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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.

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

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.”

Everything You Need To Know About Teenagers

Everything you need to know about teenagers – and more 

Teens 101 tackles drugs, social media, sex, mental health, and respect

Parenting teenagers is more challenging than ever in the coronavirus (COVID-19) age. 

The usual issues such as anxiety, experimentation, peer pressure and cyber bullying, have in many cases been compounded by the global pandemic and resulting social isolation.

Now, more than ever, parents are looking for support and guidance. Known for its factual and non-preachy guides Drugs 101, Social Media 101, Sex 101, Mental Health 101 and Respect 101, Parent Guides has combined them to produce a compendium, Teens 101.  

The 180-page reference book draws upon the latest research, expert advice, and practical resources to help parents and carers navigate the teen years and start important conversations with their children. No holds are barred, and no topic is shirked.

“We tell it how it is,” says founder and Melbourne media identity Eileen Berry. “We inform parents and carers about what drugs their kids might take, what they are doing online, how likely they are to be having sex and, most importantly, how to discuss all this rationally with them.

Teens 101 covers all the bases and will be a valuable resource for parents, carers, schools, universities and other organisations that support families. Our goal is to spark meaningful conversations between parents, carers and their young people.”

Parent Guides is a not-for-profit organisation that has provided resources for nearly six years. The guides help parents and carers educate themselves about teen issues, and in some cases have prompted expert panel nights at schools.

The new compendium resource is ideal for schools, universities, libraries, and family support organisations. Special bundle packages have been developed to make them affordable.

“We want as many families as possible to benefit,” Eileen says. “With COVID-19 potentially amplifying issues faced by teenagers, practical and useful advice from respected experts is more important than ever.”

For more details: Eileen Berry, Parent Guides Founder & Ph: 0407 542 655 

Contact us via the contact form.

Guiding Families Through Coronavirus

Talking honestly with children about the current health crisis may help to reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing.

While the coronavirus pandemic threatens the physical health of people globally, it is also affecting our mental health.

This makes starting a conversation with children about the risks and possible consequences of COVID-19 without instilling panic a challenge.

The Australian Psychological Society says as the number of cases rises the level of anxiety within the community rises.

It advises families to keep things in perspective, limit related media exposure and seek facts from reliable sources such as the Australian Government’s health alert or the World Health Organization.


“Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others, whether this be through listening and observing what is happening at home or at school,” the APS says.

“It is important that they can speak to you about their own concerns. Answer their questions. Do not be afraid to talk about the coronavirus with children.

“Providing opportunities to answer their questions in an honest and age-appropriate way can help reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing.”


The Australian Government’s Department of Health has developed a collection of resources for the general public, health professionals and industry about coronavirus (COVID-19), including translated resources.

See: http://bit.ly/39ZISDx

World Health Organization updates can be found here: https://bit.ly/3cQUwCw


  • Speak to them about coronavirus in a calm manner.
  • Ask them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have.
  • Let them know that it is normal to experience some anxiety when new and stressful situations arise.
  • Give them a sense of control by explaining what they can do to stay safe (e.g., wash their hands regularly, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing).
  • Don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary information (e.g., death rates) as this can increase their anxiety.
  • Reassure them that coronavirus is less common and severe in children compared to adults.
  • Allow regular contact (e.g., by phone & video call) with people they may worry about, such as grandparents, to reassure them that they are ok.

Download this blog post as a free flyer here:


Jess Chooses Life

Jess Chooses Life – A Play About Overcoming Bullying and Mental Health

Parent Guides is very proud and excited to be involved in delivering the play ‘Jess Chooses Life’ – to be performed Wednesday 19 Feb 2020, at 7 pm, at McKinnon Secondary College, Melbourne. 

Admission is free, and the play will be accompanied by a meaningful discussion alongside mental health professionals.

Use the following link to book your FREE tickets: https://www.trybooking.com/BHQJH

Get FREE Tickets

Some words from Angus (Gus) Clelland, Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Victoria:

“In 2018 there were 3,046 deaths by suicide, and 458 of these were young people under 25 years of age.

In the face of this national tragedy, both the Federal Government and the Victorian Government have made mental health and suicide prevention top priorities.

Community, family and friends are fundamentally important when it comes to suicide prevention.

With this in mind, Mental Health Victoria – the peak body for mental health organisations – is very pleased to commend the collaboration of Health Play, Parent Guides and PoPsy to produce Jess Chooses Life, a sensitive and thought-provoking play that examines the pressures faced by young people and how parents can broach challenging topics such as mental health and suicide.

The format of the production – which includes audience discussion supported by mental health professionals – is highly engaging and thought-provoking, while being sensitive and supportive to audience members who may have lived experience.”

View the video testimonials from the previous play: https://vimeo.com/327637872/a0f46a1fc9

Respect Can Stop Domestic Violence

Parent Guides has been featured in a number of high profile publications including SBS News, Perth Now and the Daily Mail. With domestic violence being such an important issue, it is great to see awareness and interest from the public. See the full article and links below. *All content belongs to rightful owners AAP Media.

SBS: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence

Perth Now: https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/social/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence-ng-s-1942384

The West: https://thewest.com.au/news/social/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence-ng-s-1942384

The Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-7002737/Respect-help-stop-domestic-violence.html

The Examiner: https://www.examiner.com.au/story/6112237/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence/

Respect can help stop domestic violence.

Charity begins at home and so should respect, according to a new guide trying to help combat domestic violence.

Melbourne media identity Eileen Berry says teaching respect in the home is the first step to stamping out negative behaviour.

RESPECT 101 is the latest in the Parent Guides 101 series.

It helps families define respect and encourage it in their children.

“RESPECT 101 identifies what respectful behaviour is, how to turn disrespectful into respectful, how to create life-long relationships and how to embed respect within the culture of adolescence,” Ms Berry says.

“This can apply at home, in school, in relationships and the community. It is important for parents and carers to model good behaviour and talk to their young people about what is and isn’t appropriate.”

The resource contains statistics, expert advice and case studies to inform and start important conversations between parents and carers and their teenagers.

Parenting Guides Ltd, a registered charity, has produced five other parenting resources that cover topics including drugs, sex, social media and body image.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14

Pick My Project – Suicide: It’s Time We Talked


Suicide: It’s Time We Talked is a 35-minute play that addresses youth suicide in the online era and how young people can reach breaking point without their parents realising.

Jessica’s parents find suicidal comments on her computer when she climbs out her bedroom window. After giving her parents a scare, Jess discusses her concerns with them, including bullying and her friend Lindy’s suicide. The message is one of understanding and hope.

Written by theatre veteran Alan Hopgood AM, the play is followed by a 30-minute Q&A with an expert panel including PoPsy director and positive psychology advocate Marie McLeod and headspace manager and mental health social worker Kirsten Cleland. Read more