Raising-kids-2

How Mothers’ Guilt Has Become An Ugly Status Symbol

It’s cool to feel crummy about yourself.

December 16, 2015

How Becoming A Mother Changes You

I’m not the same person I was.

December 8, 2015

The Important Message My Son Taught Me About Men

It’s not easy growing up in a world that won’t accept weakness.

November 10, 2015

Happy Father’s Day: In Celebration Of Hands-On Dads

With Father’s Day fast approaching on Sunday, September 6, SHESAID examines what life is like for modern-day dads and how fatherhood has evolved over the years – arguably, for the better and the greater good of all.

RELATED: 5 Father’s Day Gifts To Avoid

Forty years ago, when I was born, it’s fair to say fathers were mostly absent when it came to child-rearing. Your father was the traditional breadwinner and disciplinarian whom you mostly saw in the evenings and on weekends, if you were lucky.

Back then, dads could hide behind their newspapers or their games of golf, while their poor harried wives primarily raised the kids. And while you adored your mostly hands-off dad – for whom working outside of the family home was the norm – you mainly looked to your stay-at-home-mum for emotional and moral guidance.

Oh how times have changed: thanks to the advent of feminism and women’s growing economic emancipation and independence, today’s modern-day dads have been forced to take on vastly different fatherhood roles than those of previous generations.

Today, fathers are very much hands-on – from pregnancy through to the birth suite and beyond. What’s more, today’s modern-day dads want to be actively involved in raising their kids; it’s hard to fathom this was once not the accepted norm and fathers weren’t even allowed to be present when their wives gave birth! Instead, bewildered dads were ushered out into waiting rooms leaving their wives all alone at such an all-important, life-changing, emotionally-charged moment.

father's day, modern-day dads, fatherhood

Nowadays, it’s the norm for dads to share in every aspect of co-parenting if you’re fortunate enough to have a loving and supportive partner and the father to your children by your side, just as my husband is. However, the modern-day father comes in many forms: he may be gay or straight; a stay-at-home-dad or office worker; an adoptive dad or step-parent; or a separated or divorced dad, both of whom usually predominantly parent from afar.

Much is written about mother love, but psychological research across families from all ethnic backgrounds suggests fathers’ love and affection is vitally important – indeed, it has been shown to be as crucial, powerful and pervasive as the influence of a mother’s love. Fathers who play a permanent and loving presence in their childrens’ lives boost their social, emotional and cognitive development and functioning. Interestingly, children with loving fathers are less likely to struggle with behavioral or substance abuse problems.

And while father-son relationships are incredibly important – every dad is their son’s first hero – the father-daughter bond is one of the most influential and significant relationships in a girl’s life. In fact, the pivotal role a father plays in shaping his daughter’s self-esteem and social and emotional development cannot be overstated. It’s everything: fathers show their daughters, by example, how they can create a loving, trusting relationship with a man and also teach them how to be self-confident and self-reliant.

Just this weekend gone, I watched, with both awe and pride, my husband happily act out scenes from The Little Mermaid, complete with props, at the request of our feisty, little two-year-old and three-year-old daughters. The girls adore their father and their shared joy was a beautiful thing to behold.

And today, it’s positively trendy to be a hands-on dad, with A-list celebrities the public face of modern-day fatherhood. Look at the pin-up example of hunky, English former professional footballer David Beckham: what woman hasn’t swooned over the endless stream of cute pics in the press of him with his four children, particularly the youngest, his daughter Harper? I don’t know about you, but Beckham and Harper (pictured) are so adorable together, it makes me feel a tad clucky. His wife, former Spice Girl and fashion icon Victoria Beckham is one lucky lady.

And another prime A-list example of a modern-day dad is gorgeous actor/producer Brad Pitt, whom – by all accounts – very much co-parents his six children with his wife, actor/director Angelina Jolie.

father's day, modern-day dads, fatherhood

So, what’s it like to be a modern-day “rad dad”? An everyday blokey hero, who’s actively involved in child-rearing? And how does it feel to be in such a vastly different fatherhood role to that of your own dad?

Noosa’s Marty Hardinge, CEO and managing director of leading global retail marketing company, 5P, is a busy, hands-on dad to three kids, a 12-year-old son and two daughters aged 11 and 8.

He runs the home-based business along with his wife, 5P founder Jennifer Porter, as well as playing an active role in child-rearing, co-parenting, housework and the endless “taxi service” pick-ups/drop-offs associated with school-age kids. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My dad thought that looking after the family meant working hard, but not being there. I think being a good dad is working hard inside the family,” Marty says.

“And being able to work from home allows me to be a hands-on dad. I love having the opportunity to spend more time with my kids than if I was in a corporate office all day. It gives me the flexibility to do a hard day’s work and still coach the local under-12 soccer team.”
father's day, modern-day dads, fatherhood

Meanwhile, Noosa Style Ceremonies‘ popular wedding celebrant Jay Flood, who is also director – head of content at traffic and lifestyle content supplier Flood Active, also relishes being a hands-on dad. He has two sons aged 13 and 11, whom he actively co-parents with his film publicist wife, Nicola Warman-Flood.

“I work a fair bit from home, as much as I can. And in the early days, I used to organise shifts and other work around just being able to be there from when our sons were first born,” Jay says. “It’s huge – Nicola and I have been pretty lucky – we’ve both spend most of our working lives here (Noosa) in pretty flexible roles so we’ve been able to be there for every little thing in our sons’ lives, which has kind of always been a goal.

“That’s what we always wanted to do – if we were going to have kids we wanted to be in their lives. I always talk about it with Nic – I remember coming home as a kid, probably when I was ten or 11, and saying to my mum: ‘Where’s dad?’ Well, dad was at the pub! He’d go straight from work to the pub! I can’t imagine doing that. Our dads were real authoritarian dads, who learned from their own fathers, and I’m sure some of them turned the tide a little bit.

“I’m 40 now and fatherhood has changed so much for the better. I saw my dad, when he got older, he wanted more of that connection with us kids – I have two brothers – but I think a lot of that connection comes from being there when you’re a kid and I could see him yearn for it when he got older. You can bridge those gaps and make it happen, but if you’ve got it from the very start it’s much better for the kids and much better for the parents.

“I much prefer being a hands-on dad – I hated having to leave the boys with Nicola, especially when they were littler. The whole reason you’re going to work and trying to make a life is so you can spend time with your family. When they’re little, your kids really need you to help them get a start in life, but as they go into the teenage years, emotionally they still need you a lot, but I think we’re kind of in-between that and getting ditched!”

Despite juggling two businesses, Jay says he always finds a way to spend quality time with his sons. “Just this morning, the boys came to work with me. The little guy surfs, so he goes out and then I take him to school. Even though it’s maybe a hassle for him to get up at 5am, you get to spend all that time together. And he went to school stoked because he had a surf this morning, hung out and then he had a pie. I said to him: ‘All kids don’t have this life!’ And he went to school beaming and he said: ‘Oh, this is so good.’

“All that hard work in raising kids becomes so worth it. Just this morning, a girl from work said: ‘Gee, your boys are so nice – they’ve got such good manners, they’re amazing.’ And the first thing I said was: ‘That doesn’t come naturally’. It takes time and effort, but it’s a wonderful gift to see your kids grow and develop.”

Images via digitalnewsroom.co.uk, americandaddy.us, eonline.com, healthnews.com

August 29, 2015

Could Your Child Have Autism?

My eldest son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was 13. Yet, from about a year old, my motherly intuition told me something wasn’t quite right. For one, he was super smart. Way too smart for a toddler; but there were certain things he really struggled with, particularly around other kids.

RELATED Teaching Your Child To Share

By about 3 years old I knew we needed help, yet regardless of appointment after appointment to various professionals, no-one picked it up. They seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. For example; the psychiatrist was looking at possible abuse, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. So, for over a decade, I was told things like his behaviour was simply the way he was. Or the real tough one: his behaviour was a result of my parenting.

Not happy with the analysis I was determined to discover the underlying cause behind some of his unusual behaviour. So I enrolled in a Behavioural Science degree at a local uni primarily to help my son. By then he’d been suspended from several schools and it wasn’t because he was a bad kid. He’d experienced severe bullying and each time he’d lashed out in sheer frustration.

In my second semester, I enrolled in a class about ASD. The very first day I realised that I’d finally hit the jackpot and that light bulb moment I was hoping for fully emerged. By then my son was 12 and displayed most characteristics of ASD (listed below, so I promptly did some more reading and finally had some idea what direction we could source help.

While awaiting his diagnosis, my son’s behaviour escalated. After years of torment at school he’d eventually had enough, so our only option was to home school him until he could get some support. In hindsight, it was the best decision we ever made – and as the stress of the school environment dissipated, his behaviour improved significantly. By understanding his condition we were also able to accommodate his needs.

Since his diagnosis life really has changed for the better. He was identified by the local high school as a special needs child and placed into a supportive environment. We had to fight to keep him there, realising mainstream schooling was simply too demanding for him at that time. However, after several years and extensive support he completed year twelve in mainstream.

My message to other parents who think their child may have ASD is to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. The longer you wait the harder it is to access vital support services. There are waiting times, but schools are becoming more ASD friendly once a diagnosis has been made. It’s essential for parents to understand the signs because, as in our case, you can’t always rely on professionals to get it right.

Behavioural characteristics of ASD

  • Significant difficulty maintaining eye contact.
  • Highly routine driven. For example; must adhere to a strict routines otherwise it causes them significant anxiety and distress.
  • Intense focus on a particular interest. For many people with ASD this involves computer games.
  • Repetitive hand flapping, leg shaking, twitching and inability to sit still.
  • Very high sensitivity to visual and audio stimuli. For example; everyday sounds are amplified and things such as posters cause severe distraction.

Social characteristics of ASD

  • Severe difficulties making and maintaining friendships.
  • Difficulties with appropriate social and emotional responses.
  • Lack of understanding of facial expressions and non-verbal gestures.
  • Unable to initiate play with others.

Communication characteristics of ASD

  • Delayed language development.
  • Difficulty initiating and maintaining a conversation.
  • Can speak tirelessly on particular topics of interest, regardless of whether the other person is interested.
  • May repeat phrases from television.
  • Hesitant to answer questions and may take a long time to respond.

If you’d like to find out more about ASD please head to Autism Spectrum Australia.

Image via epilepsyu.com

July 22, 2015

What Is Making Parents Hurt Their Children?

We’ve heard a significant number of cases this year of mothers torturing and even killing their children for attention on social media. Most recently, Candy Flutin was found guilty of making her son ill by putting faeces into his IV drop while he was in hospital and has received six years in jail. The attention that she gained from posting updates of scans, tests and surgeries to her 2000 plus Facebook friends, motivating her to go further and keep her son ill by performing such disgusting things.

RELATED: The Ice Epidemic: What Makes Users So Aggressive?

Earlier this year, a Lacey Spears was charged and sentenced to 20 years in jail for killing her six year old son by slowly poisoning him with salt. Her motivation? A blog detailing her son’s journey through illness and disease, with social media supporting her through hard times, that she in fact had caused.

Now it’s time to talk about it. Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome is a mental disorder in which a parent, most commonly the mother, causes harm to their children for the attention that it gains for them, and the gratification they receive from that attention. Related to Munchausen Syndrome, a condition in which a person harms themselves or feigns illness for attention, Munchausen by Proxy is carried out on the unknowing, helpless child. Many children have lost lives and have become debilitatingly ill at the hands of their own parents, gaining sympathy and attention from those around them.

With the rise of social media, it’s much more accessible to gain support from people who comment or like posts in a show of ‘kindness’. Munchausen by Proxy is a diagnosed mental illness which is thought to possibly develop from the perpetrator being abused physically or sexually as a child.

Assessing our mental health and those around us is important for the health and safety of everyone, but especially children who are the sponges that we create and help to grow. We could never imagine that a loving parent would put their child through something so cruel, meaning it is also hard to know if this is happening to a child. With the rise of social media and less time in person, we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. Doctors and nurses can suspect the mental illness if they are continually testing a child and finding no causes for their illness, however, it is obviously difficult to pin point.

Diagnosis of Munchausen by Proxy is considered rare and can be extremely difficult  because of the attentive caring that the parent or caregiver is portraying, but realistically, it’s child abuse. If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from Munchausen by Proxy, it shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Image via parentinghub.co.za

July 18, 2015

Working Mum Survival Tips: Why Perfection Doesn’t Exist

“For a very long time now I’ve been saying to young women: ‘You can have it all, but not all at the same time.’ How important it is to take very good care of yourself, of your mental and physical and spiritual wellbeing; it’s hard to do. It’s easier to be a workaholic than to have a truly balanced life.”Former Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce.

RELATED: Toddler Taming: Does The Naughty Step Work?

Can women really have it all, or are we just setting ourselves up for failure in striving to do so? Is a work/life balance merely a fantasy, rather than something that actually exists? And, raise your hand, if – like me – you are exhausting yourself trying to be the perfect mother, wife and employee?

As Australia’s first female Governor-General, now retired from duty, Dame Quentin Bryce (pictured) was a great advocate – still is – for women and children’s rights. I have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for her and I think her comments on women struggling to “have it all” here are very wise and valid – especially for working mothers.

parenting, relationships, raising kids

And Quentin should know – the amazing overachiever is reportedly a mother of five and grandmother of 11! Then there’s the fact that she’s enjoyed a long, rich and distinguished career as an academic, lawyer, community and human rights advocate and former vice-regal representative of Queensland and Australia.

If I had to give myself a grade for motherhood right now – I’d give myself a solid “B”. Some areas definitely need improvement, but overall my two-year-old and three-year-old toddlers know they’re loved and cherished and are very happy, smart and thriving children.

But when it comes to the endless juggling act of motherhood, work and relationships, I’d grade myself a “C–“. I’m struggling to keep all the balls in the air at once and oh, how I long for more time for myself! And I know I’m far from alone in feeling all this.

Women are charged with doing more than ever before; we still largely bear the brunt of both unpaid domestic labour and child rearing and many of us also have to juggle paid employment out of sheer economic necessity and our need/desire to enjoy fulfilling careers. So, how do we working mums be kinder to ourselves, and others – in the face of failure – in trying so hard to have it all?

Dr Karen Phillip (pictured), who’s one of Australia’s leading family therapists and parenting experts, and author of best-selling parenting book – Who Runs Your House – The Kids Or You, says for starters, her advice to young mums is that the “perfect parent” doesn’t exist and women should stop aspiring for this unattainable ideal. And as a mum to six children, which saw her raise three kids aged under four, Dr Phillip knows a thing or two about the giddy highs and lows of motherhood.

parenting, relationships, raising kids

“The most important thing, when young mums who are struggling come in to see me, is that I simply remind them that there is no such thing as a perfect person, or a perfect parent. And if they try to be either one or both of those then they’ll feel a little let down because they don’t exist,” she says.

“Parenting is a balance; it’s a balance within our life and sometimes we become so involved in and focused on being that perfect parent and doing the best thing for our children, we actually start to neglect other important areas of our lives and our relationships.

“We neglect our foundations and our foundations is our coupleness, our relationship – even our relationships with our extended family and friends. They’re all part of our family community, but what we seem to do is we seem to negate those and step off our foundations and just go in to being a mum or a dad and things wobble under us and that’s when things fall down.

“And this is often when I see couples; their relationship, their ‘coupleness’ has fallen down because of the children. So, I reinvent their coupleness. We set a schedule of their time alone together, two days a week, it could be – and this is only after we’ve sat down and had a family meeting and the children are involved and made aware of it.

“Date nights are very important! If you’re partnered, go out on date nights. If you’re not partnered, go out on a divergent date night – go meet people. And for so many couples, they become mum and dad, and they forget they’re man and women, husband and wife.”

good-old-fashioned-date-night-ideas

Feeling like you might lose your mind if you don’t get some time to yourself? Self-care is also vital, as a busy parent/mother/wife/lover/worker, Dr Phillip says. We all must simply stop and take some time out. “We can’t always get a day a week, it may just be one or two hours, but go to the beach, go for a jog, go to the gym; anything like that – even just sit at the hairdressers or go have a facial,” she says.

And when it comes to those hideous days we all have as a busy working mum, when you’re not performing at your best, Dr Phillip says chillax, sister. “It’s not failure; I really don’t believe in failure as a parent, unless of course you’re putting cigarette butts in their lunch,” she quips.

“If you’ve had a really bad day and there’s been stress or an argument with your partner and you’ve dismissed the child or whatever, as soon as you are able to pull yourself back in, and you’re able to recognise the behaviour you’re not happy with, you sit with the children and give them a cuddle, and you say to them: ‘You know what darling? I’m really sorry I didn’t spend time with you’, for example.

“You admit your error and you suck it up, so to speak. You tell them, so in other words: ‘I’m showing you that even your God-like parents [in their eyes] can make mistakes, admit to it, and make amends.’

“You make it up to them, and do better next time, and you tell your kids: ‘You know what? I’m doing the best I can and sometimes I might fall down on my knees, but I’m going to pull it together, stand back up again and keep walking forward’.”

As a busy working mum, you can also become so bogged down with the sheer enormity of the task of child-rearing, you can forget to enjoy your time with the amazingly unique, little people you’ve created. And so while it’s true that the first years of a child’s life are crucial in building their foundations and how they communicate, in our quest to be great parents, we mustn’t lose sight of the simple joy of playing with our kids, Dr Phillip says.

“In becoming parents, we’re so focused on doing it correctly, we often forget to play with our kids. And I don’t mean being friends with them, because that doesn’t really work, but it’s important to play with them, laugh with them and have fun,” she says. “If they do go and splash in their good shoes and socks in a puddle, rather than getting angry, go splash with them!

“Play with them, jump on the trampoline with them, run with them, chase them in the park! And that’s what I think – in our busy life, we’re missing enjoying our children and our family!”

parenting, relationships, raising kids

Finally, a word of warning, fellow working mums – be very careful about seeking your answers to parenthood quandaries, questions and concerns via social media.

“A lot of this pressure on parents unfortunately comes from social media – it has escalated women’s concerns about attaining perfection,” Dr Phillip says, “there are so many blog sites out there, often written by women who’ve become a parent, who’ve gone: “Gee, I’m great at this, I’m going to tell everyone how terrific I am and how to do everything’.

“And I’ve read a lot of them and some of these blogs are downright wrong and dangerous. People mistakenly think: ‘Because it’s on the internet, it must be true.’

“It’s one thing to share a story, but it’s a different thing giving advice to people. We’ve gone away from sharing with our immediate loved ones and turned to the internet and most people are fairly judgemental. If you must stick to social media, only look at the more informative, more professional sites.”

April 9, 2015

Toddler Taming: Does The Naughty Step Work?

Toddlers are at once ridiculously cute and funny, yet frustrating and incredibly hard to tame.

RELATED: Why You Should Say No To Kids’ Gift Registries

I’ve got two-year-old and three-year-old daughters and such is their tantrums, as is the norm for their ages, I swear one day I’m going to wake up with a giant patch of grey in my hair.

Parenting can be an incredibly thankless, confusing and just a plain tough job: you have to be an excellent role model, and incredibly loving and nurturing, plus a good disciplinarian, all at once! So, when it comes to toddler wrangling, does a naughty corner/naughty step/time out – call it what you will – actually work?

I’m in the process of trialling the naughty corner with my feisty and finicky eating three-year-old to mixed results. Is there a secret to this tried and tested parenting technique?

toddlers, toddler taming, discipline, naughty corner

The celebrated ‘naughty step’, made famous by UK reality TV star Jo Frost of Super Nanny fame (pictured), is much-loved by thousands of parents, according to the former nanny. Frost claims the naughty step can dramatically transform children’s behaviour and, even better; it gives exhausted parents a strategy for household peace.

The Naughty Step works best from age three, she says – a naughty mat can be used for littlies prior to this – with the key premise being that when a toddler is placed in a particular calm spot for time out, with no distractions, this gives the naughty, little tyke time to think about what has happened and repent. And consistency is key: Frost advises one minute for each year of his/her age is the perfect length of time.

toddlers, toddler taming, discipline, naughty corner

“Every new rule or discipline technique is difficult at first. Just stay calm, be consistent and remain firm and it will get easier… Eventually!” she has been quoted as saying. Yet even the Super Nanny concedes every child is different and the naughty step doesn’t always work, with her offering solutions to common toddler problems on the official Super Nanny website.

However, Dr Karen Phillip (pictured), who’s one of Australia’s leading family therapists and parenting experts, told me the latest research and thinking on toddler discipline is less punitive and about shaming toddlers, which is bad for their burgeoning self-esteem. Instead, she advocates a “thinking spot” as opposed to the old-school naughty corner/naughty step/time out.

toddlers, toddler taming, discipline, naughty corner

“I don’t like the term ‘naughty corner’ – I much prefer the ‘thinking spot’, because what you’re doing is removing the child to a safe place or spot for a stretch and connecting that behaviour,” Dr Phillip says.

“It depends, of course, on what the child has done as to whether it warrants a thinking spot. If the child has been deliberately wilful and/or hurt their sibling, it may help to isolate them to a safe place so they can think about their behaviour.

“The high emotion of the parent also needs to be considered, for when you have high emotion, rational thinking and logic goes out the window. This is where the thinking spot can also help.”

Dr Phillip also recommends the laundry as a thinking-spot location – once you’ve made it kid-friendly and removed all dangerous objects. “Choose a corner or a room in which your child wouldn’t normally go,” she says, “Remove the child from comfort and don’t place them in their bedrooms and/or shut the door if they’re under seven.”

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

Another key message from Dr Phillip is the importance of teaching children about consequences through choices. “Toddlers don’t have good self-control, but are actually really clever,” she says. “It’s crucial to give a child a choice. Say: ‘I’m asking you not to do that’ when they display silly behaviour and give them a consequence of their action.

“So, ‘I’m asking you to please eat your dinner so you grow healthy and strong’ – use a request, not an instruction or order. Then, tell them that if they don’t eat their dinner they will go to bed with a hungry tummy and not get to read a book they really like.”

Of course, as any mother (or father) of toddlers knows – these little people just love to push the boundaries. “You’ve got to be really firm with toddlers,” Dr Phillip says. “But it’s imperative to make requests, not an instruction or order.”

Images via www.ivillage.com.au; www.thebloomingblog.co.uk; www.parentdish.co.uk

What do you think? What method of toddler discipline do you swear by?

 

March 30, 2015

When Kids Read Mean Tweets

When celebrities, sports stars and politicians read mean tweets its funny right? Their job involves being in the spotlight, under the scrutiny of the public eye and all that comes with it. Yet with a smirk and a shrug of the shoulders and the comments are easily forgotten.

But how would you feel if the person reading mean tweets was your son, your daughter or in fact you? Well on Monday we got to see just that with Canadian Safe School Network’s latest PSA, Kids Read Mean Tweets. The videos message is delivered using a similar format to that of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets, yet this versions purpose is not for comic relief. Instead the message is to stress the negative and often devastating effects cyber bullying can have on our children.

The President of the Canadian Safe School Network, Stu Auty explains why they positioned the campaign in this direction: “The ‘Mean Tweets’ model…gives the message that cyber bullying is ok – even funny.”

He continues, “Adult celebrities have the maturity and confidence to overcome these hurtful words. Children don’t. For regular kids, words can cut like a knife. Cyber-bullying is an epidemic that invades their lives and leaves many feeling like there’s no way out.”

The Canadian Safe School Network is a non-profit organisation that aims to eradicate bullying and youth violence within our schools and this non-traditional approach is providing mountains of exposure. Within five days of its release the video had gained over one million views on YouTube and its reach is only growing, all in all a successful campaign.

Yet unfortunately the issue will not disappear over night. Only 8 per cent of children admit to being cyber bullied while over 18 per cent of parents admit to their child being a victim and 31 per cent of people claiming they know a child within their community who has been effected. Clearly children are reluctant to seek help when cyberbulling is concerned and it is up to the bystanders who are letting this occur and the bullies themselves to realize the damaging impression they leave.

“We urge young people to stand up for those that are dealing with cyber bulling, instead of laughing at it. Witnessing cyber bullying and not saying anything makes you a bystander,” Auty says.

The PSA starts off with laughter accompanying the insults yet as takes a more drastic turn and the tweets become nastier and malicious, the video hits home and highlights the severity of the issue. Kimmel’s infamous segment has had multiple adaptations within his show including NBA Edition, NFL Edition and more recently even featured a President Obama Edition. The segment has had spin offs with YouTube celebrities now getting involved. However, this PSA is undoubtedly the most poignant.

With parents, teachers and the law unable to keep up with the continual evolution of technology and the social media that provides it is imperative that the issue is understood among the offenders. This unique method will hopefully be engaging enough to become the catalyst for change, because between you and me, the comic side of this video doesn’t last long.

March 19, 2015

Rude Toddlers: How To Teach Kids Tact

Life is certainly never dull when you have toddlers and the unintentionally rude things they say and do ensures both endless hilarity and humiliation galore.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

I am a proud mum to two little people: 20-month-old and three-year-old daughters. They’re endless fun, and hard work at once, but it’s shopping trips that can leave me especially embarrassed.

Just this week, I had to explain to my eldest why it wasn’t cool to loudly ask me at the supermarket aisle: “Why is the man (a female checkout operator with a crew cut) wearing lipstick?” Shudder!

Then, my one-year-old sufficiently disgraced herself (and me) at a play centre on the weekend by screaming “Mermaid!” every time she laid eyes on a little redhead who did actually closely resemble a mini Ariel in her new obsession: The Little Mermaid.

The poor little redhead was suitably terrified of my tiny banshee, who then exacerbated the situation by chasing her around for hugs. Oh the vast and infinite horror. And the fun didn’t end there: my feisty, little one-year-old then started screaming “Mine!” and pushing others off her favourite animal toy, once redhead and her mum had fled the building.

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

So, how on earth do we teach our toddlers sensitivity and tact? And why does it come naturally to some kids and not others?

Child experts say to gently explain to your toddler how certain involuntarily rude statements and behaviours affect others in the hope they’ll come to understand why it’s socially unacceptable. After all, your little tykes are busy testing out their social and language skills.

In addition, toddlers are also renowned for their total lack of self-control and are yet to fully develop a sense of empathy and understanding that people’s feelings can be hurt by unkind, tactless remarks.

Psychologists call this “theory of mind” which is where children come to realise that other people have thoughts and feelings different to their own.
And the age at which they learn varies greatly, depending on the social maturity of the child.
Daycare, which often gets undue bad press, actually encourages this important development of social skills and empathy towards others as children interact and feelings are inevitably hurt.

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

Another recent clanger, was when my three-year-old asked me, thankfully, within the safety of our own home: “Why is Jacinta (her new kindy teacher) a man?” For the record, Jacinta is most definitely not a man, just a rather voluptuous woman.

So, it seems yet another important and essential parental responsibility is encouraging toddlers to have inquiring minds – my girls ask endless questions, sigh – while also educating them about what’s appropriate conversation and what’s not.

Child experts say not to scold your child for his/her honesty, call him/her rude, or discourage them from speaking their minds. Instead, you could try explaining that words are powerful: they can make people both happy and sad.

I think it’s also, in part, that fun parental lesson about teaching toddlers what constitutes good manners; encouraging kids to be kind and respectful, by example. And like all toddler-related matters, it’ll take every ounce of your patience and tolerance, ladies (at least it does me).

Now, if we can just teach our husbands to similarly always think before they speak…

Images, in order, via www.sheknows.com.au, www.news.com.au and research.fuseink.com.

February 10, 2015

Starting Kindergarten: Survival Tips For Parents

If your child is starting kindergarten, you’re probably experiencing an array of emotions right now. Proud that you’ve come so far on your parenting journey. Struggling to let your little one go. Overjoyed that you’ll have all this time to yourself. Sad that you’ll have all this time to yourself…

In addition to your own emotional roller coaster, your child may start behaving strangely. Tears in the morning, tantrums in the afternoon and you begin wondering if you’ve accidentally made a mistake and sent your two-year-old to school. Take heart, this behaviour is completely normal and will pass as your child adjusts. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to make the transition to kindergarten as smooth as possible both for you and for your child.

RELATED: 7 Tips For A Smoother School Run

Allow your child to express her emotions

Your little one is spending her days in a new environment, with a teacher she doesn’t know well yet. Numerous things happen during her time at school that may upset her, excite her or make her uncomfortable, but she doesn’t know how to deal with it all yet. By the end of the day she’s full of new impressions and disappointments. Then she sees you and to her that means safety. She can now relax, be herself and let her emotions flow. Don’t see her behaviour as naughty or annoying. Instead, accept that this is your child’s expression of trust and be her safety island.

Be a role model

This is a big change for yourself, too, so it’s normal to feel anxious. Do what you need to do to take care of your own emotions – have a good cry once your child has been dropped off, talk to a friend, do something nice for yourself and try to have a happy, relaxed attitude about school. Your child will pick up on your feelings, so model what you want to see in her.

Introduce an earlier bedtime

Your child is adjusting to change and she’s also required to work a lot harder than before, so she will be tired. Set up an earlier bed time routine to allow for extra rest. You will probably benefit from an earlier bedtime, too. Nothing helps better with emotions running wild than a good night’s sleep.

Minimise after-school activities

I can tell you from personal experience that there’s nothing quite as frustrating as trying to drag a reluctant 5-year-old to a gymnastics class after school and there’s absolutely no reason why you should have to go through it every week. If your child is feeling more tired and irritable than usual, put swimming and dance lessons on hold for the first term or two. You can always re-enroll in a few months, when your new student is happy and confident at school.

Hopefully, everything will be effortless for you and you won’t need any of my tips for starting kindergarten. But just in case you’re having a hard time, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And that your child (and you) will adjust.

Image by joduma via pixabay.com

February 9, 2015

5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

Dads of the twenty first century are now expected to parent children, more than any other time in history. This includes step-dads, separated or divorced dads. While fathers have taken on disciplinary roles in the past, day to day parenting has traditionally been the responsibility of mothers.

The main issue with this massive shift in societal roles and expectations is lack of experience, knowledge and guidance. This is because many fathers of previous generations neglected critical aspects of parenting. For many, they just didn’t know how.

RELATED: The Ultimate Parenting Tip… Consistency

As a result today’s dads who want to be more involved in parenting, may lack the knowledge, skills or confidence. They won’t admit it, but many haven’t had sufficient exposure to effective role models. They are learning parenting skills from sources like the internet, other dads and their child’s mother.

This is why encouraging fathers to parent children is so vital. Not only in satisfaction raising them but to educate fathers of the future. Mothers need to play a pivotal role in achieving this. Particularly if they are going to make an impact on generations of parents who surpass them. The question is how?

Relinquish control

Mothers have an innate way of hovering over their offspring regardless of their age. This is an enormous responsibility, especially in the infancy stage and one which can and should be shared. Offering responsibilities to fathers will lighten the load and encourage involvement.

While most fathers would be happy for this to occur, it’s mothers who have stunted progress. The key here is for mothers to relinquish control. (Easier said than done!) It doesn’t matter if things aren’t done the same or if parenting styles aren’t exact. As long as both parents remain consistent children learn to adapt. This is a valuable life lesson which enables kids to adapt to different situations as they get older. Much like they do when they have multiple teachers at school.

Building confidence

It’s very easy to pick someone else’s parenting efforts to pieces, especially in the heat of the moment when kids play up. Ridiculing parenting efforts will only encourage fathers to doubt themselves and withdraw. The aim is to encourage, provide support, grow and learn together. This builds confidence in both parents.

When positive parenting efforts or changes occur, use praise and provide more opportunities for fathers to use their new skills. Remember, the only way to improve and gain confidence is to practice.

Communicate

Talk about your parenting experiences and issues often. I can’t stress this enough. This will provide an opportunity to become a united front. Kids need to know what their behavioural expectations are from both parents. If given the opportunity, they will divide and conquer to get their way. This applies from toddler to adult so you may as well start as soon as possible.

If they manage to divide you it will cause enormous strain on your family. As parents, set consistent boundaries together and most importantly enforce them. Communicating is the only way you can make this work, regardless of whether you are parenting together or apart. Separated parents have a much higher chance of being manipulated by kids to get their way. Communicate with your child’s father / step-father and make it a priority.

Remember not to attack but voice concerns if you have them. To avoid attacking start sentences with “I” instead of “you”, followed by the behaviour. Address the behaviour, not the individual. For example; “I feel uncomfortable when you…”. Instead of “You make me uncomfortable when you…”. Parenting can be a touchy subject, so be mindful of how you say what’s on your mind.

Alone time

It’s really important that fathers get alone time to bond with their kids. Separated parents often argue about this. Unless a child is in immediate danger, fathers should have private access to their kids. It’s all about what’s best for them, not how you feel personally about your ex. The children love you both, so keep negative parenting opinions to yourself.

If you are a partnered parent avoid pushing alone time opportunities upon fathers who need time out. Be fair and possibly create a schedule so both parents have parenting time alone. Also encourage fathers to take the kids away from home. Initially a park outing might be enough. Use gradual exposure to build confidence.

Fathers who have little exposure to their children alone in public are often quite timid about the idea. It’s generally a confidence thing. Plus the thought of anything going wrong and needing to report back to the mother is terrifying. Don’t laugh, because this is a viable rationale, especially for step-dads.

Give fathers time to learn

Finally, provide time for growth. Some fathers are intimidated by the responsibility, the actual size of babies or small children and above all making mistakes. Encourage them, provide opportunity and guidance, praise their efforts and above all be patient.

If you think it would be helpful find a local parenting group. Some are offered especially for fathers and some can be done together. They can be very helpful in educating both mothers and fathers adapt to their twenty first century parenting roles. Take a look at your local council website for options.

Image via dailymail.co.uk

January 29, 2015

Teaching Children Good Manners

Often parenting is about staying out of nature’s way and making sure that we don’t stifle the abilities our child was born with, but this is not the case with manners. Our children don’t get born saying “please” and “thank you” and they definitely don’t get born with the understanding that drawing on Aunty Jane’s wall is not a great idea. It’s up to us to make sure that our little ones know what is appropriate and respectful behaviour. So how do we go about it?

RELATED: Teaching Your Kids To Be On Time

Model what you want to see from your kids

When your children see you use your manners consistently, they will understand that this is how things should be. Even if you do nothing else, the chances are that one day you’ll hear your children say “thank you” to the driver when you’re getting off the bus or “sorry” after they step on your foot and it will come out automatically, as if they’ve been using their manners for years.

It’s especially important to be polite when you’re interacting with your children, even though it can be hard including “please” when you’re saying for the tenth time, “Please pack away your toys and go to bed”. In fact, I often forget to say “please” after about the second time. Skipping your manners can be an effective way to get children’s attention, but it also teaches them that certain situations ask for lack of manners. This is not exactly the message you want to send, so it’s better to find an alternative way to make sure your children are listening – sing out your request, for example.

Teach respect and empathy

The underlying meaning of manners is that they are a way to show respect and care for other people, and this is more important than the words and rules we teach.  We can make sure we’re raising respectful and empathetic kids by nurturing these qualities within our families, talking openly about our feelings and helping our children understand emotions in themselves and others.

Teach and correct without attachment

Give your children the words and rules they need to use in the situations they’re likely to encounter, but don’t expect them to remember everything immediately. It will take time and practice before manners become automatic. There’s no need to make manners a pre-requisite of giving children what they want, treat them with respect and patience, and eventually, they’ll get it.

When we put pressure on our children to perform on the spot, we often achieve the opposite effect- the children become fearful that they’ll get it wrong and they withdraw into their shells. When we do it, it’s usually for our own benefit anyway. We’re more concerned what other people will think of us when our kids don’t display good manners than what’s in our children’s best interest. If, on the other hand, you repeat the same rules every time it’s needed with no expectation and as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, sooner or later even a shy child will feel that it’s safe to try.

Image by tebielyc via pixabay.com

January 21, 2015

Coping With Determined Kids And Teens

Loads of parents teach their kids to think for themselves, have goals, opinions and not follow their mates, if they want to jump of a cliff. We encourage them to be proactive in making the world around them a better place. After all, we want them to be able to cope in the world without holding their hand.

Despite this being an excellent way to raise productive, responsible, thoughtful individuals; the major downfall is the determination which presents itself, as they get older. By the time they reach double digits, they have strong beliefs and values, feel comfortable voicing their opinions and question the authority of their parents. You might be thinking to yourself, “What on earth have I done?”

Don’t despair, because if they are questioning you, they are also questioning the world around them. They won’t be likely to smoke that cigarette, because their mates are doing it or go against their values and beliefs in other ways. The main thing you need to know, is how to cope with this determination, without undoing all your hard work or passing them along to a family member, in fear grounding them for life!

Firstly, congratulate yourself on making it this far and creating a determined kid. Every child on the planet at the age of around 10-12 will begin to break away from their parents. Some start earlier, some later, but during this critical age, they are developing their self identity. Therefore, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, which they aren’t even aware of. Hormones are playing havoc with their brains and their bodies. 

As the supporting parent, you need to let them become the person they are envisaging and the person you have encouraged them to be. This doesn’t mean they can get away with being disrespectful or rude either. This is where boundaries will be a parents best friend. Set your boundaries and stick to them.

This can be easier said than done. If your child is especially determined, they will push every boundary you put in place for them. They want to see how far they can go, before you set the limit. They are actually pushing to find that limit, and if you don’t give it to them; be prepared for anarchy. They will run the household. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a home run by hormone consumed kids or teens!

They need to know that you are still the parent and they are still your child. This won’t be an easy time as a parent. You thought toddlers were hard work, right? Well teenagers are much like toddlers, except they know they are making your life a living hell! Don’t show them that they are wearing you down and if you have a partner, you need to work together and be a united front; unbreakable and un-dividable.

If there are any cracks in your relationship, your determined kid will find them. It won’t be something they do on purpose. At this age, they are entirely egocentric. You will need to constantly remind them that they are not the only person on the planet.

It’s not all bad though. After this time in their life, your teen will thank you for the support you have given them and the boundaries you set for them. They will know that you have their back, no matter what. Calm will then return to your home. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour, knowing you have created a very strong, capable person.

Image via pad3.whstatic.com/images/thumb/e/e0/Deal-With-Difficult-Teenagers-Step-9.jpg/670px-Deal-With-Difficult-Teenagers-Step-9.jpg

By Kim Chartres

September 4, 2014

Enabling Or Helping – What Is It You’re Doing?

Are you or someone you know dealing with the consequences of someone else’s behaviour? It can be as simple as continuously putting away your kids toys or as time-consuming as taking home piles work because a colleague has unable to meet their deadline, once again. This is actually enabling, not helping. It happens all the time. Usually the more someone does for a person, the more will be asked of them over time. Anyone who is putting their precious energy into “helping”, needs to be aware of the fine line between enabling and helping.

Parents are often prime enablers. It starts from infancy and continues for as long as they let it happen. Children need to learn from an early age that they are responsible for their own actions. For example, if they scribble on the wall with crayon; let them help in the clean up. It’s ok to provide support and assistance, but if children are shielded from the negative consequences of their behaviour; they will be unlikely to learn.

It’s well researched that dealing with natural consequences aids learning. Young children learn to avoid a hot surface because it burns. So this type of learning can begin very early. Children will also learn if they need to accept responsibility of their actions or be able to shift it along to others.

Those who don’t want to deal with the negative repercussion of their own behaviour will look for alternatives. They may use people who love them to accept these for them. Parents can unknowingly encourage this. Eventually, even loved ones get tired of this and pull away from them. No one wants to see those around them fall; so it’s best to put a stop to enabling as soon as it is recognised for what it is.

If someone has been enabled for a long time, they will likely be unable to cope. This is where helping and enabling are two very difference objectives. It is really important to be aware of the difference. Enabling is the removal of negative consequence for behaviour, whereas helping is a purely supportive role. Although the person will want the enabler to take on their regular role and enable them to continue upon their path, a re-education needs to occur. The enabler will need to step back and provide support whilst letting the perpetrator of the behaviour deal with their consequences.

The shift from enabling to helping will be a positive one for all concerned but not an easy transition. Often the relationship has severed the needs of both parties and the relationship will need to be re-established. Enablers will need to relinquish control whilst letting the other regain theirs.

In situations where enabling of addiction or other serious behaviours are needing to be addressed, seek professional support. A recommended starting point is to visit a GP, discuss the behaviour and seek a referral to an appropriate professional. 

By Kim Chartres

August 24, 2014

Staying Fabulous While Raising Kids

You don’t have to be a Hollywood starlet to stay fabulous while raising kids. While hot celebrity mums like Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow might have an entire staff of people and at their disposal, they still follow some pretty basic tricks that you can use as well. Here’s how you can remain gorgeous and feminine while  raising kids at the same time.

Take time to pamper

Busy mum Gwyneth Paltrow knows the importance of taking time to pamper yourself, even if you’re juggling work and family. In a recent Goop newsletter, she spills about her favourite DIY spa treatments, which include an oatmeal and honey body scrub and a simple Epsom salt bath. Even if you can’t steal a full 45 minutes away from parenting to take a bath, try taking a quick 10 minute break to apply your favourite body butter or file and buff your nails. It will boost your confidence and reduce your stress level at the same time.

Stay organised

We know it’s seemingly impossible to stay on top of everything when you’re managing children, a partner and a job. But the more organised you are, the less stress you’ll experience, and stress is the fastest way to take your look from fabulous to frumpy. “[It’s] about putting your kid on a schedule instead of letting them run you,” Jessica Alba told Well+Good NYC. “When you put the kids to bed at seven, you get to be a woman with your husband, or go have dinner, or whatever.”

Don’t obsess over the little things

Gwyneth and Jessica might always look flawless, but for every “perfect” celebrity mum, there are one or two who aren’t afraid to admit that motherhood can be a little difficult sometimes. Pop star mums Mariah Carey and Britney Spears have both admitted to feeling a little frazzled while trying to balance bringing up kids and managing their careers. Instead of freaking out about minor mishaps, learn to roll with the punches. Inner peace is definitely the first step to feeling fabulous.

How do you stay fabulous as a mum? Tell us in the comments!

August 27, 2013

5 Tips for Practical Parenting

Nobody ever said that raising kids was easy, at least no one who’s actually raised children! Practical parenting is something you have to learn as you go along, so we’re passing on these five common sense parenting tips. Remember, raising kids is always a work in progress.

1. Encourage open conversation

Start having back-and-forth conversations with the kids when they’re still young. Don’t just ask “How was school?” because the default answer is “Fine,” even if the child got beat up on the playground, found out a best friend was moving away or failed a big test. Ask more in-depth questions like, “What was the coolest thing that happened at school today?”

2. Make reading a treat

There’s an old saying that kids spend the first three grades of school learning to read and the rest, reading to learn. Make sure yours have the fundamentals, then work at instilling a love for reading. Find out what they’re interested in at all stages of their lives and make sure they have access to books about their passions.

If reading is fun for the kids, they’re more likely to devote more time to that and less to TV, games and fooling around on the computer. If your child gets engrossed in a book and wants to stay up late reading, approve—for an extra hour! Whether your child enjoys reading is a major indicator of how successful he or she will be in life.

3. Healthy food comes before junk

Your kids aren’t going to have an appetite for the dinner you cooked if they’ve been gorging on sugary snacks. When they come home from school or inside from playing, offer them healthy treats like chilled cut fruit, veggies with yogurt dip or homemade popsicles with fruit juice. Don’t keep junk food around the house.

4. Try to tell the truth

Maybe not the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but as much as you think the child can handle. If you continually lie to your child in order to avoid hurting his or her feelings, how is that child supposed to trust you later in life—like the teen years? If you’re about to get a divorce or grandma’s dying from cancer, you can’t keep something like that a secret forever.

5. Accentuate the positive

Some parents are so afraid that their children will be injured or disappointed by failure that they turn them into little hothouse plants. This is not good for either of you, because kids learn by making mistakes—and so do parents. Encourage your child to spread his or her wings and explore the world!

What are your best practical parenting tips?

August 8, 2013