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Managing strong feelings at the best of times can be challenging. Our children take their lead from us. When we are chaotic, so are they. When we are in the grip of strong feelings such as anger and sadness, they watch and learn (whether this is positive or negative) how to react and behave. When we are calm and rational, they are more likely to model this too, and if not, at least we are in a better place to help them with their strong feelings.
We want to be able to coach them through these strong feelings and teach them how to manage them well. However, that means we ourselves need to have a sense of how to do this so that we can help our children find calm. Sometimes, even if we do know what to say and do, our own strong reactions to them can interfere with a rational and helpful response.
What to do with strong feelings first?
Here are some tips to initial responses you can try:
- Allow them to express themselves (without hurting anyone), for a minute or two. This might be verbal or non-verbal expression;
- Reflect back to them what you think they might be feeling …“you seem pretty angry”, “do you feel frustrated?”, “are you sad?”. Often merely acknowledging their feelings will help diminish their intensity. When children feel seen and heard, they tend to calm naturally;
- However, when their feelings are very big and strong, we may need to let them express it further, but help them to do this more appropriately. For example “do you need to stomp out your anger?” (and stomp with them), “why don’t you hit this cushion with all of your anger?” (and stay close by), “it’s ok to scream loudly, but do it into the air or a pillow…not my face”.
How to help children calm down
Any break in this expression of feeling is the time to jump in with calming strategies:
- encourage little ones to breathe, and in particular to blow out a big breath, just like blowing out lots of candles;
- explain to pre-teens and teens that we need to expel the build-up of carbon dioxide that makes us feel sick and dizzy;
- encourage them to move around, to shift the adrenalin that has built up;
- connect with little ones again, by holding their hands and looking into their eyes, affirming to them that they are safe and not in trouble for having big strong feelings. If there was a trigger event of a conflict, address this afterwards, but not right now. Wait about 10 minutes before talking about it when you are both calm;
- connect with teens by a touch, a text, or gesture of making them something to eat or drink. Give them the option of talking to you, if not straight away, then perhaps in the car on your next trip. If conflict needs to be addressed, deliver the pre-agreed upon consequence without negotiation or emotion.
What if strong feelings are becoming a problem?
If you are unsure, our experienced psychologists can be your coach. They will then be able to show you how to model becoming calm for your children to see and encourage how to teach your children with similar strategies.
We all know that parenting is not an easy journey and that many of us experience stress and anxiety or even guilt at times. If this is the case, and you are overwhelmed with your own strong feelings, we have a clinic at the CWBC designed specifically to address parenting stress and anxiety.
During these challenging times, the Centre remains open and can offer in-person sessions or online meetings.
Please contact Reception for further information.
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As you will be aware, we are living in very complex and challenging times. I want to affirm for you that the Child Wellbeing Centre will continue to provide therapy services in the weeks and months to come. Our aim is to provide a range of options to meet the needs of our children and families, including face to face consultation, telephone or video-conferencing and in some instance “therapy packages” for parents to work on with children at home.
As an allied health practice, we are considered an essential service. Further, we are being asked by both the NDIS and the Australian Government Department of Health to find ways to continue providing services during these difficult times. No one knows when the “other side of the pandemic” will arrive so we are now thinking about the short and long term strategies.
The NDIS introduced a number of measures at the start of the week to support service providers such as the Child Wellbeing Centre. This was done in recognition of the challenges ahead – both to keep therapy going and to keep staff employed.
A summary of changes is below. We ask for your support and co-operation as we introduce these new measures.
|Proposed change||What this means for you?|
NDIS will temporarily increase prices by 10% for services covered by Improved Daily Living (e.g. therapy services).
We will be invoicing the 10% and applying that to all invoices from the 25 March.
The good news here is that NDIS will also increase your child’s funding by 10% too, so it shouldn’t affect your child’s overall funding.
The bit we’re not clear about is when families will see this extra funding.
From 25 March 2020, participants will be required to give 10 business days’ notice (no longer 3pm, the day before) for a cancellation if they want to avoid paying the full fee for a cancelled service.
From 30 March, participants will be charged 100 per cent of the agreed support price if they cancel a service at short notice (no longer 90 per cent).
We will be rigorously applying the cancellation policy as per the NDIS requirements.
We understand that children may be sick or you may be self-isolating. However in the current environment, we don’t really have any other option if the Centre is to remain open in the longer term.
Normally when we make changes at the Centre I try to give a lot more notice. However we live in challenging times and my management team and I are making decisions day to day in the interest of our clients and staff. I sincerely hope these are temporary measures only and that we find our way back to “normality” soon.
Our preference is to keep providing therapy and problem solve how we can best do this with you. We have lots of creative ideas about how we can do this. COVID-19 doesn’t have to stop therapy.
Please feel free to talk to your case manager and consultant about these changes. Let us know if you are thinking of withdrawing from therapy and feel free to ask about the alternatives. Brookke Haggett, Business Operations Manager is also available to during the week should you need to have a chat.
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I’m sure you’re all too aware that if there is one constant at the moment with Covid-19, it’s that things keep changing! Like you, we are monitoring the news on a daily basis and making decisions about how we can keep our staff, clients and community safe.
As allied health professionals, we will keep providing our usual therapy services to our clients for as long as it is safe for us to do. We are still offering face to face therapy but you’ll note we are vigilant about handwashing and hand sanitisers…whether we see you in the Centre or in schools or at home. We are also keeping staff home when they have flu/cold symptoms and asking our clients to stay home too if they are unwell.
We’re getting a little creative too!
Telehealth services are available. This means therapy via telephone and video conferencing. A few of our staff are currently learning about videoconferencing and how to use this for therapy. Others have already been providing services this way to our country clients for some time. The nice thing is that most of our children will be fine in this medium (and probably be the experts!). It will probably be the adults catching up!
Where we can we are also looking at what we can do to set up independent therapy tasks for those self-isolated at home, particularly with our ABA clients.
Please feel free to talk to your consultant about how we can support you and your children. We will be working hard to be flexible.
We’re not planning on going anywhere just yet!
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We are certainly living in very interesting times. Our news and social media is flooded with news about the Covid-19 virus and the impact it is having in people’s lives.
At the Centre we are trying to operate on a business as usual basis and will continue to provide therapy services for our clients. However we are changing a few things to minimise the risk of infection for everyone.
What are we doing?
In our consulting rooms, you’ll be seeing staff using hand sanitisers more often – in particular at the start and end of sessions. If our staff are seeing you at home, they will be practising hand-washing with your children.
We’ve beefed up our toy cleaning regime to try and keep resources as germ-free as possible.
Our front desk staff will be regularly wiping the EFTPOS machine and reception counter and ledges with disinfectants too.
We are reviewing procedures on a day to day basis in light of what we are learning from the Coronavirus updates. A really useful website (in case you haven’t come across it so far) is the Department of Health WA website:
How can you help?
Please encourage your child to wash their hands when they come into the Centre. Hand washing, when done properly, is still the most effective way of reducing the spread of germs.
Please keep children, yourself and other family members home if they have cold/flu symptoms. This becomes even more critical as we get closer to winter. Those wonderful people working at the Coronavirus screening clinics just won’t have the capacity to screen everyone and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Let Reception know as soon as you can that you need to reschedule.
Please don’t be angry with staff if you come to an appointment and you or your child is unwell and we ask you to leave. We understand that therapy is important but the priority at the moment is to minimise the spread of infection in the community.
Oh, and this one is a bit cheeky….please don’t “borrow” our toilet paper rolls. Quite a few rolls disappeared last week. We’re running short like everyone else on hand sanitisers, tissues and toilet rolls and are working very hard to source replacements. Toilet paper is proving the trickiest to find!
Working together we can have a big impact in slowing down the virus and protecting the most vulnerable in the community. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in advance.
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It is more than likely that by now you and your children are being exposed to sources of anxiety and panic around the coronavirus (COVID-19). As always, when parents worry or panic, children can pick up on this without really understanding what it is all about. Typically their questions will start with “what is … or … what if”. Rather than just telling them not to worry, simple explanations with age-relevant objective information can be very helpful.
Helping kids understand the worry about the Coronavirus
One of the best antidotes to anxiety and panic is knowing more about the topic. It may be helpful for you to know that recently the statistics are indicating that children are not being greatly affected by the Coronavirus. To date, it seems that children may be less likely to catch the virus, and if they do, they may have mild flu like symptoms that seem to resolve without further complications.
If the children see people wearing masks on tv or in shopping centres, you might talk about it helping to prevent the spread of germs, and why washing your hands is very important. Teenagers might like to discuss the pros and cons for wearing a mask. These are easy conversations that will assist them with any sense of worry or anxiety. However, it is very important that adults discussing this with children are well-informed, not by the news but by our science forums.
Getting helpful information
News reports exacerbate anxiety and panic around people stockpiling staples. Rather than it being the situation of every-man-for-himself, this is a wonderful opportunity to talk to your children about being organised, and thereby being able to support your family and community. When buying extras (if this is what you choose to do), you might discuss how you as a family might need to support others who aren’t able to be as organised. For example, if you know near-by elderly people, you might talk in terms of making sure that you will be able to help them if this is needed. Depending on their age, your children might also understand the need to support other families with people who are often sick (the immunosuppressed). Indeed, there may be families in their school that are already identified, and this close-to-home example allows the possibility of thinking about what others might need too.
Yes, there is concern about COVID-19. Do we need to panic? Absolutely not and it is imperative for our children that we don’t. Our children can catch anxiety as easily as any virus. Protecting them from the germination of our own anxiety is the best preventative.
You are of course very welcome to discuss your concerns about your child’s level of anxiety with our psychologists. We can’t help with medical advice but we can help with anxiety management.
Please call reception on 9274 7062 for further information.