Log in with your email address username.

×

Important notice

doctorportal Learning is on the move as we will be launching a new website very shortly. If you would like to sign up to dp Learning now to register for CPD learning or to use our CPD tracker, please email support@doctorportal.com.au so we can assist you. If you are already signed up to doctorportal Learning, your login will work in the new site so you can continue to enrol for learning, complete an online module, or access your CPD tracker report.

To access and/or sign up for other resources such as Jobs Board, Bookshop or InSight+, please go to www.mja.com.au, or click the relevant menu item and you will be redirected.

All other doctorportal services, such as Find A Doctor, are no longer available.

Let children cry

- Featured Image

Better to be good at feelings than to feel good

Our society is intolerant and disrespectful of young people’s distress. We seem to dislike it when young people are angry, ashamed, frightened, sad or disappointed. There is strong encouragement to consider such distress as being a precursor of disease,1 so that parents, doctors and teachers are prone to label and intervene rather than sit with ordinary, healthy, but distressing feelings.

Distressed children are already inclined to numb themselves, whether with drugs, porn or screen time. Prescribing medication to lessen mental pain potentially adds to this numbing,2 creating a reduced state in which children are not fully themselves, and are less able to get on with the task of growing up.

We would do better to trust children’s capacity to survive and benefit from strong uncomfortable feelings; be more respectful of the time and space that is required to do so; and tolerate and manage the anxiety we experience through not intervening.

This less interventionist approach presents a substantial challenge because the distress that young people experience is a big deal. Adolescent suffering should not be dismissed as just adolescent turmoil; this turmoil can lead to a kind of madness. But it is most often an ordinary madness that requires support and containment, not diagnosis…

email