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Finding the right fit

Posted on May 22, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Photo credit: Emma Simpson Unsplash

How to make the most out of therapy

Taking that first step in reaching out for professional help can be one of the hardest steps in the journey to psychological and emotional wellness. Like any relationship, finding the right fit is imperative to long term success and finding the right fit in a psychologist is no exception. Our large team of male and female clinical psychologists are trained across a broad range of areas and draw on evidenced based therapies to work with clients, adapting the therapeutic model to suit client’s individual needs. The combined knowledge and expertise of our team of clinical psychologists complement each other allowing us to service and help a wide range of clients with diverse needs.

Feeling Comfortable

It is important that you feel comfortable with your psychologist and develop a rapport where you can answer those difficult or confronting questions that can naturally feel a bit uneasy. You should feel like your psychologistis batting for you; working with you to achieve a common goal. Professional relationships are two-way to and in order to achieve your goals or resolve underlying issue or concerns, you must give back and commit to the plan that you have collectively composed.

Set some boundaries and expectations

Good communication is key, as is setting some boundaries around your professional relationship, like how often you will have sessions and how and when you can contact your Psychologist between appointments. Your psychologist may discuss your individual therapy needs and the frequency of appointments at the start of therapy. Typically, in the beginning, regular and frequent appointments will be scheduled and gradually this will be tapered off as indicated by therapeutic progress. Attending scheduled appointments will assist in your treatment progress and prevent relapse.

Do your homework

Therapy is most effective when you utilise what you learn in the sessions by integrating it into your everyday life. Typically, most therapy sessions will end with a homework assignment and review the progress with this at the start of the following session. It is also recommended to take notes at the end of each session to help you remember things or to write questions down that you would like to discuss at the next session.

Feeling comfortable, understood and respected are the pillars of success for a strong relationship with your psychologist. With the current state of the world, investing in your health and wellbeing has never been more important. If you feel you need psychological or emotional support at the present time, don’t hesitate to speak to your GP about a mental health plan. The next step is researching your psychologist to find the right fit for you.

To peruse our team of clinical psychologistswho are available both in practice and via telehealth, click here.

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AM I OK?

Posted on May 11, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

The importance of the daily mental health check

The situation the world is facing and has endured over the last few months, would have been previously unimaginable, affecting every human being on the planet; physically, financially, socially, emotionally and psychologically. The impact of this global pandemic has been devastating, and we are living through a part of history that future generations will marvel at, and perhaps have to cope with the potential ongoing aftereffects.

As we all learn to ‘cope’ with our new way of living, it’s more important than ever to keep our mental and emotional wellbeing in check.  Just as we would for physical symptoms, we need to check in with our emotional selves daily and kindly ask; ‘Am I okay’?

If the answer is ‘No’, or even ‘I’m not sure,’ then don’t brush those feelings under the carpet. Asking for help or talking about your feelings with someone you trust has never been more important. Remember there is no shame in asking for help; it is an act of courage and will only lead to a better coping and resilience. And when we feel better able to cope ourselves, then we can also turn our attention to supporting others!

During this time, clinical psychologists have taken to offering therapy via telehealth as we strive to maintain a way of safely relating, while continuing to help people manage their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Telehealth is therapy via phone or online platforms and has many proven benefits.

People can experience a range of barriers when taking those first steps towards professional help and many of these can be resolved by telehealth or online therapy. Barriers like, how to discretely fit a therapy session into your work day, as well as the emotional step of physically attending a therapist’s practice. Telehealth allows people to seek psychological help and therapy from the comfort and safety of their own home, and with discretion and convenience.

Clinical psychologist, Dr Nicola Spence, shares her honest views on telehealth; “To be honest, the prospect of offering psychology sessions through Telehealth did not sound appealing at the beginning. I didn’t believe that it would allow me and the person to form as significant a relationship and might not be useful. Reluctantly, I commenced Telehealth sessions due to the COVID19 pandemic. I have been really surprised by how well the sessions flow and how, with some simple tweaks, I am still able to deliver effective therapy strategies and tools. Even with people I am meeting for the first time, we have been able to connect and work well together. I completely understand the hesitancy some people may feel about having their psychology sessions using Telehealth. My best advice would be to give it a go and try it out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”.

Heightened levels of anxiety are to be expected at this time as we try to manage the many changes and uncertainties that COVID-19 has brought. If you are experiencing anxiety, anger, sadness or a whole range of other possible emotional responses and concerns during these difficult times, talking to a clinical psychologist can help to develop personal strategies to manage your feelings. To view our team of Clinical Psychologists, all of whom can provide telehealth sessions, head to the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website. If you would prefer to come into the practice, many of our clinical psychologists at Newmarket and Morningside are still offering face-to-face sessions whilst adhering to social distancing and hygiene regulations.

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The Ultimate Test

Posted on May 4, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Words by Dr Nicola Spence – Clinical Psychologist

COVID-19- it’s the ultimate test of our resilience! Humanity is being challenged to survive, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Japanese scholar, Okakura Kakuzo once wrote; “The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings”.

Aptly defined by studies undertaken by Department of Mental Health & Learning Disabilities, London; “resilience comprised the ability to frame difficult life events in positive terms, accept what cannot be changed, manage worry and anxiety effectively, develop psychological flexibility in the face of change and continually seek opportunities for growth.”

So how do we build resilience in a time when we are faced with set-backs, financial worries and a new social dynamic that defies humankind?  Dr Nicola Spence provides some insight into how we can build resilience in the face of adversity.

Make choices about what and who you pay attention to

What we pay attention to matters. It affects our emotions, thoughts, behaviours and relationships. If we spend our time absorbed in reading negative news stories and thinking or talking about the ‘what if’s of the pandemic we fill our mind with worries and end up feeling stressed and low. Making choices to limit the amount of time we spend reading or hearing about the pandemic and only getting our information from reputable sources (rather than our Facebook feeds!) can really help us to put some boundaries around the amount of worrying content coming ‘in’ from the outside world.  We can also make a conscious effort to seek out the exceptions and look for the positive or heartwarming stories of the pandemic – communities coming together, recovery rates growing, the planet rejuvenating.

Pay close attention to holistic health

Staying healthy is more than diet and exercise. We also need to pay close attention to getting good quality sleep and exercising our mind and staying connected with others. Some ways to improve sleep include; taking time out from technology in the evenings, having a regular routine, reducing caffeine and alcohol and getting daily exercise and fresh air. Mental exercise that includes practicing mindfulness, meditation or relaxation can help to improve cognitive function. In a time when we must be mindful of relating safely with one another, technology has become a vital part of staying connected. Telephone or video calls help us to keep in touch and give and receive care. It is not quite the same as physically connecting but it’s a good second place during the pandemic. Consider ways you can use your senses to keep the presence of others in mind and feel close to them. Sending voicemails rather than text messages so your voice can be heard, video calling instead of telephoning, reminiscing and looking through old photos or letters, virtually sharing a meal or activity with loved ones.

Finding a sense of purpose

In the face of adversity, finding a sense of purpose is a vital building block of resilience. Many of us have experienced changes in employment – redeployment, redundancy or being stood down since the outbreak of COVID19. These challenges can impact on our self-esteem and have us question our self-worth and sense of purpose. Carving a sense of routine and predictability is helpful. We are in extraordinary times so try to keep your expectations of yourself in check. Accept that there’s lots going on right now that is out of our control and you can only do your best. Look for ways to make a difference and have some control over what we can control. If it’s feasible for you to do so consider making a contribution to help others; such as volunteering for the Queensland Care Army or the Adopt a Healthcare Worker initiative.

Practicing Compassion

You may have noticed that you have felt more unpleasant emotions recently, started or increased behaviours that you know are unhelpful or noticed you have become withdrawn from others. All of these things are understandable reactions to us feeling a sense of threat. We likely find it easy to feel compassion for others being affected by the pandemic; every person who has caught COVID19, the healthcare workers on the frontline, the people in the ‘at risk’ health/age groups, people unable to attend their loved one’s funerals. Whilst feeling compassion for others is good, it’s just as important that we practise self-compassion, and allow ourselves to receive compassion from others. If your self-critic is causing mayhem – criticising your emotions, pressuring you to do or achieve more, berating you for not keeping more contact with loved ones – ask yourself “would I think this way about a friend if they were in the same situation?”. We often hold ourselves to standards that we would not hold for others. It can take practise to develop a more self-accepting, self-compassionate relationship.

Ask for help when you need it

There is no shame in asking for help. Reaching out to friends, family and professionals like Psychologists is an act of courage and a positive step forward towards living your best life.

Telehealth during COVID19

During this time of isolation, Psychologists have taken to offering therapy via telehealth as we strive to protect you, ourselves and the community physically, whilst continuing to help people manage their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Telehealth has many benefits. Research has shown that it is an effective way to receive psychological and emotional help and that those who use it tend to be happy with it. For more information on telehealth appointments visit our website.

About the author- Dr Nicola Spence

MA (Hons), DClinPsy, MAPS
Master of Arts (Hons) – Psychology, Doctorate of Clinical Psychology
Membership: Australian Psychological Society

As a Clinical Psychologist, Nicola is often working in different roles; therapist, supervisor, leader, trainer. No matter what hat she is wearing her goals are the same – to help people to cope with whatever life is throwing at them, to help them grow and to support them with figuring out how to get to where they want to be. She works with people to find the right ‘fit’ for them in therapy and draws on therapy models that research shows to be effective.

Nicola has trained in and practices a number of different therapies, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Brief Solution Focused Therapy (BSFT). She has also studied approaches for helping people to cope with traumatic experiences, including trauma-informed care and trauma-focused interventions.

Nicola’s areas of interest include working with people who experience a range of difficulties, including :

  • anxiety (e.g. phobias, OCD, social anxiety, generalised anxiety)
  • depression
  • trauma and stress
  • psychosis
  • self-esteem difficulties
  • occupational stress
  • addictions

Nicola has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in both the UK and Australia since 2011, having obtained a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology. She has worked in different roles in mental health since 2005. She considers it a privilege to be trusted with people’s life stories and to be able to make a difference in their lives. Nicola currently works in private practice and also in public health as a Psychology Professional Leader. The Psychology Board of Australia have approved Nicola as a Clinical Supervisor.

Nicola is taking telehealth appointments on Thursday & Friday; please phone (07) 3395 8633 to make an appointment or to discuss how telehealth appointment may work for you.

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Is emotion clouding your judgement

Posted on April 30, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Image Credit: Tengyart @ Unsplash

Remember the time your Aunty made a throw away comment that struck a cord and ruined your day? We have all been there. Whether dealing with trauma or not, we all have emotional triggers that can sometimes lead us to react in a way that in hindsight we may regret. Judgement clouded by strong emotion, like fear, anger or sadness rarely leads to good judgment and while some of us may have the power to reign it in and control our reaction, others may need a little help in doing this.

Understanding your emotional triggers

Psychologists are trained to help people identify emotional triggers and the underlying factors that lead to certain feelings and consequential actions. The provoking triggers can come in all sorts of sneaky forms, not just spoken words; you can be triggered by certain environments, smells, or situations.  Exploring your emotional triggers, especially when your reactions are impulsive or explosive, can lead to a happier, healthier you.

Mindfulness-based therapy

 Mindfulness-based therapy is one commonly used strategy to help people be more present and make considered decisions in response to triggers. This involves paying attention to your body and how it is reacting in the present; noticing your breathing, your pulse and how your muscles respond to the trigger. Writing down your physical responses and feelings at the time of your trigger, can be another good way to record and reflect on these feelings as to better control them in future. In reflection you may become aware of any extreme or polarised views that have arisen and also notice that with time these feelings will diffuse. 

Understanding that emotions are contagious

Strong emotions can be contagious and ‘infect’ those around us so it’s important where possible to surround ourselves with positive, like-minded people. Negativity breeds negativity and anxiety breeds panic, both are unhelpful and can affect our behaviour and actions. The current pandemic is testament to this theory and you may have noticed how your mood, or opinions can influence others. This is particularly pertinent for parent as children and teenagers look for reassurance in these uncertain times. When you are calm, and stress is at bay, we generally make wiser more considered decisions. This goes for children and teenagers as well.

Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist says; “Feeling happy or sad heavily influences our thoughts and this can impact judgement and behaviour. Of course, for some of us, emotions are easier to regulate than others and this is okay.”

“Identifying your emotional triggers and understanding the underlying cause, can help you gauge why it provokes a strong reaction in you.”

“Being aware of environmental triggers like work stress or being toobusy as well as physical triggers like not getting enough sleep and poor diet is helpful.”

If you have emotional concerns that you would like to address, our team of Psychologists are here to help with face to face or telehealth appointments available. Peruse our website to read more about our team to find a Psychologist who will best suit your personal needs.

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Welcome Chao (Iris) Huang

Posted on April 22, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Iris is a warm and empathetic psychologist who values a person-centred approach. She has experience working with a range of presentations among adults and adolescents in different settings, including Mental Health Hospitals, Private Practice, Secondary Schools, and University Clinic.

Iris tailors her therapy from a range of evidence-based interventions to suit each client’s needs and therapy goals. Iris is particularly interested in helping people explore and evaluate their automatic patterns of feelings, thinking, and behaviours. She is currently working towards obtaining her certification to become a certified Schema Therapist. She utilises experiential psychotherapeutic techniques such as Chairwork and Imagery in her therapy sessions with clients.

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Schema Therapy
  • Emotion-Focused Therapy
  • Compassion-Focused Therapy
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Iris has experience in and is interested in working with the following areas:

  • Stress Management
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self Esteem Issues
  • Grief and Loss
  • Trauma (Developmental, PTSD, Complex)
  • Relationship Issues
  • Personality Vulnerabilities (e.g., BPD)
  • International Student/Immigrant Mental Health
  • General Health and Wellbeing
  • Sleep Difficulties

Iris has lived, studied, and worked in both Australia and Asia. Her personal and professional experiences have increased her awareness of the cultural issues involved in working with people from different cultural backgrounds. Iris is a bilingual psychologist. She is able to provide services in both English and Mandarin. Iris works from Psychology Consultants Morningside on Tuesday and Friday from 18th May 2020 and is available for Telehealth appointments. Please call reception to make an appointment 07 3395 8633 or morningside@psychologyconsultants.com.au

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COVID-19 – It’s No April Fools

Posted on April 1, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Today is 1st April 2020 but unfortunately COVID-19 is no April Fools. These unprecedented times are stranger than science fiction and us mere mortals are doing our best to adapt to our new lives and the conditions in which we need to live to save lives. Our lives have changed in unimaginable ways and our children look to us for answers, questioning what’s next and what their short-term futures hold but perhaps for the first time in our lives, we simply do not know the answers.

The way we interact as humans has so rapidly changed and it’s very difficult to stop oneself from innate acts, like the humble handshake, a hug or even standing close to one another while chatting. There is an absolute inundation of information at both a micro and macro level, with each day seeing a new set of rules that we as a community must absorb and adapt to. Some days, it can all seem a bit too much as we ride the emotional rollercoaster of COVID-19.

So how do we cope and what do we do to keep our mental health in check? Well if there has ever been a time to adopt the ‘one day at a time’ approach, it is now. 

During a crisis, humans will react differently, each of us experiencing a wide range of emotions. Across the world we have seen sadness, frustration, panic and utter despair but we have also seen people adapting, looking for new ways to stay connected; we have seen beautiful moments of compassion as people reach out to the vulnerable. We have seen community spirit, love and connectedness and this is something to celebrate.

So, when the doom of the day is creeping in, look for some positives in your day, appreciate the slower pace and the extra time you are spending with your family. Practice mindfulness and gratitude and find ways to let out your daily frustrations as we adapt to this strange and unprecedented time.

Heightened levels of anxiety are to be expected at this time as we try to manage the many layers of repercussion that COVID-19 has brought. If you are experiencing mental health issues or other personal concerns, talking to a Psychologist can be helpful in developing personal strategies to manage your feelings. To view our team of Clinical Psychologists and their areas of expertise, head to the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website.

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Managing rising anxiety during a world pandemic

Posted on March 14, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Psychology Consultants, Brisbane

Even for the little children of the world, Coronavirus is on their radar and for some children, teenagers and even adults, anxiety levels are at an all-time high.

Turn on the radio, and it’s the first news headline you will hear, go to school or university and the teachers are preaching the importance of personal hygiene, switch on the TV and it’s blasted across every channel. And let’s not even mention the toilet paper crisis!

Yes, the World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and so complete media saturation on the topic is to be expected. Nonetheless, for many children and adults alike, this level of alarm can be extremely disconcerting and cause unnecessary levels of panic and anxiety.

It is our job as adults to respond to the current situation calmly and with reason so as to manage the level of threat felt by our youngsters.  Of course, awareness and readiness are important, as is following recommended hygiene protocols, but of equal importance is managing concern and not overestimating the proposed threat or danger.

In a media briefing on 13thFebruary 2020, Mr Mike Ryan,Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) health emergencies program said; “We need a vaccine against misinformation as well and in that sense we need a communications vaccine; we need to be able to communicate in a much more effective way.”

Ignoring media hype and talking about the virus from a factual and statistical risk point of view can be helpful in keeping the issue in proportion and clarifying misconceptions for children and teenagers. According to the World Health Organisation; “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.” More information can be found here https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Encouraging distraction and reducing the amount of time spent watching or listening to media can also help to ease the cognitive saturation and associated anxiety. In times of crisis when the world can seem very out of control, remaining in control as an adult is important in setting the right example for your juniors.

If you are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety about coronavirus or other personal issues, talking to a Psychologist can be helpful in developing personal strategies to manage your feelings. To view our team of Clinical Psychologists and their areas of expertise, head to the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website.

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Email Stress!

Posted on March 11, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Photo credit: John Schnobrich- Unsplash

Gerard, a sales executive in an international IT company, first came to Psychology Consultants because he felt stressed. After discussing his current situation, we quickly became perplexed. He had a good relationship with his wife, a busy, fulfilling job, he exercised regularly, found time for hobbies on the weekends, and his diet was impeccable. Why was he stressed?

After a couple of weeks of monitoring his stress levels and trying to identify his stress “hot spots”, the source of his stress became very clear – he was suffering from email stress.

We find that email is often a source of stress for people, and we think we know some of the reasons why.

Firstly, emails are written, so they do not have the benefit of the verbal and nonverbal behaviours that usually help us decipher the sender’s message. Thus, emails are often misinterpreted.

Secondly, emails are very often written badly, without proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling, making the message even more likely to be misinterpreted.

Thirdly, emails are immediate and reactive, not allowing a person time to think constructively before sending off a message that, if they had time to think, they might keep to themselves. As a result, sending email “missiles” back and forth is a common problem.

Finally, the email sender is usually positioned in an office removed from the receiver. They feel safe and they therefore find it all too easy to send an offensive message.

So Gerard found himself receiving unpleasant emails from colleagues at work on a regular basis. They made him feel uncomfortable and angry, and every time he went to open his email he would feel anxiety and stress. He developed a plan to actively manage email stress. He placed a reminder note on his computer saying “Watch out for email stress. Sometimes I will get offensive emails but I can work around them.”

He began screening his inbox and symbolically trashing any emails that were offensive but not worth responding to. He would not reply immediately to other offensive emails, waiting and then going to the person to discuss the issue directly, which he found often resolved the issue. With an understanding of the role of email stress and a plan for coping with it, Gerard was able to more effectively cope with stress.

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Surviving the transition to high school

Posted on February 18, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Kylie Layton: Clinical Psychologist

Words by Kylie Layton: Clinical Psychologist

Photo by @Gaellemarcel

And just like that your child is off to high school! The transition to high school marks a significant milestone in a child’s life; another step taken in their developmental journey. It is an exciting yet daunting time for both the child entering high-school and for their parents. This transition comes with many new things to learn and many new challenges to face. For even the most resilient and confident of children, adjusting to high school can be difficult. High school means increased responsibility, increased academic pressure and increased exposure to complex social situations.

Moving from grade six to seven can boost a child’s self-confidence or just as easily shake their sense of self. It can strengthen the relationship between the child and their parent or it can start a process of disconnection.  With so many important moments occurring outside a parent’s awareness or control, at times it can feel like there is little a parent can do. However, parents are still very much needed; as a safe space to debrief, a sounding board, a teacher of social skills and resilience, and most importantly, as a reminder that the child is loved and valued in a world that can very easily feel overwhelming to a new Grade 7 student.

So how do parents remain connected to their children in a meaningful way amidst all the change and challenge that comes with puberty and the transition to high-school? It can help to have a loose plan of attack based on a few simple points that parents can to apply to the many challenging moments parenting a Grade 7 child can bring.

The first thing to remember is that your child will naturally feel some anxiety around this transition. It may be a little or it may be a lot, but for each child this is a transition into something new and unknown and the human body will naturally produce a degree of anxiety in these circumstances as a warning to tread carefully into a new situation. This experience of anxiety may be triggered by the need to make new friends, the challenge of mastering a new way of learning, or the increased pressure of a new level of academic difficulty. It is also likely that other emotions will come with this milestone including sadness at leaving their previous school and grief for the loss of connection with friends.

When a strong emotion, like anxiety, is experience by a child or adult, their brain becomes absorbed with dealing with that emotion. Emotions are like our body’s instincts, seeking to give us information about the situation we are encountering and when the brain is flooded with emotion it cannot easily access the logic centres of the brain.

A pre-teen who is undergoing puberty is also experiencing changes in the brain including the rapid development of the brain’s emotion centres. In contrast the part of the brain needed for problem solving, planning and effective decision-making; the pre-frontal cortex, is the last to fully develop and in fact isn’t fully developed until around 25 years of age! This means a typical Grade 7 child roughly has adult-sized emotions with a child’s-ability to deal with them effectively!

As a parent, understanding these developmental changes, and that your child will be experiencing a range of normal, understandable and intense emotions, is the first step in successfully navigating these changes. This information also highlights that we need to address the emotion first. We cannot access our logic centre when an emotion is flooding our brain and attempting to get a child to be reasonable or logical has the frustrating effect of retriggering the child’s distress! Instead, our emotional child is seeking validation and understanding for their experience; to be heard and acknowledged. When we validate our child’s emotion, we start to calm that emotion. However, if we aim to ‘fix’ our child’s problem; with solutions and advice, we are inadvertently making the emotion bigger or more complex. Validating an emotional child may take up time we feel like we don’t have, but it can often prevent hours of distress and arguments later. Once we calm our child we can then ask them if they would like any help or if they feel they can navigate this on their own.

It is also helpful to recognise that parents too might have some strong feelings about the transition to high school; based on their fears for their child, their expectations of this transition, and even their own high school experience. Creating an environment at home in which we are seeking to notice, name, and articulate our feelings can, not only allows parents to recognise and navigate strong feelings in a healthy manner but can model, for a child, how to put their experience into words. This in turn allows us to be more able to address and meet the need in front of us.

Having the expectation that our child will be more emotional over this transition to high-school also means giving the child permission to not be at their best emotionally or behaviourally. This doesn’t mean we become accepting of poor behaviours but this might mean that rather than a conversation or consequence focused on the poor behaviour we might first check in with what is going on for them; ‘It’s not like you to be so hurtful, is their something going on you would like to talk about?” Parents may also need to give themselves permission to not be at their best and need a bit of self-care and self-validation for the emotions and challenges they too are experiencing.

This leads us then to boundaries and the need to keep clear boundaries in place around behaviour, freedom, responsibility and, of course, social media. As your child transitions from Grade 6 to 7 they will be subconsciously seeking those boundaries in their new world. Boundaries allow children to feel safe and confident in their experience and this allows them to be more curious learners and explorers within the space available to them. Gently increasing your child’s sense of responsibility while also offering clear limits allows them to start to transition into the adult world at a pace that allows their confidence to grow.

Lastly, carve out some time to maintain a strong connection to your new high-schooler. High school students are still seeking a strong connection to their parents and, while this may be challenging at times, they will be grateful for time spent one on one with their parent doing an activity both enjoy or talking about their day. It can be hard to pick the right time to connect however. Tweens are less likely to spill their thoughts sitting face to face across the table but may be more inclined to share sitting side by side in a car, working alongside you in the kitchen, kicking a ball in the backyard or just before bedtime. These can all be times when a child is feeling less in the spotlight and more able to talk to you about some big issues.

Remember that it is big and important stuff to them! It’s the first time they have experienced these things, and these events make up their whole world. As adults we have the benefit of hindsight and know that our high school moments are not always as crucial as we thought they were, but our children are living these moments for the first time. We show them we hear them when we acknowledge how big this is for them.

The transition to high-school can bring many significant moments; epic highs and tragic lows but the transitioning child will still look to their parent for security, boundaries, connection and love. If parents can expect big emotions and big moments for their child and seek to meet them with validation and understanding (and direct some of that at themselves along the way) than this transition can be a successful one, and set up habits that can mean good things for the child, their parents and the connection between the two in years to come.

 

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