Our school counsellor works for only a few days of the week but the number of students – particularly teenage girls – making appointments, is alarming.
I read an interesting article the other day by Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, an adolescent psychologist with a significant reputation, both nationally and internationally.
Dr Carr-Gregg drew attention to the increasing number of teenage girls who are self-harming, suicidal, and hate their bodies. He claims that there are two reasons behind these figures:
- The role of social media, and
- The role of parents
Social media has created an ‘instant’ environment that enables anonymity for messaging of hurtful and cruel words, which often occurs outside of school hours. I’ve had students tell me that they are not sleeping because they have messages arriving in their phone at 2.00am and they can’t resist the need to know what the message says. The resulting lack of sleep then results in poor attention and concentration, grumpiness and inappropriate communication with their peers and teachers.
Should teenagers be sleeping with their phones? Dr Carr-Gregg says that parents need to be more forceful regarding their children’s use of technology; being less concerned with being ‘liked’ by their children rather than earning their children’s respect by having and enforcing strong boundaries.
To the question: What do girls need? Dr Carr-Gregg responds unequivocally with the following:
“They want to feel safe, worthy and connected. One of the practical things I ask parents to do is to spend just eight minutes a day really connecting with their kids. Look them in the eye. Ask them about their day. Give them undistracted time. They want you.” (Weekend Australian Magazine, 25 Feb. 2017).
Without a doubt, this is why they like spending time with our counsellor. For up to an hour they have the undivided attention of an adult who cares about how they are feeling, their struggles and their relationships. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents were willing and able to provide that?
For more information, please see Dr Carr-Gregg’s website at http://www.saxton.com.au/michael-carr-gregg/
Dr Thelma Perso