The 10th episode of the Impressive gives you answers to the questions that came from one of the listeners about how to empower your children. Just because they are still young, who are in the stage of discovering themselves and exploring the world, doesn’t mean that they can’t participate and give their insights on issues around them. Actually, they can if you allow and courage them to do so. In this episode, Doctor Kimberley will give you tips on parenting approaches that would motivate your children to better themselves and be part of something good.
Listen up as we explore:
How to inspire young people to make a difference in their school community
Why it’s important for school leaders to survey students to gain their perspectives
What types of activities can parents and children do to feel empowered
Impressive is a weekly podcast that sheds new light on the world of parenting. Join host, Dr Kimberley O’Brien PhD, as she delves into real-life parenting issues with CEOs, global ex-pats, entrepreneurs, celebrities, travellers and other hand-picked parents.
School camps, slumber parties and sleepovers are important steps to your child gaining their independence, but for some kids and their parents, this potentially positive experience can be riddled with anxiety. Thankfully, there are effective strategies which resolve some of the most common concerns around sleeping away from home or without the comfort of family.
For kids in later primary school, Term One here in Australia often includes the obligatory school camp. Similarly, the school holidays for tweens and teens often provide an exciting opportunity for children to engage in fun overnight holiday camp programs, or perhaps your child may be invited to their first sleepover at a friend’s house. Whether it is a slumber party, school trip or even an overseas camp, the emotions and concerns you and/or your children may have remain the same. Although it is not unusual to have apprehension around first-time sleepovers, the good news is that there are ways to manage these worries and make it the positive experience it should be for both parents and kids.
Read on for our top tips for successfully navigating this adventure together.
Why can Overnight School Camp seem scary?
Just like anything new, overnight trips present children with a series of unknowns. These can range from primal concerns around their safety, to social concerns about fitting in and getting along with peers, to practical concerns like whether they will remember everything or pack the right things. Knowing the main theme of your child’s concern will be the first step in assisting them to feel more confident.
Strategies for Parents of first-time School Campers
Overall, the main goal for parents is to focus on positives. Think about what your child has to gain from this experience. It is very likely to be a great opportunity to establish new friendships, participate in hands-on learning experiences and, importantly, gain a sense of independence outside of the family network. The following considerations and tips may be helpful for parents:
Are you yourself anxious? In preparation, it is important to check-in on how you are feeling yourself. What are you worried about as a parent? How are you addressing these concerns? In these times, if you are worried, you are more likely to present as flustered and somewhat erratic. This can heighten anxiety in young children, who could interpret camp as something to be concerned about. It is important to manage your own anxiety first!
Homesickness chat. This is a big one! You may have experienced some separation anxiety with your child in the early years when beginning preschool. This experience is quite relatable in that it is an unknown situation. If your child is worried they may miss home too much to enjoy themselves, an easy fix can be to have your child bring with them an important item from home that can easily be popped in their bag.
Pack together. Make it fun! Often camps will provide you with a list of required items.For a sleepover, you can call the other parent and jot down a list. Then turn packing into a game, such as collecting the required items as if on a scavenger hunt. Further to this, make sure you do not leave packing to the last minute! Think of the classic saying ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’; packing ahead of time will allow you to make any last trips to the shops if required.
Reduce the sense of the ‘unknown’. Talk about what to expect and perhaps see if you can get a rough schedule for the camp. Where possible, make a rooming request with teachers/staff if the child is not given the option.
Share your own positive experiences. Simply talking with your child about your good experiences on camp may help to further ease the fear of the unknown. It is okay to talk about experiences that also didn’t turn out too well, however it is important to emphasise the learning that came out of that experience!
Normalise that some anxiety is okay. It is always important to emphasise that all feelings we experience are normal, and good, and part of our body looking after us. Holding onto anxious feelings is not helpful in the long term, however. Help your children to recognise when they don’t feel good, and to challenge an unhelpful feeling with a helpful thought or saying to themselves, for instance, “I’m feeling nervous, but I know I’ll have a great time with my friends on camp”.
Account for any travel sickness or dietary needs in advance. As parents, you know what your child can and cannot handle. It is important to make staff aware of any accommodations that need to take place to help mitigate the likelihood of any predictable problems.
Strategies to Enhance your Child’s Confidence during School Camp
While there is a lot you can do to put your child at ease, it is important that they know how to be present and manage their anxiety while they are at camp without you. Teach your child to:
Ease physical tension. When we are anxious, our body responds physically. Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline can linger and perpetuate negative feelings. Practicing relaxation techniques at home will help your child to self-soothe while away. Examples include deep breathing and Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
Worry diary. If something is bothering your child, encourage them to write it down in a journal, and leave the thoughts there until they are at home again.
For the night-owls. If there is a certain item at home that helps your child get to sleep, let them take it to camp to help put them at ease. If your child seems embarrassed about having a comfort toy at camp, you could find a small precious object to pop under their pillow instead. A drawing/portrait of the toy or letter (perhaps even written in the voice of their special toy) are also good substitutes.
Practice talking to staff. If your child does require assistance, often they may feel too anxious to tell someone about it because they do not want to get into trouble or bother anyone. Practice at home ways to approach and engage with staff or get their attention. This can be practiced with regards to how to complete activities, if a peer is unkind, when feeling homesick, or where to get their special dietary food from.
Some anxiety around first camps and overnight stays is normal and an important part of your child’s emotional development. If this distress is persistent, however, and detrimentally affecting your child’s overall functioning in other areas of life, it may be a warning sign of an ongoing issue. If you feel that you and/or your child require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly reception on (02) 9362 9297.
For the sixth episode of Impressive, a young scientist by the name of Angelina Arora, the inventor of bioplastic, tells the story behind her interesting work and how it has been taking her to greater heights. Also, she shares the insights that she gained while on her journey towards success.
Listen up as we explore:
How Angelina’s parents supported her passion for science and inventing.
How to seek out a support network of teachers, professors and mentors to make your dreams a reality.
How to find friends who are equally passionate about their own endeavours, while balancing schoolwork with international research.
Impressive is a weekly podcast that sheds a new light on the world of parenting. Join host, Dr Kimberley O’Brien PhD, as she delves into real-life parenting issues with CEOs, global ex-pats, entrepreneurs, celebrities, travellers and other hand-picked parents.
Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist, discussed helping children with their homework, with Herald Sun reporter, Meg Mason. You can find useful, practical and informative advice about parenting by visiting our resources page, – or discussing it on our forum.
To view the full article please visit the Herald Sun online.
If you have a story and would like to discuss it with us, please contact us to schedule a time. Kimberley O’Brien enjoys sharing the best of her therapeutic moments with the media. View our media appearances to-date. Visit our website for more information about our clinic and our team.
Cyberbullying refers to bullying that occurs through information and communication technology such as phone calls, text messages, emails, Internet chat rooms, instant messaging and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Cyberbullying activities include leaving insulting or offensive messages on social networking sites, spreading rumors online, sending unwanted emails, text messages or instant messages, and much more. Cyberbullying is particularly concerning as it can happen anywhere and at any time, and so there is no safe haven from the bullying behaviour. This type of bullying can cause great distress, and have a negative impact on a child’s self esteem and self confidence.
Signs to help parents recognise cyberbullying
The secretive and hidden nature of cyberbullying can make it difficult for parents to detect when it is occurring. Some children also feel ashamed when they are a victim of bullying, or may feel afraid to tell others as they believe it may make the situation worse. For this reason, parents need to look at changes in their child’s behaviour, which could give a clue that they may be being bullied. These signs may include:
Sudden aversion to socialising with friends
Disinterest or avoidance of school
Dropping out of sports or other recreational activities
Extreme sleeping behaviour (either lots more or lots less)
Abnormal nail biting or other minor or severe self harming behaviours
Abnormal changes in mood and/or behaviour
Things parents can do
The powerful impact of feeling scared, powerless, helpless, ashamed and other emotions that can result from being cyber bullied, particularly when occurring over a long period, has the capacity for long-lasting effects on children.
Ways that you can protect a child from any long-lasting negative impacts of cyber bullying include:
Take lots of time to hear, listen and understand your child’s story
Discuss cyber bullying with the child and encourage them to tell you if they’re feeling bullied
Be alert to any abnormal behaviour / mood changes
Stay calm while your child is telling you his/her story, and be aware of your own reactions.
Take complaints from the child seriously, do not brush them off
Try to ascertain what ‘meaning’ the child takes from the bullying, for example whether they believe what the bully says about them
Assure the child that it is not their fault.
Strategies for young people to deal with cyberbullying
Tell someone – The most important step is for the child or young person to talk to someone they trust about what is happening. This may be a parent, friend, teacher or counsellor.
Don’t reply to bullying messages – This may make the situation worse. By replying, the bully gets what he or she wants. Often, if the child does not reply, the bully will get bored and leave them alone.
Block the cyberbully – Depending on the way that the bully is communicating with the young person, it may be possible to block their messages or texts. If your child is not sure how, your phone or internet service provider can help you.
Report the problem – Your child’s school may have policies about cyberbullying and can take action against it. Your ISP or phone provider may also be able to help. Websites like Facebook and MySpace have links where you can report abuse.
Keep the evidence – Keeping copies of texts, emails, online conversations or voicemails as evidence can be useful if it comes to tracking the bully down.
Change your contact details – Get a new user name for the internet, a new email account, a new mobile phone number and only give them out to your closest friends.
Keep your username and passwords secret – Keep your personal information private so it doesn’t fall into the hands of someone who’ll misuse it.
If messages are threatening or serious, get in touch with the police – Cyberbullying, if it’s threatening, is illegal and the police may be able to take action.
Information from this article was taken from beyondblue.com.au, parentline.com.au and advice from Kimberley O’Brien Child Psychologist.