Promoting good mental health

Children that are mentally healthy are better equipped to handle life’s challenges and curve balls.

Parents play a big role in shaping their child’s health and wellbeing by modelling behaviours that promote and encourage good mental health.  

What is good mental health?

Having good mental health does not mean that children will be free of difficulties or worries. Feeling worried, sad or fearful as we grow up is normal.  

Being mentally healthy is an essential part of wellbeing, and incorporates social life and emotions. Your love, support and strong relationship with your pre-teen can have a direct impact on your child’s mental health. 

Pre-teens who have good mental health often show the following characteristics: 

  • Feel happy and positive about themselves and enjoy life 
  • Have healthy relationships with family and friends 
  • Physically active and eat a healthy diet 
  • Involved in a range of activities 
  • Have a sense of achievement 
  • Can relax and have a good night’s sleep 
  • Feel like they belong to their community 

Supporting your pre-teen’s mental health

Supporting your pre-teen’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing will help them to become more resilient as they enter their teenage years.

Here are a few ideas to promote positive mental health in your pre-teen. 

  • Demonstrate your love, affection and care for your child 
  • Show that you are interested in what’s happening in your child’s life 
  • Mention your child’s good points and achievements
  • Listen to and value their ideas 
  • Spending one on one time and family time with your child 
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings with you and talk about solutions to problems that may arise 

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, talk to family members, friends, other parents or teachers. If you think you need more help, seek advice and support from your GP or health professional.

Benefits of being active

Being active contributes to good mental health as well as being very important for children’s physical health. Physical activity sends dopamine (a brain chemical) through the body, giving it a ‘feel-good’ feeling that can enhance mood.

Being active has many other benefits: 

  • Improves heart rate and fitness 
  • Develops strong muscles and bone 
  • Reduces stress 
  • Improves sleep 
  • Increases self confidence 
  • Maintains healthy weight 
  • Improves ability to learn new skills 
  • Creates opportunity to meet new people and make new friendships 
Tips to encourage your child to be active
  • Encourage your child to spend time outdoors and less time using digital technology 
  • Enrol your child in a team sport outside of school time, such as basketball, netball or football 
  • Seek out hobbies and activities that involve being physical 
  • Arrange outdoor activities as a family, like going for a walk, or going to the park, picnic or beach 

The importance of sleep

Just like physical activity, sleep is also very important for your pre-teen.  

Sleep helps to repair and renew the body. During sleep, the body repairs cells, releases growth hormones, and strengthens the immune and nervous system. 

Regular sleep routines will encourage healthy brain development and a more positive mental health outlook. It is recommended that pre-teens get between nine and 12 hours sleep each night.

Healthy eating

Positive eating behaviours developed in childhood can set children up with healthy eating habits and good health for life.

The fast pace of everyday life and high volumes of screen time have impacted on family eating behaviours. Try to make time to ensure that children are developing a healthy relationship with food. 

Tips to encourage healthy eating behaviours
  • Enjoy food in moderation 
  • Include your children in making meals 
  • Enjoy having a meal as a family around the table  
  • Talk about healthy food and the five food groups and what vitamins are in them and how they can nourish our body 
  • Fill your fridge and pantry with healthy foods 
  • Limit junk foods and eating out 
  • Avoid using food as a reward or bride 
  • Encourage children to make their own healthy lunches for school 

Want to know more?

Raising Children Network – Understanding puberty 

Raising Children Network – Preteens health and wellbeing 

Kids Matter – How mental health difficulties affect children 

Kids Matter – Websites and resources for mental health and wellbeing 

 

 

 

Food preferences and personality

Children, like adults, are attracted to certain textures, flavours and presentation. Appetite is a personal and innately well-controlled mechanism in young children.  

Remember, the toddler years are all about:  

  • exploration and finding out who they are;  
  • discovering what they like and don’t like; and 
  • seeing how much influence they have over their environment.  

Temperament and food choices

Consider your child’s temperament for a moment. Do they:  

  • like lots of rough and tumble, tickling and noise?  
  • hang back and consider new environments before jumping in and having a go?
  • like things ‘just so’ and predictable events and order in the day?  
  • hate scratchy clothes and labels and new bedding, clothes and shoes?  
  • love to get their hands in the mud, or can’t wait to take their shoes off, and enjoy chaos?  

Not surprisingly, these adorable traits our children are developing will in some way be expressed in their food choices: textures, flavours, presentation and how they eat.

It is not necessarily predictable, but as you get to know and understand your child (which will take years!), it seems reasonable to indulge some of your child’s strong preferences around food. 

Common food preferences

Here are a few preferences to consider and some ideas to manage them.

Compare notes with other parents to check out what successful approaches they have come up with. 

‘Drinking’ their food
  • Raw juice: fruit and vegetable blends  
  • Shakes: milks (cows, goats, coconut, nut milks)  
  • Smoothies: mix a milk base with a variety of fruits  
  • Soup: homemade from weekend roast bones stock, chunky or pureed.  
  • Slushies: frozen/fresh fruit blended with ice chips  
  • Custards: homemade egg custard  
  • Yoghurt drinks: fruit or plain, thinned with milk  
Strong flavours and casseroles  
  • Bolognaise sauce combining five vegetables: cook down then puree with tomatoes, capsicum, zucchini, celery before adding mince
  • Slow cook one-pot meals with variety of vegetables  
  • Gravies, soups and sauces with quality stock  
  • Homemade tomato sauce or ketchup where you can add more vegetables
  • Use natural flavours: garlic, herbs, spices, chilli, curry, strong cheeses, mushrooms 
Crunchy or crispy food
  • Raw vegetables with dips  
  • Toast breads that are sliced very thinly  
  • Oven toast vegetable ‘shavings’
  • Homemade potato wedges coated in spice mix and oven roasted  
  • Homemade popcorn
  • Dry quality cereal mixed with nuts and seeds (watch out for choking hazards and allergies) 
Sweet foods
  • Homemade cakes like carrot cake and use other novel vegetables and fruit in the recipe 
  • Homemade biscuits made with oat flour, golden syrup or honey
  • Homemade icecream
  • Homemade jam: just stew down some berries, will not need added sugar  
  • Homemade egg custard with fruit 
  • Frozen mashed overripe bananas (naturally very sweet)  
  • Pikelets made with an extra egg for more nutrition  

Keep it simple

Parents often feel stumped when it comes to thinking up recipes and combinations of food in the toddler years.

In truth, it is more straightforward, economic and better received if we serve simple food.  

Eating food from your plate (or someone else’s!)

You may find that toddlers will like to eat food off your plate.  

Food is a lot about trust and association. If it’s okay for you to eat it, your child figures it should be good for them too!

The mental connections toddlers make when they sneak a green bean off your plate soon after they tipped their serve on the floor may be hard to understand, but if they eat it, celebrate!

It may be frustrating at the time, but it makes survival sense for your toddler.  

Want to know more? 

The Raising Children Network – Toddler nutrition: mealtime 

Healthy Kids Association – Food and nutrition 

Food glorious food

Introducing your child to healthy food is a journey of learning together. It is not just about getting the food from spoon to tummy. Think about how you can set the environment so you and your child can make the most of this time. 

Don’t worry about the possible mess. Have picnics outside, let children get food on their face, and don’t wipe excessively. Let other family members know it is okay for your toddler to pick food up with fingers – there is plenty of time for table manners later! 

Food is fun!

Your child can also learn a lot about food and eating by watching what you do at mealtimes. For example, enjoying a pleasant and happy mealtime with the family promotes a positive attitude to eating. Eating with the rest of the family also helps younger children learn to eat the same healthy food and try new foods, like everyone else. 

Toddlers need a wide variety of healthy foods. Suggested daily serves are: ½-1 serve of fruit; 2-3 serves of vegetables; 1-1½ serves of dairy; 4 serves of grains; and 1 serve of protein (lean meats, eggs, and legumes). 

You decide what your child eats from the five food groups. Your child decides whether to eat and how much.

Your toddler’s appetite

We sometimes have unrealistic ideas about how much a toddler should eat. Toddlers have small tummies and appetites. They need small, regular meals and snacks. Three small meals and two or three healthy snacks per day are enough for most toddlers.  

At this age, toddler appetites vary from day to day. Think about what your toddler eats across a week, rather than daily. Remember that toddlers seem to eat less because they eat small amounts frequently to meet their energy needs. 

Children grow less in the second year of life. In the first 12 months, babies grow very fast. As toddlers aren’t growing as quickly, their appetite often drops.

This is normal and does not mean your child is being difficult or is unwell – they just aren’t as hungry because they aren’t growing as quickly!  

Children are good at knowing when they are hungry and when they are full. They can easily lose this skill if they are pushed to eat more than they want to or are forced to finish everything on their plate. 

Don’t forget that water is the cheapest and the best drink with meals. Refer to the NHMRC Healthy Eating Guide). 

What you can do

  • Offer small serves. Let them ask for more.  
  • Remove any uneaten food without commenting. Assume that your toddler has had enough to eat.  
  • Try to ignore fads, be patient and continue to offer a variety of foods. Many toddlers have times when they only want to eat particular foods – this is normal and won’t last forever.  
  • Avoid using food rewards, bribes and punishment – these teach a child to dislike certain foods and to use food as a means of control. 
  • The less fuss you make about food the better. 

Dental care

Don’t forget to care for their teeth. Tooth decay is common in toddlers who suck on or fall asleep with bottles of milk, cordial or juice.  

To prevent tooth decay: 
  • Wean your toddler from the bottle if they are still using one. Encourage your toddler to drink from a cup.  
  • Give your child tap water to drink. Tap water contains fluoride, which helps to protect teeth from decay.  
  • As soon as teeth appear, clean them with a soft cloth or small soft brush.
  • From 18 months you can start to use a small amount of low fluoride or children’s toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth. 

Want to know more?

The Raising Children Network – Nutrition and fitness articles 

Nutrition Australia – Children nutrition 

Healthy Kids Association – Food and nutrition 

Foods for toddlers

For toddlers, nutritional intake and amount is measured over weeks rather than days, quite different to the more predictable adult eating patterns with which we are familiar. The following recommended range and quantity of foods will not necessarily be achievable every day.

Recommended food intake for toddlers

Carbohydrates and starches: 3 to 5 serves

For example: bread, pasta, rice, potato, noodles, oats, cereal, pikelets  

Fruit and vegetables: 2 to 4 serves  

For example: Raw, steamed, dried, stewed, pureed, mashed 

Protein: 2 to 4 serves

For example: red meat, white meat (chicken, turkey), fish, beans, lentils, eggs, nuts 

Dairy: 2 to 3 serves

For example: cheese, yoghurt, cream, butter (cow, sheep or goat) 

Drinks

Water, milk

Additional foods (small quantities)

For example: sauces, mayonnaise, oils

Toddler growth  

A toddler‘s growth at this stage is characterized by a lengthening of limbs, torso and increase in head circumference. Body weight is effectively ‘re-distributed‘.

This dramatically changes their body shape from compact and ‘chubby‘ to a more defined shape for arms, legs and tummy which can be alarming to some to see ribs clearly for the first time! 

This is a normal alteration in the rate of growth from the first year in which weight triples, contrasting with the next two years where weight may only increase by about four kilos. 

Developmental factors

The following factors influence a toddler’s relationship with food at this time:  

  • Curiosity about their environment – they are discovering and exercising independence and control over their environment.  
  • Attention span is brief  
  • Experimenting with saying ‘NO!‘  
  • Repetition and experimentation is a strong drive which translates as periodic ‘obsession‘ or preference with certain foods, colours, shapes and particular bowl or cup.  
  • Childhood illnesses can affect appetite and memory of foods they associate with the incident (e.g.: gastro episode tied to the last thing they ate – milk) and can influence future rejection.  
  • Novel situations and new people are treated with suspicion or cautiousness – this goes for new, unfamiliar food too.  
  • Moods and tiredness can strongly affect desire for food, either for more or for less, and can precipitate tantrums.  

Five reasons to choose nutritious foods  

1. Brain growth 

The brain is growing intensively at this time. It will triple in size between birth and three years of age.  

2. Additives and behaviour 

Certain processed and poor quality foods loaded with additives have the potential to cause negative behavioural effects in your child.

3. Development of taste preferences 

Tastes and preferences for certain foods are laid down in early childhood. If we cultivate a taste for high sugar, salt and artificial flavours, it is very likely to become a habit retained in adulthood.  

4. Role modelling healthy food choices 

By providing and eating these foods yourself, parents demonstrate strong role modelling with good food choices. Your child learns 90% from deeds and doing, not verbal instruction – “do as I do, not as I say”.  

5. Building strong health foundations 

Health effects from nutrient poor food or highly processed foods are not necessarily immediate but have longer term effects. By making good food choices at least 80% of the time, you build strong health foundations for the future. It is not just about the number of calories, it‘s about the quality of the food you eat.  

Nutrient dense food

The foods in the table below have high levels of nutrients compared to the number of calories they contain. For example, an egg has protein, fats, Vitamin A, B Vitamins, iron, phosphorous and selenium, all for 70 calories.  

Fruit
Vegetables
Protein
Carbohydrates
Fats
applesasparaguseggsoatsbutter
bananasbroccoliyoghurt (plain)seedscoconut milk
blueberriescauliflowermilkbrown riceghee
cranberriescabbagecheeseschickpeasolive oil
figscapsicumsbeefchiafish oil
kiwifruitonionschickencocoacream
lemonsfennelliverpotatoesflaxseed oil
garlicshellfishegg pastanut oils
mushroomsfishnut flourscocoa butter
herbslamb  
sweet potatolentils/legumes
tomatoes 

Nutrient poor food

The foods in the table below offer a lot of calories for poor return on nutrients—or even a negative effect from consuming it. For example, a snack of a donut and a can of cola is full of refined flours, sugars and trans fats, which provide a lot of calories (450) but contain no minerals or vitamins. The body feels full but is still craving nutrients that have been refined out.  

Starches  
Sugars
Processed snacks
Drinks/additives  
white flour  white sugar  frozen pizza  cordials  
packet biscuits  corn syrup  most sausages  energy drinks  
instant noodles  lollies  processed meats  sodas  
pasta  icecream  processed cheeses  colas  
donuts  jams  packet soupsfruit drinks  
processed cereals glucose  sauces  syrups  
chips and crackersflavoured milks  
cakes‘diet‘ drinks

 

Quick guide

Want to know more? 

The Raising Children Network – Toddler nutrition: mealtime 

Healthy Kids Association – Food & nutrition

Healthy teen years

There are many changes taking place for teenagers, both physically and emotionally. New sets of expectations and demands are made from their friends, school, and the world around them.  

Media, advertising and social networks can also put pressure on teenagers.  

It is a time when young people start questioning values and beliefs as they learn more about the world outside their family and local community. But they still need the care and guidance of their parents – although it may not seem this way! 

Supporting your teen’s health and wellbeing

During this time, parents need to adjust boundaries by providing space for young people to take on more responsibility. Creating a plan for how you might do this, while still maintaining your teenagers safety, can be very helpful.   

Keep communication lines open and take opportunities to discussing issues as they arise.  

Most pressures are managed with the odd rocky patch here and there. However, there are some issues parents might find useful to keep up to date on, including:  

  • Body image and related eating disorders; 
  • Depression and anxiety and other mental health concerns; and 
  • Drugs including illegal drugs, over the counter medications, and alcohol and binge drinking.  

Suggested ways you can make a difference

  • Encourage your teen to join in with social events with family and friends 
  • Support your teen’s hobbies and interests, including volunteering, sporting clubs or community groups  
  • Offer suggestions in setting realistic goals for school and study  
  • Model positive attitudes and encourage a positive self-image 
  • Show your appreciation of their positive behaviour, skills and strengths  
  • Encourage physical activity and support their sporting or other outdoor pursuits  
  • Introduce relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga to help them with stress  
  • Model being kind and helping others  
  • Encourage them to get enough sleep but try to be tolerant of sleeping late (this is normal)
  • Provide good healthy food and encourage adequate hydration  
  • Play, laugh and learn with your teen
  • Help them seek help outside the family when you are concerned but can’t provide the help they need  
  • Give them access to contacts for helplines, websites and apps where they can access good information  

Want to know more? 

Kids Helpline (parent section) – or call 1800 551 800   

Lifeline (facts and information) –  or call 13 11 14 

Reach Out (for parents section) – reachout.com 

The Raising Children Network – Happy teenagers and teenager wellbeing 

Nutrition Australia – Nutrition for teens 

Kids Matter – Website and resources for mental health and wellbeing 

Headspace – Understanding and dealing with depression 

Headspace – Sleep and young people 

Teenagers and school

The teenage years are an exciting time when children are becoming more independent and starting to make their own decisions.  

It is a time when they are developing the courage to leave what is familiar, certain and safe, to take risks, to increase social engagement with their peers and to explore and question, not merely accepting the status quo. However, they still need you to be available when they want to talk. Make time to connect with them 

School challenges

This can also can be a challenging time when issues can arise at school. School problems are common and it is important to recognise and respond to what your teen may be experiencing. 

Issues may include
  • Bullying 
  • Stress 
  • Self-esteem issues 
  • Peer and parental pressure 
  • Conflict with teachers 
  • Dealing with emotions  

Changes in your teen’s behaviour

If there are problems at school, you may notice your teen’s behaviour change. They may begin to show some of the following behaviours or even start refusing to attend school: 

  • Lack of engagement 
  • Truancy 
  • Low school achievement 
  • Becoming withdrawn  
  • Behavioural problems 
How to respond
  • Talk to your teen regularly about school.  
  • Stay calm and be supportive.  
  • Notice how your teen talks about school, if they refuse to talk or appear upset there may be a problem. 
  • If there is a problem address it quickly to stop it from getting worse. 
  • Consider speaking to student services or other school support staff including counsellors, chaplains and Aboriginal Islander Education Officers (AIEOs) as they are there to help if your teenager needs extra support. 

Building a relationship with the school

Having a good connection with your teen’s school is important and one of the best ways to support your teenager’s education.   

As secondary schools are larger than most primary schools, it can be difficult as there are different teachers for different subjects.

However, it is possible for you to build connections with the school in a number of ways, including: 

  • attending parent-teacher interviews; 
  • attending school events such as concerts and sports day;
  • attending parent association meetings; 
  • keeping up to date with school activities and events;  
  • reading school newsletters; and 
  • visiting the school website.  

Want to know more?

The Raising Children Network – Teens school, education and work  

Dr Dan Siegel – The essence of adolescence 

Understanding behaviour

As parents we can sometimes fall into the trap of assuming that life for a school age child is carefree and easy. As they don’t have the stress of going to work, paying bills, cooking, cleaning and parenting like we do, it can be difficult to understand that life for a child in primary school can be complex and challenging.  

Children’s brains are developing at a rapid pace. However, they are still learning how to manage their feelings and behaviours, and have to do this in a range of different environments.  

Your child’s day to day stresses

Each day your child is managing the day-to-day stress of home life (siblings, chores and homework) at the same time as dealing with the emotional minefield of the school yard, fitting in with friends, dealing with conflict, coping with peer pressure, and adjusting to classroom rules and expectations.  

Learning how to cope with all of this whilst staying on top of schoolwork and meeting homework deadlines can be utterly exhausting. We often find that children during this time can be moody, argumentative, snappy, emotional and just plain difficult. It’s a time where we might experience tears, tantrums, eye rolls, talking back, boundary pushing and rebellion.  

Supporting your child

As challenging as these behaviours can be, there is a lot you can do.  

  • Provide boundaries, limits and predictability. 
  • Set rules and expectations as well as consequences for when these aren’t met – and be consistent. 
  • Role model calm and appropriate responses to stressful situations. 
  • Talk about feelings and emotions – the good, the bad and the ugly. 
  • Get active! Team sports, individual sports, a run at the park or jumping on the trampoline, encourage whatever you can do to get the blood pumping! 
  • Slow things down – while it’s important that children get enough exercise and stimulation, it is equally as important to allow time for your child to ‘just be’ 
  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep.
  • Talk with your child. Ask questions. Listen. You don’t have to fix their problems, sometimes just listening is enough. 
  • Foster your child’s self-esteem. Encourage them, catch them doing the right thing, and tell them you love them as much as you can. 

By being a consistent, reliable, caring and understanding support for your child you can help them to feel a sense of safety and security during the school years. They will learn that they can come to you for advice when they need it. 

By doing this in the early years of school, you are paving the way for open communication, managing emotions and boundary setting, which is so important as your child enters the pre-teen and teen stages!   

Want to know more?

The Raising Children Network – Understanding school-age behaviour 

Kids Matter – Thinking about transition to school 

Teen behaviour

The teenage years (adolescence) are a time of profound change for young people emotionally, psychologically and physically. It is when they are trying to establish their independence and identity.   

During this time they can often challenge authority and rules to develop their own sense of self.  

Your teen’s relationships

Relationships become particularly important as they attempt to fit into their own peer group and navigate changes that are taking place. 

Adolescents can present with a number of behaviours which appear challenging and can give rise to conflict in families, at school or in interpersonal relationships.  

Making decisions and taking risks

The part of the brain that supports decision making is still developing in teens. As a result, impulsiveness and not considering consequences can give rise to a number of risk-taking activities, including experimenting with alcohol and drugs, sexual activity, staying out late, and other behaviours.  

Whilst it is natural to worry about these behaviours, it is a normal part of adolescent development to take risks and challenge boundaries and rules.  

Ways to reduce conflict and risk

There are some things that you can do to reduce conflict and the risk of these behaviours becoming dangerous or causing negative impact to a young persons’ wellbeing.

Some suggestions are: 

  • Try to keep an open line of communication with your teenager without judging their individuality. If you do, they will be more likely to discuss their problems and experiences.
  • Remember, they are developing their own identity so it is natural for them to disagree with your point of view and to develop their own ideas. 
  • Negotiate rules and consequences with young people. Boundaries are still important and young people will respect you for it. 
  • Be a parent, not a friend. At the end of the day you are still responsible for your teenager as the adult. 
  • Remember that young people are often impulsive so discuss actions and decisions. 
  • Don’t try to impose your will unnecessarily as this is only likely to inflame conflict. Be firm and consistent with house rules and consequences. 
  • Respect their individuality – every child is different. 
  • Be available to connect with them.  

Want to know more? 

Reachout.com 

Headspace 

The Raising Children Network – Teens behaviour 

Coming home with baby number 2 or 3 or 4!

The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for the whole family and established routines can often go out the window. From the first days at home, toddlers need to be encouraged and shown how to be gentle as they get to know their brother or sister.  

Having friends and family help with cooking meals, hanging out the washing or doing some ironing can be great and online grocery shopping has been a blessing for many new parents. For mums, the shock of having more than one child may not sink in until their partner has returned to work and the relatives and friends have gone home. 

While it’s great for friends and family to spend extra time with your existing child/children while you’re with the baby, be mindful that your child/children will still want one-on-one time with you.  

Keeping a predictable routine going for your child/children can be beneficial in keeping them calm and letting them know that all is well in their world. It may be difficult to do, especially if the new baby is a little fussy, but avoiding big routine changes around birth and the 6-8 week period after birth can help reassure your toddler that everything is ok. Toddlers like the routines and sticking to yours may make life easier for you as well. 

Encouraging dads to do activities with their toddler can be rewarding and lots of fun for both of them. Giving individual attention to the older child will help to reduce feelings of jealousy and reduce the need to compete with the baby.  

Toddlers often find their new sibling a bit boring- all they do is sleep, feed, cry and need their nappy changed. It is some time before they are interesting playmates. Younger toddlers might not be able to verbalise their feelings, and their behaviour might regress. Your toddler might want a bottle or a dummy, or want to be carried or dressed by you. Parents should offer encouragement and praise the good behaviour but ignore the regression. 

Just remember that it won’t be long until they are all playing together happily.  

Want to know more? 

The Raising Children Network – New baby: Helping toddlers and preschoolers adjust 

Supporting and guiding your pre-teen

Before entering the teen years, children are beginning to test boundaries and are becoming more social. Peer influence starts to play a bigger role in their lives and they can be influenced in both positive and negative ways.  

Supporting and guiding your child

Children may be starting to gain a sense of independence; they need support and guidance through this time to assist developing positive behaviours. Parents have a role in ensuring that there are clear boundaries and rules in place to follow. 

During the final years of primary school, preparation will be needed in transitioning schools and peer groups, and entering the teen years.  

Children will be starting to develop their own point of view as an individual but will be influenced by teachers, parents, peers and extended family. They will look for guidance in developing their identity, especially from parents.  

Family communication, rules and consequences

Having clear communication and rules in the family home will assist children to develop appropriate behaviours and relationships with people and the world around them.  

Some themes that may help with this age group include: 

  • Having clear rules and limits with appropriate (and consistent) consequences. 
  • Having clear and open communication.  
  • Providing praise and positive reinforcement for appropriate decisions and behaviour. 
  • Having realistic expectations of the young person. 
  • Be a positive role model. 
  • Choosing your battles i.e. “Does it really matter? Is it really worth it?” 
  • Be firm and consistent in enforcing house and family rules. 
  • Be available to connect with them. 

Want to know more?

Reachout.com 

Headspace 

The Raising Children Network – Pre-teens behaviour