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Parenting During the National ‘Lock Down’

By | Links | No Comments

As South Africa entered a national ‘lock down’ and families were confined to their homes, a new and unknown set of challenges rose on the horizon. One of the many challenges involves how to help children make sense of current circumstances and manage the confusion, disappointment, excitement(!) and very understandable fears and anxieties about Coronavirus and ‘lock down’.

Luckily, World Health Organisation (WHO) has produced a series of posters to aid parents and ensure a meaningful time together, considering:

  • One-of-One Time
  • Keeping it Positive
  • Structure Up
  • Bad Behaviour
  • Keep Calm and Manage Stress
  • Talking about COVID-19

These posters are available here: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Healthy Parenting.

Coronavirus Anxiety

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How do we cope with the threat of a global epidemic such as Coronavirus?

In this podcast, local Capetonian psychologist Carly Abramovitz addresses some of the matters related to the current set of circumstances facing the human race in South Africa and beyond.

The full podcast can be found on your regular podcast software under ‘On the couch with Carly’ or this latest episode can be streamed from her website here:

Talking to your child about scary world news

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

In this digital age, access to information is easier than ever before. While this has obvious educational and communicative benefits, the repercussions for an anxious mind can be quite serious, and particularly upsetting for children who may not appreciate the information as well as an adolescent or adult. Mental Health Foundation (UK) has put together a list of ten top tips to help you mediate ‘scary’ world news for children:

1. A news blackout is rarely helpful
2. Let them know the facts
3. Discourage overexposure
4. Let your children know they are safe
5. Let them know that it is normal to be concerned
6. Tailor the conversation to their age
7. Find the right time to talk about it
8. Leave lots of space for questions
9. Allow for repetition
10. Be as truthful as possible

Further detail about each of these tips can be found on the Mental Health Foundation article page:

The Living Link – Creating abilities from disabilities

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I recently visited The Living Link, a life- and work skills training centre for young adults (18 years to 35 years) who have a mild intellectual disability or mild learning challenges, to find out more about what they offer. I was thoroughly impressed by the enthusiasm of the staff and by the programmes on offer, such as the Adult Integration and Work Readiness programmes.

Their programmes provide the following for their trainees:

  • Promotes self-empowerment and guides each individual towards their potential;
  • Provides them with the tools to continuously develop themselves and become included within society;
  • Provides them with the knowledge, skills and support to be meaningfully employed in the open labour market and become contributing citizens.

The programmes at The Living Link act as a link/bridge for the young adults who are able and wanting to enter the open labour market, as it gives them the experience and understanding of what the workplace environment expects of its members. Through their Supportive Employment Model, The Living Link assists graduated trainees in obtaining and retaining employment in the open labour market.

For more information about their programmes, and the application process, take a look at their website: or contact Claire, on 0215321812.

Overcoming the fear of failiure

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In a post on Quora, Evan Asano, CEO of offered a response to the question: “How can I overcome the fear of failiure?” 

His response included an anecdote from his time as a high school hockey player, and a particularly meaningful life lesson extracted from a coaching session. That day, the coach taught his students about pushing the limits of their comfort zone, about taking risks in pursuit of ‘failure’, for the sake of developing a ‘new normal’ and reframing their fear.

He summarises the lesson with the following steps towards overcoming fear:

  • Reframe failure
  • Understand your fear
  • Counter fear with confidence
  • Take action
  • Ignore the fear
  • Challenge the fear
  • Debunk fearlessness

For the full explanation of these points and Evan’s full response, click through to the original post:

Guy Winch on “5 ways to build lasting self-esteem”

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Psychologist and author, Guy Winch, recently shared 5 ways to top-up self-esteem, when it’s feeling low:

  • Use positive affirmations correctly
  • Identify your competencies and develop them
  • Learn to accept compliments
  • Eliminate self-criticism and introduce self-compassion
  • Affirm your real worth

The full article, including more details about the 5 concepts above, can be found online, at:

Does my child need formal assessment?

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Formal assessment involves the use of assessment measures and tests, to get a sense of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  Early identification of learning disorders and developmental disabilities means that your child can receive specialist attention and multi-disciplinary support to scaffold development and meet your child’s developmental and educational needs

Signs that your child may benefit from a formal assessment:

  • Meeting milestones later than peers, or not at all
  • Carrying out actions in a repetitive way
  • Strong resistance to change
  • Little or no interest in playing with other children
  • Frequent aggressive behaviour: e.g.; biting, pinching, kicking or self-injurious behaviours

While some carers are reluctant to seek help for their child’s difficulties, a diagnosis can bring a sense of understanding and relief, and guide treatment and support from additional specialists. If you would like to discuss assessment, or to ask further questions, please contact me.


What “stresses out” South African teens?

By | Research | No Comments

Adolescence is a time of immense disruption and flux, and often, of immense stress. With so much going on, trying to ‘rank’ the many sources of stress in the lives of adolescents is a daunting task. Interestingly, research published in the South African Journal of Psychiatry in 2012 (Vol 18, No 3) shed light on the sources of depression and anxiety for some South African teens, with thought-provoking results.

The paper, entitled “Depression and anxiety among Grade 11 and 12 learners attending schools in central Bloemfontein”, by Strydom, Pretorius & Joubert (2012) assessed over 500 students. The results showed an alarmingly high rate of learners suffering from varying degrees of anxiety (61.2%), much higher than the adult prevalence rate in South Africa (23%).

The identified sources of stress were ranked as:

  • Academic workload (81.4%)
  • Future plans (77.8%)
  • Relationship with parents (43.1%)
  • Situation at home (43%)
  • Love relationship (36.7%)
  • Relationship with friends (31.6%)
  • Relationship with teachers (12.1%)

The authors also highlighted that very few adolescents were accessing professional services, and made suggestions around early identification of mental health difficulties, and made recommendations for peer support programmes. If you’re an adolescent (or the parent of an adolescent), do you know what support is available?

The full paper can be accessed online here: Depression and anxiety among Grade 11 and 12 learners attending schools in central Bloemfontein | Strydom | South African Journal of Psychiatry (Vol 18, No 3, 2012).