The Internet can be a useful source of parenting information. In fact, in my family we often say, “Ask Aunty Google” (or Dr. Google for medical self-diagnosis). It is important, however, to ensure that the information is from a credible source. Aunties (and some doctors!) have a habit of giving advice that may have worked for them but may not work for you, advice that has not been scientifically tested for helpfulness or harmfulness. You can confidently use articles that are reprinted from academic journals, government websites or are by well-known professionals and authors in the field. Here are some more tips:
- Search for articles that cite research and provide references. Such articles are more likely to be evidence-based (rather than anecdotal or opinion-based) and because they provide references, you can double check the information from the cited sources.
- To check the credibility of an author, Google his/her name or search Amazon.com for titles by this author. If the author has written several books on the topic or is a Professor at a reputable University you can have more confidence that the work is evidence-based.
- Be on the lookout for articles with spelling or grammatical errors; these may not be from such credible sources.
- If you are unsure about the veracity of an article please ask a qualified and experienced child development professional.
What follows is a list of reliable parenting websites and of credible popular experts who are prolific publishers of parenting guidance.
As a fellow Psychologist, I wholeheartedly support Judy Hyde’s advice (Colliding in the Classroom) and applaud Lucinda Bertram’s inclusion of the views of a Psychologist. Psychologists can play an important role in the relationship between schools, children, and their parents. I must, however take issue with the inference that parents best seek out the support of a Clinical Psychologist. While all Psychologists receive the same basic training, Clinical Psychologists are trained within a medical model and specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They usually work in hospitals, mental health services or in private practice. Educational and Developmental Psychologists work in educational settings and in private practice and specialise in learning problems (as their title suggests), behavioural difficulties and problems of transition (such as moving to prep or high school). An Educational and Developmental Psychologist is often known as school psychologist, guidance officer, or child and adolescent counsellor. Educational and Developmental Psychologists assess and provide support for learning difficulties and disabilities, developmental disorders (such as ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders), management of social-emotional and behavioural and relationship problems, and general emotional wellbeing. Within this mandate they often work with people who have a diagnosed mental illness. Indeed, all experienced Psychologists who are registered with Medicare should have a sound working knowledge of assessing and treating mental illness-regardless of their formal specialisation. Community Psychologists, Counselling Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists who have worked in schools are also well placed to provide support to families experiencing behavioural or social problems at school. There are many valuable Psychologists whose qualifications do not refer to an area of specialisation, yet after working in specific fields develop expert knowledge. Registration as a Psychologist, experience in working with children and schools, and word of mouth recommendation and are excellent qualifications. For more information about Educational and Developmental Psychologists and the other Psychologist specialisations, please visit the website of the Australian Psychological Society (www.psychology.org.au) and click on Community Information: Psychologist Specialist Areas.
Yael Clark, Psychologist