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Strictly Parenting : Everything you need to know about raising school-aged kids - Michael Carr-Gregg

Strictly Parenting

Everything you need to know about raising school-aged kids

Paperback Published: 27th August 2014
ISBN: 9780143206286
Number Of Pages: 352

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'If you want to land your kids in therapy, then by all means, give them everything under the sun.'

In his work as a family psychologist, Michael Carr-Gregg has noticed a worrying trend in our modern parenting styles, which sees kids running riot and parents running for cover. In our desire to give our children the best, we may have given them way too much, and overlooked the importance of setting boundaries. He believes it's a recipe for disaster.

In Strictly Parenting, Michael asks parents to take a good hard look at the way they are parenting – to toughen up and stop trying to be their kids' best friends. Instead he offers practical, evidence-based solutions on how to take back the reins and start making the most of the precious family years.

With a user-friendly A-Z guide covering all the tricky issues that parents encounter over the years – everything from birthday parties and bedtimes to sex and drugs – this is an invaluable and very timely resource for parents of all school-aged kids.

About the Author

Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg has written several bestselling books on parenting, including Surviving Adolescents, The Princess Bitchface Syndrome, Beyond Cyberbullying and When to Really Worry.

I got the idea for this book after a visit to the dentist. It's not often that I gain any great insights from going to see my dentist, but this particular visit was different. I was quietly waiting my turn for my annual check-up when a mother walked in with her 6-year-old son, whom I'll call Elvis (not his real name).
Beautifully dressed in designer clothes, Elvis made a beeline for the toys that were neatly stacked away in a corner of the waiting room. After a few minutes of screeching and wild play, he proceeded to hurl them all over the room, narrowly missing an elderly lady sitting near me.
Elvis's mother was the picture of insouciance, completely absorbed in the tiny characters on her smart phone and ignoring the larger than life character who was now creating quite a commotion.
After what seemed like an eternity, Elvis was summoned by the receptionist to see the dental hygienist. The receptionist said in a reasoned, kind voice, 'Now before you go in, do you mind just putting the toys away?'
This tricky situation hit critical mass when Elvis turned on the receptionist and in a loud, rude voice said, 'Why should I? They aren't mine!'
Showing some Mary MacKillop–like qualities, the receptionist replied patiently, 'Well, you were playing with them and it would be nice if you'd put them back where you found them.'
'You can't make me! Do it yourself!' he replied.
With this, Elvis strode off towards the hygienist – leaving those of us in the waiting room open-mouthed with disbelief.
'Never mind, I'll do it,' said Elvis's mother, obviously embarrassed by our amazement, and then dutifully scuttled around the room, hastily collecting the toys and placing them neatly back in the corner.
Chatting with the receptionist long after Elvis had left the building – presumably with sparkling teeth – I learnt that similar scenes were often repeated in the waiting room and that she was seriously considering ditching the toys. Many of the parents who brought their children to her office exhibited levels of compliance and indulgence that defied imagination.
Elvis's story is a parenting parable for our age. The impact of this type of parenting is everywhere. On a reality TV show, a 16-year-old girl planning her birthday wants a major road blocked off so a marching band can precede her grand entrance onto a red carpet. Talentless young people audition for talent shows and are inconsolable when a judge tells them they are hopeless. Five times as many Australians undergo plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures as ten years ago, and high school students post YouTube videos of themselves beating up their classmates to get attention.
In thirty years of clinical practice and ten years of research for my segments on Channel 7's Sunrise, I have been exposed to every style of parenting on this planet. From the father in North Carolina who shot his daughter's computer and posted the video on YouTube after he found one of her Facebook posts offensive, to the Townsville mother who punished her son by making him wear a pair of Shrek ears and sit in public wearing a sign that read, 'Do not trust me. I will steal from you, as I am a thief ' while his family ate lunch nearby.
Or the parent who called for advice after her child attended a 'slumber' party with nine other 10-year-olds. She'd assumed that when she picked him up the next day he'd be a bit tired, perhaps, but otherwise fine. She was surprised and a little annoyed to find that none of the kids had slept but was unaware that they had been subjected to an MA 15+ horror movie marathon. She discovered this only after the child had a series of terrifying nightmares and developed such severe anxiety that he required therapy.
Aside from the fact that a 10-year-old needs at least eight and a half hours sleep a night for normal brain and body development, MA 15+ classified material is 'legally restricted to persons 15 years and over' because it contains strong violence and/or explicit sex or drug references. How could these parents think it was okay to show this stuff to their own kids, let alone to other people's children? This in my opinion is truly crap parenting.
How did it get like this?
If you google the word 'parent' you will get 192 million results in just 0.17 seconds, thousands upon thousands of pages of parenting advice on the websites and blogs of health departments, educational organisations and self-proclaimed parenting gurus. How does a bewildered mum or dad sort through this tidal wave of advice that is often contradictory, lacking an evidence base or just plain quackery?
Indeed, many of the parenting practices I have observed over the last decade fly in the face of a mountain of sound research. We know what children need to help them grow into happy, healthy and resilient adults – to feel safe, valued and 'heard', to be given opportunities to solve their own problems, to have boundaries to push against and to experience the consequences of failure – yet I'm seeing large numbers of Australian parents hesitant to set limits or boundaries, to use moral language or to enforce consequences when their kids make bad choices. Their mantra has become 'you can be anything you want to be', and their children are coddled, coached and told they are magnificent when they are mediocre at best. Accustomed to receiving rewards divorced from actual effort and accomplishment, these children arrive in the real world equipped only with a heightened sense of entitlement and soon become anxious and depressed when they discover that life isn't what they were promised.
Sometimes children need to feel badly – it's how they learn to cope. This doesn't mean that we stand aside and tell them to get over it. (As a schoolkid, if I or my fellow students complained about something, our teacher – ironically named Mr Cherry – would say, 'You'll live. If not, you'll die. Either way, problem solved.') We support them by acknowledging how they feel and letting them know that we're there to help if they need us. Protecting them from failure and never allowing them to 'miss out' means we remove the capacity for them to develop resilience by overcoming adversity. The result will be a generation of young people incapable of assuming adult responsibility, with no idea how to handle the routine challenges of life, making them risk-averse, psychologically anaemic and riddled with anxiety.
Want proof? The latest Mission Australia Youth Survey of 14,461 young Australians aged 15–19 contains some discouraging news: 50 per cent of girls and 22 per cent of boys say that coping with stress is a major personal concern. Recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that young women aged 15–24 are being admitted to hospital after self-harming at more than twice the rate they were ten years ago and experts are at a loss to explain why. Perhaps this is a by-product of this generation's inability to cope with stress.
Few people realise that 75 per cent of all mental health problems in human beings begin prior to the age of 25. Current ABS data suggests that 1 in 7 primary school students and 1 in 4 secondary school student have a diagnosable mental illness, but 70 per cent of these children will not get help. Those in their late adolescence are not faring any better. Despite reporting generally good health, in a recent survey by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, it was found that 15 per cent of young men report 'high' to 'very high' psychological distress, while 28 per cent report 'moderate' psychological distress. Even more alarming, nearly 1 in 5 young men in the past 12 months have felt that life is hardly worth living. Nearly 1 in 10 young men have thought about taking their own lives, while 4 per cent reported making plans, and 2 per cent reported an attempt. Suicidal ideation increased with age and significant predictors were unemployment and psychological distress.
The truth is that there will never be enough funding for youth mental health services – that is, to assist young people after their emotional problems become severe enough to interfere with the quality of their lives. Instead, there not only needs to be reconsideration of existing service delivery models but also a concentrated investment in prevention, i.e. parent education. My colleagues and I are expensive ambulances at the bottom of a cliff – all the evidence suggests that children need a robust fence at the top (or at least, the sense to keep away from the edge). That's what this book is about.
In Part 1, I encourage you to think about your own style of parenting and how adopting a developmental perspective is the key to avoiding crappy parenting. In Part 2, I take you through my top parenting strategies for encouraging healthy emotional and social development in your kids. These are evidence-based approaches I have used for the past thirty years in my work with children and their families.
In Part 3, I answer the most common questions I'm asked by parents – everything from 'Should I let my daughter get a tattoo?' to 'How do I get my son to do his homework?' to 'What do I do when my kids won't stop fighting?'
My hope is that by reading this book, parents will have the knowledge, skills and strategies to help their children become resilient, confident and considerate human beings.

ISBN: 9780143206286
ISBN-10: 0143206281
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 27th August 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.5  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.47
Edition Number: 1

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Michael Carr-Gregg

About the Author

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is one of Australia's highest profile psychologists, author of 10 books, broadcaster and a specialist in parenting, children, adolescents and the use of technology for mental health.

He sits on the Board of the Australian Psychological Society, and The Family Peace Foundation. He is a Community Ambassador for Smiling Mind; Big Brother Big Sister; is a member of the APS committee for the Special Interest group in ePsychology; and a columnist for a number of publications including the Huffington Post. Michael is the resident parenting expert on Ch 7's Sunrise and psychologist for Channel 9's Today Extra as well as the top rating Morning Show with Neil Mitchell on Fairfax Radio 3AW. Michael works in private practice at Corporate and Personal Consulting in Melbourne.

In 2015, Michael developed the Certificate of Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing with a team of experts. Delivered as a partnership between the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, the world-first certificate focuses on how technology can be harnessed to provide best practice mental health and wellbeing care in the youth sector.

Visit Michael Carr-Gregg's Booktopia Author Page