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Posted by on in Uncategorized
Helping Children to Develop Gratitude

You have probably heard the saying ‘children are like sponges’ …. well indeed they are! 



As parents we quickly learn that our reactions, words and attitudes are mirrored by our children.  In fact, children form views of their internal and external world which are largely based on experiences they are given in the early years.  Psychologists often refer to these as core beliefs and values.

Attitudes are similarly developed through the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that have been modelled.  In the long term, attitudes will influence children’s choices as they go out into the world.

As such, being grateful is not only an attitude that can be assimilated from a young age but with sufficient repetitive experiences, can become entrenched in the child’s belief system and values.

But why is it important for children to develop gratitude?

Research shows that individuals whom have a well developed sense of gratitude, experience more life satisfaction, greater levels of optimism, higher self-esteem, have more empathy and increased psychological resilience.  This means that in the face of adversity and challenges, they are more likely to bounce back quicker.

Providing opportunities for children to experience gratitude is therefore an investment in their long term psychological wellbeing!  Developing a true sense of gratitude however, is more than just learning to say thank you ..but is instead cultivated through direct involvement that allows children to truly experience what gratitude is about. 

Ideas that may help to prepare children to develop gratitude

  1. Role model it.  Your actions, words and behaviours will be the most powerful roadmap a child will have as they go out into the world.  So choose to behave in ways that demonstrate what gratitude is about.
  2. Take a moment each day to be grateful for 5 things (people, objects, friendships, kindness, health, love) that you have in your life and share them with your child. For younger children, help them to draw a picture of something that happened in their day which they are grateful for.
  3. Play games that increase awareness of gratitude: write secret notes to each other expressing something you are grateful for and place them under the pillow, or inside the lunchbox. Encourage them to do the same to you and to others (eg. friends, grandparents, siblings). For younger kids, draw pictures to each other.
  4. Create a gratitude jar: once a day, write down on a piece of paper something that you are grateful for and place it in the jar.  Do this each day of the year and on Dec 31, open the jar and read them out.
  5. Limit how much you give them: with today’s throwaway society, it is easy for our children to be given too much. Help them to save for something special instead.
  6. Expose children to opportunities to feel firsthand the joy of being grateful:  help them volunteer to help others, engage in random acts of kindness (do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return (smile, hugs, make a card, draw a picture, pick a small flower)
  7. Involve them in tasks that include some preparation, such as meals or tidying up so they understand the effort that is involved.  Make time to reflect on this effort at the end.
  8. When receiving a gift, reflect with them on the effort the person giving it must have gone through to find it, make it or buy it, wrap it and give it. 
  9. Observe mindfully.  Sit with your child in the garden and watch the ants!  Talk about their actions in seeking and finding food, comment on how they work together to help each other. Do this with other things in the environment to create a sense of gratitude for nature.


Below is the attachment link for the 30 Day of Gratitute Calander. You can print one off for you and your child or children to complete together!


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DOG WITH A BLOG: Benji's Birthday Week Three

We are still celebrating my birthday month here at Drop of Life! My human organised more cool things for me this week:

My Human threw a party for me at work!! Even got some yummy treats. 


My Human organised a spa treatment with my Jayne from Aussie Pooch Mobile who is so sweet with me, the body massage is THE BEST!



If any humans want to pamper their pooch, Jayne is the best in the business. You can call Aussie Pooch Mobile on 1300 369 369 to make a booking with Jayne.


All that pampering and partying made me super sleepy, so I spent the rest of my day relaxing.


Even though its my birthday, giving makes me a lot happier than receiving For the rest of the month there will be a bucket of tennis balls in the clinic. Feel free to take one for your furry friend to brighten their day!


My brithday month isnt over yet! Make sure you tune into next weeks Dog with a Blog to see how we wrap up my birthday celebrations.



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My human has organised so many things this week to help me celebrate my birthday month:


My Human planned a play date with my best  friends Campbell (the big bog) and Roxy (I think I love her) and we went and played in the park together! Campbell never has much to do with me but I know the big guy loves me



Benji and Roxy


Campell, Roxy and Benji 


My Human took the big dogs and I to the beach on the weekend and we ran and played in the water so much fun. It’s my favourite place in the world to go!






My Human tells me that she has more exiciting things planned throughout this month to celebrate my birthday. Make sure you read next weeks Dog with a Blog to find out more!




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Posted by on in Uncategorized

It’s my birthday this month!! Woof Woof

I turn 36, or in human years 5! Super excited and my human tells me I can celebrate alllll month long, with lots of things happening at the clinic so look out for it!

My Human went away for Christmas which makes me sad, but I got to stay with Poppy who spoils me and gives me all sorts of yummy food – some  I’m not allowed to have!  Which meant I got to see my vet at 2:00am, poppy was worried because I was feeling very unwell and was making a mess everywhere. It’s so scary to go to the Vet with all those smells and that strange environment, I get very anxious and scared.

My human has taught me that focusing on one thing at a time can make me feel better. So I looked at an ant walking across the floor, and focused really really hard on all the zigging and zagging that the little fella was doing. Before long I forgot where I was and didn’t feel so bad. Thanks mum, great advice!

My human is home now and I am back to normal and looking forward to what will come up this month WOOF WOOF – I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas and I can’t wait to see some of you this year. 



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Don’t Panic!

I was very fortunate to attend a psychotherapy conference in the USA before Xmas and was so impressed with a talk by Dr David Burns entitled "When Panic Attacks". Dr Burns has been working with anxiety and depression for many years and has developed extremely effective treatments for anxiety disorders, including panic.

The talk got me thinking about panic attacks… Panic attacks are extremely common with estimates revealing that between 2-4% of the Australian population suffer from panic disorders with recurring panic attacks, with panic being almost twice as common among women than men. Panic attacks can be extremely frightening for sufferers, with many people worrying that they are having a heart attack, are losing control or even going crazy. After experiencing their first panic attack, people can worry about having further panic attacks which can then lead to panic disorder. It can become a debilitating and isolating condition as people can withdraw from situations and activities that they enjoy in an effort to avoid having another panic attack

A panic attack is described by the DSM-V as an "abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within a few minutes” and during which people can experience a pounding heart, trembling or shaking, breathlessness, nausea or a fear of dying, among a number of other symptoms. This sudden increase in anxiety can occur from a calm state or an anxious state. 

So… what can be done? There are some very effective treatments for panic disorder, so don’t despair! Below is a brief summary of the treatment options:  

  1. Information on panic and how it arises
  2. Changing the way you think about panic, reframing your thoughts and learning about breathing and relaxation strategies
  3. Gradually exposing yourself to the way that anxiety manifests in your body; and
  4. Confronting situations that trigger anxiety, once you have learned coping and relaxation strategies


Essentially, anxious thinking is based on unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts that can be challenged with therapy. As Dr Burns concisely put it, you feel the way you think, and you can CHANGE the way you FEEL!

If you would like help with recurring panic attacks or anxiety, book an appointment with Claudine or another psychologist at the Drop Of Life! 

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Christmas is now upon us – Kindness Matters!

It is interesting, as I grow older and wiser, and my children have partners and lives of their own, I find that Christmas feels different!  When I had a younger family and we were all under the same roof it was financially difficult because of the expectations around gifts and the season events.  However that was offset by the thrill of Shopping centres and Christmas carols which excited our  little family and made the season come alive.

Now that it is only my husband and I in the house and no grandchildren as yet!! This time of year is more about my relationships and slowing down to feel connected with those that I choose to be in my life.  This leads me to feel like there is so much more about this time of year than gifts and the commercial side of things.   In the clinic our monthly competition has changed to a challenge!!!! (should you choose to accept). We have borrowed a 'Kindness Calendar' which has something very small every day that I challenge everyone to do. The gift of giving is not only around presents, it is also about the ability to give of yourself to others without any sense or feeling of reciprocation. It's doing something simply because it feels good and costs nothing, but to someone else it may be everything!

I remember one year a very long time ago when I was in hospital with my youngest who was very unwell and had spent years in and out of hospital. I had a school mum come to the hospital and simply arrive with no other agender than to give me a hand massage and manicure which she did then left. It was such a simple gesture and so very kind, and to this day almost 18 years later it still sits with me as one of the kindest and most unselfish things someone has done for me. It saddens me that most of us only stop this time of year to think consciously about giving to all, I have no doubt that you are doing kind things often,  however how often do you stop to make a conscious choice to change the way you act and treat others? How often do you stop and ask, is there a softer way to say that so it is heard by others and not reacted upon? What is one small thing that I could do to make someone elses life easier/happier? Challenge number 2, slow down and be aware during this month of your interactions, of your words and most importantly of your stress levels.

I have enjoyed tremendously working with you all this year and sincerely hope you have a relaxing Christmas filled with love and wonder.

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Dog with a blog

Hi its me again Benji, my human has asked me to do another Dog with a Blog.  My human and I went to an event the other night where other animals came, as well as a lady Kathy from the Pet Wellness Centre. Which sounded like a  pretty cool place to go but I think she also said their was a vet in their…grrr no sure about that now!! Kathy brought her pup which had really sharp teeth and really really wanted to play..with his teeth!! So I tried hard to stay away from him, lucky I made a good friend with another shiatzu who was pretty cool.

My human and Kathy talked about lots of cool things about animals.  Everyone got really emotional when Kathy was telling them about the research around what makes dogs the most happiest… which of course was the smell of their humans.. weird I thought everyone would of known that.. woof.

My human talked about what we do in sessions and how beneficial it was and what happens to humans bodies and minds when they interact with animals.  Again …weird… I thought everyone would have known that it is really good for them to hang out with us. It does things like;

  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Lowers Heart Rate
  • Reduces de-escalation times
  • Increase self esteem
  • Helps regulate emotions and behaviours
  • Helps form healthy attachments
  • Increase eye contact
  • Decrease distractibility
  • Improve appropriate voice tone
  • Significantly lower behavioural, emotional and verbal distress

She’s real smart to know all that stuff.  I can smell something really cool outside so I’m off to explore what it is.  I’ll talk later woof!

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It's Benji! A Dog with a Blog

HI my name is Benji and I work at Drop Of Life with my human Natalie. Let me start by reminding you I'm a dog! My Human Natalie has let me have my own BLOG... wooof a dog with a blog... it will become a thing I bet!
This is new to me my human blogs all the time however I'm not as good as she is so be kind to me when reading. When you read this you must remember I'm a Dog so I'm very focused on instant gratification.. Like when you come into the clinic I just roll over so you can instantly rub my belly (Coz that's what I love soooo much!!)
My Human tells me we have a big gathering coming up at the end of the month which means I get to hang out with everyone that comes soooooo looking forward to that, (don't tell my mum I asked but bring treats! I really like chicken the best... or sometimes cheese.. although that sometimes isn't too good for me..if you know what I mean anyway back to what I was saying… looking forward to the gathering the BEST part of my day is when you come to visit me.

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Posted by on in adults
Top 5 Tips Understanding The Teenager

Top 5 Tips Understanding The Teenager

Most people are aware or at very least can remember their own teenage years and know that this period of time is a HUGH time of change. One of the reasons is the massive amount of change that goes on inside of the teenage brain. Our brains continue to change throughout our lifespan, but never as much as during these years. The teenage brain is under massive influence of new hormonal messages as well as the overwhelming need to have new experiences. These changes start to reshape and reconstructed the brain and a period of PRUNING occurs which is a scientific term that means some pathways are closed down and some are rerouted and reconnected to other destinations. As with anything massive change there is bound to be issues with things not running smoothl!! We are now starting to understand why there is a change in personality and the basic stability of our child because the new perspectives (pathways) and reactions are flying left right and centre. So, it is always important to bear in mind amongst the teenage chaos years that they are still in a developmental stage of their life and this stage affects the rest of their lives. Those experiences and current needs are shaping the pruning and sprouting process in the brain. Let’s look at what to expect from my humble experience –

1. EXPLOSION OF NEURAL PATHWAYS - Right before puberty the brain is blossoming and there is an overabundance of neuronal connections, so this now becomes a critical period of development. This structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, which is probably just as well given some of the experimental experiences they get up to eg drinking to excess, drugs etc.

2. PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT - The most obvious is the awkward growth spurt, and physical changes that occur. It sometimes looks like teenagers themselves cannot control their bodies, becoming clumsy and not realising their new found strength. Puberty is the beginning of major changes in the limbic system, meaning among other things there is a change in the circadian rhythms (which are physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a roughly 24 hour cycle) this looks like the teen sleeping in and going to bed later. Which means they start to rack up sleep debt!!! This is really bad because sleep is thought to help reorganise the teenage brain. As we all know sleep deprivation leads to an exacerbation in moodiness and cloudy decision-making!! The hormone changes at puberty have a huge affect on the brain, one of which is to spur the production of more receptors for oxytocin, (bonding hormone). This may result in an increased level of sensitivity and leading to feelings self-consciousness, making an adolescent truly feel like everyone is watching them. This may make a teen seem self-centered (and in their defence, they do have a lot going on).

3. IDENTITY – forming and storming their identity - Teens have this overwhelming urge to figure out who they are and what they believe and stand for. This is often formed through their peers who become VERY important throughout this stage. They will experiment and work out with the different groups what they do and don’t like. Parent s and other role models play a role too.

4. NEW THINKING SKILLS – As mentioned now we have lots more brain development to access, so it will start to interconnect an gain more processing power. So they START ..not there 100% yet access more complex decision making skill. So for awhile this does not always work out for them. Based on the stage of their brain development, adolescents are more likely to: #Act on impulse, #misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions, #get into accidents of all kinds, #get involved in fights, #engage in dangerous or risky behaviour. AND LESS likely to: #think before they act, #pause to consider the consequences of their actions, #change their dangerous or inappropriate behaviours. Which leads us to - DECISION MAKING PROCESS! – The teenagers newly found emotions and brain development tend to affect their decision making processes. This will mean that their decisions can be overly influenced by their emotional part of the brain (limbic system) rather than our more rational prefrontal cortex. This will often leave a lot of adults around them going…’what the!’ as they will do silly things like drive too fast, drink and drive, punch walls/jump off high things and hurt themselves, when they clearly know better. Basically cause and effect is hindered, as the teenage brains is simply put wired to seek reward making them vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviours. According to many researches by late adolescence, say 17 years on, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and long-term perspective taking is thought to help them reign in some of the behaviour they were tempted by in middle adolescence. PHEW!

5. SOCIAL – As mention we have this Hugh amount of brain development and skills which the teenager is still trying to figure out how to work with. I like the analogy of when you get a new cadet, you kind of just experiment with it until you figure it out… well that’s our teenagers in a nutshell!! This is why teenagers need to experiment with new situations, friendships and challenge pretty much everything. In most cases teenagers will try this out with their parents (as it’s a safe environment – meaning you will love them anyway, most of the time!) and NOW we have parent child conflict to add to our mix of chaos. Conflict becomes like an experimental ‘self expression’ if you will, this is even more complicated by the issue of the ‘Ego Centric Brain’ meaning it can be difficult to understanding another’s point of view. again parent child conflict! So as hard as this might be to believe this behaviour is not actually a personal thing. Keep in mind that we need to be the bigger, stronger and wiser person, so as to help them to stay calm, listen and basically be good role model. We need to show them HOW we want them to behave. They need to learn and practice how to develop those underdeveloped abilities. Until these areas are fully developed there is the possibility of them misreading teachers, parents and others. Just a little word to the wise - The more you yell at a teen, the worse they will likely behave, often not matter how careful you are there is always the possibility that it will end in tears or anger because they will have misunderstood what you have said, … Its tough, dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.

6. INDIVIDUATION - One of the jobs of a teenager is to start to separate from their family and establish some autonomy, both emotionally, physically and financially. Don’t worry just yet because they still need their parents to provide them with the well needed stability and structure. So even when your 15/16yo is trying to act like an adult and do adult things if you treat them as an adult you may be setting them up unfairly for failure in the future. They still need you even if they say they don’t. One of the BEST ways to parent your teen, other than being reliable, predictable and a good listener, is to be a good role model, especially when dealing with stress and other tough life events. The teen is trying really hard at this stage to figure our their own way of coping and they are always watching you. "It is the first time they are seeing themselves in the world," meaning their greater autonomy has opened their eyes to what lies beyond their families and schools. They are asking themselves, for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?
Our job as parents is to help them explore the questions, rather than give them answers.

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There’s no such thing as Infant Mental Health

It’s interesting when I speak with others about the work I do, and their faces look quizzingly at me when talk about providing mental health services to infants and children.

“But babies don’t have anything to worry about! Why are you counselling babies? And who on earth can hold a decent conversation with a 2 year old that doesn’t end in a tantrum or consist entirely of playing dolls/cars?”

I enjoy these conversations, as it provides an opportunity for someone to learn about this incredibly important, and largely overseen area.

Some facts about Perinatal, Infant, and Early Childhood Mental Health:
• Perinatal and Infant Mental Health go hand in hand to describe the mental health and emotional wellbeing of women, their infants, partners, and families. This includes DADS 
• To support the infant and young child to develop the capacity for experiencing, expressing, and regulating emotions; forming close and secure relationships; and exploring the environment to enhance learning
• It is typically the period from conception to about 3 years after the end of the pregnancy.
• It is important to note that this area can cover parents who have also lost a child, including through termination, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
• The most common mental health concerns for this group are anxiety and depression
• The mental health and wellbeing of parents is critically important to the emotional and physical development of the infant. Untreated concerns have significant impacts on the parents, infant, and whole family
• Treatment is available and can be highly effective. This ranges from counselling to medication, and extra supports from health professionals where necessary

What psychological support can look like for families seeking help:
• Working directly with the parent/s to support their wellbeing
• Observe, role model, coach, and provide feedback around supporting their infant/child
• Be part of targeted groups and workshops, such as Circle of Security, Bringing Up Great Kids
• Supporting the child (if older) directly to work through their areas of difficulty. This is done through the use of games, play, and child-led interests
• This is all done in a strengths-based, collaborative, warm, engaging and supportive space

Some tips for supporting your mental health and wellbeing during this period:
1. A good routine goes a long way. This allows you and your child to have a certain level of certainty about your day
2. Fuelling your body with healthy meals. This will give you the right type of energy needed to be a very busy mum/dad
3. Sleep, rest, and nap at every available opportunity. Your body and brain need many times to re-energise and re-cooperate
4. Enjoyable physical activity. This can be a simple stroll with bub, heading to the playground and playing ‘chasy’, yoga, or going for a swim
5. Using techniques to de-stress. This can be relaxation training, meditation, or mindfulness
6. Doing something ‘selfish’ each day. This means setting time aside where you can take a breather and do something special. This could be as simple as reading a chapter in a good book, looking through a magazine, catching up on last night’s episode, or calling a friend
7. Vent and debrief. It can feel so good to just talk about everything happening, and have someone be a ‘soundboard’ for you. Problem solving with a trusted person can have wonderful positive outcomes
8. Adult time. Some give and take with you nurturing your partner, but also them providing some TLC for you too. We tend to forget or not have enough time for other halves, however making the effort is essential
9. Delegate. Involve your partner or family members in the daily care of your child
10. Develop a support network. It can be hard to ask for help, but it can be even harder accepting help too. Start to build a community around you

“There is no such thing as a baby. There is only a baby and someone.”
Donald Winnicott

Adapted from Children’s Health Queensland

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Posted by on in adults
How Self-Compassionate are you?

How Self-Compassionate are you?

This month we will be focusing on Self-Compassion!! While we are all familiar with the term Compassion, we might not be as familiar with the idea of Self-Compassion. In essence while we may be kind and compassionate toward others, many of us struggle to be compassionate toward ourselves.

We may judge ourselves for our perceived failures, speak harshly to ourselves when we make a mistake, and feel separate and cut off from others during times of suffering.

By taking a more Self-Compassionate stance toward ourselves, we can be more open to our experiences of suffering, be kind and caring toward ourselves, view our shortcomings non-judgmentally and see our suffering as part of the human condition (Neff, 2003).

We can also become aware of our critical voice. You know, that voice that tells us that we are “not good enough,” that we are unlovable, that we will fail or that things won’t get better.

There are three parts to Self-Compassion. The first is being kind and loving to oneself instead of judgmental. The second is accepting that suffering is part of the human condition, which helps us to stay connected to others rather than isolating ourselves. The final important component of Self-Compassion is mindfulness, that is, contact with the present moment and one’s own suffering, as opposed to avoiding experiences of pain and suffering.

Research has shown that people low on self-compassion tend to struggle with depression, anxiety and other problems, while those high on self-compassion tend to have improved psychological well-being, satisfaction with life and overall coping strategies.

So, if you want to increase your Self-Compassion, you could try the following:

    1. 1. Consider how you would treat someone else, like a friend. What tone of voice would you use? What would you say to comfort them? What sort of language would you use (i.e. supportive versus blaming)
    2. 2. You could comfort yourself with a physical gesture
    3. 3. Develop compassionate language toward yourself and use these phrases in times of stress or distress
    4. 4. Practice meditation or mindfulness

If you would like more information on Self-Compassion, or you would like to find out how Self-Compassionate you are, ask to see Claudine at Drop Of Life for an appointment! 

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Why we love Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory

Why we love Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory

This month is the start of Autism Awareness Month in Australia and Autism Queensland's annual Go Blue for Autism campaign. In my research to do a blog on this topic, I came across an article which looked at Asperger syndrome completely differently and it made so much more sense to write about it in this format than in the typical diagnostic format.

The majority of people have some idea of Asperger syndrome, and if not they can certainly reflect on the characteristics of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Just to refresh your memory, Sheldon plays a scientific genius who works at a local university and shows several characteristics typical to those who have Aspergers, such as attention to detail, repetitive actions and a lack of social skills. I realise that I am just postulating on whether or not the Sheldon character has Aspergers, regardless the show’s popularity has brought a level of tolerance and appreciation for Sheldon’s character. I have to admit that I love and watch The Big Bang Theory and am quite fond of Sheldon’s character. One of the biggest reason why people seem so drawn to Sheldon is that he comes across as absolutely brilliant. The characteristics that I love about him is he is who he is and doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t. He’s just his own unique self! That is something to admire.

There has always been speculation around other prominent figures, and recently self-advocate Dr Temple Grandin mentioned that she believed Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein shared characteristics of Aspergers, Much like Sheldon, these two geniuses are seen as brilliant minds that also have issues with social interaction.
Sheldon, Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein show us that anyone with a dream, with or without a diagnosis of Asperger's can aspire to obtain a job you love, be in a healthy relationship and live an independent life. These people show us hope that this can become a reality.

Even though Sheldon may seem different, anyone with a profile like his should be treated with respect and tolerance. Because the wide spectrum of autism includes many truly unique individuals. Their stories should be celebrated much like those of Sheldon, Albert and Steve.
My message in this month’s blog is one of respect and tolerance

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Posted by on in family
When Children Lie
 When Children Lie

A number of parents have been asking me about lying over the last few months. Whilst the below information is useful for parents who are currently experiencing this frustrating issue, it’s also a good resource for those who wish to be proactive.

Emotional intimacy with our children is a fragile gift that can easily break when we erode trust through punishments, shame, blame, scolding, or manipulation. When our children’s behaviour is off-track, they need us to calmly stop them, help them, and guide them. They need to know we’re always in their corner (rather than sending them off to one), and that we will create safety – not only physical safety, but also safety in our regard for them – safety in our love and our “like,” a 100% safe relationship.

Alternatively, shaming or punishing children for lying creates distance and mistrust, which only encourage kids to lie better.

As for consequences, with the respectful parenting approach, consequences aren’t tactics to be “implemented” like just another form of punishment. If there are consequences, they are honest sharing of our own truths as parents. So, if there was a consequence in the case of a 6-year-old lying, it might look something like this (shared calmly and nonjudgmentally): “I am not going to be able to let you go to Juliet’s house again if you can’t tell me the truth about what you two did. I’m just not comfortable.”

There are a variety of reasons a child might lie in the early years (most of them so perfectly harmless that describing them as “lies” seems too strong a word). They are all motivated by the same thing: lying feels preferable to that child. In that particular moment, they may be experiencing:

  • • Fear – the unfortunate result of our past anger and other emotional responses or punishments when our children have erred. It seems better to them to not admit they did it.

Remedy: Respectful, empathic guidance (for much more detail on this particular part, please refer to the webpage)

  • • Shame, blame, embarrassment – because our focus has been “teaching our kids a lesson” rather than understanding the behaviour. The real lesson has been our lack of empathy for their immature stage of development.

Remedy: Create safety with nonjudgmental responses like, “I hear you saying you didn’t hit your brother. It seems that he was hit. Please let me know whenever you feel like hitting, so I can be there to keep you safe.”

  • • A need to test our leadership – children might “try out” mistruths to see if they have the power to ruffle their leaders’ feathers. If we fail this test, they might need to try it out again. And again.

Remedy: Diffuse these tests by taking them in stride and connecting lightly and knowingly. “Hmm… you didn’t let the dog out, and yet out he is… Verrrry mysterious.”

  • • Enjoyment of imagination and fantasy – children can become absorbed in their fantasies, even to the extent that it can be difficult for them to separate fantasy from reality. This a healthy stage of development children pass through, and they certainly don’t need us to jar them out of it.

Remedy: None. No need to worry, just enjoy with them. “You’re a purple dragon? Ah, yes, I can totally see that now.”

  • • Wishful thinking, projecting, and visualizing success – children might imagine themselves succeeding at a task that, in reality, they didn’t even attempt. These projections can help them shore up the courage to do it the next time.

Remedy: Again, visualization is positive and healthy, so I would connect rather than correct. “You felt yourself going down the highest slide today. How did that feel?”

In all cases, our openness, curiosity and unruffled, unthreatened, patient responses are the best way to diffuse the need to fabricate. And they also go a long way in forging a relationship that forever eliminates the need for avoidance of the truth.

No lie.

By Janet Lansbury

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A message to parents and carers about the importance of caring for yourself.
A message to parents and carers about the importance of caring for yourself.


Much has been written on the subject of positive role modelling. In all facets of functioning children and young people seek and need positive role models. Now here comes the good bit – parents and carers your mission, and I so hope you accept it, is to actively and purposefully care for yourself whilst your child is engaged in therapy… And even if they’re not.

Being the front line support person for a child is an incredibly important and rich role. Being available, being patient and kind, being able to meet their many and varying needs requires energy, enthusiasm, commitment and at times great stamina.

Taking time to rejuvenate, recover, rest and care for yourself demonstrates the importance of self -love and care. Taking time to connect with family and friends, to have fun, share a laugh, be silly and playful. We all know that actions speak louder than words so taking time out for a cup of tea with a friend, a soak in the bath or a walk on the beach is showing that we value and prioritise care for self and makes us better able to care for others.
Those who have travelled on a plane will be familiar with the safety message – please put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Parents and carers commitment to their child or young person’s therapeutic plan for self-care can result in their own plan falling by the way side. Consider your therapist as flight attendant offering you the same sound and evidence based advice – care for self means we are better able to care for others.

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"Have 3 x 30 daily and call me in the morning"

"Have 3 x 30 daily and call me in the morning"

Happy New Year! Would you be believe it's 2017 already? I certainly have difficulty doing so. It seems like only yesterday that I was watching the telecast of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and only yesterday when my eldest nephew was born (he is now 10, going on 17). The Christmas and New Year festivities are over, and we're all slowly getting back into the 'routines' of daily life.

Sometimes though, the routines can have the wearing down effect on our emotional and physical resources, especially when we don't realise that we could be running on 'low battery' or 'empty' until something declines (e.g. having low energy, feeling overwhelmed, body aches and pains, etc). Sure we all have our own ways to recharge, decompress and 'top up the tank', but it can be a challenge at times. I learned about "3x30" after a conversation with a GP about the cumulative effects of stress, and he shared with me the simple formula he gives to patients in order to minimise the effects of stress and keep their resilience reserves topped up.

Everyday, do the following:

  • 30 minutes of humour - laughter is the best medicine so they say, and it does change the biochemistry of the body/brain so that the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are reduced. So go and laugh! Watch something funny, read funny comics, joke with friends and family to your heart's content.
  • 30 minutes of fun/pleasure - doing an activity that you absolutely enjoy takes your mind off worry and concerns. Yes it can be a distraction, but a welcome one if the result is that you are feeling calmer, more relaxed and feeling more grounded.
  • 30 minutes of physical activity/exercise - physical activity and exercise in all its forms (yoga, walking, Zumba) allows the body to metabolise stress hormones and expend the nervous energy associated with it. It doesn't have to be hardcore, so long as it's moderate movement and something you enjoy, the benefits of regular activity far outlast the half-hour you've invested.

So there you have it. 3x30 daily (or as often as you can) for keeping your emotional and physical reserves topped up. You can do each separately or combine all of them, and it doesn't have to be 30 minutes (can be more or less, just what works for you). Just like the proverbial apple, 3x30 a day keeps the blues (and the doctor) away!

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How Can I Manage Stress

Christmas has great significance for many people and it also provides an opportunity to reflect on the year that has been. There are opportunities to catch up with friends and spend time with the people in our lives who are closest to us. This can be a positive experience, however many people can feel overwhelmed by time demands, commitments and financial pressures that arise during this season.

It is also a time of year where we find ourselves (willing or unwilling) to partake in the superficial aspects of buying expensive gifts, hosting parties and attending social functions.

It can mean, overindulging, staying up later, breaking routines as well as the good habits we may have worked hard to put in place throughout the year.

At a time when everyone celebrates, we can also be reminded of what hasn’t been working well in our lives, such as relationships or goals that we have set out to achieve uneventfully.

There can be a sense of obligation to see people with whom we no longer have much in common and a tendency to overcommit.

For many, this is also a time of year when people grieve the loss of loved ones and can be overwhelmed with feelings of isolation, disconnection, sadness and depression.

The Stress Response

When we are under stress there are different areas in our brain that become activated, acting as our ‘smoke detector’. When this happens, our brains automatically send a signal to our bodies to get ready to defend itself or hide. This is called the fight-flight-freeze response.

In the short term the stress response helps us to stay alive in dangerous situations; however when stress is chronic, it can play havoc with our physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Common physiological symptoms of stress can include tension in muscles, aches and pains, clenching jaws, gastrointestinal problems, difficulties sleeping, chest pain, dizziness, excessive sweating, tiredness and fatigue.

Cognitive effects can include difficulties concentrating, poor memory, overthinking or excessive worrying, and negative thoughts.

Emotional aspects can include irritability, hyper-vigilance, feelings of doom, helplessness, loneliness and a general sense of being overwhelmed.

People can sometimes avoid social contact and lose interest in things that were previously enjoyable, change their eating patterns, or engage in risk taking behaviours or self harm.

How Can I Manage Stress?

Learn to recognise your warning signs of stress. Take notice of the common physiological changes that occur in your body when you are stressed. Learn to recognise that these are the symptoms of stress, the signs that warn you that stress could be taking over.

Identify your triggers. Triggers are external events or situations such as for example loud noise or being ignored. It can include places such as crowded places or a person who reminds you of someone you dislike. A trigger results in an unpleasant and usually unexpected emotional response.

Taking the time to notice and then making a list of your known triggers can be helpful in preparing you to manage situations that may increase your response to stress.

Observe your thoughts. When we are stressed there is a tendency to engage in unhelpful thinking such as blowing things out of proportion, becoming rigid, believing that everything is bad or that nothing positive ever happens. There is a direct correlation between our thoughts and the types of emotions we experience as a result.

Engage in mindfulness. Taking the time to pay attention to the present moment can be an extremely effective way of managing overwhelm. When stressed our minds tend to focus on the past (often what hasn't gone well) or focus on the future (predicting or imagining), so essentially we are story telling. When this happens, we lose our opportunity to experience our current reality.

Practice self-compassion. Understand that no one gets it right one hundred per cent of the time. As explained by Dr Kristin Neff, this means recognising and acknowledging that you are having a hard time dealing with your feelings of overwhelm and asking yourself a question such as..what can I do in this moment to take care of myself?

Increase physical activity. Physical activity is an essential in the management of stress. It releases endorphins which are often referred to as the ‘feel good hormones’, relaxes muscles, and helps with concentration, focus and tolerance. Choose something that you will enjoy and preferably gets you outdoors. Try a brisk walk, jogging, yoga, dancing or anything that makes you move.

Practice breathing. Take the time to stop and breathe. Breathe in to the count of five seconds, hold it for five seconds, breathe-out for five seconds, then hold again. Repeat this for one to two minutes.

Stick to a routine. This is especially important if you have children. As much as there will be many outings and staying up later than usual at this time of year, routines (such as bedtimes, or particular activities you do together as a family) and clear boundaries (what is ok and not ok) will help children to feel secure and understand expectations.

Build in some down time. Regain some balance by spending time involved in enjoyable activities.

Develop a Plan. Once you have a good understanding of your body’s stress signals, triggers and thoughts, put together a list of strategies to help you cope when you are overwhelmed.

Practice prevention first but if all else fails and you are feeling far too overwhelmed, then have some quick strategies up your sleeve. Leave the room, take time out, do something quirky or completely the opposite of what you would normally do when feeling overwhelmed. Instead of yelling…sing!

Ask for help. Talk to family, friends, neighbours or agencies if you need support. There are 24 hour helplines that can provide support and point you in the right direction.

However if you find that winding down is becoming increasingly difficult and that stress seems to have a bigger part to play in how you feel or react to situations then it might be helpful to talk with a Psychologist.


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Grief and loss in children with intellectual disabilities


Grief and loss in children with intellectual disabilities

Pamela L. Harding,

Psychologist (B Psych; P Grad Dip Psych)

Children grieve the loss of someone special in many different ways. For children with developmental delay, concepts such as death can be difficult to understand and the implications of that loss (permanence) can vary accordingly. It is important for parents and carers to take the time to explain loss in ways that are developmentally appropriate, taking into account the child’s emotional maturity as well as the child’s language and intellectual development.

Reactions to grief vary in every child however typically these can be physical, psychological, behavioural, and spiritual in nature. In young children as well as in children who have developmental delay, these reactions are often difficult to identify as the ability to express complex emotions is still largely under developed.

It is therefore important to pay close attention to children’s behaviours following a loss, being aware that reactions can vary in intensity, frequency and duration depending on the type of support the child receives.

Typical grief reactions observed can include:


  • Regression and temporary loss of skills previously mastered such as toileting, or getting dressed independently.
  • Becoming more clingy
  • Lacking a reaction due to difficulties understanding the permanent nature of loss
  • Withdrawing from activities or others
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Difficulty sleeping or not wanting to sleep alone
  • Disruptive behaviours such as tantrums
  • Becoming more sensitive to others’ emotions and repeating those emotional behaviours seen in other people who are grieving around them.


  • Appearing sad or crying often.
  • Separation anxiety
  • Needing constant reassurance that things are ok.
  • Trying to make sense of what has happened by showing curiosity and interest in details / facts (lots of questions about death)
  • Confusion about what has happened: asking repetitively after the person who has passed away, or wanting to see the person.
  • Fear (of the dark, of being left on their own, of noises)


  • Physical pains stomach aches or other complaints
What can help?

Strategies that can be helpful in supporting children during times of loss:

1. Ensure that basic needs are met (food, drink, sleep, affection)

2. Routine: keeping things as normal as possible is important in that it provides the child with a sense of safety and predictability which allows him/her to regain some control over their environment.

3. Provide reassurance: regardless of whether or not the child’s reaction is as you would expect, provide reassurance that their feelings are normal and that the sadness will eventually decrease.

4. Help understanding: explain what has happened as honestly as possible, using simple factual language. “Poppy has died and won’t be coming back”

5. Explain death: be concrete, use age appropriate visual resources such as books, social stories and play to help understanding.

6. Allow opportunities for the child to express their grief: this can include reading and telling stories, playing, drawing, making a memory box.

7. Be consistent in your answers: children may want to ask questions over and over again. It is important for you to provide answers that are consistent, simple and factual as this allows the child to make sense of what has happened.

8. Make use of rituals and symbols at home: prepare a farewell ceremony. Have photographs of the person and take turns talking to him/her to say farewell.

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What Do Women Really Want



New from the “Love Lab” comes the book that I have been struggling to write for the past decade. This masterwork finally tells the story of what women want in a man, and how important men are in the fate of their relationships with women. Let me say upfront that this book is written for men in heterosexual relationships with women, which is not to say that we have forgotten the LGBTQ community. Julie and I have done research for a dozen years with committed same-sex couples, and have offered workshops for gay and lesbian couples for the past 20 years through our Institute. This book is for straight men that want to better understand women.

I have tried for ten years to write this book on my own and I repeatedly failed at it. It wasn’t until my wife Julie and I joined forces with another couple – a man who is a gifted writer, and his wife who is a gifted medical doctor specializing in women’s medicine – that this story could be told simply and clearly.

So now we have produced our magnum opus, our great work together, The Man’s Guide to Women.

Here’s the big, untold story. From the beginning of a relationship, from the very first smoulderingly hot glance and the stirring attraction that the right woman will generate in a man, how a man understands a woman’s emotions and responds to them will determine everything in the rest of his life. That’s the bottom line.

How a man understands and responds to a woman will determine his eventual wealth, his social status, his energy and motivation for life, his resilience, his mental and physical health, how well his immune system works, how well he copes with stress, his happiness at home and at work, his self-confidence, his friendships, his connection to his children, how his children turn out, and actually how long he will live.

No other single thing in a man’s life will be as important as how he understands and responds to a woman’s emotions.

Sigmund Freud was baffled by what women want, and so was Albert Einstein. Thanks to modern scientific research, this is no longer a mystery. I am going to tantalize you with the knowledge that is shared in The Man’s Guide to Women.


We emphasize that every woman is different, but that some general ideas are helpful.

We reveal the one thing all women are looking when they search for a man, and that quality is trustworthiness. Our research shows that women’s two major complaints about men are 1) He’s not there for me, and 2) There is not enough emotional connection. Men’s two major complaints are 1) There’s too much fighting, and 2) There’s not enough sex. Our research has revealed that to address all four of these complaints, men need to know how to do just one thing that women desperately need: he needs to be able to attune to her negative emotions. We teach that skill in this book.

The key to understanding a woman’s emotions is to understand her cycling body, and how different she is in the first two weeks of her cycle and the second two weeks. Yes, to understand PMS as well, though it’s different for every woman. We tell the story of the scientists who announced to a group of interested women that medical science had revealed that PMS wasn’t real. Needless to say, they were beaten to death by their audience.

A man has to learn to understand the profoundly high level of fear that women live with every day. Research shows that one in four women have been sexually molested by the age of 18, and 50% of women in the armed forces have been victims of sexual abuse. It is a scientific fact that it is easier to induce fear in women than in men. While a woman’s response to being startled is fear, a man’s natural physiological response to being startled is anger and a desire to get even.


The initial approach of a man toward a woman is now well-researched. The outcome of the first approach can be predicted with 90% accuracy by reading a small list of the woman’s nonverbal signals. Yes, she controls her response to his approach, but he can learn to read our list of signals. There are also things he can do that make her interested, like occupying space, being confident but not arrogant, and being affectionate toward his friends.

First impressions last a lifetime – they matter. We talk about the science of the first date, the first conversation, the first kiss, and the importance of eye contact. We teach men how to be inviting, to open up and make room for her, and how important it is to be yourself. Yes, it’s not rocket science, and it’s actually really not that complex, but there are a few things men can learn that will make a huge difference.


There is a science to seduction. We explore how pheromones work in the first selection and the mad cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters that accompany falling in love, which we call the Limerence phase.

How will you know if she is the one? One of the major hormones of Limerence is oxytocin, the cuddle and bonding hormone. Oxytocin makes men feel close and safe with a woman. It shuts down our brain’s fear centre. It is also the hormone of very bad judgment, so we discuss how to see the red flags that tell you that you’d better bail out.

It is very important to understand how a woman views her body. A woman can see 600 ads a day telling her what a beautiful figure should look like. She may hate her body even if you love it. She has to know you love it, every day, in every way.

An anatomy and physiology lesson is in order as we talk about romance. 70% of women do not have orgasms through sexual intercourse alone. Men will learn where her clitoris is, her G-spot, her A-spot, and U-spot. Then we provide a primer for passionate sex. Men need to know that women say yes to sex 75% of the time. We teach how to initiate love making, to respond to her “no” so you’ll still have lots of sex, and know what the Discordant Effect is so that sex can be at its best.

Men will learn why surfing porn can eventually ruin their sex life. This is an epidemic. At any time, 48% of people on the internet are looking at porn. In porn, women are wet and ready for sex all the time. In real sex, women first need to be aroused. In porn, women climax always and quickly. In real sex, only 30% of women achieve orgasm through intercourse alone. In porn, 88% of porn sites show physical abuse toward women and 48% show verbal abuse. In real sex, tenderness and love are what turn women on.

What is the gateway to a great sex life? The answer is kissing. We now know this from a survey of people in 24 countries. People who have a great sex life kiss one another passionately, they kiss and touch non-erotically every day, they cuddle together non-sexually, and they say “I love you” and mean it every day. 88% of happy couples have a weekly date night, everywhere on the planet. Of unhappily married couples surveyed, 50% of those men never pay their woman a compliment. Of the non-cuddlers, only 6% say they are sexually satisfied. One German study found that men who kiss their wives every day live five years longer than the men who didn’t.

We teach you how to deal with the inevitable conflict that comes in all relationships. What is the #1 thing couples fight about? The answer, after 40 years of researching couples, is absolutely nothing. Conflict arises from failed bids to connect with one another. It comes from a failure to see her reasonable request behind a need. The goal of conflict is understanding.

How can conflict become constructive? The answer is to avoid the Four Horsemen – Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling. This book will help men to recognize when they’re getting physiologically flooded, because when your heart rate exceeds 100 BPM, you can’t listen well, you lose your sense of humour, you can’t be creative, and you can’t empathize. You are physiologically unable to hear what your partner is saying.

Women are very different from men in their friendships. They tend to have better social networks than men do, and they tend to deal with their anxiety rather than using focused task mastery and anger, as men tend to do. For many men, his woman is his only confidant. Social epidemiologists have found that having good friends is related to living significantly longer.


Based on our research, we now know that there are three phases in a lifetime of love. The first phase is Limerence and we understand that very well. The second phase is all about building trust, which is just as selective as falling in love. The third phase is building commitment – also highly selective – which is built by cherishing what you have in her, and nurturing gratitude rather than building betrayal by longing for what is missing and being resentful.

What does trust get you? In a trusting relationship both people feel safe with one another. They can be their full, true selves and be accepted. They know that their needs are important to their partner.

What does commitment get you? The answer may be found in the research of University of Virginia psychologist Jim Coan, a former student of mine. He put a happily married woman in a functional MRI tube where she randomly received a mild electric shock 25% of the time. If her husband held her hand, the fear centres in her brain shut down completely. They lit up if a stranger (or if no one) held her hand. Jim then did the experiment on gay and lesbian couples with the same results. Commitment provides safety and the ability to soothe one another just by holding hands during a scary event. That’s quite a benefit!

95% of women will become parents. Part of the growth that most men will go through is becoming a father. This book explains the astounding importance research has revealed of dads in their children’s intellectual, emotional, and physical well being throughout their lives. Learn about John Quinn, who started it all by handcuffing himself to his wife as she went into labour. At that time, almost zero percent of dads saw their babies born – today 91% of dads are there to see the birth of their child. Becoming a dad hugely amplifies a man’s ability to love.

Loving a woman for a lifetime means continuing courtship and never taking it for granted. Learn what science has now revealed how to affair-proof your.

By: John Gottman, Ph.D.  // January 18, 2016

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Conforming to the Norm

While I was at university (many years ago!!!) I was always amazed by some of the experiments that were conducted, these studies were clearly done before ethics truly took hold in Psychology. Experiments that really looked at some of the things that humans will do and how they will act in certain situation that you truly would not expect. Experiments such as:

The Halo Effect: When Your Own Mind is a Mystery

How and Why We Lie to Ourselves: Cognitive Dissonance

War, Peace and the Role of Power in Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment

Our Dark Hearts: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Stanley Milgram: Obedience to Authority Or Just Conformity?

Why We All Stink as Intuitive Psychologists: The False Consensus Effect

Why Groups and Prejudices Form So Easily: Social Identity Theory

How to Avoid a Bad Bargain: Don’t Threaten

Why We Don’t Help Others: Bystander Apathy

The study that I thought I would discuss is the one that looks at how we conform to the nom. This is repeated over and over again in our society especially when we are bombarded by the news and others opinions. The study by Asch, 1951and several more after him shows that the majority of the population (identified by the sample group that represents the population) will deny their own sense of judgement just to conform with others. We all know that humans as a whole will copy each other’s dress sense, ways of talking and attitudes, often without a second thought. However it’s very interesting how far our need to conform goes.

The classic psychology experiment conducted in the 1950s subjects were asked to compare the line on the left with the three lines on the right:

They were asked which of these three lines was the same length as the single line on the left? The answer is quite clearly C. However this study found that 76% of people denied their own judgement at least once, choosing either A or B. The fascinating thing about this experiment was that its creator, renowned psychologist Solomon Asch, set out to prove the exact opposite. A previous experiment by Muzafer Sherif (see his well-known Robbers Cave experiment) had found that when people were faced with making a judgement on an ambiguous test, they used other people’s judgements as a reference point. This makes perfect sense, typically when we are not sure about something, we will check with someone else, but usually ONLY when you are not sure. This situation is quite different the answer is quite clear so WHY is this so!!!!

This is how this experiment was conducted and repeated over and over again. Male undergraduates were brought into a room one at a time, with eight others who were supposedly fellow participants. These young men were shown the above picture of the three lines. All of the participants were asked to call out which line – A, B or C – was the same length as the reference line. This procedure was repeated 12 times with participants viewing variations of the above figure. What the young men didn’t realise was that all the other participants were in on the experiment, they had been asked to give the wrong answer. The young male undergraduates were the sixth in line to give their answer. Surprisingly they found that 50% of people gave the same wrong answer as the others on more than half of the trials. Only 25% of participants refused to be swayed by the majority’s blatantly false judgement on all of the 12 trials. 5% always conformed to the majority incorrect opinion. As I mentioned this experiment has been repeated over time over and over again and over all the trials the average conformity rate was 33%.

Intrigued as to why participants had gone along with the majority as you would be! The participants were interviewed after the experiment. Their answers are probably very familiar to all of us: All felt anxious, feared disapproval from others and became self-conscious. Most explained they saw the lines differently to the group but then felt the group was correct. Some said they went along with the group to avoid standing out, although they knew the group was wrong. A small number of people actually said they saw the lines in the same way as the group.

Back to my question of WHY? While there’s no surprise that we copy each other, it’s amazing that some people will conform despite the evidence from their own eyes. The research states that those who are ‘conformers’ typically have high levels of anxiety, low status, high need for approval and often authoritarian personalities. People from cultures which view conformity more favourably – typically Eastern societies – are more likely to conform as well.

Conformity itself is something of a mixed blessing, because in many situations we need conformity, life would be chaos if we didn’t have some level of conformity such as abiding by the law, social norms, queues etc. The dangers of conformity however are only too well-known, just take a look at Hitler for a start. It does make you think how our own lives would be different if, one day, we decided not to conform, or even to suddenly start conforming. Would things get better or worse for you? Many people find their inability to conform is a real problem in their lives while others find it more difficult to break away and do their own thing.

CHALLENGE - I would like to set a challenge for those who are reading this to try really hard to think for yourself rather than relying on what others say and do. Gather information from a variety of different sources to form your own option.

GOOD LUCK and remember to be kinder to yourself than anyone else can be.

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The Arrival of the New Baby and the Adjustment to Parenting

Having your first baby and the subsequent adjustment to parenting roles is a major transitional period. Although very rewarding, many will find the initial adjustment period, and particularly the first year to be difficult. The birth of your first child is likely to result in major lifestyle and emotional changes, including lack of sleep, changes to your values, identities and how you relate to each other due to the new roles and responsibilities. Other changes may include financial and work related changes, potential loss of recreation time, ‘me time’ (well that is well and truly gone), and overall changes to mental health and wellbeing. Sometimes these changes can be made worse by expectations and myths that you (or others around you) may have about the pregnancy, birth, and expectations around the parental roles (who does what), and what motherhood in general ‘should’ look like. For example, if breast feeding is important to you and for whatever reason, you experience difficulty breastfeeding or are unable to breastfeed, this may lead to disappointment and unpleasant negative feelings.

All of these changes can then potentially lead to reduced relationship satisfaction, exhaustion, frustration and increased conflict with your partner as you try to juggle all the new responsibilities and demands of the new role. In Australia, there is data suggesting that almost a quarter of women will experience post natal depression (PND) in the 12 month period following birth (Buist & Bilszta, 2006; Yelland, Sutherland, & Brown, 2010) and it’s not just women!! The incidence of dads getting depressed in the first year following child birth may be as high as 50%, particularly for those whose partners have had PND (Goodman, 2004). Anxiety can also be a problem with about 10% of women experiencing anxiety after giving birth or a combination of anxiety and depression (Austin, Hadzi Pavlovic, Priest, Reilly, Wilhelm et al.,2010). Sometimes this will be the first time you may experience symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.
So what can you do about it? Well the first thing is to talk your partner, your family and/or friends - tell them how you feel and what is going on for you. Sometimes it can help just to talk and at other times you may need to ask for extra help. Many mums will say that they don’t want to inconvenience their friends but sometimes it might just be that you want a friendly ear, you would listen to them if they asked wouldn’t you? Also, if they are offering it usually means that want to help you so why not take them up on it? If on the other hand, you think you may be feeling low or anxious then perhaps it might be good to have a chat to your GP or Child Health Nurse. You may also want to talk to someone about what is happening for you, to get help for you and/or your partner or to get help with overwhelming feelings, sadness or anxiety. As well as talking to your GP, you might also benefit from a visit to a psychologist. I have worked with many women either on their own or with their partners about related parenting issues –helping them navigate the joys and difficulties of the adjustment to parenting. The main thing is to get help.

It’s important to connect and seek help when you are feeling down, alone, overwhelmed, confused and/or frustrated with your new role, so that you can have a more rewarding relationship with your partner and baby. There are also quite a few community organisations that offer support, friendships (e.g., through meeting other mums who are in the same boat), playgroups, education programs, home visiting, family support, parenting programs (for e.g., the Benevolent Society ‘s Early Years Centres on the Gold coast). You can also visit your local Community Child Health clinics where you can drop into various baby clinics or make an appt to see one of the child health nurses to talk about issues you are having with your child (e.g. sleep, breastfeeding). They have wonderful caring child health nurses there that can provide you with support and information about your baby’s development and needs. If you are interested, I’ve listed the phone numbers and websites of the above organisations in case you would like to contact them.

The Benevolent’s Society Early Years Centre, phone number: (07) 56449400
Community Child Health, Child Health Clinic – to make an appointment: (07) 5687 9183 or (07) 5680 9540

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