You asked the questions, child psychologist Dr Aaron Frost gives you the answers. Email your questions to email@example.com.
My daughter is entering high school in 2017 and she is quite anxious about it already. What can I do to minimise the impact of this change and ensure that she can succeed in high school?
The fact you have written to ask makes me think you are quite anxious about her entering high school as well. That is OK – it’s a big step into a whole new world and it’s scary for them and for us too. The starting point is to manage your own anxiety. Go and learn about the high school, make sure you know how to log into the web portal know where drop off and pick ups are, and where she can chain up her bike. Will she be going to the same school as some of her friends? If so, make sure she is in contact with them and you and their parents become friends as well. Succeeding at high school will come later, and frankly any pressure on that front right now is likely to have the opposite effect. Just make sure she knows the basics, she sees that you have confidence in her and you keep the lines of communication open for when the inevitable disasters happen. When you solve them together, you and her will be closer than ever, which is a good way to enter middle high school when she will be embarrassed that your name is on her birth certificate.
One of our older relatives is really sick and I am wondering how it is best to break the news to my kids if/when that relative passes away?
This is a hard one to answer without knowing how old the child is and how close the child is to the relative. But I guess the starting point is honesty, but honesty at a level that your kids can understand. They don’t need to know the details of treatments and procedures and join the daily heartbreak of hope and disappointment that comes with terminal illness. But they should know that the person is sick, and they should know that it’s serious, and that the person might die. After that I would probably give them time to process the information and then give them a chance to ask you questions, and be guided by them. It is a neat trick that children have – their questions generally indicate exactly what they are ready to know. So answer their questions honestly and with compassion for their feelings, but don’t feel the need to elaborate beyond what they have asked.
THE BIG Q… We ask The Hub experts what their 2017 New Year’s resolution is…
I want to spend more time with my family, more time reading, more time catching up with friends, and more time working on personal projects like inventing more time.
Dr Aaron Frost is a clinical psychologist and director of Benchmark Psychology at Mount Gravatt.