Rupture and Repair: The Importance of Repairing the Tear with Your Child

black parents lecturing upset daughter at table
By Principal Psychologist Daniel Baldacchino

Children bring happiness to our lives; at times, a joy like no other! But inevitably the tough times come. As we go through all the ages and stages of child-raising, right through to adulthood, we’re going to experience lots of bumps in the parenting path. After all, we are imperfect parents living in an imperfect world.

WHAT IS RUPTURE AND REPAIR?

Rupture happens in all families but looks different for every family. However, with most, if not all ruptures, conflict or tension transpires. Big feelings too are involved – anger, frustration, sadness, maybe even fear. Most commonly, rupture looks like: a disagreement, a parent yelling at a child, a child being sent to their room, or a parent not being able to manage their reactions.

Ruptures are those bits of parenting where your relationship with your child takes a nosedive and you find yourself at odds with them. Some parents might even maintain the rupture, doing this by giving the silent treatment (until an apology comes their way) – an approach often passed on by their own parents. 

Ruptures or as we might tell ourselves ‘messing up’, often leave a bitter taste. They can leave parents feeling an abundance of shame and guilt and in ‘failure’ mode.

Repair, on the other hand, is like ‘making up’ or when we use our ‘grown up’ skills to be calm, to manage and move back to middle ground with our child. Like rupture, repair presents differently for every relationship, so it is crucial that you are flexible in your approach and kind to yourself and your child with your expectations. Essentially, repair is when we bravely act in a way to re-connect with our child, returning them and our relationship to a place of safety, support, trust and love.  

WHAT DOES REPAIR LOOK LIKE?

To start with, repair is more than just “I’m sorry”. It goes beyond that. Instead, it involves a set of gentle, compassionate behaviours from you.

Below are listed some key characteristics which should go a long way in modelling healthy repair in your relationship with your child – in fact, in all your relationships. 

  • Be aware, take a breath and take time out

Focus on slowing down, mentally and physically. Take a breath and analyse the situation. Be honest with yourself about what occurred and the role you played. Perhaps chat with your partner or a trusted friend, asking for a balanced, objective perspective. Be sure to return to your child relatively quickly as letting matters fester and delaying repair can only be damaging and prolong hurt and pain.

  • Name it happened and what happened

Reach out to your child in a calm manner, looking to “talk things over”, and “not to yell, blame or argue”. Sit alongside them, and as clearly and as honestly as you can, describe what occurred, with a focus on facts and not being emotion driven. Remember, good communication = good relationships! 

  • Own your role

Set a good example of being accountable and taking responsibility. If you have erred, say “sorry” loud and clear. Explain specifically what you are sorry for.    

  • Name the impact (and listen to your child’s version)

Learning to deeply listen without judgment to our child’s gripes, anger, unhappiness, hurts etc. is vital for building trust and comfort. Validate their experience, demonstrating genuine empathy – “I get that you felt angry when I did that, I really do”. Avoid denying, dismissing or shutting down their feelings and experience. Anything is open for discussion and negotiation – give them space and time for this.  

  • Plan a way forward and work on not repeating

Describe what occurred as an opportunity for “learning”, a learning opportunity for you both, you and your child. There is always something to learn from a rupture. Discuss, offer and ask for suggestions how you both will work together to “do things better next time” – such as listening more carefully, taking turns, being calm etc.

  • Touch

Physical touch can be an amazing way to re-connect with your child, and the best way to close off the repair process. Warm physical contact releases the love hormone oxytocin, which enhances a sense of trust and safety. When you hug, cuddle and/or kiss your child, you tell them that you love them and are there for them. It can help to cancel out the negative vibe that was around. It can be an instant reset. 

And finally, remember… that being an imperfect parent is not only inevitable, it can actually help your child. Making mistakes helps them become more resilient and prepared for what life will serve up to them as an adult. It also shows them that we can (and will) make mistakes and make a comeback. So while it’s important that you keep fine-tuning your repair work, perhaps cut yourself some slack and leave the shame and guilt behind.   

Daniel is an experienced psychologist, having completed Masters in Educational and Developmental Psychology in 2002 at La Trobe University. Having worked in a variety of roles over the course of his career, Daniel has had extensive experience working in complex forensic disability settings as well as in supporting the mental health of athletes through the AFL. Daniel also works closely with schools to support student wellbeing. More recently, Daniel has applied his educational and developmental knowledge and skills in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents at NCCD. With extensive experience and a real passion for it, Daniel loves supporting parents to equip them with the understanding and skills required to confidently parent their children.   

Navigating Medicare and NDIS Funding Systems

photo of man touching his head
By Psychologist, Judy McKay

Navigating the healthcare system can be complicated and confusing. To assist our families in accessing the services and benefits they need, an attempt to compile the key information relevant to seeing a psychologist has been gathered for you. 

Medicare Tip Sheet: 

Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and General Practitioners through the MBS fact sheet for patients (health.gov.au)

Key Points

  1. Your child is eligible for up to 10 Medicare rebatable sessions (6 session pack + 4 session pack) per calendar year. Due to COVID-19, the number of eligible sessions has increased to a total of 20! NB: Access to the extra 10 sessions is set to expire on the 30th of June, 2022. 
  2. Medicare Rebate eligibility:  You must first book an appointment for your child with their GP (easiest option), Psychiatrist or Paediatrican. Ask for a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP). The doctor will ask your child some questions about their mental health and ‘make a diagnosis’ (NB: A ‘diagnosis’ is required in order to receive a MHTP). Once you have the plan, send a copy to us (admin@centreforchilddevelopment.com) so we have it on file and can charge you accordingly!
  3. ‘Additional Courses of treatment’ (i.e., After 6 and 10 psychology sessions have been completed). In order to receive up to 20 psychology sessions under Medicare, your child will need to see their doctor after six, ten and twenty sessions for an update/review. If the doctor feels the child will benefit from further sessions, they will create an additional course of treatment. Send a copy of the additional course of treatment (i.e. 4 or 10 session pack) to us.  
  4. Alongside step 3, your psychologist will write a letter to your doctor after 1, 6, 10 and 20 sessions to update them on your child’s progress and any ongoing challenges. The psychologist will recommend an additional course of treatment if they feel it’s necessary. 
  5. If your child reaches the maximum number of MHTP sessions in a calendar year (currently 20), they can ask for a new MHTP from their doctor at the start of the next year and start over. They can of course continue seeing their Psychologist at the Northern Centre for Child Development even once they have used their 20 sessions in a year! However the sessions will not attract a medicare rebate. At this point, families with private health insurance sometimes use their ‘extras’ benefits, while other families pay privately. 

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

A number of relevant fact sheets to help families navigate the NDIS and available funding categories can be found using the below link:

https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/publications/booklets-and-factsheets

For children under 7, information about the NDIS early intervention funding can be found here:

https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/families-and-carers/early-childhood-approach

The 3 Participant Booklets are particularly useful in providing a step-by step guide for applying and maintaining NDIS Funding. 

Step 1. Understanding the NDIS: https://www.ndis.gov.au/media/80/download 

Step 2. Planning: https://www.ndis.gov.au/media/333/download

Step 3. Using your NDIS Plan: https://www.ndis.gov.au/media/336/download

Key Points: 

  • NDIS funding eligibility criteria: Aged 7-65 years of age, live in Australia or have residency, require support due to a disability and the appropriate support will reduce the level of need required in the future. NB: Children under 7 years of age with a disability or diagnosed developmental delay can access NDIS funding through the Early Intervention funding category. To continue to receive this funding from age 7+, a diagnosis such as Intellectual Disability, Autism etc.,  is normally required. 
  • NDIS Plans accepted by the Northern Centre for Child Development are self-managed (i.e., the family manages the funds) or plan-managed (an NDIS plan manager will manage the funds and pay the support providers on your behalf). 
  • An NDIS Plan is typically developed by a local area plan manager in collaboration with the family. Once you have an NDIS Plan, email a copy to us and let us know if it is self- or plan-managed so we can charge you accordingly. 
  • Typically, after a year of receiving services and support, a review of the NDIS Plan and funding takes place. In preparation for this review, the family often requires a report from the child’s therapists outlining their progress and obstacles over the last year. You can ask your psychologist at CCD to write an NDIS Review Report (the best time to ask for this is 3 months prior to the review date). 

Hopefully this hasn’t made you feel more confused than you already were! If you have any questions about the Medicare or NDIS Plan  process, your psychologist or our wonderful admin team will be able to assist you further!

Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Judy has a background in providing pastoral care to children and adolescents within educational settings. These experiences have enabled Judy to connect and build relationships with students of all ages, in addition to understanding the challenges typically faced by school-aged children. Judy encourages her clients to take a holistic approach to therapy and values communication with a client’s wider support network. This helps to promote positive client outcomes across all aspects of day to day life. Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

Raising accepting and inclusive kids

eggs in tray on white surface
By Psychologist Judy McKay

“Some people call me different but what does that mean? We’re all different  in some way, or you would be ME!” – Some Brains, Nelly Thomas

Children are curious, honest and open-minded. As they develop the capacity to understand who they are and compare themselves to others, they might start bombarding you with questions… “Why is?” “Why does xx…” “Why am I…?”. To assist, I have summarised my top 5 tips for helping your child understand and accept children with different needs. 

Parent Modelling

Be cautious of your personal biases and the language (e.g., labels, stereotypes, tone) you may use when talking about people who may be different to yourself (e.g., cultural background, people who are bi-lingual, gender, disability, mental health etc.). Kids are very perceptive and can pick up on these subtle nuances. 

Use child-friendly language and relevant examples

  • Keep it simple 
    1. Point out ways that they are different and the same to you and their siblings, discuss all the similarities they may have with their neuro-diverse peers. 
    2. Use analogies related to their interests e.g., Superheroes. They all have their superpowers and challenges however, they share a common goal to protect others and do good in the world. 

“Put yourself in their shoes”

Encourage them to understand how others have different thoughts and feelings to their own. Talk about situations when someone they know may have been upset, worried or disruptive and why they may have felt that way? 

Point out the strengths in children with different needs

  • Highlight the skills and unique abilities of children who have different needs e.g., 
    1. Their in-depth knowledge of certain topics. 
    2. Their ability to think differently in group work to come up with exciting ideas. 
    3. The different ways they communicate that may not involve talking!

Immerse them in diversity

There are so many beautiful books, tv shows, toys and opportunities in everyday life to experience, enjoy and celebrate the diverse community we are all a part of. 

References

Some Brains – A book celebrating neurodiversity by Nelly Thomas https://www.somekidsbooks.com/

3 Ways to Help Young Children Respect and Accept Diversity – Brookes Blog (brookespublishing.com)

Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Judy has a background in providing pastoral care to children and adolescents within educational settings. These experiences have enabled Judy to connect and build relationships with students of all ages, in addition to understanding the challenges typically faced by school-aged children. Judy encourages her clients to take a holistic approach to therapy and values communication with a client’s wider support network. This helps to promote positive client outcomes across all aspects of day to day life. Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

Siblings of kids with individual needs….what do THEY need?

By Senior Psychologist Kim McGregor

We all want our children to play and get along, especially siblings, as they will be the ones who will be present throughout our lives. But what happens when one child requires more support or has greater needs than another? How we respond to questions, explain the differences and celebrate the uniqueness of us all in a family will have an influence on how children accept and relate to their sibling with different needs. 

It is important to take a whole family approach to the needs and wants of parents and children in a family. Some siblings report that they develop positive qualities unique to having a sibling with different needs such as insight, empathy and independence while others find taking on an extra job as sibling of someone with special needs more difficult, feeling they always have to be the advocate or ‘good one’ to manage the extra stress on the family. 

There are ways to broach the subject and have family discussions to ensure all have a voice, understand differences and are supportive with each other’s need: 

  • Disclosing the diagnosis in an age and developmentally appropriate way to the child affected and their siblings, close family and friends. This can set the stage for open and honest discussions about questions or issues that come up about differences, using books or online resources.
  • Having family meetings to discuss upcoming events or implement approaches to help manage some of the required needs of a sibling. This way all can have a say, give suggestions and explore the impact on the family.
  • Having family schedules and timetables up so that all family activities can be monitored and included. This will also include fun activities eg. family movie & pizza nights, holidays, or respite weekends.
  • Making dates or times for each family member to feel special and choose an activity that they would like to do. Eg. having a name day to themselves, a beach or shopping day or a sibling day!
  • Connecting older siblings into organisations, online supervised chat rooms and sibling days and camps. This can help them connect with others whose families are similar to their own and whom they share their stories with.

Some helpful organisations and books include: 

Siblings Australia https://siblingsaustralia.org.au/ 

Association for Children with a Disability https://www.acd.org.au 

Young Carers – https://youngcarersnetwork.com.au/

Livewire – www.livewire.org.au 

Books:

Sibshops: Workshops for Siblings of Children with Special Needs, by Donald J. Meyer, Patricia F. Vadasy 

Views from Our Shoes: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs by Donald Meye

Everybody is Different: A Book for Young People Who Have Brothers or Sisters with Autism by Fiona Bleach 

This Is Me! I am who I’m meant to be!: Autism book for children, kids, boys, girls, toddlers, parents, teachers and caregivers by Amy Pflueger

Kim McGregor is a registered Psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational & Developmental Psychology. She has worked extensively with infants, children and their families in not for profit, early childhood, specialised school and government multidisciplinary settings providing assessment, diagnosis and treatment for their developmental, cognitive, social, emotional and learning needs.
While Kim enjoys working with and celebrating all children as they grow and develop, her experience and interests include understanding the specific strengths, abilities and support needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, intellectual disability and learning disabilities to reach their full potential through comprehensive assessment.
Her goal is to always work from a person centred and family focused partnership with parents providing clear communication, empathy and support throughout the journey of understanding and helping their child. She incorporates evidence based therapies to support skill development, having trained in CBT programs such as The Cool Kids Anxiety program (Cool Kids) and the Secret Agent Society program (SAS) and in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS).
While Kim has spent most of her life in Sydney, she now enjoys all that Melbourne has to offer with her family and pets.

Autistic females – what’s the difference?

By Senior Psychologist Kim McGregor

Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed  with ASD, here’s why: 

An estimated 1 in 70 people has autism; with almost four times as many boys than girls diagnosed. http://www.abs.gov.au

This figure may hide the true incidence of autism in girls and women, with some estimates ranging from 7:1 to as low as 2:1 (that is, 2 boys for every girl). http://www.autismawareness.com.au/could-it-be-autism/autism-and-girls/

What ASD  may look like in girls …

Social communication and interaction differences:

Like initiating and responding to others in conversation and play; displaying and responding to non-verbal communicative (eg eye contact, body language, facial expression and gestures); difficulty developing and maintaining relationships with others.

Behaviour, interest and activities:

These may involve special interests, routines, rituals or preoccupations, difficulties with change and transitions; repetitive speech, movements, use of an object or toy; preferred routines (doing thing the same way each time, difficulty with flexibility within these routines); restricted interest in a narrow area; sensitivity to their environment (eg finding loud noises, bright lights, busy environments upsetting or seeking out specific experiences such as smells, tastes, pressure, differing pain threshold).

While girls on the Spectrum often are unable to read the unspoken rules and meaningful glances that are so important to fitting in, they manage to cope by copying what the other girls do. …

  • Observing and trying to understand before the make the first step
  • Reading fiction or watching soaps to learn about inner thoughts and feelings
  • Decoding social situations in doll play and imaginary friends
  • Apologising and appeasing for social mishaps
  • Being a chameleon: they learn how to adopt a persona for different situations and learn to act so well that many affected girls say “they don’t know the real me”. The drawback of this chameleon tendency is that it can lead to mental health disorders.
  •  Girls with ASD may suffer a fear of rejection, particularly surrounding their ability to make, but not keep, friends and they often have one friend who provides guidance and security.

Some resources to support girls on the spectrum include:

https://www.yellowladybugs.com.au/

Autism In Girls & Women | Autism Awareness Australia

Kim McGregor is a registered Psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational & Developmental Psychology. She has worked extensively with infants, children and their families in not for profit, early childhood, specialised school and government multidisciplinary settings providing assessment, diagnosis and treatment for their developmental, cognitive, social, emotional and learning needs.
While Kim enjoys working with and celebrating all children as they grow and develop, her experience and interests include understanding the specific strengths, abilities and support needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, intellectual disability and learning disabilities to reach their full potential through comprehensive assessment.
Her goal is to always work from a person centred and family focused partnership with parents providing clear communication, empathy and support throughout the journey of understanding and helping their child. She incorporates evidence based therapies to support skill development, having trained in CBT programs such as The Cool Kids Anxiety program (Cool Kids) and the Secret Agent Society program (SAS) and in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS).
While Kim has spent most of her life in Sydney, she now enjoys all that Melbourne has to offer with her family and pets.

Seeking an ASD diagnosis – Pros and Cons?

a boy in yellow shirt
By Psychologist Olivia Smith

Deciding to embark on an autism (ASD) assessment is not an easy process for any family. For some, it can be a suspicion they have been harbouring for some time. For others, a professional may mention it, seemingly out of the blue. The process can be intimidating in terms of waitlists, lots of appointments, the cost and of course then having that feedback session. So how do you decide if you should go down that road? 

I should caveat this list that I am certainly not an unbiased source on this topic! I strongly believe that an assessment (if warranted) can ultimately lead to better understanding and support for an individual. At the same time, I appreciate that there can be ambivalence for many people in this space. Below is a summary of discussion points I have had with numerous families over the years:

Pros: 

  • A sense of relief that you can now put a ‘name’ on what has been happening for your child. 
  • Being able to tailor your parenting approach by tapping into the existing body of evidence and collective wisdom in this space. 
  • For teachers and therapists to better understand what strategies, techniques etc. might be helpful for your child. 
  • Possible access to ongoing funding for therapy (e.g., through NDIS). 
  • An understanding of your child’s unique strengths and needs. 
  • Alleviating some guilt that your child’s difficulties are in some way your or their ‘fault’. 
  • Avoiding others putting judgemental and unfair labels on your child, e.g., that they are ‘lazy’ or ‘oppositional’. 
  • Fostering your child’s sense of identity and of belonging to a broader community of others like them. 

Cons: 

  • Your child might think there is ‘something wrong’ with them. 
  • Your family may not be in a good emotional space at this time to go through this process. 
  • There have been disruptions in your child’s life and development (e.g., trauma, significant illness etc.) and it is difficult to identify the impact of these.   
  • People might treat your child differently, with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ASD.  
  • Others may be dismissive of a potential diagnosis. 
  • It can raise questions about other members of the family (although this can be a good thing!) 

At the end of the day, it is a decision that only you as a parent can make. As psychologists however, we can assist with discussing our observations of your child, and whether we feel an assessment is warranted and would be helpful.

Olivia is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist who has worked in a range of settings, including schools, universities, the not-for-profit sector and private practice. Olivia has substantial experience working with children, adolescents and their families, including completion of neurodevelopmental and learning assessments. Olivia has a special interest in eating disorders and is passionate about ensuring young people with this presentation receive appropriate and effective supports. In recent times she has completed training in the SOS Approach to Feeding, Circle of Security Parenting, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-E) and Family Based Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa (FBT). Olivia strives to build warm and collaborative relationships with children, adolescents, parents and other professionals involved in a child’s life, including allied health providers and teachers.

Neurodiversity superpowers!

snow fashion man people
By Psychologist, Christine Flavel

The earth has a variety of life forms- plants, land animals, marine animals, insects…. We call this biodiversity and it is why we have a beautiful, wonderful world.

Just as the earth has different living things, people have different brains and we can call this neurodiversity. When we hear others talk about brain differences, it’s often based on the things that people find difficult. What if we focused on encouraging people to recognise and use their strengths instead?

Here comes…..the iceberg…….

You may have seen the analogy of the ‘success iceberg’ (if not, you can google it). As a psychologist, I like to use the iceberg with kids and parents I work with to get them thinking about their strengths.

If you know someone who has a different brain to you (it might be your child, or someone else you know), consider the top of the iceberg (the small bits of what people see). This might be a couple of broad good things, or even some challenging behaviour.

Now consider the bottom of the iceberg underwater (strengths that people don’t see straight away). There are always more strengths under the water which we don’t always see. These can be nurtured and encouraged to bring out the best in an individual.

Here’s an example of an ADHD iceberg:

Why don’t you try your own? Even better, do it with your child and see just how many brilliant superpowers you uncover!

Christine is a registered psychologist undertaking endorsement in Educational & Developmental psychology.  Christine has worked with a range of ages (children, youth and adults) in helping them understand mental health concerns including anxiety and depression, support with coping through stress and change, and setting and achieving goals. Christine also conducts psychoeducational and diagnostic assessments primarily for learning difficulties, autism and ADHD. Using a strengths based approach and working with clients to find what works for them, Christine will often utilise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy to explore and achieve client goals. Outside the clinic, Christine enjoys spending time with her puppy and eating cruffins (croissant muffins).

International Day against bullying and violence

a kid getting bullied in the library
By Psychologist Judy McKay

The 19th of March marks an opportunity to stop, think and reflect on bullying and the impact it can have on young people. This year’s theme is “Kindness Culture” which aims to promote “inclusiveness, respect, and a sense of belonging”, in order to proactively prevent bullying behaviour. 

Like many things, bullying can come in different shapes and sizes. Linked below are some user friendly bullying resources for young people and their parents: 

https://kidshelpline.com.au/teens/issues/bullying: Kids Helpline Guide to Bullying – Outlines the different forms, their impact and strategies to deal with bullying. 

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/resources/classroom-resources: The government’s “Bullying. No Way” initiative provides a range of short video clips that outline different cyberbullying scenarios and appropriate courses of action. 

Tips for supporting a young person who is experiencing bullying: 

  • Validate their experience e.g., “That sounds really hurtful”, “I can see why that was upsetting for you”. 
  • Try not to minimise their experience  e.g., “I’m sure it was a one off, they probably didn’t mean it”. 
  • Empower them to identify what’s wrong with the situation. Collaboratively talk about the behaviour and whether they have been treated appropriately. 
  • Encourage them to surround themselves with people who build their self-esteem. This may be through after school activities or play dates. 
  • Encourage them to stand up for themselves using assertive (e.g., “I feel”) language rather than aggressive (e.g., “You did”) language, to educate others about the impact of their actions and behaviours. 
  • Take necessary steps to support and protect your child from further harm e.g., contacting the school, providing psychoeducation to parents and teachers, blocking bullies on social media, seeking external support etc. 

By educating ourselves, our children and others on bullying behaviour and its impact, we too can contribute towards building “kindness culture”. All individuals deserve to feel respected and accepted among their peers and within the community. 

References: 

14 Ways to Respond to Relational Aggression (verywellfamily.com)

https://kidshelpline.com.au/teens/issues/bullying

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/

Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Judy has a background in providing pastoral care to children and adolescents within educational settings. These experiences have enabled Judy to connect and build relationships with students of all ages, in addition to understanding the challenges typically faced by school-aged children. Judy encourages her clients to take a holistic approach to therapy and values communication with a client’s wider support network. This helps to promote positive client outcomes across all aspects of day to day life. Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

Anxious kids…how can parents help?

By Senior Psychologist Kim McGregor

In my last article, I covered how to talk to your child about anxiety. Maybe since then some of you have given it a go, but what’s next? Now that they understand it better, it’s time to help your child find ways to manage that anxiety in a healthy, adaptive way.

Practical supports parents can use to assist with managing anxiety in children can include:

  • Increasing activities that encourage distraction, relaxation or achievement
    • Label feelings – scared, sad, angry, happy, worried
    • Understand and notice escalation patterns – body cues and signals for low, moderate or high levels of distress
    • Model and teach skills to calm
    • Have a list of calming activities for your child when upset
  • Increasing activities that require physical energy to burn up anxiety and stress

Some learning techniques parents can implement to encourage brave behaviours in their children include:

  • Talking and listening to your child to support and understand their fears and how their fears affect them
  • Modelling appropriate ways of dealing with worries and fear for your child
  • Paying attention to brave behaviours and improvement in behaviour rather than anxious behaviour
  • Giving clear, concrete and specific praise at appropriate attempts at coping and brave behaviours
  • Rewarding brave behaviours for their effort in achieving something for their own benefit
  • Showing interest in activities your child enjoys with affection
  • Independence overcomes anxiety – provide and support opportunities TO SUCCEED

Here are some books and websites that can help:

My feelings books by Trace Moroney

Helping your anxious child – A step by step guide for parents by R M Rapee, A Wignall and S H Spence

Triple P – More confident kids (0-12 years) who can cope with challenges – free online parenting course

Kids helpline website – Anxiety in kids parents can read though with them

Beyond blue website – strategies for parents to help and support anxious children 

Kim McGregor is a registered Psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational & Developmental Psychology. She has worked extensively with infants, children and their families in not for profit, early childhood, specialised school and government multidisciplinary settings providing assessment, diagnosis and treatment for their developmental, cognitive, social, emotional and learning needs.

While Kim enjoys working with and celebrating all children as they grow and develop, her experience and interests include understanding the specific strengths, abilities and support needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, intellectual disability and learning disabilities to reach their full potential through comprehensive assessment.  

Her goal is to always work from a person centred and family focused partnership with parents providing clear communication, empathy and support throughout the journey of understanding and helping their child.  She incorporates evidence based therapies to support skill development, having trained in CBT programs such as The Cool Kids Anxiety program (Cool Kids) and the Secret Agent Society program (SAS) and in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS).

While Kim has spent most of her life in Sydney, she now enjoys all that Melbourne has to offer with her family and pets. 

How do I help my child understand anxiety?

By Senior Psychologist Kim McGregor

Our children are first and foremost individuals who are developing in their bodies and brains, and they will experience normal fears which will change from infancy to adolescence. These typically developing fear stages differ from clinical anxiety in their severity, not in their quality.

Some examples of typical development in the context of fears include:

Infancy – loud noises, strangers, separation

Preschool – animals, the dark, monsters

Primary age – social, judgement from others, school achievement

Adolescence – social, judgement from others, relationship issues

Talking to your child about anxiety can include discussing that it is a normal emotion needed to survive, commonly expressed as fear or worry, and that we all go through typical fears. 

Everybody experiences anxiety differently – it is a subjective sense of worry, fear or distress and includes physical body sensations, thoughts, emotions of nervousness or fear and actions/behaviour. It is common (1 out of 10 kids) and is influenced by genetics, environments/modelling and life experiences.

Healthy anxiety is adaptive, keeps us safe, helps us to perform better and increases motivation while unhealthy anxiety occurs too easily too often, interferes with daily functioning, and may affect life enjoyment. 

If your child seems to be experiencing anxiety that is impacting on their daily functioning, it might be heading into ‘unhealthy anxiety’ territory. Try opening up a conversation with them about it. This will help them to realise that anxiety is normal (even helpful at times!) and there are things we can do about it when it all becomes too much.

As for what to do about it…..stay tuned for part two, where I will give you some tips and resources to help you and your child manage their anxiety more effectively!

Kim McGregor is a registered Psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational & Developmental Psychology. She has worked extensively with infants, children and their families in not for profit, early childhood, specialised school and government multidisciplinary settings providing assessment, diagnosis and treatment for their developmental, cognitive, social, emotional and learning needs.

While Kim enjoys working with and celebrating all children as they grow and develop, her experience and interests include understanding the specific strengths, abilities and support needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, intellectual disability and learning disabilities to reach their full potential through comprehensive assessment.  

Her goal is to always work from a person centred and family focused partnership with parents providing clear communication, empathy and support throughout the journey of understanding and helping their child.  She incorporates evidence based therapies to support skill development, having trained in CBT programs such as The Cool Kids Anxiety program (Cool Kids) and the Secret Agent Society program (SAS) and in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS).

While Kim has spent most of her life in Sydney, she now enjoys all that Melbourne has to offer with her family and pets.