, and scratching. There are conflicting views on what is and isn't self harm. For instance, are eating disorders acts of self-harm,  or would you consider body piercing self-harm? My personal view is that any behavior that has a negative impact on the body and is intentionally acted upon is a form of self-harm. 
 
Self-harming behavior has the power to confront you in ways that few other things might. You may be feeling angry, helpless, anxious, overwhelmed, sad or all of the above. In my own experience, I was terrified of losing my young person and, feeling helpless to ‘fix' it, I swiftly became depressed which actually had the effect of amplifying my young persons self-harming behavior further. 
 

How can you help your young person? 

 
1. Try not to overreact. Self harm behavior is often initiated by stress, anxiety and /or conflict in a person's life and by overreacting you can increase these unwelcome feelings and unwittingly exacerbate the need your child feels to harm themselves. Remember that self-harming behavior does not imply that they are suicidal.
 
2. Understand that self harm is not “attention-seeking” behavior but a genuine cry for help and needs to be taken seriously. ‘Just ignore it and it will go away' will not work in this circumstance.
 
3. Attend to your own emotions, so that you can be present to your young person  without judgement, blame, anger or anxiety. Take the time to see a Counsellor so that you can talk about your own feelings and ‘contain' what you feel when you are with your young person.
 
4. Be attentive and available to your young person. Understand that they may not feel ready to talk to you when you want them to talk. Try to be sensitive to them and understand that they are experiencing enormous emotional pain. They do not have the coping ability to deal with your own anxiety or frustration. 
 
5. Encourage them to get help from a helpline, or a qualified doctor or counsellor. These helping professionals have the skills to help your young person. Often a young person needs to talk to someone other than family and friends.   This is not a reflection on your inability to understand them or their rejection of you, but a need for your young person to be able to explore their own experience without feeling embarrassed or ashamed and in a confidential and objective context.
 
6. Self harm is not something that your young person can ‘just stop' doing. Self harm behavior is triggered by a variety of stressors including stressful situations, depression, self-hatred, and unresolved past issues. It can take a person a long time to overcome the need to self harm.
 
7. If your young person does hurt themselves seriously, contain your own emotional response – in particular anger, blame or frustration. Respond with first-aid and if necessary get medical help immediately.
 
It is not always obvious that a young person is self-harming and it is a difficult and confronting conversation to have. In a following  article I  talk about some of the signs that may indicate a young person is self-harming.
 
If you would like to know more about how to help a young person who is vulnerable to self harm  or need support yourself contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.