Camille Lemonious — Advice for parents, children
WHILE the society took time in May to remember the nation’s children, this is something counselling psychologist Camille Lemonious does all year round.
Lemonious said she decided to become a psychologist because she wanted to understand people better, especially children who are often misunderstood.
"Based on my background, I am able to counsel adults and married persons also, but I really prefer working with young persons, for example, teenagers," said Lemonious, who has a master’s degree in counselling psychology.
"I find that sometimes they don’t get along well with their parents or adults generally, but when you can enter their world and understand them by speaking their language and basically providing the guidance that they need, that is very fulfilling for me, very fulfilling," she told Al l Woman.
Lemonious has counselled children in troubled communities in Kingston and St Catherine and often finds herself trying to change the culture of defeat and hopelessness surrounding them.
She recalls going into depressed communities to assist in this regard. "What I appreciated most is that we were able to help a lot of young persons realise their fullest potential," she said.
"This way they don’t become depressed and oppressed by their current situation, but we were able to give them a vision for their lives basically, so that they can tread that path and become a success."
This week the counselling psychologist answers some of the common questions parents often ask regarding children.
1. How can parents assist their children with achieving their fullest potential?
By observing them right throughout the course of their life. You really need to relate to your child and expose them to different avenues as well.
You have so many things like the Hope Zoo, forums, sometimes expos and career fairs that are being organised. Look for these things, because some of them are really economical. Expose them to a wide range of activities and careers and get them involved in a lot of activities.
A number of churches right now provide very economical avenues for them, whether it is music or sports or things like that. So get them exposed to healthy activities that will lead them in a positive direction as well.
I had one parent say to me, ‘Well, my child is shy, how do I get them out?’ Get them involved in public speaking, get them involved in a club where they are tasked to do something, like becoming a treasurer or secretary.
Even around the house you can give them little chores to do, give them responsibilities.
2. How can a parent deal with a delinquent child when talking to them, seeking professional counselling on their behalf and getting them involved in wholesome activities fail?
What I have often said to parents is that at the end of the day, as long as you know that you have done all that you can, natural consequences will fall in place.
That’s why other counsellors will tell you don’t threaten children.
If you say you are going to spank them if they do X, spank them, because in life there are going to be natural consequences if you do decide that you are not going to follow your parent’s path, although they are trying to guide you along the correct way.
When a parent has tried, prayed, urged, begged and yet there is no turning, sometimes you just have to allow natural consequences to take place.
3. How can parents identify incidences of incest or rape committed against their children?
One thing I recognise working with children and youngsters is that even without saying something verbally, they say it through their actions.
They say it through non-verbal communication. You will see a change in behaviour, so if you are around and you are observant, you will notice that your child isn’t receptive to this aunt or this uncle anymore, or they are not willing to go to this neighbour anymore.
You need to give them a bath every now and then and check for rashes, any abrasions or things like that.
4. How should a parent treat with a child who has a disability?
My heart really goes out to those parents because it really takes a lot more effort.
I have seen where persons have had to give up their regular jobs. But as best as possible, find what they are good at, because chances are the child might outlive you. So it is important that you love them as best as possible, but also help them to get a skill or a career.
Teach them how to do something. I have friends who are hearing-impaired, but what their parents did was to try as best as possible to give them a good educational background so they can either do dressmaking or hairdressing.
This way, they are able to provide for themselves even if the parents pass on. So it’s important to also allow them to have a level of independence so that they can manage on their own.
5. How much freedom is too much when it comes to a child?
My take on that is that this has to be a deliberate decision by the parents from very early. What type of child do I want? What kind of adult am I looking to grow, and hence point them in that direction.
When you are making a decision you need to ask how is this going to help them in their future. How is this going to affect them? Some people might say, ‘Oh, I want my child to be able to play a musical instrument’, but then you have to expose them to that.
You determine from early the type of child that you want; one with good moral conscience, one with good character, one who will really know right from wrong.
It is based on this that you would be able to decide, well should I send them to this activity? If they listen to this type of music, what is it saying and how would it groom their character?
If I tell a lie in front of my child, what type of message am I sending to them?
That is really the crux of it. You determine that you want your child to be an honest, hardworking young person; hence school work will be a priority. If you want them to have a sense of family, then you need to have a sense of family yourself.
So you’ll plan family activities. If you want them to be a caring or a sharing person, you can sometimes take them to a children’s home or an old age home and let them pack up some foodstuff. So it really has to do with the parents.