Lessons-from-the-Beach

Lessons from the Beach

I had a mini-holiday this week, in a beautiful little seaside town. Daily I would walk to the beach, to absorb the sunshine and heat, as well as hear the sounds of the waves crashing, and the smell the scent of the sea and the bush surrounds.

On the beach were so many families from India, Asian, the Middle East and Anglos. There were Mums with kids, families with cousins & Grandparents, group of friends, surfers, and couples walking hand in hand.

What they all had in common, was a day of fun. There were so many smiles and the sound of laughter, and it was wonderful to participate in this event.

It made me reflect on all the amazing messages which were intentionally and unintentionally being shared with the children present.

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The 5 Essential Things to Grow Healthy, Active Children

The 5 Essential Things to Grow Healthy, Active Children

We become healthy humans, not just through the foods we eat and the activity we engage in, but also though the messages we receive and the raising of our positive self-esteem. You can assist your children by:

1. Being a role model yourself.

We all know that children are like little sponges – they copy what we say and do – regardless of whether we are doing something ‘good’ eg eating an apple, or being polite; or something ‘not so good’ like yelling, or smoking in the car. Young children don’t screen or filter this information, they just copy it – ‘If it’s good enough for Mum or Dad, it’s good enough for me!’ So, if you want healthy children, lead by example with the food you eat, the exercise you do, and the attitudes you display.

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crossing-the-road

Crossing the Road

In busy Sydney recently, whilst standing at the traffic lights, I was struck by the number of people who ignore the “Don’t Walk” sign. They dart in amongst the traffic,  in order to save about 20 secs off their walk, rather than wait for the “green man” to indicate that it’s their turn to cross.

I saw two important messages here for parents:

Modelling

As an ex-Teacher and a parent, I can’t do this! I’m very conscious that my children (or yours, who might be standing next to me) are watching. At an early age they learn that ‘red’ = STOP, and I also know that they want to do what the adults do. So, if Mum/Dad/Grandparents ignore ‘red’ signs, then I can too. So much of parenting is modelling – whether you mean to or not, children see and hear all that we do in their presence. Young children do not discriminate between the ‘good’ we do or the ‘less good’ we do – they don’t pass judgement, they just copy!

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Child biting on lid

YIKES – My Child is Biting Others!!!!

Why do they do that? And, what should I do about it????

After work, I picked up my 2 year old daughter, Grace, at her sitters – my best friend, Nola. I was greeted with a glum face from Nola, who ashamedly told me that her 2 year old Nancy had bitten Grace on her back, when she couldn’t get her way. And she’d left teeth marks and drawn blood!

You can just imagine the feelings that all of us were experiencing – pain, horror, embarrassment, protection – both as Biter, and Prey! It was an absolutely horrible experience for all 4 of us!

The reality is that many young children do bite, and not just food! Those little new teeth are so sharp, and can inflict a lot of damage!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that about a quarter of children bite others, usually between the ages of 2-3 years.

Babies may bite, as they are teething, have sore gums and are learning to chew – very unpleasant if they are attached to Mum’s breast at that time – Ouchhhh! Usually we give them suitable toys to chew upon. You’ll find that a baby will not bite at the beginning of a feed, when they are most hungry. It’s usually when their tummy has been filled a little, and they get distracted. The key is to be alert!

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boys-need-to-play-with-dolls

Why Boys Need to Play with Dolls

How many women do you know who complain that their partners or husbands ‘never’ help around the house? Over the years as a mother and a Parenting Consultant, I’ve heard far more complaints, than praise about the men’s housekeeping participation. This also seems to be born out by researchers who claim that females still do the bulk of the housework.

Why do you think that this is the case?

I believe part of it stems from the early messages children take on board from their parents. We know young children are almost like sponges, picking up on all we, as parents, say and do. Children don’t filter the messages, they just see it as ‘the norm’ – meaning that this is how we should behave. Therefore, if  we as children grew up with Mum doing all the housework, then I will believe that’s how I must behave. And, that’s what I will teach my children. So, our children will also have received the message that housework is for females!

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Pink for girls blue for boys by janetmck

So, What’s Wrong with Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys?

This week I needed to purchase some new toys for a Playgroup I run. ‘That’s easy’, I thought, as I headed to the nearest toy store. Now, I should add, that my children are all adults and I don’t have grandchildren. The various Parenting Consultant positions I’ve held over the past 14 years have all come with fully set up rooms. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a toy store! Frankly, I must say that I was horrified at the sexism and consumerism I was confronted with. Aisles and aisles of pink toys for girls and blue/ green for boys. And, the vast majority of toys had TV/ movie characters on them as logos. Is this what we want for our children – to be pigeon holed into gender based stereotypes, and to be on the consumer trail from 2 years of age?

The pink, ‘girl stuff’’ was basically projecting images of demure, delicate, gentle children, and many toys were of a domestic nature. The ‘boy toys’ projected toughness adventure and, with bold or military colours.

This push towards ‘girly pink’ or a ‘baby blue’ for boys,  begins at birth. No, actually, it begins prior to birth when many parents want to know the gender of the child so that they can decorate the room pink or blue. (And yes, I know there are many other reasons why parents want to know the gender). Then once baby arrives often gifts are received, and again the parents have the gender of the child defined by colour , with pink and blue as predominate.

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No More Food Fights by carbonnyc

No More Food Fights!

It’s a scene played out in may households every day… Young children refusing to eat food, and parents getting stressed about whether the child is getting enough – bet you’ve all been there… I know I have!

Let’s look at it from a developmental point of view.

Around 14 months of age is when children learn to say, or indicate, the word: ‘no’. They will push away the bottle or spoon and refuse to take more. This is the beginning of their ability to make choices, and that’s a good thing. It is the beginning of their move toward independence. Children need to learn to make choices. And, just like us, sometimes they make ‘good’ choices and other times not. It is only though trial and error that we learn.

In the beginning, they often say ‘no’ when they mean ‘yes’, while they are learning these new words. This makes it super challenging for parents when they go to put the banana away (which the toddler just said No to)  and then the toddler cries because he does want it, he just used the wrong word. Like many transitional times in children’s life, this is when they need extra understanding from us – even when it’s a challenging situation for us!

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How You Can Establish Healthy Sleeping Patterns - katrinket

How You Can Establish Healthy Sleeping Patterns

You know how great you feel after a good nights sleep… You smile more, you have the energy  to take on the day with enthusiasm, and you cope better if things don’t go well. Isn’t that what we want for our children too? Whilst we can’t make children sleep, we can create an environment that is conducive to sleep.

A good nights sleep assists the growth and development of a healthier body, a better concentration and attention span, improved strength and co-ordination, and more emotional balance.

A good nights sleep also makes the next day better for both parents and children!

It is important to establish good sleep routines early in a baby’s life, so that they quickly learn ‘how’ to go to sleep. It is even easier for the child to learn this, when the adults are consistent with the routine – regardless of whether it is Mum or Dad who are preparing the child for bed. When you follow the same routine each night, you establish a pattern in the child which gets them ready for sleep. Does it mean they will be happy about it – no, not necessarily! But, who is the one who knows how much sleep children need, and what they will be like without it… You! Young children generally do not know when they are tired. It’s rare for a child to say “Yes” when asked “Do you want to go to bed?” As adults we are the responsible ones!

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exploring mistakes blmurch

Exploring Mistakes

A while ago I went to a 4 day creative workshop called: “Colour and Collage”. My tutor was a wonderful teacher. She explained the principles of colour and design carefully, and then described the tasks to be done. As we completed each series of exercises, she’d ask us simple questions such as: What do you think of your piece? Where is your focal point?” – which made us critically evaluate our own works. What a wonderful teacher – she didn’t cast judgement, but rather, encouraged us to think?

She could have stepped in as we were working, pointing out the errors we’d made, or parts which we’d omitted – which would have been discouraging. Instead she taught us what to look for ourselves – creating independent workers

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The Influence of Media

The Influence of Media

A few years ago, I heard Dr Catherine Neilsen-Hewitt from the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University speak on the topic, “The Effects of Media Violence on Children.” She spoke about the statistics of media violence, the reactions of children and how media violence affects children’s development.

Following is a snapshot of what I learnt…

Children watch an average of 2 – 4 hrs of TV daily. This means by the end of Primary School, they will have seen 8,000 murders, and 100,000 acts of violence – this is from the news you watch, the shows you watch, the ‘cartoon’ violence in kids shows etc. A horrifiying statistic. Over time children become desensitized to it – meaning that they can see a violent act being committed (on TV or in real life) and have no response to it.

Just as every exposure to cigarettes leads to an increase in the risk of developing cancer, every exposure to violence leads to an increase in the risk of behaving violently. (due to the desensitization mentioned above).

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