Professor Robbie Gilligan, professor and Head of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College in Dublin, will be giving a public seminar at Southern Cross University.
Professor Robbie Gilligan, professor and Head of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College in Dublin, will be giving a public seminar at Southern Cross University.

Understanding your child's world

A LEADING international academic will be presenting a public seminar at the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University's Lismore campus on Wednesday, July 21.

The seminar will also be video linked to Tweed Riverside campus and to the Coffs Harbour campus.

The Seminar 'Adults Beware: Children's worlds and the challenges for adult understanding and professional intervention' will be presented by Professor Robbie Gilligan, Professor and Head of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College in Dublin.

He is also associate director and co-founder of the highly regarded Children's Research Centre with Trinity College and the recently elected president of the Childwatch International Research Network.

Prof Gilligan will be arguing that adults need to question their own assumptions about what is going on for children and what children may find helpful in terms of supporting their education and development.

"One thing is certain, all adults have been children, so childhood is this interesting world we think we know and yet there is also this endless fear or fascination that perhaps it has changed when we weren't looking. Many adults assume they know the world of the child, yet I am arguing this is only partially true," Prof Gilligan said.

"Because adults all have had their own childhood, there is a danger too often of adults thinking 'been there, done that'. Childhood is a different world, it changes over time and it is a slightly different place for each child. Adults make the mistake that because childhood seems familiar, they think they know it. This may lead adults to miss critical parts of the child's experience that children might hide out of fear, pride, mischief or any number of reasons.

"Children live in a different world, or at least a partially different world, and that is how it should be. Children need their space, and adults should respect that.

"Adults need to recognise that good things and bad things can go on in the child's world. Adults cannot control that space but they may be able to equip children better to negotiate their way through that space positively. They may also be able to put children in a position to know when and how to find help when they need it.

"Children have to do the growing up for themselves and we can't do it for them. But we can try to create positive and supportive conditions and part of that means recognising and respecting the child's world.

"The main message is to listen - if we listen carefully to what the child is saying in words, but also in behaviour, we are probably on the right track.

"Overall, I think children may feel safer, more protected and more valued, if they get a message from adults that respects their experience. A message that also says, 'we know bad things can sometimes happen in your life that can be difficult to tell us about, but remember that we are here and we will always try to help. We also want you to know that you shouldn't have to put up with bad things happening to you. If people are hassling you repeatedly, they should not get away with it'."

Prof Gilligan says the message he is delivering is basically the same for parents, carers of children and professionals working in this field.

"Remember you are not a child and you do not live in their world. Do not assume you always know what is going on. A little humility by adults goes along way. If we want to know how things are for children we should ask them and always remember it may not be easy for them to tell us. We need to think about that," Prof Gilligan said.

The seminar 'Adults Beware – Children's worlds and the challenges for adult understanding and professional intervention' will be held at the Southern Cross University Lismore campus from 4pm – 5pm on Wednesday, July 21.

The seminar is open to the public. People wishing to attend should RSVP to Wendy Britt at wendy.britt@scu.edu.au or telephone 02 6620 3605.



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