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Blog Posts

Bal Bharati Public School, Delhi, India

By - 04/08/2010 - 15:08

Calling Delhi's road transportation 'traffic' is somewhat of a misnomer - it's more like a vehicle scramble for any available tarmac. Like everywhere else in India, drivers of taxis, cars, rickshaws and bikes are blind to the existence of lane markings and mostly, to the existence of pedestrians. An Indian friend described it to me like this "In your country you drive on the left, in India we drive on what is left!" Read full post

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Do Kids Need Facilitation or Direction? Homework and Baby Echidnas

By - 04/08/2010 - 15:32

Can’t spare much time to write today. I have four assignments due: a chapter of maths to complete, an essay on why skateboarding is not a waste of time and a novel to finish reading before Monday. Did I say I? I meant we (and not the royal one either). Read full post

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Sibling Rivalry - Brothers, Mothers and Manlets

By - 05/08/2010 - 14:37

Wow, isn't this potentially murky territory? The love/hate relationship we can have with our own flesh and blood...The relationship between my own two sons swings wildly from love to warfare. Sometimes I worry about it; I worry that one day they will only have each other and I desperately hope that nothing comes between them. At least nothing of a permanent nature. They're such different people, as all our kids are I guess. Read full post

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Parents' Time Out - The Absent (Minded) Parent

By - 09/08/2010 - 12:23

My mate Karen has a picture in her mind. She sees herself sitting on her best friend's back verandah, surrounded by good friends, drinking wine, listening to music, and talking the night away. Karen gets her energy from being with other people; she loves companionship and conversation, but with three kids under the age of six, she doesn't often get to just hang with her mates. Read full post

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Yadavindra Public School, Patiala, India

By - 09/08/2010 - 14:17

My last visit to a school in India was to Yadavindra Public School. It was with some surprise that when researching for this post, I realised that the impressively-sized stadium that is part of the school, was built for the proposed 1938 Commonwealth Games - which ultimately, were held in my home town - Sydney. I'm glad I didn't know that at the time; I might have felt the need to apologise! Read full post

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The World's Worst Mother

By - 11/08/2010 - 16:33

I'm sitting down to write with the tears of guilt still wet on my cheeks and the sinking stone of fear still filling my stomach. This afternoon the unimaginable happened. My husband and eldest son were out, so my two-year-old twins and I decided to pay our lovely neighbours a visit. We walked through the gate between our one-acre properties and hopped, skipped and jumped our way down to the house. The boys had a wonderful hour playing in the neighbour's yard while I chatted with my neighbour and her daughter. Read full post

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Emotional Intelligence and Gifted Children - Stop the Stereotypes

By - 11/08/2010 - 16:54

Yvette Vignando talks about research that indicates giftedness is not necessarily associated with low levels of Emotional Intelligence, or social problems. Is there a bigger issue? Do parents, teachers and peers of gifted children need to become more appreciative of intellectual diversity? Read full post

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Are Gifted Children More or Less Emotionally Intelligent?

By - 11/08/2010 - 22:40

Sorry, I can't answer the question posed in the title of this post. I'm fairly sure that the question can't really be answered at all. And the more research I read about this issue, the more convinced I am that it's important not to generalise and stereotype on the topic of giftedness and social skills. I do believe that often giftedness in children brings with it many social and emotional challenges but I do not believe that giftedness equals lower levels of emotional intelligence. Read full post

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My Opinion - Ethics Education in NSW Schools

By - 12/08/2010 - 09:12

In the New South Wales public school system, parents are asked to select an SRE (Special Religious Education) class for their child to attend for up to one hour each week. Each class focuses on one religion. Parents and children who are not religious or whose faith is not represented by the classes offered at their school can opt out of the classes. My view is that this presents a problem ... Read full post

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An Emotional Intelligence Test to Try

By - 12/08/2010 - 10:19

I wanted to share a link to an emotional intelligence test that I just tried online. It was a free test and I thought it was quite good. It took me about 10 or 15 minutes to complete it thoughtfully. See what you think. Read full post

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Outdoor Play and Playground Conflict

By - 17/08/2010 - 15:06

Several years ago I taught an inner city school in the UK. The sports teachers refused to allow the children to play on the field at recess or lunchtime in case they messed up the field. Instead, several hundred teenagers were crowded onto 4 tennis courts and one small concreted area about the size of two basketball courts. It was like a regulated version of Lord of the Flies Read full post

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Travelling With Children - Empathy for the Parent Please

By - 18/08/2010 - 14:51

By Sophie Lee: When parents discuss the relative horrors of long haul flights on which their young children accompany them, I can only murmur sympathetically. You see, my in-laws, bless ‘em, live on the other side of the world, which entails an annual commitment to twenty-four hours (or, as I prefer to think of it, 1440 very long minutes) of claustrophobic hell at high altitude, and there’s no amount of hot nuts that can make those minutes go by any faster Read full post

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Bedtime Rituals, Bedtime Toys, Sleeping Buddies

By - 23/08/2010 - 11:17

Just like your kids, my two sons are entirely different individuals in every possible way. One of them loves fish, the other doesn't. One likes jelly snakes, the other likes chocolate. OK, they both like chocolate. One of them loves every conceivable sporting activity, the other likes to read and draw. One of them had a dummy as baby, the other didn't. And likewise the bedtime companion. Read full post

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Family Rewards for Persistence with Music Practice

By - 24/08/2010 - 09:39

Music is a big part of life in our family. From when the children were tiny there was a often music playing in some form - either in the background, or big and loud on a Friday afternoon waiting for Dad to come home We would dance around the house to the beat of Sergio Mendes or ACDC. Eclectic tastes here, you see...They were singing “Get on down, I’m a sex machine” from a very early age. (Reading this, I find it a little disturbing.) So it’s not surprising that they now all play instruments and sing. Read full post

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Super Mum Multi-Tasks with Two Week Old Twins

By - 26/08/2010 - 20:30

We were going to Ipswich to see the much anticipated Play School concert. A 10am start would normally be a reasonable time of day for me. A forty-minute commute would be easy. The persistent rain would have been annoying but not unwelcome. The four block walk from the nearest car park to the venue would have been slightly tiresome but manageable. But there is one small detail – actually, two small details - I have neglected to mention. I gave birth to identical twins just over two weeks ago. And yes, vying for the role of Superwoman (look out Megan Gale) I decided to take all three of my boys to the concert. Read full post

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Babies on Facebook - from Womb to Wall

By - 02/08/2011 - 16:35

So now it’s okay for unborn children to be on Facebook. I’ve only just got used to the idea that my 8-year-old might soon want her own account, and now it seems I’ve already missed the boat by 8 years and 9 months. Okay, the real story is that Facebook users can now list their unborn child on their profile. Previously they had to create a profile for their unborn baby, which meant they were breaking Facebook rules (users have to be at least 13 years of age). Read full post

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Why are You Staring at My Children?

By - 04/08/2011 - 11:35

There was a time in my parenting life when I was naïve (and possibly arrogant) enough to assume that everybody was as in awe of my small people as I was. This was the Golden Era when I was a new mama and I had eyes for only one little person ...Of late, my sense is more often than not that a growing number of adults view children as an annoyance, something to be tolerated and preferably avoided. Read full post

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A Stiff Conversation with My Boys

By - 05/08/2011 - 12:55

"No darling, stiffies aren't a type of dog." Wednesday is much like any other day around our house, except that Mr 8 has soccer training. So picture me, if you will, perched on the lounge with Mr 8 trying to squeeze his feet into the always-too-tight soccer socks, shove his shin pads in, boots on and get to the ground by 5pm. Then picture me 10 seconds later when Mr 8 asked, "Mummy, do you know what a stiffy is?" Read full post

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Would You Love Bomb Your Child?

By - 09/08/2011 - 12:34

Oliver James is a UK-based clinical child psychologist who has recently written about a technique he calls ‘love bombing’ to help children overcome fears and anxieties that may be causing behavioural problems ... James says that this technique can solve many common behavioural problems in children, giving them a feeling of security so that many of the fears and anxieties causing their behaviour can be allayed. Read full post

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Congratulations to Penny Wong Finance Minister Expecting a Baby

By - 09/08/2011 - 12:53

Congratulations to Penny Wong, Australian Federal Minister for Finance, who announced today that her partner Sophie Allouache is expecting a baby. Full press release follows. Read full post

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Primary School Students Forced to Visit Toilet at Same Time

By - 12/08/2011 - 10:08

This morning I read an article in the Australian newspaper The Age about a primary school in Melbourne that had recently trialled an approach to students visiting the toilet during class time. According to the article, principal Dr Kim Dray explained that the trial was part of signalling "a new level of respect for the toilets in the school." Quoting an email, the article confirmed that the policy was aimed at a "long term and persistent problem of deliberate toilet vandalism". ...I was outraged when I read this - to me it seems like a solution from the early 20th century - where the whole class is punished for the toileting requirements of one child. Read full post

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Giving Your Children Choices Lays Good Foundations for Future

By - 15/08/2011 - 11:16

Dr Jeffrey Pfeifer, a forensic psychologist from Swinburne University of Technology, was asked about some research he’d conducted into sixty American sports stars. Thirty of these stars were ‘models of professional behaviour’; the other thirty had been in trouble with the law. He found that: ": the group of individuals who had found themselves in trouble with the law were less likely to have experience in their lives with making choices whereas the ones who had not gotten into any trouble seemed to have a lot of experience in their lives from childhood up, making choices. Read full post

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How Will You Explain a Tweetup to Your Children?

By - 16/08/2011 - 11:38

Recently I had the privilege of having a catch up with an online friend I had made through Twitter - sometimes called a tweetup. I didn't have as much hesitation as I did with my first meet up a few months back but it was still slightly anxiety-provoking ... When explaining the meeting to my children who were coming along to meet this 'tweep' and her children, I became hesitant, not about the meet up but explaining the context to them. How do I explain that I am meeting someone from the internet? how do I explain that I have never met her before and what are the repercussions and the thoughts our children may have about this situation? Read full post

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When Mum, Dad and Children have ADHD - an Interview

By - 17/08/2011 - 17:37

Yvette Vignando interviewed Sarah Cottman about her experience of ADHD - she has it, her husband has it and so do her now-adult children. Yet she made the best of it and now runs workshops for adults about getting organised and living with ADHD as well as teaching them about some of the upsides. Her ideas about organisational parenting strategies for children with ADHD come from years of experience and her current work as professional organiser at Heavenly Order. Read full post

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Teen Motherhood will Always be a Challenge

By - 18/08/2011 - 16:07

It's difficult to comment on other people's personal circumstances without full knowledge of their backgrounds, values and capacities to cope. But what most people will agree on is that parenting while you are a teenager is always going to be a challenge. It's a big call learning how to parent well when you still need parenting yourself. This story about Soya Keaveny who came to the attention of the media at 12 when she was a bikini model and told journalists she was exercising two hours every day and doing 200 push ups to maintain a skinny look. Read full post

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Happiness Comes in Small Packages with a Lizard

By - 22/08/2011 - 22:24

Possibly the shortest blog post I have ever written. I just had to share this picture of a two dollar item that our nine year old was coveting a few weeks ago. A gecko (lizard) in a tyre, holding a flower. What more could you want? Read full post

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A 12 Year Old Drag Queen - Resilience and Fun

By - 23/08/2011 - 12:16

A 12 year old boy in UK entertains his village with "Naughty Nora" character. He does it for fun and his friends think it's cool. Is there really any harm in this? I don't think so as long as it is entertainment and satire and he is not being dressed up seriously in an overly provocative way. I discuss this with Suzanne Mostyn on The Morning Show and share some tips on raising resilient children. Read full post

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Ten Things I Have Learned about Dads

By - 26/08/2011 - 08:14

I grew up in a single parent household. My Mum, who was very young when I was born, raised me alone. I do not know my Dad. In fact, I know nothing about him. Not his name, nor the colour of his hair or the sound of his laugh. Nothing. Although it has impacted on me, I refuse to let it shape me. Some people have no parents. I had one amazing one. I am lucky. So, it wasn’t until I met an amazing man, married him and had three children that I started to truly understand what dads do. Here is my list of the 10 Things I’ve Learned About Dads. Read full post

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Shopping with Toddler - via the Path of Least Resistance

By - 30/08/2011 - 14:12

The other day I took my daughter to a shopping centre, and made a conscious decision to take the path of least resistance. I was interested to find out whether this made it a less stressful experience than trying to get ‘in and out’ in the shortest timeframe, saying ‘no’ to most of her requests in order to tick errands off the list. I made sure we had plenty of time so that I wasn’t rushing her. First stop was the rest rooms. Read full post

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Abandoned Babies - a Plea for Thoughtful Media Reporting

By - 07/08/2012 - 14:07

This morning’s news reported a six week old baby allegedly having been abandoned by his parents on the side of the road at about 3am in a western Sydney suburb. It’s simply heartbreaking to think of such a young child being mistreated in this way. And my natural first reaction was anger at the adults involved in that child’s care. Two writers on mainstream online media websites this morning called the situation as they saw it ... I think as bloggers, journalists and publishers we can do better in these rare but extremely disturbing situations where a baby is abandoned. Read full post

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What do You Know about Indigenous Children in Australia?

By - 09/08/2012 - 11:15

Today is International Day of the World's Indigenous People - the theme is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices". Here in Australia we still have a long way to go, in my opinion, in promoting and listening to Indigenous voices when it comes to improving the conditions of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ... The United Nations' press release for today's activities points out the importance of us listening to voices of Indigenous people via the media ...read what SNAICC has to say about protecting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Read full post

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Understanding Children Who Bully

By - 10/08/2012 - 10:12

We are in the midst of an epidemic. One in seven kids suffer from it. It destroys lives and can have fatal consequences...As a community, there are things we can all do to decrease the likelihood that children will become bullies...Teens, although highly vulnerable to slights, are quick to dish them out. Testing each other and the world, their expressions are often uncensored... Read full post

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The Marshmallow Test - Gorgeous Video

By - 10/08/2012 - 10:48

The marshmallow test was developed in the 1960s and children who participated in it have been followed for over 40 years. It's about self control and willpower. Follow up studies showed that the kids who were more able to wait (15 minutes) ended up performing better academically and mostly continued to show self control in other experiments in later life. Read full post

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Using Sport to Teach Children about Human Rights

By - 13/08/2012 - 10:00

As a daughter of a migrant, whose father fled Croatia in the 1950s to settle in Melbourne, I was always conscious that my Dad’s boat story made me different in the school yard. At recess and lunch, to avoid the jibes, I hung out with other migrant kids; first-generation Asians; second-generation Italians and Greeks; kids from Madagascar, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Spain. I had the United Nations of mates...Sport made us winners. This is why it is such joy to champion a program fusing sport with human rights. Read full post

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Impact of Economic Disadvantage on Children in Australia

By - 23/08/2012 - 10:20

As an adult, it can be easy to forget what life was like growing up, to remember what mattered most, whose opinion counted and the daily decisions that needed to be made ...The University of NSW’s Social Policy Research Centre, in partnership with a range of non-government and government agencies, has recently released research that uniquely captures the experiences and insights of young people living in economic adversity. The Making a Difference study interviewed around 100 young people aged 11 to 17 years over an 18 month period. It offers a rare view on their experiences, how they cope with disadvantage and what they think can be done about it. Read full post

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PKU a Metabolic Disorder - Remember the Heel Prick Test?

By - 24/08/2012 - 12:49

Have you ever noticed the labels on some artificially sweetened foods which read: 'PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALININE.' You may have heard of PKU, or phenylketonuria, but what is it? I recently read an article about Queensland mum, Zoe Mitter and her son Cayden, aged two. I found Zoe and Cayden's story fascinating so I gave Zoe a call because I really think the more all of us know, the more understanding and the more helpful we can be for children like Cayden when we have them at our homes or when they're visiting cafes and restaurants. Read full post

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Fire Alarms are Scary - a Child's Perspective

By - 27/08/2012 - 14:41

Last week, the fire alarm went off in our apartment building. It was incredibly loud and didn't let up. The kids were getting ready to have their bath when it happened. My husband and I looked at each other and took a few moments to register what was happening...Mr 6 has been growing up so quickly lately, asking increasingly mature questions and showing great resilience. So it surprised me when he became panicked ... Read full post

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Social Media for Under-Age Children Can Lead to Unnecessary Social Harm

By - 04/08/2013 - 18:14

There's a video doing the rounds on Facebook – an educational video teaching children how to protect their personal information online. While I do think parents and kids should watch it, as a cyber safety specialist, I have a few concerns, particularly with the message I was left with–that it's ok for a 10-year- old to be on a social media site like Facebook as long as they do it safely. The problem with this harm minimisation approach is this: Read full post

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Missing the Moments– Feeling Sentimental As Children Grow Up

By - 05/08/2013 - 13:56

A couple of months ago I attended a performance of Joanna Murray-Smith’s new play, Fury. At one stage the central female character, Alice, comments that it’s often best we don’t know when it’s the last occasion of anything. I can’t remember her exact words, but I do remember the example she quoted: the last time her (now rebellious) teenage son and only child had shared a bed with his mum and dad in the morning. As parents we know this particular ‘last time’ must come for a whole variety of reasons, but I can’t help looking back on those (now past) years of morning cuddles with a twinge of sadness. Read full post

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Not Sure About Your Child Using Social Media? This Mum is Okay With It.

By - 20/08/2013 - 11:56

One of the favourite memories from my teenage years was coming home at 16 years old to find that my mother had arranged to have my very own phone line installed INTO MY BEDROOM. I can picture my room and the hideous beige/yellow colour of the phone taking up half my desk. (seriously what was it with the colours they used for phones in the 1980’s?), I can feel the huge rush of excitement I felt at my new found freedom and independence and now, as a mother I can almost imagine how thrilled my mother was at my excitement. Read full post

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Discounted Entry to Mind and Its Potential Conference in November 2013, Sydney

By - 20/08/2013 - 12:57

Stimulate your mind at the 8th annual Mind & Its Potential conference and unleash your brain power in all areas of life! happychild readers can use this promotion code to receive a 20% discount on registration fee. Read full post

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Conference on Children and the Media: Media, Minds and Neuroscience

By - 20/08/2013 - 13:33

This conference is a joint venture between the Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie and the Australian Council on Children and the Media. It focuses on the impact of children’s media environment on their neural development. Read full post

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Are Your Children Over-Scheduled?

By - 28/08/2013 - 09:08

Do you feel stressed keeping up with your children's after-school activities? Is there a chance they might be "over-scheduled"? A quick video to make parents consider whether their kids have too many commitments outside school. And there's no connection between a child's 'success' and the number of these activities. Read full post

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Parent Power Campaigning for Change

By - 28/08/2013 - 10:38

It is true: decisions are made by those who show up. But where to show up? I’m a busy mum of three kids, and I work. I’m on the P&C at my children’s school and give as much time as I can, but that’s such a small part of the bigger picture. Where do I show up to make a difference on issues such as junk food advertising to kids? Or food labelling that is easy to understand? Or making sure every kid is immunised? Where do I show up to make the most difference on the issues that matter to me? Read full post

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Forum on Effects of Social Media and I.T. Addiction on Mental Health

By - 28/08/2013 - 13:11

Wolper Jewish Hospital together with Friends of Wolper are proud to present a Q&A: Investigating the Effects of Social Media and IT Addiction on Mental Health. Join a panel of experts at this free event moderated by journalist, television anchor and radio broadcaster, Steve Liebmann. Read full post

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