Counselling for boys, teens, men, & families.


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How do I get my kids motivated?

Posted by on June 26, 2017 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (5)

Much of what we are required to do in life – including a huge amount of what children are required to do – cannot be described as "enjoyable" or "exciting". Study, chores, being quiet, not picking your nose or not picking on your sister – where’s the fun in those?

To do these behaviours requires extrinsic motivation – a motivation that comes from outside the person. Sometimes that extrinsic motivation is avoiding a negative consequences like penalties or disapproval from a parent, at other times it will be a reward that makes the activity worthwhile.

A key question that comes up for parents around "extrinsic motivation" is do we have threaten and bribe our children all their lives? No! Fortunately, children can ‘internalise’ motivation. Over time the motivation moves from outside the child to inside their head.

If a child comes to agree whole-heartedly with the reasons for the task, they will perform in a self-motivated manner, even if the task itself is not very interesting or pleasant. They are motivated because their behaviour has some value to them, or it fits with their values, or is part of who they are.

For example, if a child believes tidying up is a good and right thing to do, and they see themselves as a ‘tidy’ person, the behaviour no longer requires some extrinsic penalty or reward – it has become internalised. They do what is required because they truly want to do it, even if it is hard or boring.

So there’s the tip – connect children with the value behind the chore – “Listen to you practice – that’s beautiful music you are making.” “Wow, this room looks so good when you’ve cleaned it! You must really enjoy being able to make it look this good”. “Thanks for helping with the shopping. It’s great that we are a team.”

Source: Hot Tips, The Parenting Place

The dating list

Posted by on June 26, 2017 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

If your teenager is beginning to date it could be the time to make the list.

Ask them to write down the attributes that would make a potential boyfriend or girlfriend a good match for them. Do they value someone with a sense of humour? Someone who thinks of others, or who has clear goals for the future?

Encourage them to be crystal clear about the kind of person they’re looking for, and also about what constitutes a deal-breaker for a relationship, such as someone who puts people down or is unhappy with them doing thier own thing. The list can help them make a reasoned decision when mixed feelings create confusion.

Source: Hot Tip from The Parenting Place


Wardrobe wars

Posted by on June 26, 2017 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Whether it’s clothes, electronics, make-up or music, teenagers can be extremely territorial about their stuff, leading to spectacular bust-ups over who raided whose wardrobe or didn’t return something that they borrowed, and didn’t even have permission to borrow in the first place.

As the parent you can:

  • mediate endlessly,  
  • lose your patience,
  • or encourage them to work out a plan that everyone is happy with.

A good message for tweens and teens is if the system isn’t working, be a part of the solution. Coach them in how to put together a written agreement containing their own individualised rules for how and when they’re allowed to use each others’ gear.

Source: Hot Tip from The Parenting Place

Dealing with Prickly Teens

Posted by on June 26, 2017 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

In many ways I experience parenting as "a long letting go"... as my child grows older, I find mysel ever so slowly having to let go more and more of making decisions for her, being in charge of her where-abouts, and filtering what she is exposed to.  As children get older they move into more self-directedness, self-determination, and being guided by their own ideas and will...

Our job as parents reverts to one of guide, mentor, consultant, advisor..... or we get shut out and experienced by our teenager as irrelevant, "not understanding" or just "kill-joys"!   In my counselling practice with families and parents, this is often an aspect of the work we do together... Redrawing the lines and decision making processes parents and teens have within their dynamic.

The link below takes you to an article that briefly outlines five useful aspects to keep in mind when struggling with the frustation of trying to parent a teen ager.  It offers tips and suggestions for each, and timely reminders to keep perspective ourselves.  

Five methods explored are: Understanding Why Your Teenager is Moody, Redirecting Negative Behavior, Offering Positive Support, Taking Care of Yourself, and Noting Warning Signs of More Serious Problems

What is Counselling Anyway? How can it help?

Posted by on June 26, 2017 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Here in New Zealand, the national professional association for counsellors is NZAC (New Zealand Association of Counsellors).  As a professional body, it vets applications for membership against a rigorous professional standard.  Anyone looking for a competant, professiona counsellor can reasonably assume that a NZAC member will have a high level of training, be professionally competant and offer a safe, confidential and ethical counselling practice.   Like the Master Builders Association, look for NZAC after a counsellors creditials to enure you are getting the best!

Here's a video NZAC produced to introduce the concept of seeing a counsellor:

Counselling helps you explore and manage your emotions, thoughts and behaviour. It can help you plan and set goals and improve your relationships.

Counselling assists you to address challenges in your life, get to know yourself better and to develop new ways of thinking and living.

Counselling helps with anxiety, depression, grief and loss, life changes and stress, relationships with family, friends and work colleagues, trauma, abuse and bullying, domestic and sexual violence.

It works best when you’re ready to participate and when you and your counsellor are clear and realistic about your therapy goals.

It can feel a little uncomfortable at first while you’re getting to know your counsellor.

However, most people say they feel relieved to have started the process and to be able to talk freely with someone neutral and non-judgemental.

Talk to a counsellor in your area about what you want to achieve.

I was first made a full member of NZAC in 1997 and have contributed to the professional association in a range of ways over the years.  As an Auckland based counsellor I am very interested to meet with you and explore what you want to achieve.  Use the "contact me" link to be in touch.

Nigel Pizzini (NZAC) 

Connecting Teens to the World

Posted by on August 28, 2016 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (1)

We tell our children from the day they’re born; 'You’re special', 'You matter', 'You are so significant to me.' Our words are important, but on their own they’re not enough to make our kids feel it and believe it. As they get older, our teens also need to know how and why they matter.


Connections with groups that work for a greater goal, either in their communities or worldwide, are a wonderful way to foster a sense of contribution. Sponsoring children in other countries, getting your teens volunteering their time, or regularly donating to a cause they find worthwhile can all build this sense of purpose and meaning that reaches beyond self interest. 'You play a part' is a powerful and affirming message that builds bonds between our kids, their family and wider society.


Source: Hot Tip from The Parenting Place


Discipline = Consequences - Anger

Posted by on August 28, 2016 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

It's a simple equation:  Discipline = Consequences - Anger.   But it's nowhere near as simple to execute in real life.

When children push our buttons and our boundaries, anger and frustration can be very difficult for a parent to suppress. Some words of truth to remind oneself of at such times, which can help in the heat of the moment are, "My anger might overshadow what I want to teach my child."

Rehearse it often; speaking it out loud if you have to. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the reason why we’re trying so hard to keep calm. In this case, it’s about letting the lesson reach our child’s heart without provoking their fear, shame, resentment or anger along the way.

Source: Hot Tip from The Parenting Place

9 Sneaky Causes Of Depression

Posted by on April 3, 2016 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (3)

By: Lindsay Holmes, Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post


"Depression comes in many forms. It can be mild and people can be functional, or it can be severe and debilitating," Josie Znidarsic, a family physician at the Cleveland Clinic's wellness institute, told The Huffington Post. "It can happen to anyone. ... A major life trauma doesn't have to occur to have depression. It's also not something that will just disappear if you ignore it."

Of course, there are instances where the mental health condition isn't caused by any external circumstances. Some people's brain chemistry, hormones and genetic inheritance from family members can also be a large factor. That said, there are times when an outside trigger can contribute to the development of the mental illness. Below are a few surprising contributors to depression.

1. Chronic illness

Dealing with chronic disease isn't just tough physically, but emotionally as well. People who suffer from a chronic condition like heart disease, diabetes and cancer are more likely to experience depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's important to note that scientists have yet to determine which one may cause the other, but experts stress that there are specific ways to manage the mental health disorder while working through chronic illness.


2. Smoking

Here's a good reason to kick that habit to the curb: A 2015 British study found that smokers were more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression overall than non-smokers. Additionally, the study found that smoking may be a source of anxiety because of the feelings of withdrawal smokers experience after not having a cigarette, the researchers said.

"That 'high' you get from cigarettes isn't useful because it's destructive to your body," Cleveland Clinic's chief wellness officer Michael Roizen previously told HuffPost. "You want to figure out what will give you a 'high' that isn't damaging or contributes to disease. Do that by finding a passion you love, whether it's exercise, talking with a friend or cooking. That's going to help, particularly when it comes to depression."


3. Excessive social media use

Social media is just a glimpse of someone's life through a glass half full; it does not accurately portray someone's reality. But you still may find yourself stacking your life against theirs. This is subconscious process is what researchers call "social comparison," and it can lead to feelings of depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.


4. Your neighborhood

Are you a city dweller or a country resident? It could make a difference in your mental health. Research shows that people who live in urban areas may be more susceptible to mental illness, particularly depression, Scientific American reported. While researchers say the underlying cause of why that happens is incredibly complex, they theorize that spending more time in nature can be a helpful antidote.


5. Diet

Your physicality and mentality may be tied to what you consume. Research suggests that people who have a poor diet -- think foods high in processed meats, sugar and fat -- also weremore likely to report symptoms of depression, the Mayo Clinic reported. A 2008 data analysis published in the Indian Journal of Psychology states that "nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression."

This, of course, is cyclical. Depression also can result in a change in appetite, sometimes making it difficult for a person to have proper nutrition. Experts say that the relationship is complex, but it's still something to be aware of when it comes to your mood.


6. Too much sitting

The only avenue to a healthy body and mind is not only to prioritize what you eat, but how much activity you do. Research shows exercise can boost your mood. Not only that, the opposite behavior of too much inactivity may be linked to experiencing symptoms of depression. Time to move those feet.


7. A lack of sleep

Sleep deprivation is no joke. If you don't prioritize those Z's, you're not only at risk for chronic conditions like heart disease, you're also at risk for emotional conditions. Research shows severe sleep loss can mess with your mood. Depression also can impact your sleep, creating a vicious cycle.


8. Brain inflammation

Emerging research is finding that depressive symptoms may be due to a "neuroinflammation," or a natural response the brain engages in to protect itself. A study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that brain inflammation was 30 percent higher in depressed patients. This may be good news when it comes to stigma, given that the common misconception about depression is that it's something a person can "just get over" or that they "brought it on themselves."


9. Not putting your needs first

If you prioritize others and ignore your own needs, that can take a toll on your mental health. "Too often people leave no space or time to take care of themselves," Znidarsic said. "If they don't have the ability to say no to people or things that don't nurture them, that can really leave someone drained and depressed."

If you feel like you may be experiencing depression, hope is certainly not lost, Znidarsic stressed. There are ways to manage it to help you get back into a better frame of mind -- because you deserve to be healthy.



Take the 'fight' out of your voice

Posted by on April 3, 2016 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

It’s easy to get into conflict with our kids. They ignore us, we raise our voices, they fight back etc.


We, the big people, need to be strong, loving, flexible and available. And that might mean we need to take responsibility for our own frustrations, irritations or impatience rather than projecting it onto our kids in the way of our emotions or reactivity.  We all have emotional reactions and responses to others, that's part of being in relationship. What is important is that we have appropriate and effect ways to attend to our emotions (away from our kids) so that we are more able to be calm, available and steady.

It’s important to back our words up with actions and consequences. Being calm, steady and connected to our goals and purposes (rather than flying off the handle or "reactive") will support our ability to provide clear confident communication with simple instructions, no pleading, fussing or nagging.  Parenting is best undertaken in a firm yet friendly fashon. Basically, take the ‘fight’ out of your voice by recognising your own emotions (frustration, irritability or reactiveness) and using the ways you know to calm yourself and refocus on firm yet friendly relationships with your kids.


Try to look for ways to celebrate your kids, especially using "referential praise" – that is, raving about them to others.

Based on a posting from The Parentling Place

Six strategies to boost self-worth

Posted by on September 15, 2015 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Children and ‘self-esteem’ is heard regularly in the media, however "self-efficacy" is the term used in psychology and refers to a person’s belief in his/her own competence. It has nothing to do with being boastful or proud, but rather having a healthy view of one’s own characteristics or abilities and what one can offer the world.

Children’s sense of self is still forming, but one good reason for encouraging development of self-efficacy would be to grow children that end up as resilient teens and adults.

We are more aware that by actively building self-efficacy, we can assist our children to develop a barrier against issues such as teenage depression, eating disorders and of course social skills difficulties.


How do we know if our children think poorly of themselves?

What to watch for:

• Acting out or disruptive behaviours (Negative attention still acts as a reinforcement for being noticed)

• Internalising behaviours (A child becomes more quiet, contemplative or self-focused than usual)

• Struggling with friendships and social skills

• Always putting themselves down

• Refusal to try new things for fear of failure or looking silly


What can we do to encourage development of self-efficacy?

• Provide many opportunities to discover capabilities by enrolling in sports and activities. (Gentle pressure may sometimes be necessary, for uncertain children as a fear of failure may try to keep them from being willing to risk giving something a go - our belief in them and encouragement to "just give it a go" could jolly them through such resistance).

• Encourage children to make decisions & seek alternatives for themselves (Don’t always give the answers but rather support them through a process of thinking through the possibilities, working out the positives/negatives, and then coming to a decision)

• Engage in pre-planning, healthy debate and problem solving discussions at home (This can reduce the stress around tasks and teaches your child the skill of working such things through / model a process they can use for themselves)

• Provide kind feedback on how to accept weaknesses or learn from mistakes (Everying is a learning opportunity - if something didn't go as planned or didn't work out, what can we learn from this that will help us next time?)

• Teach the importance of self-praise (Not reliance on parents, teachers or friends to feel good about something they have done, but one's own sense of valuing or appreciating our own qualities or abilities or efforts)

• Pursue occasions to give to the community (looking outward takes the focus off of the ‘self’ and also put one's own struggles or difficulties into a bigger context - there will always be others who have it worse.  Secondly, making a difference or contribution to some one else returns a lot of satisfaction and pleasure)


Is there anything that we could avoid doing or saying?

• Don’t take away natural consequences for poor choices

• Don’t do everything for your child all the time – encourage help around the home

• Don’t re-do their jobs e.g. re-make their bed if it is not ‘perfect’

• Discourage use of ‘victim’ language; I’m so dumb, no-one likes me, it always happens to me.


Develop a family habit of praising the process rather than the end result.


Based on an article by Collette Smart,    Posted on