Sexting: Guide for Professionals

Sexting: Guide for Professionals

Various research reports suggests that 10-20% of teens have sent or received a sexually explicit photo in the last 12 months (some studies estimate as low as 4%, some as high as 50% - depending on how you ask the question).  If we assume around 15%, this means the average sized secondary school will contain 150 -200 students who have recently sent or received a naked or semi naked picture of themselves.

Given the prevalence of this issue, we can’t bury our head in the sand.  Teenagers everywhere are doing this - including the teens we work with.

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The three fundamentals of supporting young people with anxiety

The three fundamentals of supporting young people with anxiety

In our clinics, the most COMMON area of challenge for the children /teens we see is managing anxiety.  This is a reflection of a wider trend - anxiety is the most common psychological symptom experienced by kids and teens in Australia.

Often in my writing, I drill down to the specifics of the work we can do as professionals, teachers and counsellors in helping young people cope with anxiety.  Today, I'd like to take a step back and think about the five broad goals we are trying to achieve when we work with children and young people who are anxious..

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What teachers/counsellors/youth workers can do to help teens at risk of self harm/suicidality

What teachers/counsellors/youth workers can do to help teens at risk of self harm/suicidality

A sad and tragic fact of our world in 2017 is this:  the most common cause of death for young people is suicide (see Australian Bureau of Statistics Leading Causes of Death report, 2015). While this data is somewhat misleading for the simple reason that young people don't die very often (and also important to know that death by suicide is more common in adults than in young people) - it is still distressing and worrying. This is especially true when we know that rates of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide is higher in young people than in any other age group.

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Questions to ask parents/carers of kids with "big feelings"

Questions to ask parents/carers of kids with "big feelings"

"Kids with big feelings" is a phrase I sometimes use to describe children who have a tendency to get more frustrated, worried, embarrassed, hurt and sad than other children their age.  I use this phrase because it avoids negativity and reflects the fact that these kids are often also particularly creative, joyful and hilarious fun!

If you work with children with "big feelings" you know that they can test their parents/carers' resources and frustration.   It's a tough job for these people.  And unlike most other "jobs", they get no training, time for reflection, formal planning processes or team building days...nope, they just have to do the best they can on the fly.

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17 question options to ask gaming/online video “addicted” kids and teens - to help them reflect

17 question options to ask gaming/online video “addicted” kids and teens - to help them reflect

As a professional who works with kids and teens you will know many families who struggle with issues related to gaming and technology use.  You will certainly know plenty of children/teens who are *desperate* to be non stop gaming/watching online video this school holidays.  You will also know many parents who have lectured their kids/teens about the need for a balance of activities until they are exhausted and who frankly want to throw all i-devices/gaming consoles off the edge of the nearest roof.

Thousands of kids and teens all over this country this school holidays are spending hours each day gaming.  It’s not surprising. As a society we’ve introduced a set of humans with partially formed brains (and willpower skills) to a highly addictive, satisfying and fascinating activity and naturally enough they are having trouble turning it off.

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"Moodiness" in kids and teens

"Moodiness" in kids and teens

One of the shocks for parents of the 9 plus age group is how frequently their kids get irritable, sad, stressed and "moody".  

Many of those parents remember how their younger kids were happy-go-lucky much of the time.  Sure, they'd still get upset at times - if they didn't get what they wanted or had a fight with their siblings, or had to do chores - they might have a meltdown - but there were three differences:

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4 Mistakes Parents can Make when their child gets in trouble at school

4 Mistakes Parents can Make when their child gets in trouble at school

Last week I ran a seminar for parents at a local primary school.  I had almost got to the end of the night and we were discussing rules for kids.

As professionals who work with families, we know that an important part of parenting is to set, monitor and enforce rules for children.  Parents have to do this to help them manage life, stay safe, build relationships with others, cope with school and learn skills.

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What are kids watching on youtube?  Four important questions for us to ask in classrooms/therapy rooms

What are kids watching on youtube?  Four important questions for us to ask in classrooms/therapy rooms

UK based research group Child Wise conducted research last year showed that children are watching an average of 3 hours a day watching youtube videos.  Most commonly, they are watching music videos, gaming videos, “funny” real life content, videos showing pets and animals, “how to” videos and sport.    

This raises the question of how appropriate these videos are for children.  It's hard to tell.  None of this content is “rated” as G, PG, M etc in the same way that commercially produced television has been in the past.  And with more than 300 hours of video being uploaded to youtube every minute, my guess is that external ratings guides like this are going the way of the dinosaur.

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13 Reasons Why - The 2 minute summary for teachers and counsellors (plus questions to ask teens who've watched the series) 

13 Reasons Why - The 2 minute summary for teachers and counsellors (plus questions to ask teens who've watched the series) 

I've been asked by several people over the last few weeks about my views about the popular Netflix show - 13 Reasons Why.  If you haven't come across it yet, this show is a Netflix series about a girl (Hannah) who suicides by cutting her wrists in a bath-tub.  The show follows the audio tapes she has made prior to her death which explain her reasons for doing so (primarily related to bullying, conflict and rejection by her peers).  I read the book version of this show a year ago, and found it sad and confronting.  I haven't watched the full series, but have seen snippets of it, and read through the plot of each episode (which varies a little from the book).

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Helping Kids deal with Negative Emotions in the Classroom

Helping Kids deal with Negative Emotions in the Classroom

Professionals working in classrooms have a huge range of tasks they are juggling every day - from meeting curriculum goals, managing behaviour, dealing with parental expectations, negotiating special learning needs to lesson planning - and hundreds more.

It's no wonder that sometimes dealing with negative emotions or mental health issues in students seems like an impossible task on top of another set of demands.

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