Family is everything

Brad and Monique Everton with sons Corey and Zac. Photos: Rob Maccoll.

By Margaret Maccoll

If only a child arrived with a manual. What parent hasn’t thought that at some time?

Psychologist Brad Everton believes parenting may be the hardest, most challenging and yet rewarding job you will ever be faced with but one that can be made easier if you know how. With almost 20 years experience in psychology he has discovered that parents can navigate “with confidence and ease“ with “a solid framework“ and “proven tools, tips and strategies“.

“Once you become a parent, you soon realise the enormous burden you place on yourself because you are completely responsible for making every decision and trying to raise your children so they can fulfil their potential,“ he said. “It is also said that as a parent, you are not just responsible for one generation, but at least two – because your children are most likely to raise their children similar to you.“

But it’s no wonder parents struggle. Parenting skills are not something taught in school so Brad isn’t surprised to find parents “often lack confidence, find it difficult to be consistent with their parenting and struggle to connect with their kids during times of difficulty.“Brad’s interest in helping families began with his fascination with the power of the mind and how to harness that power to develop a successful mindset, something he struggled to achieve when he was young.

“In my early teens I competed in athletics at state and national levels. I was naturally gifted but didn’t know how to reach my potential,“ he said.

“I then started searching for answers through the personal development industry and studying everything I could find about it. My first two books in that industry were the classics, ‘How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie and ‘Maximize your mental power’ by David Schwartz, PhD who was also the author of ‘The Magic of Thinking Big.’“

Brad realised then he wanted to help people get better results in their lives. He completed honours and masters degrees in psychology and has been a registered psychologist for about two decades.

Before moving to the Sunshine Coast in 2010 with his wife Monique and son, Corey (now 11), he was a practicing psychologist in Student Services at the University of Southern Queensland and also supported students on-campus through his role as Associate Director of the Residential Colleges.

Through his work it has become clear to Brad that the problems parents struggle with can be condensed to three main issues:

1. Lack of consistency – which is not knowing what to do and more importantly not sticking to routines, rituals, and the certain behaviours that can make parenting easier and more effective.

2. Lack of connection – this is vitally important to be able to maintain open communication with your kids so they can continue to seek your guidance during difficult times.

3. Lack of confidence – parents often doubt themselves, feel guilty and disappointed because they are unable to support their kids in a way that empowers them.

If parents don’t resolve these issues in the early years and set up a solid foundation and framework from which to operate when kids become teenagers and start to explore their independence and seek the guidance of others problems can become more apparent.

“When you experience problems, what’s being tested is your foundation,“ he said. “So, if your foundation is solid and strong, then you will withstand the problems and find solutions to them. If your foundation is not solid, then cracks will appear, and the problems will become bigger. So, the sooner parents can build a solid framework, with principles which are timeless, generational and universal, it will allow them to create the family they have always wanted.“

Brad believes it is these fundamental principles that enable parents to maintain open communication to resolve conflicts, keep their self-control, teach their kids to boost their own self-confidence, share family values, beliefs and morals, have a system to solve problems quickly and easily and introduce outside concepts to help kids reach their full potential.

After helping numerous families with their problems Brad set about creating a guide book.

He compiled his most effective tools, tips and strategies into the straight forward, easy to read book for parents, titled “On Track Parenting – the Missing Manual that should have come with your child“. It’s a book that combines all his years of study, practice and personal experience.

Brad believes parents are calling out for these resources to assist them and to assist he provides free information through his website and Facebook site and tells people his book is on loan from the library. He also runs On Track Parenting education sessions through local libraries across Queensland and has held The Five Family Rules workshop to assist local families.

“I believe the breakdown of society starts with families, because family is everything,“ he said. “If families and parents don’t have a solid framework from which to draw from it makes life so much tougher. There are many families out there who do not have access to support, or even the latest tools, tips and strategies, to help them to move forward. So, if they can have access to simple, easy and effective tools, then that can give them the basis to get back on track with their lives. It also means these families can now focus on accomplishing their bigger goals rather than dealing with ongoing problems which are holding them back.“

At this time of year kids will soon be heading back to school and many will be starting new classes and new schools and may be anxious about the year ahead, so we asked Brad for a few tips parents could take on board to help them.

“Stay calm and relaxed which will reduce the anxiety for all family members, including the kids during this time of change,“ he said.

“Establish some routines and rituals at the start of the year that will allow a smoother transition for both the kids and the parents. Remind everybody to stay positive, show your excitement, and see this change as a good thing. And remember, It’s normal to feel a little anxious, especially when you are stretching your comfort zone. The great thing about stretching your comfort zone is it will allow both the parents and the kids to build their self-esteem and self-confidence, and they will also get to feel they are in control of their personal growth. Find ways to celebrate the milestones and that will make the transition more enjoyable and successful.“

Brad suggests if they continue to struggle, seek support from the counsellors at school, your GP or an external psychologist.

For more information or to take part in the On Track Parenting program phone 0458 360 666, email info@ontrackparenting.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/ontrackparenting/

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