Blog

Dozen of articles. Improve your lifestyle now!

Self esteem help educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria

Ways to help your children develop self-esteem

Self esteem and confidence

Self-esteem and confidence are major traits in individuals that affect their success. While these are a lifelong process, the foundation of it needs to be established in early childhood. Building self-esteem will allow the child to deal with difficult situations that they will encounter during their lifetime. Since parents have the greatest influence on a child’s belief, it is important for them to let their child know where they belong, how well they are doing and contribute towards developing confidence and self-esteem.

Read more

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Going back to school tips

In a previous post about going back to school after COVID-19, I have discussed the pro’s and con’s of sending back your children after the lock down period.

In this post, I would like to present some “going back to school tips“, but using pictures. This can be used by parents and teachers to show their children how to tackle going back to school after COVID-19.

Wash your hands

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Wear a mask

Avoid touching your face

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Pack your bag

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Keep a 2m distance

Do the fruit foot shake or elbow touch greeting

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate – it’s real and not a joke. Wear your mask when chatting to friends. It’s cool!

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

No hugs and sharing

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

This isn’t cool

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Spread kindness

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Remember, this isn’t forever

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Better days are coming

You Rock!

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Please feel free to connect with me on my Facebook page, or on Twitter

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Back to school after COVID-19

Back to school after COVID-19

Children will be going back to school after COVID-19. Many parents are struggling with the following question, “Am I doing the right thing to send my child back to school now?”

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Parents are wrestling with the decision to send their children back to school. This question triggers many emotions within parents. What complicates this question is that each family has a unique situation and circumstances.

Some facts to consider

Dr. Fiona Kritzinger, a paediatric pulmonologist (child lung specialist) from Cape Town says the following about going back to school:

  • Children don’t play such a significant role in passing on the COVID-19 virus to others.
  • It seems that less children are infected by COVID-19 than originally assumed.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

  • Children’s symptoms are very mild and in most cases unnoticed.
  • Italy’s COVID-19 death rate is 80 000 of which no one was a child.
  • Studies indicate that 80% of children who will get sick will have mild symptoms which won’t be more severe compared with other corona viruses like flu and influenza of past years.
  • Less than 5% of children will really get sick and need oxygen.
  • In South Africa between 500 – 600 children die of influenza every year. The risk for a child to be infected with COVID-19 is thus in context with previous year’s influenza rates.
  • What differs with COVID-19 is the number of people who might be infected as well as the heavy load that might be put on our health care systems.
  • Parents also fear the risk of other vulnerable family members. High risk ages are below one year and above 65 years of age.
  • Children are usually more affected by viral infections like the “normal” virus and upper airway infections. Therefore kids have circling anti-bodies, which help to prevent COVID-19.
  • The COVID-19 virus which binds to people’s cells, doesn’t bind well to children’s cells.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Simple acts can make the most difference

Dr. Kritzinger, further highlights the effectiveness of:

  • Washing hands,
  • Not touching the face,
  • Wearing of masks (although pre-schoolers tend to constantly touch their masks as it seems to be uncomfortable, shift around, hurt their ears, and more).

These three basic personal hygiene steps would go a long way in protecting our children (and ourselves) when they go back to school.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Dr. Kritzinger indicated that should all precautions be in place from both the home and the school’s side, children can go back to school.

In another article about going back to school after COVID-19, written by two epidemiologists*, of which one specialises in infectious diseases mentions the following facts:

  • Children are often assumed to be important conduits of infectious disease. This is true for influenza (or the common cold), but there is little evidence that children are important drivers of the COVID-19 spread.
  • Children can acquire the disease, but the symptoms are often mild or completely unnoticed.
  • Initial data from studies in China and Iceland show that children are not good transmitters of the virus.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

  • In detailed contact tracing from China, Korea and other countries, epidemiologists have encountered few instances in which children formed part of a transmission chain.
  • In places where schools remained open, such as Iceland, there is no evidence they were important places of transmission. One detailed investigation of an infected nine-year-old boy in France did not detect a single secondary case after he had contact with 112 peers and adults at three different schools during his symptomatic period.
  • The article clarifies that children are defined as elementary-school age and younger.
  • It is thought that teens and adolescents have similar transmission roles as adults.

 

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

In a recent article published in Loving and Living** the author mentions that going back to school might be less uncomfortable for your child as it is may be for you. “Remember, your child trusts school as a safe space. They don’t have your anxieties about infections and risks – so don’t tell them anything that may lead to their worrying.”

Back to school after COVID-19, some practical tips

This article further highlights three practical things you as parent can do at home, to prepare your child for going back to school:

  • Talk to them about the changes that they can expect, for instance that the classroom might look different than before. Let them practice wearing a mask, and wash hands.
  • Your child might experience a certain amount of separation anxiety after spending so much time at home. Remind them about what the enjoyed at school, and the benefits of going to school, seeing friends again etc.
  • Most importantly, make your child feel safe. Remind them that some countries have already passed the most dangerous point in the pandemic, and that we as a country have a plan to fight the virus as well.
  • Remind the older kids that they would be playing an important role to help the smaller kids adapt to school again.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

 

You can download a free eBook about going back to school picture tips by clicking here.

For more information about educational psychology and child development, please connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

 


References:

RSG Radiostasie and KykNET (May 2020)

* Parents are in two minds: Should I send my child back to school or not? National Post, Jay S. Kaufman and Joanna Merckx, April 22, 2020

** 3 things to do before your kids return to school, Published: May 29, Author Lisa Witepski, Loving and Living

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Living and dying – my bucket list

Living and dying – my bucket list

Here is a poem about living and dying, that really is quite inspirational.

TRAVELERS

You know the lucky thing about my hip replacement?

she asked, not waiting for the answer.

It made me think about advance directives,

my living will, how I’d like to die.

 

Yeah, he said, her colleague

who chatted amiably with death

each day, like two old men

playing checkers in the park.

I know what you mean.

 

This is how it is

with the nurses, doctors, therapists

who walk down the halls of dying

as through the home of a relative,

pausing to leaf through the Geographic,

or straighten a family photograph on the wall.

 

They have earned their ease

the hard way,

learned to reach through the bramble

to find the fruit, add weight

to the rusty pail.

 

They have not so much grown inured

to pain as they have learned to savor it,

taste the sweetness of the grapefruit’s bite,

feel the glow of a day’s hard toil.

 

In the end, we need them

as we need seasoned travelers

met in an unfamiliar land.

They greet us on the steep trail,

in the twisting streets, point the way

to a good taverna, trace the path home.

Most of all, they help us

parse the dark syllables in our hearts,

bare them,

 

and seek cleansing

in the gathering storm.

– Robert A. Neimeyer, (Earl Rogers 2007: xix)

 

As an educational psychologist who specializes in trauma therapy from the ages of two to 92+, I am confronted with death on a daily basis. In my previous article about death and dying, I’ve discussed death as a taboo subject for most of us. People feel uncomfortable when “death” comes to the surface and they will rather change the subject. Life and death are two sides of one coin, and what we don’t always realize is that the one can’t go without the other one. Life and death, living and dying are intertwined.

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

How do I want to be remembered after my death

Take five minutes and write down a few words about how you want your family, loved ones and friends to remember you. It can be words like fun, patience, always looking at the bright side of life, reading them a story or taking turns to read a book (even when they are in high school) and more. Now write down at least five things that you have achieved in life that you are proud of. (This may be a challenge for many people, as it is much easier to focus on things that we haven’t achieved). Achievements will differ from person to person. For one it might be to be a patient person, for somebody else it might be a diploma or a degree, for another person it might be to encourage others, to be an entrepreneur, to be able to live in the moment, to have a loving family, etcetera.

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Living and dying: My bucket list

Now it’s time to write down five things that you still would like to achieve – a bucket list. This bucket list will add to the things about how your family and loved ones will remember you. You are still alive and you still have a chance. Do you only want people to remember you for having the cleanest house, being a very strict parent (without having time to sit down and listen to your kids), having many degrees (but spent most time in your office, because you are too busy to have fun with your family) or will your choice be to just set aside your responsibilities and chores for a while and play in the sand with your kids, having a lot of laughter and jumping on the trampoline, having a tea break in your beautiful garden, playing in the mud, reading story books, walking around the block, having a picnic in your garden, listening to your teenager’s music without making negative remarks and share your music with them, go cycling and your list can go on and on.

Living and dying, creating memories, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

 

I still have a chance for a bucket list

It is in your hands to be and still become the person you want to be remembered after your death. Live your life as if there will be no tomorrow, no next chance to have more patience, to say sorry, to put down your responsibilities for a while to have fun. By making the choice to live life, to teach yourself and your children how to live life, how to see the blue sky, the flowers, how to be on the lookout for and to appreciate the small blessings of every day (birds in the garden, the value of a smile, friendliness with the people around us, patience, being a fun person to live with, being blessed with good health, having warm water, enough food, a beautiful house, a caring family and more) you will also learn how to die. You can only face death if you have learned to live life to its fullest. Life is too short to allow daily chores, work, responsibilities, to keep you away from living (as you are dying if you aren’t living). Teach yourself and your children how to life life to the fullest, in spite of COVID-19, in spite of many uncertainties, in spite of not having enough, in spite of not having a perfect life. Take what you have and make your life a living life and not a dying life.

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

 

Do you like a challenge? This one is not for the faint of heart, but maybe also for them

Write a memorial letter about yourself, which contains how you want to be remembered. What inspiring music you want to be played on your funeral, maybe you have a special saying that people will always remember. What photo’s would you like to be shown of you on a slide show? Certainly not photo’s of cleaning the house with a grumpy face, of sitting behind your desk, of preparing food with a silence around you that could be cut with a knife. Yes, of course we all have our chores (read why children need to have chores on my Facebook page) and responsibilities – it’s part of life. But do you have photos for your slide show where you are having fun, laugh a lot, play a lot lot, dance like no one is watching! If you don’t have these kind of photo’s, then today is the time to start collecting them, to print it out, to put it on your refrigerator or a special memory clip board, where you and your family can add new photo’s, at least once a month. Life and death, two inseparable sides of the same coin. Only by living life to the fullest, you will be able to learn about peaceful dying. Take up the challenge and make your bucket list today.

Living and dying, creating memories, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria


Photo credits:
Thanks to the following photographers for their amazing images used in this post!
List: Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Mom and kid: Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash
Dad and kids at beach: Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash
Photo memories: Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash
Campfire: Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash
Miles of memories: Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash
death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria

Death and dying therapy

Death and dying therapy

Death and dying therapy is something that people need, but most tend to avoid.

Death and life – two parts of the same coin. The one can’t go with the other one

(Have another look at the picture above. What word do you see? Now rotate the picture 180 degrees. Now what word do you see?)

 “The world breaks everyone and afterward, some grow strong at the broken places”.

As an educational psychologist, who specializes in trauma, including death and dying therapy and who completed both my masters and doctorate degrees in trauma (with both teenagers and adults), I’m confronted on a daily basis with “broken people” and / or hurt people. Examples of what I’m dealing with are divorce, abuse, suicide, death, housebreaking, hijacks, bullying, retrenchments and natural disasters. But one of these traumas remains a taboo subject, an absolutely no, to talk about…DEATH.

death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria
Picture above: No! No! Don’t talk about death

 

Through the ages and generations death has been a taboo and a ‘no no’ subject and until today most people refuse to think and talk about death. Thinking and talking, as well as reading about death, threaten most people and make them feel uncomfortable. Thus death = silent ignorance (to most people).

The reality is that death and life are two parts of the same “coin”. The one part of this “coin” which is “life” can’t be understand, without understanding something about the second part which is “death”. Our parents teach us how to live (if they themselves knew how, and if we are lucky), but teaching us to die doesn’t even exist in their vocabulary. We don’t want to think and talk about death, because we don’t want to die, at least not for now. The fact is that we all will die and it can happen with you or one of your family members or friends today. Every day, since we can remember, we see, hear and read of people who died, but we think “thank goodness it’s not us”. Then life goes on, until the day arrives when someone close to you die or when you are confronted with death by means of an unexpected diagnosis…and suddenly your life is shattered and falls apart.

Death and dying therapy: A different view

In his book ‘The Alchemist’, Paulo Coelho describes death as a beautiful woman. Coelho says that this beautiful woman (death) is always by his side in life. She had been there since his birth. A friend of Coelho asked him whether the beautiful woman says something. Coelho’s answer to his friend was: The beautiful woman is saying:

“I’m going to kiss you,” and I say to her, “not now, please.” But she says, “OK, not now – but pay attention and try to get the best of every moment because I am going to take you”. And I say, “OK, thank you for giving me the most important advice in life – to live your moment fully.”

death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria

To be able to really learn to live and to understand life, it’s impossible not to learn and understand more about death. Look at the picture of death again. Life and death are intertwined, they can’t be separated and the one can’t exist without the other. People ask: “Where do I start with death?”

The first thing is to face death. Yes, to face death. Facing death means to be able to stand still and say: I am confronted with death and I need to face it. Research indicated that “facing” your fear, panic and insecurities, is the first step to go on and pursue hope. But what is facing death exactly? Facing death is about getting up in the morning, although you do not feel like doing it, and facing the day, facing your fear, facing your challenges and most of all, facing yourself.

Facing yourself and facing the fear of death is about going forward although with trembling legs and maybe sweating hands, and a shattered heart that pounds in your body, even you do not feel like it. Facing death is about going on, like the metaphor of a river which describes trauma:

“The river flows relentlessly to the sea. When it reaches a point where it is blocked by rocks and debris it struggles to find ways to continue its path. Would the alternative be to flow backwards? That is what a person in trauma craves, to go back in time. But life doesn’t provide a reverse gear and the struggle must go forward, like the river, with occasional pauses to tread water and check where we are heading”….water adapts itself to the configuration of the land.

death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria

 

Facing death and facing yourself takes a tremendous amount of energy. Don’t face this on your own. There is help. Often during trauma and death, negative experiences of the past, which wasn’t properly faced and addressed, tend to come to the surface again. Feelings of guilt, sleeplessness, anxiety, feelings of depression and more can bother you and make your shattered life even more confusing and unbearable. The intense and overwhelming feelings and emotions which is caused by death infiltrates every cell in your body.

Your brain’s main aim is to protect you. In experiencing trauma your logical and rational thinking process will be put on pause for a while, because your brain will automatically put you in fight, freeze or flight “mode”. That is one of the reasons why you can’t think clearly. Through psychotherapy and counselling you will be supported to face your unresolved issues of the past during your mourning process of death and make it “dealt with” issues.  By sitting with an experienced trauma psychologist, will help you to start to gather the shattered pieces of your life. It will be an intense journey, but by doing this for yourself, will support you to be better equipped for the journey that still lies ahead – as you are alive which means there is still a road to travel.

Should you just need to talk to someone who can listen and walk the journey with you, you can contact me here, or visit my Facebook or Twitter pages.

For more information about death and trauma therapy click here.


Photo credits:

Photo by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash

Photo by Mattia Ascenzo on Unsplash

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash (Stop)

Photo by Suzy Turbenson on Unsplash (Cemetery)

References:

Paulo Coelho – The Alchamist

Diagram: The grief Centre of Texas. Corr, CA, Nabe, Corr,DM. 2006. Death and dying, life and living. 5thedition. United States of America:Thompson Wadsworth.

Van Niekerk, AMS. 2011. Opvoedkundig-Sielkundige riglyne vir die hantering van die verlies- en treurproses (Unpublished M.Ed Dissertation).

Social media protection for your child Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Pretoria Midstream

Social media protection for your child

Social media protection for your child

It is something we all know we must do. But unfortunately, it is something most of us don’t spend any time doing. That is, thinking and implementing social media protection for your child.

Most people who are on top of social media don’t have a clue about digital literacy. Are you one of them?

Do you check your child’s phone? If you don’t, maybe you should rethink it very soon as well as seriously. As an educational psychologist in private practice with experience with children, teenagers and families over the past 30 years, I’ve met about ten families where parents are digitally informed. When I ask parents whether they check their child’s phone, their standard answer is “My child will never allow that!” Most parents whom I see in consultation are totally knocked off their feet and their world falls apart when they tell me about their reliable, trustworthy, loyal, and well mannered child whom they trusted with their hearts, who has sent naked photo’s of him / herself to men and boys, or is involved with cyber bullying (whether a victim or the bully self), had sex with more than one partner, use inappropriate apps, are part of groups where their loving child used the most disgusted language and visits pornography websites.

Social media protection for your child Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Pretoria Midstream

One problem parents experience is that photo’s and video clips which were sent when using certain apps, disappear immediately after the receiver watched it. What teenagers and young adults aren’t aware of is that the owner of the app could store these images as if it is their own. Therefore the pictures are still available, irrespective whether the user erased it. Some people also take instant screen shots when receiving it – especially naked and obscure photo’s as they are out to manipulate friends with it in order to get what they want.

Another important aspect of which most parents aren’t aware of is how a teenager’s brain develops and works. The brain develops from the back to the front, and the outside layer which is the cortex, which comprises more than 40% of the brain, develops last. This frontal cortex is where insight, reasoning, planning, impulsivity, decision making, and the regulation of emotions take place and it is developing until a person is 20 – 30 years old (according to Frances Jensen, neuro scientist, in The teenage brain). Teenager’s brains are powerful and therefore there’s an urge to find and explore new, sensational learning areas, but a teenager’s brain hasn’t been fully developed yet. Therefore even the most responsible teenager can make a bad judgement call. Peer pressure, hormones, puberty and the quick development and powerful stage in which a teenager’s brain is, as well as normal human curiousness are good examples of why you can never give your child a phone and not check it at least every second week.

What should I as a parent of a teenager do?

Research indicates that parents are illiterate about digital devices. Common sense Media is an excellent, reliable tool where age appropriate apps on movies, games as well as books are shown. The starting point is however to re-evaluate your own values and norms on social media. Teenagers and younger children, even preschoolers, often tell me that their parents are on their phones and computers for most of the evening and weekends – even when the family is sitting together at the dining table, go for a walk, drink some tea / coffee together or watch a television program.

Social media protection for your child Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Pretoria Midstream

Social media protection for your child: The facts

A few facts indicated by research on being hooked to social media are the following:

Before you buy your child a phone (or if you think that it’s too late – you can start again) your child should know the following:

  • Having a phone is a privilege and not a personal right.
  • Technology is a gift and that it should be wisely used, but you as parent should teach and educate your child on that.
  • You as parent pay for the phone as well as the bill / airtime and therefore you have the right to know what’s going on on your child’s phone.
  • You are the parent and you are responsible for your child’s upbringing which implies discipline with regards to using his / her phone, what applications he / she is allowed to use, what parental control apps are being activated and more.
  • Both adults and children can get addicted to a phone easily, the same as to alcohol or drugs.
  • There will be strict rules which will include all the family members with regards to when and for how long phones are allowed to be used.
  • You will have access by means of his / her codes to all the info on the phone.
  • It’s non-negotiable that you will be friends with your child on Facebook, Instagram and other social media and applications he / she is using.
  • Your child can be found guilty of a criminal offence if he / she sends a naked or obscure photo to any person, before the age of 18 years.

Social media protection for your child Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Pretoria Midstream

  • Prospective schools, colleges, universities, as well as managers where your child might apply for a job in future will consider your child with his social media in mind. Before most companies appoint a person in a job, they do visit a person’s social media.
  • Once a social media post (messages, photos, videos,) is sent out, you can’t take it back. It’s like putting toothpaste on your toothbrush. If the toothpaste is out of the tube, you can’t put it back. Teenagers think they can erase it, but a typical social media app rule is that user info remains their (the app’s) property, even if it is removed. All info is stored in their cloud and you can’t remove it once it’s out there.
  • Social media is one platform where “phishing” and other obscure people operate very easily, as they hide behind their false identity and smooth talking. They do research on what girls’ and boys’ of different ages’ emotional needs are, what they are going through with regards to peer pressure, having insecurities and the experiencing of feelings of they don’t belong and are the odd one out. These scammers are very professional in their game of making friends and giving you a lot of thumbs ups on socoal media. They also can be found on gaming websites and they are fun to have as friends. Their aim is to get power over you, to make you feel that they are your best friends, who totally understand you.
  • Teenagers thrive on likes by peers and friends. There’s peer pressure and competition on how many friends you have and how many likes you get for a post. Too many times teenagers invite and accept friends because they think they know the person or heard his name before. This is however no connection if you don’t really know the person well.
  • On Emma’s Sadleir’s, a leading lawyer in South Africa on social media’s website, your child should “check” whether the following six P’s can be ticked off before he /she posts anything. It means that your child will feel totally comfortable when his post will be seen by: the POLICE, a PEDOPHILE, his / her PARENTS, a PHISHER, the PRINCIPAL or a PROSPECTIVE PERSON for whom he might work in future.

Social media protection for your child Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Pretoria Midstream

Social media protection for your child: Know this!

Before you buy your child a phone (or if you think that it’s too late, you can start again) YOU should know the following:

  • Research indicates that the average age in South Africa of being exposed to pornography is 9 years of age.
  • Pornography is available for free to any person, no matter what age, 24 hours a day.
  • Pornography is found even among the best educated children with academic distinctions, who are leaders in schools and who have involved parents. The reason for this that a teenager’s frontal part of his brain, which is the cortex, isn’t fully developed yet. His reasoning, rational, realistic choices, as well as being impulsive or not, i.e. his whole “control system” therefore is still developing, and could do so until the age between 20 – 30 years.
  • Every child, yours’ as well, has a natural and normal curiousness to discover and explore things. It is therefore your responsibility to take all the precautions that you can to protect your child. It implies that you should also do your homework on digital literacy.

Social media protection for your child: IMPORTANT READING MATERIAL FOR PARENTS

If there’s only one website you need to read regarding social media’s pros and cons, it’s the lawyer Emma Sadleir’s. She is one of the leading social media experts in South Africa. Click here: thedigitallawco.com

On Emma’s website you will find:

  • A link to obtain information about social media apps, like Snapchat, Messenger, Instagram, Tinder and more. Read through it and see what is good as well as dangerous with regards to it.
  • A link to the Common Sense Media website which is an excellent tool to recommend age appropriate shows, movies, games, apps and books for different age groups.
  • Excellent, easy to read, articles on social media for all age groups.
  • A description of filtering software, like Our Pact, K9, Net Nanny and their pro’s and con’s so that you can decide which one will be fit for you. There is also info about ways in which your child may try to side-step the software and how you will know when it happens.

You can order Emma’s book “Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones: A teenager’s online survival guide” here.

Social media protection for your child Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Pretoria Midstream

Social media protection for your child: Please read and share this

Dear Parent: Prevention is better than cure. With Emma Sadleir’s website as well as this call from me as an educational psychologist, you don’t have any excuse any more of how to become informed and educated on the appropriate social media for your child. Remember, social media protection for your child starts with you.

Talking about social media, please feel free to connect with me via social media, as I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


References used in this article:

The Digital Law Company – Emma Sadleir – www.thedigitallawco.com

TED talk – Why we should rethink our relationship with the smartphone – Lior Frenkel – May 2014

TED talk – What you need to know about internet addiction – Dr. Kimberley Young

Sarie tydskrif – In die kop van jou tiener – Maart 2020


Photo credits:
Photo by Merakist on Unsplash (Social Media Featured image)
Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash (Social Media icons)
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash (Boy with phone)
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash (Snapchat logo)
Photo by Stem List on Unsplash (Playing games)
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash (Teenager with phone)
Top traumatic and the most stressful life events, before the Corona virus Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria death divorce

Top traumatic and the most stressful life events, before the Corona virus

Top traumatic and the most stressful life events, before the Corona virus or Covid-19

Covid-19 certainly is one of the most stressful life events ever.  The world has stopped and people right over the world are in lockdown. The corona virus or Covid-19 indeed is certainly one of the top traumatic and the most stressful life events.

What were known as the top traumatic and the most stressful life events until recently when Covid-19 hit us?

  • Death of a loved one.
  • Separation or divorce.
  • Getting married.
  • Major illness or injury.
  • Starting a new job.
  • Job loss.
  • Workplace stressors.
  • Financial problems.
  • Move to a new house.

 

What is the definition of trauma?

Trauma is defined as stressful events, over which a person has no control. This stressful events can cause highlevels of anxiety which threatens or harm a person’s emotional, physical, and / or social well-being and interferes with his / her normal daily functioning in such a way that reevaluationof his / her actions and thoughts are needed. These strong emotional reactions have the potential to interfere with a person’s ability to function in the traumatic situation or later (Van Niekerk 2014).

Suddenly all of us as human beings have to face the reality of Covid-19. So many people wonder what’s wrong with them and wonder whether they are loosing themselves and whether the lockdown might be the reason why they suddenly experience negative incidents from the past to bother them now. Trauma research indicates that during times of trauma it is most possible that negative incidents of the past comes to the surface and bother you again. These negative past incidents are however “normal” to experience in an “abnormal situation”, like COVID-19. These incidents are most of the time things that a person hasn’t dealt with properly in the past. This is one of the most important things to take good care of your own as well as your families’ emotional well-being.

Trauma crying divorce death Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist

 

This sudden anger, sadness, confusion and guilt that suddenly came into your life, can be addressed through therapy. Therefore do what you can do during the lockdown time, but if these emotions and feelings with regards to incidents that happened in your past, keep on bothering you and interfere with your everyday life, it might be time to talk to a professional person who specializes in trauma.

The importance of working through traumatic incidents from the past, as well as the trauma of Covid-19 can’t be highlighted enough as you don’t want and need to carry ‘unfinished business’ for the rest of your life. Therefore “face” your fear, sadness, anger, etcetera and make your own as well as your loved ones’ ‘unfinished’ issues of the past, ‘finished’ learning experiences for the future.


I am an educational psychologist and trauma specialist in private practice in Pretoria, Midstream, Centurion, and Midrand areas. I have completed my master’s and doctoral degrees in trauma with teenagers and adults. I had been a teacher (both pre-primary and primary) for 18 years and later on a school principal who completed my honors degree in early childhood development. My specialization area of working with trauma starts from the age of two years up to 92+ years of age. I have more than 26 years of experience in working with children, parents and other adults.

Read more on trauma counselling on my blog. You can also connect with me on my Facebook page to read more on other educational psychology topics.

Reference:  Van Niekerk, M. 2014. Unpublished doctoral thesis: ‘The psycho-educational use of mental toughness in dealing with trauma.’

 

Photo credits:
Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash
Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash
Dealing with the covid-19 change Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Dealing with the Covid-19 change – corona virus

Dealing with the Covid-19 change – corona virus change

Dealing with the Covid-19 change has severely impacted and turned our lives upside down. Being upside down means that a lot of change has happened and are happening in your lives. Change usually bring with and forth a lot of uncertainties and insecurities in our worlds.

Dealing with the covid-19 change Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria
Change is constant – prepare for it!

 

 

We want to know what is “ok” and “normal” and it causes anxiety within us if we hear and see on social media and the television daily that there is no “normal” anymore. If you want any practical guidelines on how to set a new normal in this abnormal time of Covid-19, read my post here.

Dealing with the Covid-19 change however does not only mean negativity. Read more about change and what it implies in this post on “who moved my cheese” here.

For more information about Covid-19, and many other educational psychology topics, please visit my Facebook page. Or, if you are looking for some easy-and-fun arts and crafts activities for your children during the lockdown period, you can visit this post here.

 


Photo credits
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
Photo by Bluehouse Skis on Unsplash
How can doing nothing be good for you? Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

How can doing nothing be good for you?

How can doing nothing be good for you?

The corona virus or Covid-19 forces us to deal with change and to stand still. To rethink our values, priorities, the quality of our relationships and our dreams of the future. Who of us haven’t dreamed, before the corona virus, about time to sit still, to be free, ‘stand still’ and come to a halt, read a book, watch our favorite movie or television program, spend time with our family and friends maybe next to the pool while enjoying a nice braai. Maybe we have dreamed about having our own individual time, or having time without people around us as a family, time at the beach, time in nature, time to play with our children, relationship time with our spouses, and so our list can go on and one. But something which totally opposes our dreams of just having our own time, is confronting us during the period of the corona virus: Most of us don’t know how to switch off. Let’s examine the question: how can doing nothing be good for you?

How can doing nothing be good for you? Isn’t being active the same as winning?

Time is money – which is nothing new. Time is also limited and we don’t have time to waste. The social media, technology and ourselves tend to put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to stay on top of new knowledge. Competition in the corporate world waits for no one only and the strongest, most informed ones will win! Or will they win?

Have a quick look at this two minute videoclip “How Boredom Helps You Do Your Best Thinking”, a TED Talk (technology, entertainment, design) by Zomorodi in 2017.

How can doing nothing be good for you? Boredom can create brilliance!

Boredom can truly create brilliance because when we are bored our thoughts start to wander off. Boredom activate a network in your brain which is called “default mode”. When we do things where we don’t need to think, for example walking the dog, do the washing, raking the garden and more, our body switches to autopilot. Autopilot doesn’t mean it switches off. This wandering off is our brain’s way to find something to stimulate it. These stimulation triggers our brains to start to think creatively  according to Sandi Mann, psychologist and writer of the book “The upside of downtime: Why boredom is good”.

How can doing nothing be good for you? Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria
How can doing nothing be good for you? Doing something peaceful like fishing can be an excellent opportunity for creative thinking!

When we daydream, we go deeper than just the here and now thinking of our conscious mind. Our brain starts to dig into a much deeper level which is called our sub-conscious minds. Our sub-conscious minds can be compared with files where all the highlights and lowlights of our lives are stored. Our sub-conscious mind connects stored parts of information with each another. These connections can’t take place when we are busy with our phones or social media. A prerequisite for creativity, self evaluation and planning for the brain is relaxing and day dreaming. Our subconscious minds help us to set new aims and find ways to reach these aims (Johnathan Smallwood, American psychologist; Andreas Elpidorou, researcher in philosophy University of Louisville.)

How can doing nothing be good for you? Do this and find out!

Put your cellphone down (where you can’t reach it), put the sound off as well. You owe yourself “creating of ideas time”. Our brains are not wired to be constantly busy. By having quiet, peaceful, day dreaming time, your subconscious mind will be ready to provide you with creative ideas, brilliant solutions and new exciting ways to discover yourself and to enjoy life with much more exciting plans. The secret of your success will be to add day dreaming time while doing nothing, to your every day schedule. Enjoy it!


What is a TED talk?

A TED talk is a video created from a presentation at the main TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference or one of its many satellite events around the world. TED talks are limited to a maximum length of 18 minutes and may be on any topic.

 

References:
Rooi Rose, Februarie 2020, ‘Broeikas vir Briljant’.
Photo credits:
Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
Divorce family counselling Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Why do you as parent need to consider post-divorce recovery seriously?

Why do you as parent need to consider post-divorce recovery seriously?

On my blog I have earlier discussed why post-divorce family therapy is of such importance, and why you should consider post-divorce recovery. Before you consider a divorce or if you are going through a divorce or being divorced, think of the following traumatic changes which your children will most possible get through (depending of your circumstances):

Let’s just refresh our minds. What are commonly accepted to be the most traumatic incidents in life?

Impact of divorce on families Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

The top traumatic events (as also mentioned here) are listed as:

  • The death of a loved one.
  • Separation or divorce.
  • Getting married.
  • Major illness or injury.
  • Starting a new job.
  • Job loss.
  • Workplace stressors.
  • Financial problems.
  • Moving to a new house, town of country.

I recommend the following books that you could use to talk to your children about divorce: “Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce“, “Two Homes” and “Living with Mom and Living with Dad“.

The impact of divorce on children can be profound, and long lasting

Impact of divorce on children Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Traumatic changes which children of divorced families are facing:

  • Having a second home. Imagine yourself as parent to be moved weekly from one house to another, where rules and routines differ (even slightly, it differs).
  • Not all their belongings are there, some of which might let them feel at home or secure.
  • Forgetting belongings at the other parent’s house which they haven’t even thought of.
  • The impact of dealing with a new girl-or boyfriend in their parent’s life.
  • New “siblings” to get along with.
  • New “siblings” at home who might occupy or cling to his / her dad / mom and who says it’s my dad / mom and more.
  • Sharing a room with a new sibling (essentially a stranger at first).
  • Adjust to new friends in a dad’s or mom’s life.
  • New ways in which a dad or mom acts and socialises (as age doesn’t matter – whether you are 12, 16, or 82, love sets free feeling good hormones of which endorphin is one, in your brain, and you act differently).
  • Dealing with feelings like: ‘Does my mom / dad still love me?’. ‘Won’t she / he forget about me because his new family lives with him now?’
  • A new baby, and / or ‘siblings’ and divided attention from a parent.
  • A new school.
  • A new caretaker to adjust to.
  • Less financial privileges.
  • More financial privileges.
  • Different financial privileges at the two different households.
  • New unknown emotions and feelings like sadness, guilt (many children believe it was their mistake that their parents got divorced), anger, isolation, depression, insecurities and more.
  • Identity and role changes (not being the youngest / oldest in the family any more).
  • Perceived ‘unfair’ discipline by mom’s / dad’s new boy- or girlfriend.

Put yourself in your children’s shoes

It really is important that you put yourself in your child’s / children’s shoes and try to experience what they might be experiencing. Remember every child is different and not all of them will experience the same emotions and feelings. What a child will experience will depend on aspects like his position in a family, personality types, previous trauma and setbacks in his / her life and more.

Conclusion: Why do you as parent need to consider post-divorce recovery seriously?

Important: The aim of this information isn’t to make you feel more guilty about your divorce. You might have been in a verbal / emotional / physical abusive relationship or in a relationship with a spouse who is addicted, cheats on you and more. Sometimes you don’t actually have another option but to get divorced (and depending of your circumstances it might be better for you and your children). The aim is however to give you a better perspective of what the theory says about divorce, and the impact thereof on families, and to understand what your children might be experiencing when dealing with parents’ divorce. This will give you good tools to help them deal with these huge challenges.

 

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin for more information on Educational Psychology and other Child Development topics.


Photo credits:
Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash
Photo by Kat J on Unsplash
Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash
Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Play and emotional wellness – child development

Play and emotional wellness

Play and your child’s emotional wellness: part 1

In my previous article? Easy and fun activities to keep your children busy during cold days as well as during Covid-19 days”, I have explained the importance of play with regards to your child’s development (emotional, physical, brain and social). Today I want to discuss play and emotional wellness are linked to child development.

Examples of some of the benefits of play on emotional wellness and development can be seen below:

  • Physical, body development
    • Examples: Catching and throwing a ball, running around, climbing onto, building things like houses, cars, robots, etc. (construction play).
  • Brain development (cognitive development)
    • Examples: Gaining knowledge about the meaning of big/small, loud/soft, up/down; sorting of things according to colour, shape, size and learning to solve problems.
  • Emotional development
    • Examples: Learning to express his emotions, develops self confidence, helps to better deal with conflict.
  • Social development
    • Examples: Learning to work together with peers, to respect others, helping to form his identity and teaching a child about leading and following.

Play and your child’s emotional wellness: part 2

Play is an important and invaluable “tool” which empowers a child.

Today I want to zoom in on play as an important “tool” which is used by children (without being aware of using it) to deal with feelings of anxiety, fear, insecurities, conflict, rejection, unfairness and many more.

Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria
Play and emotional wellness – play is a way for your child to express his feelings

 

Play further becomes a “tool” through which children practice role play and role identities.

Slavon describes the process which takes place through plays as: “Through play the child expresses traumatic fixations, conflicts and hostilities. The child also uses play to disguise genuine conflicts and difficulties, or he may use play to relax tension and anxiety. Of greatest importance is the fact that the young child discharges aggression and seeks to overcome traumatic anxieties through play; it acts as regulative mechanism.”

Every preprimary school which is worth his salt will have a variety of fantasy play activities like a dollhouse (with a kitchen and play food, dolls, a sitting room etc.), a variety of clothes (cowboys, dress up, clowns, animals), farm, space, shop, gym, garage with cars, and more.

Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria
Play and emotional wellness – fantasy play for children, an important part of child devlopment

 

But don’t rely on the school alone. It is even more important is that you also create the opportunity for fantasy play at home. Collect a lot of boxes, crates, hats, clothes, shoes, jewelry, etcetera that your child can use to build constructions like a house, shop, racing track, and more. Children only become more capable to verbalise (tell us) about their emotions at an older age, but even six year olds still struggle to verbalise what they feel and experience. Therefore play is of utmost importance, as it becomes the “tool” through which your child expresses his anxiety, anger, sadness as well as his joy, pride, happiness, etcetera.

Every day children, like adults, are challenged with a lot of emotions and insecurities which you might not even be aware of. Take the step and provide your child with the “tools” that he needs to change his “unfinished issues” into more “finished issues”. He dearly needs it!

 

Photo credits:
Thank you to the below authors for the amazing pictures used in this blog!
Photo by Steven Libralon on Unsplash
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash
Photo by Vanessa Bucceri on Unsplash
Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Going back to school tips

In a previous post about going back to school after COVID-19, I have discussed the pro’s and con’s of sending …

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Back to school after COVID-19

Back to school after COVID-19 Children will be going back to school after COVID-19. Many parents are struggling with the …

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Living and dying – my bucket list

Living and dying – my bucket list Here is a poem about living and dying, that really is quite inspirational. TRAVELERS …