Take control of challenges but enjoy being a parent. This is what child psychologist Monique Cohen of Grays Point wants families to realise, to improve the interactions between a caregiver and a child.
Ms Cohen has worked with children and adolescents as a psychotherapist for more than 30 years. Having trained in clinical psychology, she says among the common struggles being faced by adolescents is bullying, anxiety, severe depression, self-harm and suicide.
"I'm seeing a lot of kids in Sutherland Shire who bottle things up - and these things start from school," she said. "A lot of families don't know how it happens, but suddenly their child might not want to see their friends - they just want to stay in their rooms. A lot has to do with the increased cost of living - people have to work more."
She also supports families with children as young as four years of age, who may experience separation anxiety going to preschool, or sibling conflict when a new baby comes into the family. "The cuts in Medicare has also made a horrible impact. I am seeing a lot of families who can't keep beyond the 10 free sessions," she said.
By day she supports a range of young people with sessions in her Sutherland office, but out of hours, she writes. She has recently published her first book Planet Parent, published by Austin Macauley UK. The first-time author describes it as a humorously written exploration of some common difficult situations that parents encounter with their children.
Always curious about the emotional realm and the human psyche, Ms Cohen, a mother to two daughters, says she wants parents to know they are not alone, and that they can have great power in nurturing their child's resilience.
"My hope is that parents might be able to pick up the book at night when they're exhausted, and a feel a little more positive about their kids," Ms Cohen said. "Instead of coming home from work thinking 'Oh Gosh I have to be with the kids again,' think 'yay I get to see my kids and we get to play.' Playing can be a healing method and can resolve a lot."
For fathers also, the book aims to provide helpful tips to support new dads. "There is a fair bit out there for mums - they see the GP, they go to the appointments, but dads just muddle through," Ms Cohen said. "A big section of the book is on paternal post-natal depression, which sometimes isn't picked up or dealt with. It reassures dads that they have an important part in their child's life."
"But the we can all strive for is 'good enough' most of the time.There is no such thing as the perfect parent, there is no rule book and every child is different and every child parent interaction is different."
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