Whilst I am yet to embark on the teenage years with my own children, it is with frightening speed that these years will come bullocking with full force into the realms of our peaceful home. Only joking, of course it is not peaceful. But my work as a youth counsellor and my work as friend to many mums with teens, set me on a path to discover more about “the teenager”. This in turn led me look in depth at the development of the teenage brain as it coincides with the challenges of puberty and hormones. What we once blamed solely on these hormonal changes has been overshadowed by the work of scientists in looking at the biology of the human brain, and the changes that take place over the course of childhood, adolescents and right into early adulthood. A greater understanding of these changes will enable us to better understand the social, emotional and behavioural implications for our youth and make greater sense of the challenges that face the parent of the teenager, as well as the teenager themselves. [Read more...]
As the holidays come to a close I am sure this is not an altogether unfamiliar phrase to be heard from the mouths of our modern youth.
What do you do in that situation? Do you run around trying to organise play dates, visits to the movies, purchase a new Wii game ? All great fun things to be sure, but rather than fill in every conceivable minute with activities, maybe it is time we let out kids embrace ‘the art of being bored’.
No, not really an art, but nonetheless a skill at least that our children are often not given the chance to perfect. So why is it important, this idea of being bored, this need to unwind and to simply chill out?
The school term brings with it a life that is structured, full of extra curricula activities, after-school sports, training sessions and around the clock appointments that leave little time for anything but the essentials. Even our toddlers and pre-schoolers are kept entertained with playgroups, kindergyms, art and music classes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these commitments, in fact they can be great for skills development and emotional and social growth and awareness. But like most things, we need to ensure that our children have a balance of this structure with down time, time to relax and time to unwind. They also need to be able to entertain themselves when the structure of term finishes and they are faced with a few extra hours of “free time”. To help our children fill the void themselves, be happy with their own company and relish in the ‘downtime’, we need to start early in their childhood and ensure that we don’t always need to be the ones to entertain and provide the activities. [Read more...]
Rituals ,holidays and family traditions are what help make our families unique. These are the events that happen pretty much no matter what. They are the moments we can rely on, the occasions we can rejoice in and the times that help keep everything stable and predictable.
Rituals can be daily or weekly happenings such as saying ‘I love you’ each night before bed, reading a bedtime story, having a Sunday roast together, pizza on Friday nights or going to the footy each week. They can also be annual events such as holidays, celebrations or regular ways to commemorate occasions like birthdays, Easter, Christmas or summer holidays.
Growing up I was so privileged to have many rituals and family traditions that are certainly my strongest memories of childhood. They are the times I felt secure, surrounded by people that loved and cared for me, but also the times that made life predictable yet still exciting. When I think about the childhood I am helping to create for my boys, I know also that many of their greatest memories will be of the family rituals and traditions that we have both consciously and sub-consciously created. Creating wonderful childhood memories can also be particularly helpful during challenging times or times of grief. [Read more...]
Why do we need so much advice on how to parent our children? Why does the modern world insist on inundating us with information for something that surely should come naturally? After all, our parents and grandparents did OK didn’t they? Didn’t they just put their heads down and get the job done without the use of internet forums, advice columns, parenting blogs, seminars and workshops? They used whatever means and help they had at their disposal and they made decisions based on instinct.
There is no doubt there is a definite place for us to trust and rely on our natural instinct to help us make choices about our children. I believe however, that the modern world insists on us placing greater emphasis on educating ourselves, surrounding ourselves with support networks and seeking out help when the challenges are beyond our level of expertise.
Parenting is different today. Our society has been through enormous changes of late, and thus such changes must be reflected in the way we go about our parenting. But in saying that, we do seem to have lost our way recently with some basic parenting principles that need never go out of style. [Read more...]
As we parent each new child we gain more knowledge, we learn more strategies, we make more mistakes and we continue to come to the realisation that there is still so much more to know. Whilst nowhere near the completion of my parenting duties, I have managed to get 3 boys through the baby stage, toddlerhood and now have them firmly entrenched in their primary school years. With a new toddler enthusiastically making his presence felt, and the welcoming of a new baby later in the year, I embark on this ‘second round of early childhood’ with both an open mind and certainly a few lessons learned. So here they are…..13 of my top tips to help me get through the coming years.
- Only ever buy exactly the same pair of socks for their entire childhood. As long as they inhabit the same house as you, this is the only answer I can come up with for preventing odd socks.
- It doesnt matter how many times you say yes to a child….you will still be the worst parent EVER the one time you say no…so you may as well get it over with early and teach them that No means No, and start growing that thick skin!
- Letting your child play with a toy gun, (whilst challenging your initial intentions of creating PC kids) will NOT turn your child into a homicidal maniac. (not so far anyway!) Oh and nor will letting them dress up as Batman, Superman, Buzz Lightyear or a Ninja Turtle. [Read more...]