Kimberley O’Brien

Principal Child Psychologist, Quirky Kid Clinic

About Kimberley

Kimberley O’Brien is one of Australia’s most trusted and recognized Child Psychologists with a knack for solving issues from the child’s perspective.

With 15  years’ experience working around Australia and internationally, Kimberley is now Principal Psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic in Woollahra (Sydney) offering consultation, assessments and practical strategies for children, adolescents and families. She offers supervision and training for professionals as well as media comments and appearances.

Kimberley enjoys an active role in the Australian media, contributing to various publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Daily Telegraph, Who and Girlfriend magazine. She appears regularly on national television for the ‘Today Show’ on Channel 9, ‘Sunrise’ on Channel 7 and on radio networks, such as Triple J,  ABC Radio,  2GB and 3AW. Kimberley is also an author, educator and illustrator.

She has lectured Doctorate and Masters level students at the University of Western Sydney and currently conducts interactive seminars and practical workshops around Australia and NZ to diverse audiences such as mental health professionals, university students, educators, parents and young people.

Kimberley recently authored and published four (4) Educational Resources (“Just Like When”, “Tell Me A Story”, “The Likes of You(th)” and “Face It”) currently being  distributed by the Australian Council of Education and Research (ACER). She is also currently collaborating on a book  from Springer Press (UK) relating to  ‘Positive Parent-Child Relationships’.

Presentation Overview

Topic: Self Esteem and Social Relationships Among Students in Transition from Primary to Secondary School - Practical Resources for Classrooms and Clinics.This study examines the social experiences and self-esteem of 231 Yr6-Yr7 students during a 12 month longitudinal study involving 8 NSW Independent schools.This project used surveys and individual interviews to understand the experiences of male and female students aged 11-13 years in transition to Yr 7. Data was collected on two (2) occasions from students with a survey containing the Friendship Quality Questionnaire (41 items), Asher’s Loneliness Scale (21 items) and additional questions in regard to self-esteem, current friendship status and the name of their best friend. A group administration of the survey required less than 20 minutes to complete and occurred in Term 4 (Yr 6) and Term 4 (Yr 7). An addition to the survey, an Individual Interview occurred during the Yr 7 data collection only.

The interview provided an opportunity for consenting students to expand on their responses in regard to the transition and any changes in social relationships.

The aim of the research was to better understand the impact of transition to Yr 7 on self-esteem and friendships. It was hypothesised self-esteem would reduce in Yr7 and friendship status with a nominated ‘best friend’ would also change due to high school transition. Further, it was hypothesized loneliness would increase due to the transition to Yr 7.

Preliminary finding suggest there was no significant change in self-esteem for students in transition from Yr 6 to Yr 7, however, there were differences between schools in terms the overall self-esteem of their students. Loneliness was also found to vary between schools and between genders.

Peer affiliations during transition were considered important in terms of the new social relationships evolving in the high school setting. Factors identified by students in Individual Interviews as contributing to reductions in self-esteem were: ‘feeling lost due to new classrooms”, “feeling confused by new timetable” and “feeling insignificant due to the lack of relationship with new teachers”.

The current research is important as a means of developing an effective transition program for future Yr 6 students and better approaches for Yr 7 teachers to assist new students through transition with a greater focus on maintaining self-esteem and important social relationships.

This workshop provides practical strategies and resources for teachers, parents and mental health professionals to enhance self esteem and social skills.