All Posts By

Dr Jennifer Smith

Children environment genes Parents Teenagers

Are kids leopards? Or hydrangeas?

August 8, 2019

Linda plonked herself down with a weight of dejected sadness.  “A leopard can’t change its spots! Do you really think a child can change his spots? To be honest, I’m not sure why I’m here. There’s no point. He’ll never change.” Her ‘leopard’, 13-year-old Sam, “had always been difficult”. Linda made the appointment because his inflexible, explosive behaviour had deteriorated progressively, together with his oppositional defiance, and “the family can no longer stand it”. “At the moment I don’t like…

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Children environment genes Teenagers

Kids are genetically similar? No, all kids are genetically different?

June 25, 2019

The argument Here’s John at consultation, father of 14 year old Jade, and 10 year old Mathew, with reference to Jade: “Teenage girls are all genetically the same. They behave the same, they look the same, they sound the same, and they all change friends as frequently as they change their clothes.” Here’s my  next client, Emily. She’s the mother of Lance, 8 years, and James, 10 years: “Everybody’s different. No two humans are genetically alike.  I like the fact…

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February 2, 2019

  100 per cent of the PROFITS from sales of BUT I’M NOT TIRED! are donated to the Rehoboth Foster Care Village, established in South Africa to care for orphaned or abandoned children living with HIV.  So far AUD $2,000 has been donated to Rehoboth for the purchase of the bus, pictured below, but much more is needed. PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT for the children of Rehoboth by purchasing a copy of BUT I’M NOT TIRED! for anyone interested in the…

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Children environment Parents Teenagers Uncategorized

Child sexual abuse in Australia: By definition, a glass mostly empty

April 4, 2018

Most Australians would be highly distressed by the outcomes of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2017). The most trusted and revered of institutions like the Church and a few esteemed schools have been exposed as participants in the crime against children. It’s not surprising then, that non-institutional child sexual abuse (NCSA) is currently on the public’s radar. With the horrified look of dreaded uncertainty, a number of parents have recently warned me about their…

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Children environment genes Parents Teenagers Uncategorized

Sibling Rivalry is a Triple-Edged Sword

March 28, 2017, Thursday 7 April 2011. The Milliband siblings It’s a long time ago now and the world is a very different place, but does anyone remember the 2011 newspaper photograph of the hugging brothers, David and Edward Milliband (above)? Their congratulatory embrace occurred  just after the younger Edward defeated David in the election for leader of the British Labour party. There is something admirable about the Milliband brothers’ generous gesture of sibling support – the older David so gracious in…

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Children environment

A Tribute To The Unsung: Dana, her ilk and autism

May 17, 2016

We invited Dana, a tall, elegant Special Education teacher, to our peer-supervision meeting where we psychologists- teachers  must discuss clinical cases to ensure that we stay on track.  We sat around a table loaded with delicious snacky food: sushi and finger-size sandwiches and sliced vegies waiting to be dipped. After about ten minutes of eating and small talk, I asked Dana about her work. Rewarding rapport She smiled broadly. “I love teaching kids with autism. The rapport’s huge and every…

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Children Mindfulness Parents

Mindfulness over matter? What we know about the hot new trend.

February 24, 2016

Kate’s five-year-old daughter, Lilly, slept in her arms while the jovial paediatrician addressed her from across the desk. “When they’re like this, you just want to eat them, don’t you?” He grinned in anticipation of his punch line. “And when she’s awake, I bet you sometimes wish you had.” Aghast and tickled, Kate had to admit that it was often tough-going with Lilly. There were equal moments of sheer bliss and tear-your-hair-out frustration.  She wanted more bliss. So, without hesitation,…

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Children environment Parents Teenagers


October 13, 2015

OVERWEIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE: FOOD, EXERCISE, AND THE THIRD FACTOR Wide girths are widespread Over the past three decades, child and teenage overweight and obesity levels have tripled in the developed world. The data is sobering. Current estimates are that about 15 percent of American children and teenagers are overweight, and about 17 percent of young people are obese. Puppy fat is tenacious The prevalence is of medical, social and – Michelle Obama might add – political concern because puppy and…

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Children Parents Teenagers


October 9, 2015

The NAPLAN-driven news that our kids are slipping academically has met with much handwringing and lamenting. There are calls from all corners for more school funding and better teachers and steps to decrease disadvantage. But there is a fourth element that the handwringers have neglected. I suggest that they look at our young people’s sleep habits. That’s because the core sleep periods consolidate much of what kids learn while they’re awake . Facts at their fingertips If we want our…

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Children Parents Teenagers

Book Reviews for BUT I’M NOT TIRED! The nature of sleep and how to nurture it in children and teenagers.

September 16, 2015

“The book BUT I’M NOT TIRED! by Dr Jennifer Smith is a nice introductory “how to” reference guide for parents struggling to get their children to sleep. This book provides the reader with a good general understanding of the physiology of sleep and underlying causes of many of the common sleep disorders. Dr Smith uses a balance of clinical anecdote and scientific research to help deliver key messages and provide useful tips. The book is easy to read and the…

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