#flashbackFlashback to 2013…..to when I had a daughter who had just started school, and a three year old and 16 month old at home with me. In this clip we are teaching my nearly 4 year old how to use her new camera and it perfectly captures the chaos, silliness and fun of our family at this time. Not to mention from here on we had more photos of double chins, up noses, toes, floors, tv shows and our pets than I can possibly count. These kid videos perfectly capture this time and way better than the photos and videos that I took. So I’m really glad they did learn to use the technology, as it is great to reminisce through these.Where did you find yourself in 2013?
I’m still dreaming of going on holiday and just when I think it’s time to start booking….the dreaded COVID-19 restrictions puts doubts in my mind again. But in a true optimistic style, I actually began scouring for beach front apartments tonight. So I’m determined to have some beach time before too long!
What keeps me going when things are difficult, when I’m tired and overwhelmed? Why do I work as hard and as consistently as I do? Yes I have to remind myself at times….
For me, my work at Side by Side Psychology or in my online group work is fuelled by a passion to make a difference for the better. It’s the belief that every child, teen and adult deserves to feel good about who they are and to have the option to have a great life. With this passion and understanding that has grown and evolved over the years, I really believe that it is up to me and people like me, to use the knowledge we have to try and make positive impact on the world. Whenever I feel that things are getting overwhelming or I’m wishing for a simpler life, where I cared less about it all, so I could be less driven, I think about my own children and what my wish is for them and what I’ve been prepared to do to have this. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to give my children skills, safety, attachment, optimism and guidance. And I know as they grow they always have me and our family to lean on for help, love and support. However I know that not every family is as fortunate as this, or is as easily able to access these kinds of resources. But I also know that for most families there is a deep desire as parents, to be the best for our children, to help them as much as possible and to provide them a wonderful life, and/or skills to make their life great. It is this knowledge that drives me to keep innovating, keep caring and keep thinking of ways that I can help as many children, teens and families as I can.
For those that are new to following me, I thought it would be a good idea to let you learn a bit about me.
So my profession is a clinical psychologist, and I have a real passion working with autistic individuals (children, teens and adults). The longer I’ve been working in this space and listening to my clients, I’ve become more attuned to the influence of positive psychology and the neurodiversity model. I’ve been in private practice since about 2006 in some capacity, and have been running my own private practice since 2012 and opened Side by Side Psychology in 2018, with expanding to include my first team member, Zoe last year. I’ve begun branching out into the online group coaching space in 2020 in an effort to support more families and parents this past year. Private practice is wonderful for me because it allows me to be flexible enough to be very present for my three daughters (8,11 and 13) in the way I want to. I’ve been married for nearly 16 years and family is super important to me. I’m from a big family myself (one of 6 kids) and am lucky that nearly all my siblings live nearby. I love animals nearly as much as I love children and am fortunate our first fur babies have been with us for 16 and 12 years respectively.
When not working, I’m a book lover and I also I really enjoy attending Body Balance(TM) classes at my local gym, which is a yoga, Thai chi and Pilates fusion. During last year’s lockdowns fell in love with bike riding with my girls (when everything else was closed). I’ve also just learnt how to stand-up paddle board and I love learning how to do new activities with my family. Moving my body and feeling energised has been an important part of maintaining good mental health and looking after myself and my family and it’s something that I often remind myself about the importance of- as it has such ongoing benefits.
So over to you, what’s something you’d like to share about yourself that has helped you to keep caring for yourself or your family?
I AM ONLY GOING TO SAY YES TO THINGS THAT ARE ALIGNED FOR ME AND THE GOALS I’VE SET.
Making these kinds of declarations is a helpful way for me to stay on track and make sure my actions match my intentions. It helps me to be definite in what I want and know what I don’t want and helps me to meet my goals, even though for me a declaration it is not a goal per say.
Do you have declarations that have helped shape your life the way you want it to be? And if you do make them, who do you make them to-yourself or do you tell others around you? Sometimes choosing particular people to tell about these intentions can really help you stick to them.
A declaration can also be be short term thing, too. For example it could be about how you intend your day to go, or how you decide your attitude will be.
So I encourage you to make a declaration today about how things will go and see how that feels for you and what happens.
First days. First days of school for a new year. First days for some beginning school for the first time. And whilst firsts can be exciting for some, for others there is more anxiety and concern. These first days are filled with lots of unknowns and for lots of my clients and their families, there can be anxiety about a range of things including: *. do the teachers and support staff have enough knowledge of their child to support their child,
did we had enough time during our transition days?,
will my child have a good experience?,
what will they do if they didn’t have a good transition day last year, can we change their attitude?
is it too late to have some more transition days now?
what can we do to make sure the new school year in 2021 is positive? Having COVID-19 restrictions still in place across schools in 2020 has certainly not made this preparation and transition easier, with the number of transition days having been reduced for most schools last year. But in the spirit of controlling what we can, and leaving the rest to the universe, there is a few things you can check to see whether these things would help make upcoming ‘first days’ positive ones:
if you are anxious about your child having a good experience with their upcoming first day, don’t share that with them directly or in front of them. Be supportive and confident in front of them that this first can be a positive experience (vent to others who get your nervousness and concern away from the ears of children!) and that all children feel nervous about new things, first days and that they have experienced these before and things do get easier gradually.
ask your school about extra transitions across the summer school holiday break-inquire when the school will be open to staff and if it’s possible for extra visits to happen in the weeks prior to students being back at school. Even if the school is empty(in fact this can be quite helpful) it can be helpful to see the school environment and get familiar with it before students are there. This is one less thing for them to process on their first day.
Ask if the school can provide photos or video be taken of the school/ classroom environment so that these can be reviewed later by the child. Having visuals to share and talk about, can be really helpful.
Can the upcoming class teacher/s have a photos of them and or their classroom forwarded to parents via email. Again having visuals to help learn the identify of staff and their role at the school can be very helpful. This is especially helpful for students transitioning to high school where they go from a classroom teacher to 7 or 8 new staff members to get to know.
See if you can get a map of the school and identify safe and calm spaces that the child can spend time in. Having this map also makes it easier to ask about their day and help them plan where to go when they need to for certain classes or during breaks.
Create a Social Story (TM) with the words and photos that the child/ young person can read/reread as you get closer to the official first day (of school).
Also if you’ve not already, visit the Positive Partnerships website for a look at their checklists and templates and any training you think would be useful as this website is all about supporting families and schools to understand how to support kids on the Spectrum http://www.positivepartnerships.com.au
And lastly be prepared with information for your child’s teacher which is a 1 page snapshot (brief summary) of your child. Their strengths, interests and how they learn best, so it is easier for your child’s teacher to get to know them and for them to form a good relationship. I hope that these upcoming tips are helpful for school firsts coming your way. Kate
Writing is something that I used to do in a diary as a young child, as a teenager and as a parent. Each time the writing had a different purpose. As a child, it was somewhere to share secrets or vent upset feelings, as a teenager, again a wonderful way of expressing strong emotion that you knew was probably best not to share with friends or family-only because it was most likely about them! And as a new parent, I wrote detailed journals of how I was feeling being a new parent, the different milestones my babies met-to help me document this for the future, but also so I could remember afterwards!
Journaling is a great way to get our internal thoughts down on paper (or into an electronic document). The process of recording a thought helps to create distance between our thoughts and allows some analysis of them, which can help to develop clarity of thought. I don’t journal all the time, consistently, but go in phases. However when I do, the style is usually one with a focus on gratitude.
I’ve found journalling or writing in response to prompts, very helpful for motivation, for bringing awareness to unhelpful beliefs and for finding evidence and gratitude for current states of mind. I like it to bring focus to an intention about the future and to help develop ideas I might have for goals or aspirations.
I certainly feel that writing is a powerful way to develop insight about your thoughts and feelings. It can be very helpful to reduce intensity of emotion and to help switch on helpful logical thinking as well. I would certainly encourage you to try gratitude journaling if it’s not something you’ve every tried, because it is one of the very powerful ways we can bring more happiness and contentment into our lives.
Blue is my favourite colour and the blue of the Coral Sea is one of my most favourite blue’s. It is a symbol of freedom, expanse, and invigoration, where anything is possible.
This year we did not get to travel up north to Queensland, like we’ve been able to before, so I’m missing the shade of the Coral Sea blue, missing the expanse of the ocean and the way it makes everything seem small by comparison. So thinking about not seeing this blue, actually makes me feel a little ‘blue’. Conversely when I’m surrounded by blue, I feel as sense of joy and peacefulness.
So I will focus on my goal of being able to look at this ocean again, I will look at pictures of past trips and dream locations and places I’ll go to in the future. I’m imagining how much I’ll enjoy it, how wonderful it will feel when we go there again.
So for now I’ll enjoy the blue of my children’s eyes and the blue colours I can create with my art.
It’s amazing how colour has different associations for different people. I know that in my work with emotions, many people have different attachments and meanings to different colours.
For lots of people we association red for example, with anger, but we need to be mindful that everyone has different associations, so refraining from making assumptions for others is important-, as I also know a few children, where red is their very happiest colour! And ironically enough, the colour of red is strongly associated with Christmas!
Do different colours evoke different emotions for your? Try and surround yourself with those that make you feel centred and calm, especially in your relaxing home spaces.
Thinking about whether you are a rule breaker or rule follower, I instinctively think I’m more of a rule follower than a rule breaker. I’m averse to getting into ‘trouble’ and certainly followed most of the rules when I was growing up. Although as I’ve gotten older, what became clear was that even more important than following rules, was for me to understand why the rule was there in the first place,who made the rule, (how long ago?!), how it was helpful it is the certain individuals versus others, whether it was helpful in my personal situation and what would the consequences be if I didn’t adhere to the rule and whether the rule in fact was outdated and needed to be changed?! So when all those questions were answered, my actions could change from rule follower to rule breaker quite easily. More and more in my work in the area of autism the concept of breaking rules or expectations arises. It comes up when a child’s behaviour gets notices developmentally for not following the expected developmental pathway, it gets noticed when social rules are not being followed with friends and peers (such as in conversations, games etc). Conversely we can also break rules, if we try and follow them too literally! -as this then breaks more social rules!-how confusing! So for me, rules are helpful when we are trying to create cohesiveness and group and safety. They are not so helpful if they have no flexibility for individual needs and variation, or when the purpose does not serve everyone equally. For me it’s finding the balance between following some rules, because it’s good for me and for others, but also breaking some rules that are more harmful than helpful, or actively seeing how we can re-write the rules to make the more relevant and helpful.
What kind of rules do you like to break and which ones do you think we need to break more often?