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All in the Family

Respect starts in the home, where Australian families continue to evolve.

Young people are shaped by many forces, including friends, classmates, teachers, the wider community and social media. But the home is where children experience their first role models and learn how to behave. The importance of parents and carers providing a respectful environment and modelling respectful behaviour cannot be overemphasised.

What parents do and say, such as how they eat, exercise and treat others, influences their children. A child’s home is their reality. The raisingchildren.net.au says parents influence their child’s basic values, such as religious values, and issues related to their future, such as educational choices. The stronger your relationship with your child, the more influence you’ll have.

Your child’s friends are more likely to influence everyday behaviour, such as the music they listen to, the clothes they wear and whether they pick on or bully someone.

It’s OK to Disagree, But..

  • Model respectful behaviour.
  • Treat siblings and partners equally, regardless of gender.
  • Set boundaries with consequences for breaking them.
  • Be consistent.
  • It’s OK to disagree but use respectful language.
  • Don’t criticise ex-partners in front of children.
  • Minimise swearing and acknowledge inevitable slip-ups. 
  • Don’t generalise about groups such as LGBTIQ+ or those with disabilities.
  • Tell your children you love them regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
  • Don’t call anyone useless, unattractive or too fat.
  • Pull others up if they speak disrespectfully
    and explain why.
  • Never use violence or aggression to make a point.

Modelling Good Behaviour

It starts with creating a respectful and nurturing environment where all family members are respected, regardless of marital status, family composition, or gender or sexual identity.  

This includes families with parents who no longer live together.

Language is crucial, and words matter. Children notice what adults say and how they say it. Disrespectful talk and actions teach children that this is how people treat each other.

Modelling respectful behaviour, having boundaries and calling out disrespectful behaviour all help children learn the importance of respecting others and how it can make a difference. 

We all make mistakes. If you do, admit you’ve done the wrong thing and explain why.

Tips for Role-Modelling

  • Include your child in family discussions and allow them to give input into family decisions, rules and expectations. 
  • Try to practise what you preach. Teenagers can and do notice when you don’t!
  • Work towards a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising regularly. 
  • Avoid making negative comments about your body – and other people’s. 
  • Show that you enjoy education and learning. If you make it seem interesting and enjoyable, your child is more likely to be positive about school.
  • Keep a positive attitude. Think, act and talk in an optimistic way.
  • Take responsibility by admitting your mistakes and talking about how you can correct them. Try not to blame everything on others or circumstances.
  • Use problem-solving skills to deal with challenges or conflicts in a calm and productive way. 
  • Show kindness and respect to others.

Sibling Rivalry

Siblings don’t choose each other, which can mean personality clashes, disagreements and sibling rivalry. While we cannot expect them to be best friends, siblings should be taught to respect each other.

What You Need to Know About Gaming

Did you know 97 per cent of Australian homes with children have computer games?

A few years ago, a Russian teenager addicted to online gaming died after developing suspected deep-vein thrombosis. The 17-year-old had spent 22 consecutive days playing popular online game Defense of the Ancients.

He collapsed and died after developing a thrombosis, like those that passengers can suffer on long-haul flights. In the 18 months leading up to his death, investigators say the teenager spent about 6.5 hours a day playing online. During the days preceding his death, he had broken away from his computer screen only to eat and nap.

While this case may seem extreme, online games present another potential challenge for teenagers and parents, who need to become familiar with what their child is playing online, and with whom they are playing.

A 2018 report from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner found eight in 10 young people aged eight to 17 played games online in the 12 months to June 2017. The same report found online multiplayer gaming is very popular, with six in 10 young people playing these games.

Many online games include content and themes unsuitable for certain age groups. So games often come with age recommendations or ratings, similar to movie or film classifications. For example, Call of Duty (CoD) has an MA 15+ rating and contains strong themes and violence. Clash of Clans, a multiplayer game, is recommended for players over the age of 13.

Many games allow players to communicate through forums, chat and messaging services. In the interests of player safety, Activision, creators of CoD, recommend young people never share their password or give players they meet online their name, address, email address or school details. Computers and tablets should also have up-to-date security software to protect against viruses.

Supercell, owner of Clash of Clans, does not pre-screen or monitor all user content and recommends that players never share their login data or log into their account on someone else’s device.
Parents should also be aware that some games allow players to purchase points, different versions of the game and game-related merchandise. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner found around 34 per cent of eight to 17-year-olds made an in-game purchase in the 12 months to June 2017. So find out whether your child is using money to play online.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner lists a number of games and has comprehensive information on game content, who can play, how to protect personal information, how to report cyber-bullying or abuse and how to block your child spending money while playing online.

Go to // www.esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/games-apps-and-social-networking // www.videogames.org.au // www.instituteofgames.com
Watch // www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4472277.htm

RISK FACTORS

• Withdrawn
• Nightmares
• Loss of interest
• Online friends vs real friends
•Anger about not being able to play

WHY KIDS ARE HOOKED ON FORTNITE

This game has been one of the most popular video games for children and young people in recent times.
The free version, Fortnite: Battle Royale, operates across Windows and Mac, Xbox and PlayStation. However, while the game itself is free, players can
purchase outfits, weapons and other accessories to boost their chances of survival.
Fortnite pits players against other players around the world and the aim is to be the last person standing on a sometimes violent and hostile island
inhabited by monsters and enemy figures.
On average, each game can last around 20 minutes, assuming your character doesn’t get killed before that.
The Australian Council on Children and the Media says Fortnite is not recommended for children 12 years and under. Parental guidance is recommended
for children aged 13 to 17.

 

AT A GLANCE

GAMING AND YOUNG PEOPLE: A SNAPSHOT
76% of children under 18 play video games.
60% of parents play online games with their children in the same room.
81% of parents are familiar with controls on online games.
84% of parents say they have discussed playing safely online with their children.
48% of parents say they play online games with their children as a way of spending time with them.
77% of parents say they have rules about how long children can play games.
76% of parents have rules about games their child can play.

Digital Australia Report 2018 by Interactive Games & Entertainment Association

 

About TikTok

VIDEO SHARING

AGE 13

TikTok is described as “the world’s leading destination for short-form mobile videos”. Using smartphones, people capture and share moments of their everyday life. In 2018, TikTok was one of the world’s most downloaded apps.

TikTok produces a Community Well-Being series with information on how users can make the most of various safety and privacy tools. Some of the key tools are being able to keep your list of liked videos private by going to Privacy and Settings – click on the three dots in the top right corner. Then go to “Who Can See the Videos I’ve Liked” and choose between All or Me.

Users can keep the videos they make themselves private by choosing “Private” on the video posting page where it asks, “Who Can View This Video”.
By default, initially TikTok accounts are public – so you need to actively switch to a private account. Parents can get advice on safety for children on TikTok at support.tiktok.com

CHARACTER STRENGTHS

Appreciation of beauty and excellence // Ability to find, recognise and take pleasure
in the existence of goodness.
Humour // Sees the light side of life and
helps people to laugh.
Fairness // Treats people fairly and advocates for their rights.
Persistence/Determination // Focuses on goals and works hard to achieve them.
Honesty/Integrity // Speaks truthfully.
Bravery/Courage // Does not hide from challenging or scary situations.
Citizenship/Loyalty // Stays true to family and friends through difficult times.
Wisdom/Perspective // Can see things from different angles.
Social intelligence // Aware of the needs
of others.
Hope/Optimism // Expecting a good future.
Generosity/Kindness // Gives freely of their time and possessions.
Enthusiasm/Vitality // Has lots of energy and excitement for life.
Self-control // Controls desires and sticks
to decisions.
Creativity // Thinks of many different ways
to solve challenges.
Love of learning // Likes to learn new things.
Forgiveness // Can move on and not hold a grudge, giving others a second chance.
Love/Caring // Likes to help others.
Leadership // Helps the group meet
their goals.
Humility/Modesty // Not seeing themselves as more special than others.
Prudence/Being careful // Thinks through the best way to do things.
Spirituality // Believes in a higher meaning
or purpose.
Gratitude // Is thankful for what they have.
Curiosity // Keen to explore and discover
the world.
Open mindedness // Is not biased
or judgmental.

* Source: Level 9 and 10 – Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships, Published by Department of Education and Training. Melbourne, April 2018.
© State of Victoria (Department of Education and Training) 2016

When I came Out…

Marcus // 19 // gay

Q. HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF COMING OUT?
Such an anticlimax! After expecting the world to cave in, it was actually no big deal, and I was super thankful for that. I told my best mate at the time, and he was
fine.

Q. WHEN DID YOU FIRST BEGIN TO RECOGNISE YOU MIGHT BE HOMOSEXUAL?
At puberty, when I was about 12 or 13.
I totally freaked out. It was really hard to accept things were going to be different for me. I thought I’d get married and have kids.

Q. WAS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AFFECTED?
Absolutely. I became more and more depressed and desperately tried to think of ways that I could possibly change my orientation. I was self-harming at this stage.

Q. WHAT HELPED YOU GET THROUGH IT?
I think I’m lucky to have been born at a time when people can live openly.

Q. WAS IT DIFFICULT TELLING YOUR FAMILY?
I was so worried that I’d disappoint them. Family is the most important thing to me and to lose that would be devastating. When I did tell them, when I was 13, it
was such a relief that I could be myself around them.

Q. HOW DID THEY REACT?
Initially they had doubt … I can understand where they were coming from. But soon they were like: “When are you going to bring a boy around?”

Ways to Improve Your Relationship

  • Work to reduce stress that might be straining your relationship.
  • Discuss life stresses and how to manage them together. Support each other in difficult times.
  • Try to make positive interactions outweigh the negative, by five to one. Show appreciation, gratitude and care.
  • Share your views, ideas and emotions. Try to express frustration, disappointment and anger openly and constructively.
  • Consider your partner’s view and try to empathise with their thoughts, feelings and actions.
  • Establish shared values, expectations and standards, and work to live by those important to you.
  • Remain respectful during conflict. Keep calm during any discussions. Ensure you both work to repair any hurt caused.
  • Appreciate each other’s roles, the goals that link you, and how each of you contributes to and influences each other.
  • Encourage your partner’s work, friendships and activities. Celebrate successes.
  • Keep your sense of playfulness, affection and positive humour.

Source: Australian Psychological Society, psychology.org.au

Is My Child OK?

Is your child going through normal adolescent ups and downs? Angelina Chisari shares some of the lessons she’s learnt and signs to look out for.

More than half the callers to Kids Helpline are 13 to 18 years old and about one in five callers are worried about mental health – their own, or a person close to them.

“Most of the time they are seeking support and strategies to manage an already diagnosed or established mental health condition, but we also get contacts from children who aren’t diagnosed and who are concerned about initial symptoms or some quite serious symptoms,” says Angelina Chisari. 

Most mental-health concerns involve depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide. 

“At night, they can be left with their thoughts and have difficulties sleeping, and they call us because they can’t see their usual psychologist or counsellor then. They also call for crisis support if they have urges around suicide and self-harm – we build a safety net for young people,” says Ms Chisari.

She says it can be hard for parents to work out whether their teenager’s behaviour is normal, or whether it’s something to be concerned about. And she adds that it’s normal for parents to feel anxious and concerned about how to approach mental health concerns with their child. 

“We know teenagers tend to be a little more emotional than at other times in life. They are going through a lot of changes developmentally, socially, academically, physically and emotionally.

“The teenage brain is still developing, and this can leave young people feeling really tired, emotional and exhausted. Emotions like anger, sadness, stress and anxiety can be normal, but if
those emotions are excessive, consistent and prolonged over weeks to months, that needs to be explored further,” Ms Chisari says.

“We know teenagers tend to be a little more emotional than at other times in life.“

What is normal and what are the signs that a child may be struggling emotionally?

“Is your child retreating from family, friends or everyday activities? Or have you noticed other changes in their behaviour? Is your child avoiding school? Have they become more irritable or aggressive? Are they using drugs or alcohol? Usuallteenagers don’t want to spend as much time with their parents and their focus shifts to their friends. If you see a change in how much time your child is spending with their friends, that can be a sign that something is going on,” says Ms Chisari.

If your child shows persistent signs of hopelessness or pessimism, don’t minimise those feelings by trying to normalise them. “When you minimise their feelings, your child is less likely to talk to you again about those issues,” says Ms Chisari. “If the issue worsens and those feelings escalate from depression to self-harm. They’re not going to come back to you for help.”

Is your child showing increased sensitivity and heightened reactions to challenges, failure or rejection? Are they more self-critical than usual? Do they talk about feeling guilty or worthless? Your first reaction as a parent is important. “Be supportive and don’t try to convey that everything is in their head, that it’s normal teenage hormones and it will all get better,” says Ms Chisari. “Ask your child what is going on, how they are feeling, acknowledge and validate their feelings and involve them in options for support. Ask them if they want to speak to a counsellor or a doctor or to call an anonymous service like Kids Helpline so what they’re experiencing can be looked at further.”

Experts usually agree that if a condition is affecting a child’s ability to function day to day, or their ability to enjoy life, they may need professional help. 

It’s normal for parents to feel worried about how to talk to their kids about mental health. “As parents, we don’t always know what to do or say. It’s OK to feel this way and help is available,” says Ms Chisari. Parentline is a confidential telephone counselling service for parents and carers offering information, referrals and assistance on a range of parenting issues. 


Contact Parentline:  1300 30 1300

The Kids Helpline website has a dedicated section for parents that includes advice on how to start a conversation with a young person about their mental health. It also gives information on different forms of mental illness, signs, symptoms and support and treatment options.


Contact Kids Helpline: www.kidshelpline.com.au or 1800 55 1800

Life’s a Gamble

A small but worrying number of boys and girls start gambling before they turn 18, and some of them develop problems.

Between 0.2 and 4.4 per cent of Australian adolescents are already problem gamblers.

Research shows that problem gambling risk factors can be related to socio-demographic, personality, psychosocial, substance abuse, gambling, peer, school, and family factors.

Some of these common risk factors include being male, low socio-economic status, extraversion, non-conformity, impulsivity, sensation seeking, under controlled temperament, depressive symptoms, anxiety, impaired coping, life stress, ADHD, substance use, risk-taking, antisocial behaviour, violence, exposure to gambling, peer pressure, school difficulties and family problems.

Deakin University School of Psychology Lecturer Dr Stephanie Merkouris says parents and carers can reduce the risk by talking to young people, looking for problems, limiting internet use and thinking about family attitudes towards gambling and gambling-related activities.

Go to deakin.edu.au

Gamblers Help telephone line: 1800 858 858

Gamblers Help youth telephone line: 1800 262 376

Online support: www.gamblinghelponline.org.au 

Raising children: www.raisingchildren.net.au/articles/gambling.html

How Do I Spot Gambling Problems?

  • Sudden changes in the amount of money your child has
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Changes in mood
  • School absences or falling marks at school
  • Decreased social activities and friends (or complete withdrawal)
  • Preoccupation with: sports, internet, odds, video arcades, simulated gambling apps and games
  • Secrecy about gambling or denial

Protective Factors for Youth Gambling Problems

  • Female gender
  • Adaptive coping strategies
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Well-being
  • Self-monitoring
  • Personal competence
  • Resilience
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Social competence
  • Social support
  • Social bonding
  • School connnectedness
  • Understanding of randomness
  • Parental monitoring
  • Family cohesion

Young People & Gambling

 

 

 

 

 

Intelligent Gaming

Andrew Kinch is the founder of GameAware. He says video games – in the right measure – can help young people meet some important psychological needs.

“Gamers have been stigmatised over the years. There used to be a time when people wouldn’t admit to their friends that they played video games. Once an underground subculture, in 2017 these games were a $109 billion industry. 

“Gamers often feel the need to become defensive when they’re told that their passion is a waste of time. After that, anything that is true about the harms of excessive gaming is completely ignored. It’s a polarised debate between those who play and those who blame video games as the cause of gaming disorders. The truth lies somewhere in the middle and is often complex.

“Gaming is a great form of entertainment, but we must be on top of our self-regulation skills, especially when the motivation to play is to escape real life. When gaming becomes a coping mechanism to seek relief from pain, it can become excessive and problematic. People can choose gaming to attempt to meet their needs. When you combine this with easy access and the game mechanics that entice players to keep coming back, you can see how an individual might be motivated to live in the virtual world.

“In my experience, video games hit three motivational needs for young people: competence, autonomy and relatedness. 

“Competence is the feeling of mastery. Everyone wants to be good at something and video games allow you to become good at something quickly. If I want to be good at basketball it can take years – with video games, it takes months and you do it without breaking a sweat. 

“Secondly, teenagers and children don’t have a lot of autonomy in their lives. In a game, they have freedom over their own choices and can express themselves creatively. They can customise their characters and develop a second identity if they choose. 

“Every multi-player game meets the third need, which is relatedness or social connection. When you play with other people – in a competitive or collaborative way – you feel part of something bigger than yourself. You are part of a gamer community. Gaming can allow kids to build self-confidence because the community is accepting of people from all walks of life and any age.

“I’d argue that you can’t completely fulfill psychological needs through video games. Real life will always provide us with the opportunity to feel more fulfillment from competence, autonomy and social connection.”

3 Things You Can Try Now

1. Do a 10-day gaming challenge – go cold turkey and stay away from games and gaming culture.

But parents can’t just yank the Wi-Fi. It must be something the gamer decides to do to test the commonly spoken phrase – “I could stop if I wanted to, I just don’t want to”. The challenge is about helping a gamer help themselves. Even if they don’t reach 10 days, you get information as
to whether they can control themselves. However, three
or four days in to the challenge, gaming’s grip tends to
be loosened!

2. Parents need to play video games with their kids.

Get coached and get a better understanding of the nuance in the games your child plays. Be a spectator from time to time to show interest. If you take your child to soccer and watch them play, they feel valued and it’s the same if they see you are taking their gaming seriously. Take down defensive walls by getting involved. The conversation about gaming changes when parents are not considered the opposition.

3. Set up social gaming sessions to be shoulder-to-shoulder with friends.

When we game in the same room and play the same game, the dynamic is more exciting and provides a level of connection that online gaming isn’t quite able to provide.

The Psychologist

Paula Ross helps clients and their families with issues related to substance use, addiction or ‘substance-use disorder’.

In the field of drug and alcohol treatment and intervention there are lots of different terms – addiction, problematic drug use, or substance dependence. Addiction as a word has gone a little out of favour and from a psychology perspective we tend to now use ‘substance-use disorder’, but the criteria for substance use disorder are mostly the factors people consider when talking about addiction.

“Some young people use substances experimentally, some recreationally and some become substance-use dependent, but they are the minority. Substance use and therefore dependency can be related to internal and external factors. 

“External factors are things like peer-group behaviour and what might be going on in the young person’s family and circumstances at the time. Internal factors include the fact that some kids are more naturally risk takers, and there is a group of young people who start taking drugs as self-medication for depression, anxiety and because they don’t feel good about themselves. I think it’s possible we’ll discover that certain brain chemistry makes you more predisposed to addiction, too. 

“There are a complex number of factors that are involved here and so it’s not as simple as young people who develop substance-use disorders being from ‘bad’ families or from ‘bad’ parents. Parents and family members often feel they have failed or done something wrong and also need support. 

“The things that start heading into substance-use disorder territory are when young people start spending increasing amounts of time using, obtaining, planning or sorting out their drug use or recovering from drug use. 

“We are concerned if young people start not meeting their commitments in other areas of their life as a result of their drug use. So they don’t get homework done, they can’t get to school and they don’t do their normal social and family activities. So things start to ‘go’. 

“It can be helpful if parents and family members don’t jump to conclusions but instead start a conversation with their child about what might be happening – ‘I notice this, this and this, what is going on?’ Rather than ‘I’ve noticed this, this and this – I think you’re using drugs’. 

“Stay calm and don’t overwhelm your teenager. So don’t sit down with your whole family and talk at them. Think about who is the best person to talk to the young person, who has the best communication with them, who is most likely to not get angry or emotional? And approach the conversation with warm curiosity – ‘I’m interested in what is going on, how are you…’

“You won’t have one conversation and find that your young person says ‘you’re right, I’ll stop’.”

“Parents need to have realistic expectations. You won’t have one conversation and find that your young person says ‘you’re right, I’ll stop’. Approach each conversation with an aim to start a dialogue and to keep communication channels open.

“If the conversation starts to go badly and you or your child gets angry or emotional, stop it. Don’t pressure yourself to have the whole conversation in that one moment. Sometimes the first conversation is about flagging the issue and sending the message that your child can talk about anything with you and that they can come to you. It is an ongoing conversation.

“There is some debate around whether you disclose your own past (or present) drug use. Parents need to walk the line between disclosure with the aim of letting a child know that you understand versus how much of your disclosure will your child hear as permission giving. If you do disclose, don’t turn it into a speech about every drug you’ve taken in your life – disclose a certain amount. 

“Parents can talk to a professional to discuss what they are dealing with and to get advice on how they can support their child. Consistency in the family is important. Family members should talk among themselves about how they as a family are going to respond to this issue. So are you giving your child
money or not? Are you letting them stay out all night or not?
What do you tell your other children if they ask questions about what is happening? 

“Above all, as a starting point, stay calm, get help and keep focusing on having conversations.”

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