Child and Teenage Therapy

Table of Contents

Michelle Barratt Psychology is a Toowong and Redland Bay / Wynnum – Manly Clinical Psychology Practice, and aims to provide treatment for Child & Adolescent Therapy in Brisbane at the highest standard. The practice values implementing support and treatment that not only endeavours to support their clients feel safe, heard and understood, but also strives to offer effective treatment that will empower clients to learn new skills to support them in the future. If you are unsure about what you are dealing with, please don’t hesitate to contact us to support you through the next step of either working out what to do or how to proceed with an appointment.

The following information on therapy for children and adolescents will give you some insight disorders and challenges young people are faced with today.

Michelle Barratt Psychology aims to provide treatment at the highest standard; implementing support and treatment that not only endeavours to support a person feel heard and understood, but a treatment plan that empowers their clients to reverse and work through the causal factors of anxiety or depression in order that they can implement preventative strategies to help protect them in the future. We aim to support all children, all adolescents, and all adults, couples and family’s to succeed in their ultimate wellbeing. If you are unsure about what you are dealing with, please don’t hesitate to contact us to support you through the next step of either working out what to do or how to proceed with an appointment.

At Michelle Barratt Psychology our psychologists focus their passion for all children, adolescents and young adults to be positive, healthy, proactive and eventually fully functioning independent young people.

Our experience is with children from the ages of 3 years to young adults (age 25). We offer a professional service to children, adolescents and young adults alike, which fundamentally focuses on offering a therapeutic environment where our clients feel that psychological sessions provide them a place where children can grow feeling safe and supported.

We understand that kids often forget things—they might leave their hat at school, forget their homework, or act on impulse and say things without thinking, especially when they’re tired and a bit fidgety.

Types of ADHD Medications

ADHD Medications for Children

The two main categories of ADHD medications are stimulants and non-stimulants. ADHD medications work by improving the way certain parts of the brain communicate with each other. All classes of ADHD medication may cause some side effects. There are several kinds of ADHD medications. They affect the way parts of the brain communicate with each other.

However, kids with ADHD, particularly the Hyperactive Type, usually:

  • Have a hard time staying still,
  • Fidget constantly,
  • Don’t seem to listen,
  • Struggle to follow instructions, no matter how clearly you explain,
  • Sometimes say things that aren’t appropriate,
  • Act impulsively and are hard to manage,
  • Can’t seem to sit long enough to finish tasks,
  • Seem unable to concentrate for long periods,
  • Lose self-esteem because they can’t focus on what they need to do, leading to a lack of interest,
  • Become irritable and too tired to concentrate when it’s most needed.

Unfortunately, these kids are often labelled as troublemakers or seen as lazy or undisciplined. But what we don’t realise is that they might have ADHD/ADD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and need proper professional support.

Onset

ADHD usually shows up in early childhood. If you think your child might have some of these characteristics, talking to your GP about it is wise. They can recommend a professional to give your child further advice and determine if they have ADHD.

What to do

If your child has ADHD/ADD, a psychologist specialising in ADHD Therapy can offer the support and skills your child needs to thrive in their education, maintain strong family bonds, and keep up friendships they make at school.

Impact of ADHD

For a child with ADHD, trying to learn at school can be very tough when they’re struggling to concentrate. They might start to feel frustrated and down about their progress and their inability to complete tasks.

Their behaviour can also make it hard for them to make and keep friends, which can lead to other issues like low self-esteem and the loss of the chance to build social skills as they grow.

Michelle Barratt encourages every parent to seek an assessment if their child shows any symptoms of ADHD. She would love to connect with your child to support and guide them through their learning journey. Michelle’s ADHD Therapy is focused on the child/client, ensuring they feel safe and understood. Her skills allow her to work with the child and their family, providing practical strategies at every opportunity.

Her main goal is to offer the best strategies to help the child adjust and hopefully overcome the symptoms of ADHD so they can lead every day, healthy lives.

As a child psychologist Brisbane. Michelle has worked with children from the ages of 3 years to young adults. Her service aims to provide a therapeutic environment where clients feel trusted, supported, and safe. She focuses on ensuring that individuals, children, adolescents, and families receive the best psychological support through counselling or therapy for any trauma or adjustment issues.

ADHD Therapy sessions will include practices that give clients the best chance to understand their outcomes and achieve their goals regardless of their situation, issues, or age. These sessions will use psychological assessments and interventions based on evidence-based practice for treatment planning.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Teenage Anxiety and Depression

Teens can go through both anxiety and depression, two common mental health issues that often happen together. It’s essential for parents, caregivers, and teachers to understand how teenage anxiety and depression are linked, recognise their signs, and offer the proper support.

Teenage Anxiety: Teenage anxiety is when a teen feels excessive worry, fear, or unease that affects their life. Teens with anxiety might constantly worry, feel restless, have trouble focusing, have sleep problems, and even get physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches. Anxiety can bring in the way of a teen’s daily life, social interactions, and overall happiness.

Teenage Depression: Teenage depression is a mood disorder with ongoing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or enjoyment in activities. Depressed teens might feel down, lack energy, have changes in appetite and sleep, pull away from friends, have trouble concentrating, feel worthless or guilty, and think about self-harm. Depression can impact a teen’s emotions, behaviour, and how they function day-to-day.

Relationship between Teenage Anxiety and Depression: Teens with anxiety are more likely to get depressed, and those with depression might also feel anxious. The link between these conditions can be complicated and different for each person. They often share common causes, like genetics, environmental stress, and brain chemistry imbalances. Plus, the symptoms of anxiety and depression can feed off each other, creating a cycle of negative feelings and actions.

Therapy can help teens by giving them a safe and supportive place to talk about their thoughts, feelings, and challenges. Here are some ways therapy can help:

  1. Emotional Support: Therapy allows teens to share their feelings and worries without judgment. They get support from a trained professional who gets what they’re going through.
  2. Coping Skills: Therapists teach teens to handle stress, anxiety, and other challenging emotions. These skills include relaxation techniques, mindfulness, problem-solving, and good communication.
  3. Self-Exploration and Identity Development: Therapy lets teens explore who they are, what they value, and want. It helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses, shaping a positive sense of self.
  4. Building Resilience: Therapy helps teens develop the ability to bounce back from tough times. They learn how to face challenges, build confidence, and use healthy coping methods, giving them the strength to handle future difficulties.
  5. Developing Healthy Relationships: Therapy supports teens in building good relationships with friends, family, and others. It focuses on improving communication, solving conflicts, and setting boundaries for healthier connections.
  6. Managing Mental Health Conditions: For teens dealing with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or eating disorders, therapy offers tools and strategies to manage symptoms. Therapists work with teens to create personalised treatment plans and provide ongoing support.
  7. Academic and Personal Growth: Therapy can also help teens improve in school and personally. It helps with focus, time management, organisation, and setting goals. By addressing underlying emotional and psychological issues, therapy helps teens succeed academically and personally.
  8. Parental Support and Family Dynamics: Therapists often include parents and caregivers in therapy, offering guidance and support to improve family dynamics. This teamwork helps enhance communication, strengthen relationships, and create a supportive environment for the teen’s growth and happiness.

It’s worth noting that therapy approaches can vary based on the teen’s specific needs and the therapist’s expertise. As a child psychologist Brisbane, we can confidently say that therapy offers a valuable space for teens to work through challenges, build resilience, and improve their overall mental health and well-being.

Physical symptoms of anxiety

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Shaking/trembling
  • DizzinessTachycardia, rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling in arms, hands or legs
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Nail biting

Impact of Anxiety

  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Pressured speech
  • Fidgeting with ones hands
  • Avoidance of feared situations or objects

Cognitive symptoms of anxiety

  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mind going blank
  • Recurrent thoughts

Building a Child's Self Esteem

A Child or Adolescent Clinical Psychologist can support your child in building self-esteem, giving them the confidence to believe in themselves again. Self-esteem is shaped by:

  • Physical appearance,
  • Skills,
  • Professional success,
  • The richness of personal life.

Self-esteem grows when we live in a way that respects and aligns with our values. But it drops when our actions clash with our values.

Low self-esteem often stems from valuing ourselves based on others’ opinions rather than our own positive self-belief. Individuals with low self-esteem feel they must constantly prove themselves to gain approval, and negative feedback from others can significantly harm their self-esteem.

High self-esteem is about liking yourself and feeling good about your achievements. It means believing you’ve achieved something for yourself, not for others’ recognition. It allows for trust in your intuition, creativity, and identity building. With high self-esteem, you don’t need to win at all costs; you can be flexible and authentic. You feel safe expressing your feelings because they align with your values.

Long-term Benefits of High Self-Esteem:

  • Fosters a positive attitude and optimism.
  • Reduces anxiety and promotes healthy decision-making.
  • Encourages effective conflict resolution.
  • Helps children excel academically, in relationships, and their careers.
  • Builds resilience for a successful life.

Risks of Low Self-Esteem:

  • Can lead to depression and anxiety.
  • Addressing these issues early is crucial for a healthy and confident life.

Tips to Build Your Child’s/Adolescent’s Self-Esteem:

  1. Belief: Show your belief in young people through positive reinforcement.
  2. Listening: Truly listen to your children/teens to build trust.
  3. Quality Time: Share interests and experiences with them.
  4. Positive Attitude: Be a role model with a positive self-image.
  5. Affection: Show them love through hugs and understanding.
  6. Goal Setting: Support them in setting and achieving goals.
  7. Encouragement: Motivate them to try new things and learn from failures.
  8. Inner Wisdom: Teach them to trust their instincts and learn from experiences.
  9. Strengths Focus: Highlight their best qualities and achievements.
  10. Sense of Belonging: Ensure they feel loved and supported within their family/friend’s circle.

Dreaming and Goals:

Please encourage your child or teen to dream big and believe in their abilities. Support their dreams and their journey towards achieving them. Teach them to set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound, building towards their larger aspirations.

Author: Michelle Barratt

School Bullying

Bullying can severely harm a child or adolescent’s self-esteem and disrupt their identity development during adolescence.

Early detection of bullying is vital!

Bullying is an aggressive behaviour where the victim feels powerless and vulnerable. It’s often about a bully using aggression and control to assert power. The behaviour is demeaning and disrespectful, and over time, it intensifies the power imbalance, leaving the victim feeling hurt and defenceless. Bullying can take many forms, including physical, psychological, verbal, social exclusion, and more.

How to recognise if your child is being bullied:

  1. Your child becomes quieter, more withdrawn, and keeps to themselves.
  2. They show increased anger or aggression.
  3. They become more sensitive to things that don’t bother them.
  4. They lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  5. They complain of physical ailments like stomach aches or headaches.
  6. They lose interest in playing with friends, doing homework, or attending school.
  7. They have a decreased appetite.
  8. They experience nightmares, bed-wetting, or poor sleep.
  9. They refuse to go to school.

Ten tips to help your child deal with bullying:

  1. Educate your children about bullying and how to recognise it.
  2. Encourage open communication. Let them talk about both the good and evil in their lives.
  3. Assure them that bullying is not their fault, and that seeking help is essential.
  4. Emphasize that bullying is unacceptable and not a normal part of growing up.
  5. Explain that bullying worsens over time, so early intervention is crucial.
  6. Address bullies directly, not through social media.
  7. Teach your child to be assertive. Role-play how to stand up to bullies.
  8. Help your child identify supportive friends and practice seeking their help.
  9. Monitor their use of computers and media. Keep computers in public areas and limit mobile phone use at night.
  10. Be a good role model in communication and problem-solving at home.

Taking these steps can empower your child to face and overcome bullying.

Author: Michelle Barratt

CHILD ANXIETY

Michelle Barratt Psychology is a Toowong and Redland Bay / Wynnum – Manly Clinical Psychology Practice, and aims to provide treatment for Child Anxiety in Brisbane at the highest standard. The practice values implementing support and treatment that not only endeavours to support their clients feel safe, heard and understood, but also strives to offer effective treatment that will empower clients to learn new skills to support them in the future. If you are unsure about what you are dealing with, please don’t hesitate to contact us to support you through the next step of either working out what to do or how to proceed with an appointment.

The following information on Childhood Anxiety will give you some insight to what Anxiety is and how it presents.

Michelle Barratt Psychology aims to provide treatment for anxiety at the highest standard; implementing support and treatment that not only endeavours to support a person feel heard and understood, but a treatment plan that empowers their clients to reverse and work through the causal factors of anxiety or depression in order that they can implement preventative strategies to help protect them in the future. We aim to support all children, all adolescents, and all adults, couples and family’s work through their depression to succeed in their ultimate wellbeing.

Child Psychologists can support a child or adolescents anxiety through therapy by teaching them to be aware of their feelings and how to work through them. Many children and adolescence who experience anxiety express it to feel very uncomfortable for them and end up often inhibiting those parts of their life that are fundamental for them to engage in to grow their self-esteem.

Child Anxiety

Anxiety is a common and normal emotion experienced by individuals of all ages, including children. However, when anxiety becomes persistent and intense and interferes with a child’s daily life, it may indicate the presence of a clinical condition known as child anxiety disorder. Understanding child anxiety and its symptoms is crucial for parents, caregivers, and educators to provide appropriate support and intervention.

Understanding Child Anxiety

​Child anxiety refers to excessive worry, fear, or unease that significantly impacts a child’s functioning and well-being. Anxiety disorders commonly experienced by children include generalised anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. These disorders can manifest at different developmental stages and may have various causes, including genetic factors, brain chemistry, family history of anxiety, and environmental stressors.

​Symptoms of Anxiety

Child anxiety can present itself through a range of emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioural symptoms. These may include:

  1. Excessive worry or fear about everyday situations or events
  2. Restlessness, irritability, or difficulty concentrating.
  3. Sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep or frequent nightmares.
  4. Physical symptoms like headaches, stomach-aches, or fatigue
  5. Avoidance of certain situations or places
  6. Excessive need for reassurance or seeking constant approval.
  7. Fear of separation from parents or caregivers
  8. Difficulty with social interactions or performance anxiety
  9. Overthinking and constant anticipation of worst-case scenarios

Supporting Children with Anxiety:

As a child psychologist Brisbane, we know that parents, caregivers, and educators can play a vital role in supporting children with anxiety. Here are some strategies that can be helpful:

  1. Open Communication: Encourage children to discuss their fears and worries without judgement. Active listening and empathy can help children feel understood and supported.
  2. Psychoeducation: Educate children about anxiety, explaining that it is a common experience and not something to be ashamed of. Provide age-appropriate information about the symptoms and coping strategies.
  3. Establish Routines and Predictability: Create a structured and predictable environment for the child. Consistent schedules and clear expectations can help reduce anxiety triggers.
  4. Teach Relaxation Techniques: Introduce techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery. These techniques can help children manage their anxiety symptoms.
  5. Gradual Exposure: If a child has specific fears or phobias, gently expose them to those situations or objects in a gradual and controlled manner. This can help them build confidence and reduce anxiety over time.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If a child’s anxiety significantly impairs their daily functioning or causes distress, consider seeking professional help from a qualified mental health professional specialising in child anxiety disorders.
  7. Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Promote regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating habits, and limit exposure to stress-inducing stimuli like excessive screen time.

Child anxiety is a natural and treatable condition that requires understanding, support, and appropriate intervention. By recognising the symptoms and implementing strategies to assist children with anxiety, parents, caregivers, and educators can provide the necessary tools and environment for children to manage and overcome their anxiety, allowing them to thrive and lead fulfilling lives. By utilising evidence-based therapies, involving parents and educators, and focusing on each child’s needs, Michelle Barratt Psychology aims to empower children with anxiety to develop practical coping skills, build resilience, and thrive in their everyday lives.

Author: Michelle Barratt

CHILD DEPRESSION

Childhood depression is a severe condition marked by ongoing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or enjoyment in activities. It’s more than just the occasional moodiness or temporary sadness that kids might feel. Child depression can affect a child’s day-to-day life, their relationships, and their overall happiness.

Symptoms of child depression might include:

  1. Constant sadness or a low mood
  2. Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy.
  3. Changes in eating habits and weight (either losing or gaining weight)
  4. Problems with sleep, like not being able to sleep or sleeping too much.
  5. Feeling tired or having no energy
  6. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  7. Feeling worthless or guilty a lot
  8. Thinking about death or suicide
  9. Pulling away from friends and family or doing worse in school
  10. Having physical problems, like headaches or stomach aches, with no medical reason

Childhood depression can come from different causes, like biological factors, a family history of depression, stress from the environment, trauma, and psychological factors. It’s important to know that depression in kids might look different than in adults, and it can be harder to spot. Kids might be unable to explain how sad they feel and might show changes in their behaviour or have physical symptoms.

If you think a child might be depressed, it’s essential to get help from a professional. Mental health experts, like the ones at Michelle Barratt Psychology, can give the proper assessment and treatment. We also have counsellors who use play therapy or other methods that help kids share their feelings and deal with their problems.

Besides therapy, support from parents, caregivers, and teachers is crucial for kids with depression. Creating a safe and caring environment, keeping open communication, and giving emotional support are vital in helping the child feel better. Working with mental health professionals can help parents understand and respond best to their child’s needs.

We at Michelle Barratt Psychology believe that with the proper support, intervention, and a complete treatment plan, kids can learn to handle their depression, improve their well-being, and have fulfilling lives.

Author: Michelle Barratt

cONDUCT dISORDER

Please take a moment to read about Conduct Disorder (CD). Suppose your child is showing any of the behaviours described below, and you’re worried. In that case, it’s essential to get professional psychological support and treatment for your child as soon as possible. The earlier it’s treated, the better the outcome. So, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with Brisbane Clinical Psychologist Michelle Barratt at the Wynnum West or Toowong practice.

You can make an appointment by phone, online, or via email. Check the ‘Appointments’ tab above for available times at both practices.

Conduct Disorder (CD) is a diagnosis characterised by behaviours that are significantly more aggressive and antisocial than those seen in Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). CD typically occurs in children from middle childhood to adolescence.

Children with CD exhibit behaviours that are both overt and covert, and these behaviours are more violent than those seen in ODD. Signs include:

  • Defiance,
  • Aggressiveness and destructiveness, such as destroying property,
  • Anger and irritability,
  • Widespread relationship difficulties within the family, school, and peer group, and
  • Challenges in internalising social norms, such as a lack of empathy, which is often shown when children engage in:
    • Substance use/abuse,
    • High-risk taking behaviours,
    • Impulsive behaviours,
    • Promiscuity and other antisocial behaviours.

As child psychologists at Wynnum, we know that living with a child exhibiting these behaviours can be challenging for any family. Parents often come to their first session expressing not only deep concern but also feelings of intense frustration and helplessness.

The negative impact on the child is also evident and distressing for their parents. The parents can see that their child struggles to regulate their emotions and seem unable to adopt the family and societal norms expected of them. Unfortunately, it’s not long before the child’s behaviour starts affecting their immediate family and peers, the school community, and the wider community, mainly because their behaviours are considerably harmful.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Negative Behaviour

Managing negative behaviour in children and adolescents can be incredibly challenging, and when things escalate, it can be particularly draining and hard to handle. Often, this leaves parents and other family members feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about how to break the cycle of conflict and negativity.

As a child psychologist Wynnum, we have seen children display puzzling negative behaviours, leaving parents questioning the source of such actions. Even when addressed, children may struggle to understand what they’re doing wrong or find it hard to articulate their feelings, leading to persistent negative patterns.

This is mainly because younger children have a more challenging time expressing themselves verbally, so they often communicate through their behaviour, which can include:

  • Temper tantrums,
  • Rebellion,
  • Underachievement (particularly in school),
  • Reluctance to interact with peers,
  • Delinquency,
  • Fighting or arguing with siblings,
  • Unusual silliness,
  • Excessive crying,
  • Dawdling or zoning out,
  • Ignoring instructions,
  • Shouting, screaming, and hitting other children, and
  • Other forms of negative attention-seeking behaviour to express emotions they can’t otherwise articulate.

What Now? – There’s still hope! The key is to focus on managing the behaviour without blaming the child, which can be challenging when parents feel at a loss.

Child and Adolescent Psychology or Counselling can support and teach children how to express their negative emotions more effectively. If you’re a parent seeking a better understanding of managing difficult behaviours and negative emotions, please make an appointment for yourself and your child. We can discuss a treatment plan and how to move forward from here.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Oppositional Defiant Disorder - ODD

Characteristics of ODD

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) typically shows up before a child turns eight years old, unlike the more common questioning of authority figures seen in teenagers. ODD is marked by frequent displays of at least four of these behaviours:

  • Losing temper quickly,
  • Often arguing with adults,
  • Regularly defying or refusing to follow adults’ requests or rules,
  • Deliberately doing things to annoy others,
  • Often blaming others for their own mistakes or behaviours,
  • Getting annoyed by others easily,
  • Being often angry and resentful,
  • Often being spiteful and vindictive.

These behaviours must be present for several months and cause significant problems in the child’s social, academic, and occupational areas.

Criteria for ODD

ODD includes both emotional (e.g., anger) and behavioural (e.g., arguing) symptoms. Research suggests that both emotional and behavioural symptoms of ODD can lead to more severe disorders later on. However, the emotional symptoms of ODD might also uniquely predict internalising disorders (Stringaris & Goodman, 2009).

As children with ODD grow older, they might show behaviours like:

  • Fighting,
  • Temper tantrums,
  • Disobedience,
  • Destructiveness,
  • Rudeness,
  • Uncooperativeness,
  • Stealing,
  • Lying.

Parents might notice these behaviours occasionally, as oppositional behaviour is expected at specific developmental stages and can be worsened by long-term stress.

Parents should avoid self-diagnosing their children and seek a clinical assessment to rule out other causes like anxiety, depression, ADHD, and communication disorders.

The exact causes of ODD are unclear, but it’s more common in families with a history of mental health issues or substance abuse. It’s also more common in families with relationship problems. Some studies suggest that a child’s temperament, such as being hard to soothe or highly reactive, might play a role.

Often, parents are puzzled by the sudden appearance of their child’s behaviour, as it can gradually worsen and spread from home to school and other settings.

Parents usually seek psychological support when the behaviour affects multiple areas of the child’s life. However, the situation can become a vicious cycle, where the child’s defiance and anger trigger similar emotions in the caregivers, making it harder to resolve the issues. In treatment, it’s usually more helpful to focus on solutions rather than trying to pinpoint the cause of ODD.

Treatment for ODD

As child psychologists, we can confirm that family involvement is crucial in treating ODD. Therapy can help parents struggling to manage a child with ODD by reviewing their parenting approach and introducing evidence-based strategies for change. Tailoring an approach that fits each family’s strengths can ensure the child’s emotional needs are met within a consistent limits and routines framework, promoting predictability, safety, and security.

ODD is often seen in early childhood and is characterised by a pattern of negative, hostile, defiant, and disruptive behaviour towards authority figures. This behaviour is outside the normal range for a child’s age and cultural context and doesn’t include the more severe violations seen in conduct disorder.

Persistence of behaviours:

  • The negative behaviour typically lasts for at least six months.

Children and adolescents may naturally show stubbornness and oppositional behaviour, but when it exceeds societal or parental expectations and persists for several months, it often leads to complaints about:

  • Pre-schoolers hitting, kicking, or biting other children,
  • School-aged children showing aggression, bullying, and non-compliance with authority,
  • Adolescents engaging in dangerous, impulsive, and non-compliant behaviours that endanger themselves and others.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Setting Boundaries for your teenager

I would like to start with a story by psychologist and author Dr. Henry Cloud. This story illustrates the importance of preparing your child for the future through the use of boundary setting. Dr Cloud was at his friend Alison’s house when he overheard her in her 14-year-old son Cameron’s bedroom. Walking into the bedroom, Dr. Cloud asked Alison what she was doing.

Alison replied “I’m cleaning up Cameron’s room. What does it look like I’m doing?”

“You are what?” Dr. Cloud replied.

“I told you. I’m cleaning up his room. Why are you looking at me like that?” she replied.

“I just feel sorry for Cameron’s future wife” said Dr. Cloud.

​After a few moments Alison looked at Dr. Cloud and said “I’ve never thought about it that way.” Nor have most of us.

Dr. Cloud went on to explain that we often parent in the present without thinking about the future. But parenting has to do with more than the present, is also involves preparing your child for the future, preparing them to be responsible adults. Alison loved helping Cameron but, in many ways, her helping was not “helping” Cameron. He had developed a pattern in which he felt entitled to everyone else’s help. When Alison looked into the future and saw a time when Cameron would be leaving responsibilities for others to do, she became concerned and changed how she interacted with him to help him develop a sense of responsibility and to help him think about how his behaviours affected others.

Teenage years are crucial for growth, independence, and identity development. Establishing firm boundaries is critical to helping your teenager navigate this phase responsibly, teaching them that their actions have consequences and preparing them for real-world challenges.

Here are some tips for setting boundaries with your teenager:

  1. Clarity and Reasonableness: Ensure that boundaries are communicated and agreed upon, so your teenager knows what’s expected and the consequences of crossing the line. The boundaries should be age-appropriate and consider your teenager’s ability to be responsible.
  2. Negotiation: When setting boundaries, allow room for discussion. Your teenager might be less inclined to follow them if they’re too rigid. Let them present their arguments and consider adjusting based on their valid points. Offering choices within the boundaries can also make them feel involved in decision-making.
  3. Respect and Empathy: Lead by example. Show respect in your interactions with your teenager and listen to their concerns. Try to understand their perspective, even if it seems trivial to you. Remember the importance of friendships, appearance, and social media in their lives.
  4. Firmness and Consistency: It’s natural for teenagers to test limits, but it’s crucial for you as parents to enforce clear and consistent boundaries. Inconsistent or passive parenting can signal that persistent boundary-pushing will be rewarded.
  5. Patience: Control your emotions, and don’t let your teenager’s behaviour dictate your reactions. If you’re feeling frustrated, take a break and calm down before responding. This demonstrates healthy emotional regulation.
  6. Natural Consequences: Let your teenager face the natural outcomes of their actions. For example, if they misbehave at school, they might receive detention and miss social time. This teaches them to take responsibility for their actions.
  7. Evolving Boundaries: As your teenager matures, adjust the boundaries to reflect their growing responsibility and trustworthiness. If they demonstrate reliable behaviour, grant them more freedom. Conversely, you may need to tighten the boundaries if they lack trustworthiness.
  8. Enforcing Consequences: Boundaries are meaningless without consequences. Make sure the consequences are fair and relevant to the violation. Discuss the potential implications with your teenager when setting the boundary, and ensure you’re prepared to follow through.

Setting boundaries is challenging but essential for guiding your teenager toward responsible adulthood. It’s an ongoing process, so be ready to learn from your mistakes and adapt as needed. Establishing clear boundaries and consequences will help your teenager understand expectations and maintain discipline without harming your relationship.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Surviving Your Parents

Navigating the teenage years can be like riding a rollercoaster – thrilling but also full of ups and downs. As you grow into your person, it’s natural to find yourself clashing with your parents more often. It’s a time of change, not just for you but for your whole family. Here are some tips to help you get through this journey with your parents:

  1. Communication is Key: Open and honest communication is crucial. Share your thoughts and feelings with your parents. It’s okay to express your need for more independence but try to do so respectfully. Remember, they’re adjusting to this new phase, too.
  2. Pick Your Battles: Not every disagreement needs to turn into a full-blown argument. Sometimes, letting the small stuff slide is worth keeping the peace.
  3. Empathy Works Both Ways: Just as you want your parents to understand you, try to see things from their perspective, too. They care about you and want what’s best for you, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
  4. Set Boundaries: It’s healthy to set boundaries. Discuss your need for privacy and space with your parents. Finding a balance between your independence and their concerns is vital.
  5. Seek Support: If you’re having trouble communicating with your parents, it might be helpful to talk to someone outside the situation, like a trusted family member, teacher, or counsellor.
  6. Be Patient: This phase of life is temporary. As you and your parents navigate these changes, there will be good and challenging days. Be patient with yourself and with them.

Remember, surviving your parents during your teenage years is about balancing asserting your independence and respecting their role. With open communication, empathy, and patience, you can strengthen your relationship with your parents during this time of growth and change.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Surviving Your Teenager

How Does It Feel?

You might notice that your teenager has changed drastically—once you’re an adorable child, you find yourself asking, “Who are you?” These moments can be confusing and painful for parents. Teenagers are undergoing the ‘individualised process,’ also known as the ‘push-pull’ analogy—sometimes they love you, and occasionally they don’t.

Teenagers are navigating a journey to become the person they want to be, which might differ from what you envisioned. For parents, this journey can feel like walking through a minefield.

Don’t fear your teenager’s potential. If you’re unsure, watch some videos below for support. Remember, with the right attitude and outlook, anything is possible. However, commitment to change is necessary.

Parenting Support

If you’re at a loss for words and your child’s behaviour is foreign to you, it might be time to seek parenting support. You can:

  1. Book an appointment with a psychologist to guide you through the following steps.
  2. Consult your GP if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression symptoms and ask for a referral. Remember to inquire about a Mental Health Plan if needed.

Different Parents Make the World Go Round

Families come in various forms:

  • Biological/Nuclear Families: Parents and their biological or adopted children.
  • Stepfamilies: Parents with children from previous relationships.
  • Blended Families: Parents with children from previous relationships and a child together.

Each family type faces challenges, such as differing parenting styles, scheduling conflicts, and navigating relationships in blended or stepfamilies.

What My Teenager Can Be Like?

Your teenager might:

  • Spend most of their time in their room,
  • Be more rude than respectful,
  • Seem like they don’t understand anything,
  • Get angry and frustrated quickly,
  • Refuse to do chores,
  • Stay up late and sleep in,
  • Ignore boundaries,
  • Have communication breakdowns,
  • Show little family participation,
  • Take advantage of situations,
  • Defy trust.

Parenting can feel overwhelming even if your teenager doesn’t exhibit all these behaviours. It’s crucial that they feel supported and connected to you.

Survival Parenting Tips

Maintaining communication is vital. Some tips:

  • Talk to your children but make final decisions as an adult.
  • Encourage responsibility and commitment in their decisions.
  • Have regular one-on-one time to discuss their lives.
  • Set boundaries to instil trust, respect, and understanding.
  • Focus on current issues rather than dwelling on the past.
  • Collaborate with your teenager to solve problems and plan for the future.

This is just the beginning. If you’d like more guidance on navigating your teenager’s development, consider booking an appointment with Michelle Barratt.

As child psychologists at Wynnum, Michelle Barratt Psychology prioritises providing a therapeutic environment based on confidentiality, trust, and empathy. She believes in respecting the client’s perspective and supporting their journey to change. When dealing with mental health or trauma, emotions like self-blame and low self-esteem can cloud perception. Therapy can help clear this fog.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Toddler Tantrums

When your child has a temper tantrum, it can be challenging to deal with, especially during something routine like your weekly grocery shop. It’s particularly difficult when your child’s meltdown seems to be over something trivial, like not buying them a toy truck.

Dealing with the aftermath of setting boundaries and saying “No” can be even more challenging, as efforts to stop the tantrum may seem to make things worse. You might find yourself at a loss as your child lies on the floor, kicking and screaming, drawing unwanted attention from onlookers.

For most parents in this situation, the main goal is to calm the child down to continue with their day, ideally without the judgmental stares and comments from others.

What It Can Look Like and Feel Like – As a Parent

Public temper tantrums can trigger feelings of shame, failure, and inadequacy, often stemming from thoughts of being a “bad parent.” You might worry about being judged negatively by onlookers. However, it’s worth noting that many people, especially those with children, are likely to sympathise rather than judge.

When efforts to calm your child escalate the tantrum, you’re faced with a dilemma:

  1. Relent: Giving in and buying the toy might work in the short term but negatively reinforces the behaviour in the long term.
  2. Punish: Attempt to regain control by shouting or threatening to smack your child.
  3. Abandon shopping mission: Drag your child out of the store, effectively letting them win and reinforcing the behaviour.
  4. Freeze: Do nothing, feeling stuck in the situation.

These responses are often ineffective and are part of our innate survival mechanisms (Fight, Flight, or Freeze). When triggered, it’s hard to attune to our child’s needs and identify the underlying cause of the tantrum.

Children don’t come with a manual, so we must learn how to read and fulfil their needs. During a tantrum, children need help organising their feelings. They require a bigger, stronger, wiser, and kinder parent – someone who can take charge without being too weak or harsh.

If you’re struggling with your child’s temper tantrums or managing your emotions, consider speaking to a psychologist for support. Psychological therapy can be beneficial in understanding and managing tantrums, allowing you to enjoy your time with your child and address the underlying issues causing the negative behaviour.

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