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 Kick Off...Mental Health for Rugby League

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“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be” 

David Bly



It seems so simple, yet we all need reminding from time to time. The essence of good parenting is basically putting your children’s total welfare first. Their needs, short term & long term are basic elements of sound, healthy development.


There are a multitude of ‘theories’,‘methods’, ‘parenting approaches’ etc. out there, but generally a successful, well adjusted adult will largely attribute his/her stability &‘normality’ to their parents, parent, guardian or significant parental role model. 




“I just want my kids to love who they are, have happy lives,and find something they want to do and make peace with that. Your job as a parent is to give your kids not only the instincts and talents to survive, but help them enjoy their lives”. 

Susan Sarandon


 Key Points




  • Try not to live vicariously through your children (that is..do not attempt to fulfill your wishes, dreams, aspirations, missed opportunities etc. through the life/lives of your child/children). Thrusting a golf club into a crib or the hands of your two year old will not create another ‘Tiger Woods’ or tennis racket a ‘Roger Federer’. 


  • Encourage and support their all of their activities, sporting, educational, & creative endeavours. Everything they attempt, achieve, participate in and pursue has worth for their overall growth & well-being. It is their way of taking control of their life and becoming increasingly independent & mature. 


  • Talk to your child/children. Welcome the opportunity for them to express themselves – their feelings & thoughts, their frustrations & problems. Encourage honesty & openness, no matter how ‘horrified’ or ‘shocked’ you may be. Try not to be either punitive or condone – there is a balance. 


  • Allow your child/children to ‘make their own decisions’ as much as is realistic. Let them have a say, have their opinion, make choices. You are the moderator of this through your role as a parent, your experience & wisdom. 


  • Involve yourself in their activities, sports etc. by active participation and practical help & guidance. This is a means of displaying your support in a real & observable way. Be careful that you do not become ‘over-involved’   however, letting it become your passion. Be particularly careful to remember the age of your child and their participation in sport and allow them to enjoy playing without unrealistic expectations or application of skills & strategies far beyond their years. Similarly do not participate in the encouragement of overly aggressive or unsportsmanlike conduct in your child. 


  • Remember the priorities for the healthy development of a person & their needs. (1) Physical & biological needs (2) Provide a safe & secure environment (3) Sense of love & belonging (4) Social needs (5) Educational needs 


  • Provide boundaries that are realistically ‘flexible’. Rigid, inflexible boundaries are as detrimental to a person’s development as are those who have virtually no boundaries at all. Remember you are the adult, the parent and they are under your care – not only as physical beings, but also their social, psychological, emotional requirements. Be clear in your identification of your expectations of them, but at the same time, let them know of your obligations toward them. Never be afraid to say ‘No’; this can often be a more demonstrative way of displaying your love & care for them. 


  • As ‘whoosy’ as it may sound, wrap everything you do in sincere, genuine and unconditional love. Without this, nothing you do will be as successful as you’d hope. It will appear as if you got instructions from a box or book and the delivery of the points above will seem very mechanical. Love is a ‘simple’ word but a ‘notso simple’ action. It is demonstrated not just stated. 


  • Keep your children grounded in reality. Despite their sporting prowess and their capacity to achieve in this arena or their achievements already, they need to have a sound concept of the ‘real’ world and be aware of how they fit in to this world – no better, no worse than anyone else. 


 "To be in your child's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today” 






  • As an infant, toddler or young child, there are three (3) essential ingredients to the establishment of a successful foundation for future development. They are: 


(1)    Creativity 

(2)    Imagination 

(3)    Discovery 



These three (3) vital childhood requirements need to be fostered in an environment that provides safety, security, love and belonging; where relative peace and tranquility and non-judgmental, loving and supportive parenting is evident. From a neurologically developmental perspective, creativity, imagination & discovery are conducive to increased educational, social and psychological wellbeing and achievement. Let them enjoy being a child.   




Children playing 



"If I had my child to raise all over again,

I'd build self- esteem first, and a house later.

I'd finger- paint more, and point the finger less.

I'd do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes.

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious and seriously play.

I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging".

Diane Loomans



Many of the conditions, illnesses & disorders mentioned throughout this site can be attributed, in varying degrees, to an individual’s childhood experiences and the developmental processes through which they pass. The input from parents or parental identities and the role modeling provided enable the individual to develop the concept of society; provides the basis by which social & interpersonal interactions & relationships take place; the development & clarification of individual ‘identity’



When a child is born we all have our hopes & dreams for their future. No one can predict or foretell how that will pan out’ in their respective lives. We want the best for them, or should do, and as such need to provide the best possible foundation for total well being & the opportunity to maximize their potential. We must not force or coerce the developing child; our love and acknowledgement must be unconditional, not based on whether they meet our expectations; sporting or otherwise. The sense of security & faith in their parents will reflect in their self-esteem and their capacity to adapt as best as possible to the world that awaits them.


“My heroes are & were my parents. I can’t see having anyone else as my heroes”. 


Michael Jordan




One of the greatest hurdles to overcome with respect to parenting lays in the parents perceptions of their parenting. We all  have our views and opinions, largely based on our own experiences and coloured by the desire to believe that this style or method is effective, because ‘our kids turned out ok’, or 'we turned out ok', or at least we’d like to think so.Child’ in this instance is not age-limited’. One’s children remain so, no matter their chronological age. 


We need to believe we are ‘good parents’; it is in effect a further extension, consolidation & development of our own self esteem. The problem with this is the lengths to which the parent will go in order to preserve or re-affirm ‘parental self worth’. 


Some ignore the child’s failings or behavioural issues; some desperately attempt to hide or ‘sweep under the carpet’ any indiscretions. There are those who apportion blame to external sources such as peers, ‘mates’, school, girlfriends, wives or partners, drugs, alcohol, biological anomalies etc. This externalization reduces the level of personal responsibility or guilt, thus limiting the sense of any failure, stress and anxiety the parent may feel. 


There are some parents who idealize the child ‘imperpetuity’; from birth onward; basking in the reflected glory of their progeny with a distorted perception of the child’s importance, achievements, value to society, intelligence, sporting prowess, wisdom, abilities ‘ad nauseum’. 


One of the sadder options taken by parents can be that of ‘abandonment, rejection or disowning, based on the their offspring’s ‘disobedience’, ‘poor behaviour’, ‘crimes’ or ‘failure to meet the parent’s expectations or standards, fulfilling predetermined goals & dreams’. Again, this is an act of psychological ‘self preservation’ and does nothing for the child concerned. 


Shame is a very powerful emotion or feeling. No matter how this ‘shame’ is manifested, be it within the child or parent, the results are always negative and destructive. A parent may go to extraordinary lengths to avoid feeling shame or they may instill a sense of shame within their child. Most people can cope with an acknowledgement of ‘guilt’, but shame cuts very deeply within our psyche. It can result in the development of many disorders, conditions and psychological dysfunction. 




“Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain” 


John Locke



The answer to these very common problems involves the application of certain principles; none of which are necessarily undertaken without some discomfort, significant effort and, at times, 'anguish':




  • Honest & sincere self appraisal of your own upbringing, self worth, beliefs, attitudes & values.  


  • Continual self development & personal growth. We never stop learning or growing as human beings.  


  • The strong avoidance of idealization or overvaluation of your child.  


  • Avoid predetermining your child’s future, based on your own wishes & dreams.  


  • Abuse of any type is completely immoral, damaging & negative. Be careful to be neither too sensitive to a self-perceived, societal concept of abuse and do not justify that which most definitely is abuse.  


  • Be appropriate role models; individually, as a co-habitating couple or separated couple.  


  • Expect standards of yourself before you consider imposing them on your child.  


  • Be aware of your ever-changing role as your child grows. The requirements of a parent for an infant or toddler is significantly different to that required for an adolescent, young adult or adult. You do still remain a parent however, but perhaps more as a ‘friend’, ‘confidant’ or ‘advisor’.  
  “Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation”.
C. Everett Koop 

Many a problem has occurred by parents unable or unwilling to mature in their parenting and the acceptance of a ‘role change’ as their child grows. This applies to both father and mother, though is probably more prominent, anecdotally, in the mother’s behaviour. The quintessential ‘interfering mother in law’ has been portrayed often, as has the child ‘tied to their mother’s apron strings’. Dependence cuts both ways. A  child may be unwilling to separate from their mother or father and the parents may also be uncomfortable in any type of separation from their child. I do not mean this in a merely ‘physical’ sense, rather a 'psychological, emotional’ one. 


This phenomenon relating to separation or attachment may be indicative of a less than satisfactory personal life of the parent. If a couple are dissatisfied with their life together or live rather separate lives,often the child becomes the focus of emotional & psychological dependence. The sole parent can be at risk of this occurring and can unconsciously fashion their behaviour in a way that attempts to maintain the ‘status quo’ of their life; that which involves deep attachment to their child.


It is a difficult experience ‘letting go’, yet vital for both parties. This does not mean abandonment or disregard; it means allowing and encouraging independence and the right of the ‘adult child’ to make decisions, mistakes and errors in judgment. It requires the parent to assist their offspring in moving toward the fulfillment of their development into adulthood; with all its pitfalls and responsibilities.


Intimate relationships will develop and this signifies the beginning of a new chapter in the life of your child. The result of this pairing with another may result in children and the formation of a family unit. Extended families are essential, but care needs to be taken by all parties involved to ensure that the basic family that has formed is not corrupted or interfered with by the continuation of any type of dependency. This applies to all areas of a couples’ relationship. 




“Some parents could do more for their children by not doing so much for them” 



Have faith in your son or daughter. If you are confident you have given them the best opportunity to fulfill their potential, to have developed sound, healthy self esteem, the capacity to love & empathise and to value standards within society, you have achieved much of a parent’s true goals.




If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.          

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. 

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy. 

If a child learns to feel shame, he learns to be guilty. 

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. 

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence. 

If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate. 

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice. 

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith. 

If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself. 

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, 

….…..he learns to find love in the world. 


Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist”


Michael Levine 




Please click here for News Article by Ricky Stuart




©2008 Waldel Pty Ltd

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Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D., FICPP
Senior Psychologist/Director
ADC Psychological Services, PLLC
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Hewlett, NY 11557







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