Recovery After The Bushfires

We’ve all had a traumatic experience with the bushfires in the last few months. No-one who lived through this can have escaped without some level of emotional disturbance. For many, this experience has been profound.

Understanding Trauma

Trauma is not what happens to us, but how our bodies respond to what happens to us. Many of us will need support to help digest and integrate this experience.

Trauma is an embodied experience. That is, we feel it inside our bodies. You might have noticed some of the signs, such as feeling withdrawn or maybe tense and uptight. Perhaps you noticed your breathing has been shallow, or you felt a bit light-headed.

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Helping Children Impacted by Bushfires

The recent bushfires have been very unsettling for all of us, particularly our children, and it’s normal to be feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Your children might need some help in understanding what is happening.

Your loving care as a parent can make a huge difference to how your children will process their experiences. Spending time together to create a shared family narrative can be a big help. Below are some suggestions that you might find helpful.

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Raising a Secure Child

We all want to be the best parents that we can be, but sometimes we need a bit of help. This is particularly so if our own childhood was difficult.

The good news is that it is possible to change the narrative, and we don’t have to repeat the mistakes from the past.

Parenting is tricky at the best of times, but even more so with the challenges being faced by parents in the twenty-first century.

Secure Attachment

Attachment describes a child’s relationship with parents/carer, and is a crucial part of their early development. A securely attached child easily turns to their parents for comfort and support. They see their carers as providing a secure base from which to explore their world. They also know their parents offer a safe haven to return to when feeling troubled.

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Toddler Tantrums

It happens to all of us. That moment when your toddler “loses it” in public. You feel frustrated, embarrassed and totally at a loss to know what to do.

Your toddler is expressing some really big feelings here. They’ve probably been sending out signals for a while, but in your need to focus on other tasks, its easy to miss them. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you have a toddler lying on the floor, kicking and screaming.

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Attachment Styles in Relationships

Have you ever wondered what it is that draws people together, and what it is that pulls you apart?

Perhaps the answer lies in your attachment style.

Understanding our attachment style helps to recognise our strengths and vulnerabilities in relationships.

Attachment styles develop during childhood, possibly even before birth. They describe a child’s relationship with their parents, later becoming unconscious patterns of behaviour. It is these patterns that often influence our adult relationships.

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Challenging Behaviours

Sometimes our children can really test our patience.

Do you ever find yourself completely at a loss, with no idea how to respond to your child’s behaviours?

You’ve worked out that systems of punishment, time-outs and rewards are rarely, if ever, successful, but what else is there?

Responding Rather than Reacting

Best results can be achieved when we learn how to respond rather than react to the behaviours that challenge our sense of calm. Rather than “attention seeking”, as is often thought, your children are usually seeking connection. Their behaviours are telling you that they need your help to understand some really big feelings.

They are not bad kids, but are simply responding to some big feelings that they don’t understand, and do not yet have the words to express. Our reactions to their behaviours are often a result of our own upbringing, which creates our ” shark music”. Our bodies are wired to react to a perceived threat, based on past experiences.

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Why see a Counsellor?

Is there something in your life you would like to change?

Perhaps you are feeling confused, anxious or worried about something (or someone). Maybe you have reached a point in your life when you are looking for something new?

These feelings happen to all of us, and it can be helpful to talk to someone. It might be tempting to think “I’m OKAY, I can sort this out by myself,” but those thoughts can keep going round and round in your head. Talking to a therapist can help you to get off that roundabout.

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Developmental Delay

Does your child often “act out” for no apparent reason? Perhaps you are worried they might have signs of autism or ADHD? Maybe you are concerned that they are falling behind other children in reaching certain milestones?

Children often find it hard to tell us how they are feeling. They get angry or frustrated and hit out, yelling and screaming. Maybe they seem uncoordinated and bump into things, often say “huh” or “what”, or find it difficult to make friends.

All of these behaviours can be signs of developmental delay. You can learn more on the Australian Government Website, raising children.net.au. Immaturities in your child’s early development can show up in your their movements, emotions, behaviour, learning and communication.

The NDIS offers support to families and carers of children with developmental delays that are likely to be ongoing. You may be eligible to receive support to help your children to develop the skills they need for everyday life.

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Hearing and Listening

Do you ever wonder why your child can detect the sound of lolly wrappers at 50 metres, but appears unable to follow instructions?

You know your child can hear, but how well can they listen, or understand what they are hearing?

For many of us, the ability to process sensory information has been impacted by overwhelming events during infancy and early childhood. When we were frightened, our bodies adapted. Over time, we learnt to tune in to background sounds, rather than focus on the human voice.

Sensory Overwhelm

When a parent brings a child with signs of autism, ADHD or dyslexia, I usually offer a listening assessment as part of a general assessment for developmental delay. Many children who struggle in the classroom have immaturities in auditory processing ability. That is, they find it difficult to block out background sounds and to focus on the teacher’s voice. They may also find it difficult to focus on a parent’s voice in a busy home environment.

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Sensory Motor Development

Is your child struggling to keep up in school? Do they find it hard to make friends, or get into trouble for wriggling around, or talking too much in class?

It is likely that your child is struggling with some form of developmental delay. This means that early stages of development were missed, or are incomplete. As parents, we don’t always know where to turn for help.

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Years of Experience

Rosalind is a PACFA accredited Holistic Counsellor and Psychotherapist and long-term resident of Moruya, on the south coast of New South Wales. An empathic and compassionate listener she will respect your need for safety, trust and confidentiality in the therapeutic relationship.

Rosalind brings to therapy the depth of understanding that comes from lived experience.