Posts

Vaping: Sorting out 'fact from fiction' for those parents struggling with the issue

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I've written a number of articles about vaping in the past, the first in 2014. Back then I was beginning to receive messages from schools across the country asking for advice on how to deal with the use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes as they are better known. Students were beginning to bring these devices to school and teachers, not surprisingly, knew little about them. In 2018 I wrote another piece, this time in response to concerned parents who had stumbled upon these devices in their child's bedroom. When they had confronted them about what they had found they were usually met with comments like "But it's only vaping" or "At least I'm not smoking" and had no idea how to respond. Last year I posted another article about a mother who sent me an invitation to a 15 th birthday party her son had received that included a 'No vaping' message as a condition of entry. She was used to seeing 'Strictly no alcohol' on invitations

Teens lack an effective brain 'braking system' putting them at greater risk of dangerous behaviour once restrictions ease: Be a parent and keep them safe

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As the COVID-19 restrictions ease across the country we're beginning to see Australians, both young and old, being able to socialise a little more freely on a Saturday night. All states and territories are now allowing people to now have others visit their home, with numbers varying (5 to 20 people depending on where you live, apart from NT where are now no limits on numbers). When it comes to teenage parties, however, it is likely to be quite a while before parents will be permitted to host such events, regardless of where you live in the country, with the Australian Government-funded  HealthDirect website stating the following: "Even though some of these restrictions are easing under the Australian Government's 3-step plan to reopen the economy, you should continue to practise physical distancing and good hygiene. Large social events, such as parties, should not take place at this time." So for the foreseeable future we really are looking at the most that und

Alcohol, teens and socialising: Being prepared for parenting post-COVID-19

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Over the past couple of weeks I've written about the challenges facing teens and their parents during the COVID-19 restrictions. It's been (and will continue to be) a tough time for everyone, particularly in regard to social isolation and as I've said previously we are in completely uncharted territory and still have little idea about what comes next. In a feature in The Lancet published a couple of weeks ago the author, Joyce Lee wrote "... not much is known about the long-term mental health effects of large-scale disease outbreaks on children and adolescents."   She ended the piece by stating we needed to support young people through this period but there is also "a need to monitor young people's mental health status over the long-term, and to study how prolonged school closures, strict social distancing measures, and the pandemic itself affect the wellbeing of children and adolescents."  What will the impact be on our young people and how wil

COVID-19 restrictions and their impact on teens, most particularly Year 12 students

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COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge to families around the world. UNESCO estimates that there are currently 1.38 billion children out of school or child care, without access to group activities, team sports, or playgrounds. In a letter published in The Lancet  earlier this month the authors wrote that families are "living with increased stress, media hype, and fear, all challenging our capacity for tolerance and long-term thinking"  and sadly, as they stated, there is no clarity on how long the situation will last. Social distancing has been introduced to slow the spread of the virus and it certainly appears that the restrictions that have been put into place across the country have been effective in 'flattening the curve' (won't we all be so happy never to hear that phrase again once this is all over?). We've been told to 'stay home' and it would seem that a majority of the Australian population have heeded the call. Living in isola

Parents and drinking alcohol while in isolation: Your children will be watching and learning so be a good role model

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Last weekend I did my first Instagram Live - a 20 minute live feed to my 28,000 Instagram followers. It was an interesting experience, quite nerve-wracking actually, and to make sure I had something to say to whoever was out there listening I asked anyone who had a question to send them through to me via Direct Message (DM). I was flooded with questions, some involving how and why I got into the alcohol and other drug field, others around how I was coping with 'isolation' and what I was doing with my time, as well as those that dealt with specific drugs and their effects. There were also a number that expressed concern about friends who they believed were drinking (or using other drugs, particularly cannabis) on their own while at home in isolation, asking what they could do to make sure they were safe. There were two DMs that I thought I would share with you that highlighted an issue that almost every Australian parent should be aware of and they are as follows:  "I&#

Teens, Saturday nights and COVID-19: Challenges and opportunities

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The Australian Government has made it clear it wants us to stay home. If we want to 'flatten the curve' and prevent more people dying we must all play our part by 'social distancing'. According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning, if 80% of people stay at home for the next three months - for most of the time - Australia "has a chance to get the upper hand" on COVID-19. It goes on to say that currently we've managed to cut our social contact by about 50%. So, put really simply, if we want to get back to some kind of normalcy we need to do more ... I'm sure many had a similar response to me when I read 'three months'! I had to read the article a couple of times to make sure I got it right and wasn't spreading so-called 'fake news'. Three months is a long time to isolate yourself from others and stay inside your home if you're single or a couple, it's going to be an eternity if you have children, partic

Alcohol and parenting: The facts, plain and simple!

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It's 4.30am on a Saturday morning and I'm looking at four emails in my Inbox all from parents who are desperately looking for some kind of assistance in dealing with their teens who have 'gone off the rails'. It's the same story every week. It may be a different drug that they're struggling to deal with now but when I eventually make contact with them the problems all started with alcohol. Too often I hear a statement from a parent like "My 14-year-old daughter may be drinking alcohol but at least she's not using ice!" While some may believe that it's 'only' alcohol, the reality is that this is a drug that many adults experience problems with and when you look at the potential impact it has on young people there are so many reasons why parents should try to 'delay, delay, delay'. Some of these include: alcohol-related car crashes are a major cause of death among young people. Alcohol use also is linked with teen deaths by d