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Author profile

Sarah Liebetrau

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About Sarah

Sarah usually lives in Newcastle with her husband and two young children, after making the change from the Big Smoke in 2007. In 2012 she moved to Canada with her family for a bout of expat living. She has a Communications Degree from Macquarie University and after starting her career in the magazine industry, spent several years living and working as a corporate communications consultant in the finance sector in the UK - coming back with a lot of travel tales and a South African fiance!
 
Sarah used to write a monthly parenting column for Sunny Days, a parenting magazine distributed throughout the Hunter and Central Coast.  She has also spent a lot of time around babies and children as a nanny throughout her university years, and more recently as a mum to her own two. She finds it completely fascinating the way little people think and express themselves (well, most of the time - unless they choose to 'express themselves' in the middle of the supermarket checkout!). Always on the lookout for ways to strengthen her family's emotional intelligence.

Sarah's Latest Blog Posts View all

Starting Primary School can be an Emotional Rollercoaster

06/03/2012 - 11:39

It’s several weeks into the school year and my five-year-old son is experiencing his share of ups and downs adjusting to life at ‘big school’. Read full post
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Children Saying Sorry - It's a Life Skill

21/11/2011 - 07:44

According to Ali Macgraw’s character in the the 80s cult movie Love Story, ”love means never having to say you’re sorry”. Read full post
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I'm Happy I Held Our Son Back from Starting School

08/11/2011 - 16:08

This time last year I was in a quandary. I was trying to decide whether or not to send our then-four-year-old son to school this year. Read full post
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How Children Teach and Learn Compassion

26/10/2011 - 16:02

The past couple of weeks have been very stressful for me. A close family member has been ill, and the whole family has been thrown into disarray. Read full post
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Shopping with Toddler - via the Path of Least Resistance

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. Read full post
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Sarah's Latest Comments View all

Gifted children and emotional intelligence

12/08/2010 - 13:16

This is an interesting topic. I wonder too whether sometimes gifted children are held up to higher standards/closer scrutiny than their average peers, perhaps there is an assumption that because they are gifted in a certain area they should have emotional skills beyond their age, too. Sometimes it's easy to forget that a child is, say, 5, when they are displaying the mathematical ability of a 7 or 8 year old. Perhaps when children struggle in general more leeway is given (usually by adults) for the potential concurrent emotional issues? Just a thought.

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Sibling rivalry

07/08/2010 - 18:15

It's so interesting, so many sister-less women I know fantasise about how awesome it would be to have a sister, and for some women it is awesome, but a close sibling relationship depends on so much more than just gender. People often debate the age gap and how that affects things, or whether two of the same gender is best - I really think it comes down to the individual components that are unique to each family. My sister and I are 18 months apart, two more different individuals you could not find. I love her dearly yet find it frustrating to spend much time with her (I imagine but am not sure that she feels the same way).

I am glad I have a boy and a girl because my sister and I suffered from endless comparisons being made by others throughout our lives that were not helpful to either of us. People tend to compare a boy and girl less in my experience. My kids are 2 years apart and still very young but don't display much rivalry at all so far, of course they do battle for parental attention and the odd toy, but by and large there doesn't seem to be a battle for dominance or one stronger personality than the other. The eldest is the sensitive one, concerned with doing things by the book, and the younger child seems to be a more relaxed and cruisy individual, very self-determined and prepared to boss her brother around as and when she deems it necessary. He generally takes this in his stride but sometimes uses his clout as the older and wiser of the two to triumph. It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops as they grow up.

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Great post. I have a very

05/07/2010 - 22:34

Great post. I have a very sensitive child who will be going along in leaps and bounds and then seemingly out of nowhere will have a few difficult days where tantrums abound and he struggles to make sense of his very strong emotions. This can be frustrating for the whole family- his dad and I tend to take somewhat different approaches to managing this and also his younger sister tends to get less attention when we are focusing on resolving his issues.

One thing I have noticed is that he will often get a burst of emotional episodes concurrently with developmental surges, eg, mastering new independent skills such as washing his own hair, conquering his fear of dogs or eating a wider variety of foods. I think he has put so much energy into this new endeavour that there isn't always a lot left over for the rest of daily life! So for us, an increase in emotional outbursts sometimes has a parallel with more positive personal developments particularly new skills but also increased emotional resilience in certain areas.

Secondly, because he is so bright and mature in a lot of ways, perhaps people (sometimes myself included) don't cut him enough slack, after all, he is only 4 and tantrums are part of growing up. Even adults have them on occasion! Wouldn't we all like some one who took our moments of weakness in their stride and calmly but firmly took control of the situation by letting us express ourselves safely rather than instantly telling us to put a lid on it?

Thirdly, I have found a great way to build this emotional resilience is to undertake small activities to test out his reactions to things, (kind of like a desensitisation process)- for example sometimes we go around various garage sales together on a Saturday morning. I give him a budget of $5 and we see what we can come up with. This works well on a number of levels. He gets to spend time just with me (a rarity with a younger sister around most of the time); he gets to manage his own money (and the sense of trust and responsibility that goes with that builds his self-confidence); and he doesn't know what to expect - so he has to deal with the prospect of disappointment ("we might not find anything we like") or triumph when we hit the jackpot and score a bargain. He also has to gauge when to quit while we're ahead (spend now and go home, or save and risk finding nothing later). It's all played out on a very small, safe scale but I have found that he has been very good at accepting both coming back empty-handed and the occasional windfall - either way he has spent a morning with mummy. It's much nicer than a trip to Kmart trawling the toy aisle.

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Yes great tips, thank you. I

05/07/2010 - 22:20

Yes great tips, thank you.

I also have a little boy with a sensitive temperament so I have a feeling we are going to have a few of these "I feel sick" days when he heads off to school next year. At the moment he tells me he just doesn't want to go, and after a while I am able to coax the reason out of him - kids laughing at him or hurting him at pre-school.

I have used the strategy of talking him through various scenarios and the options available to him to counteract the behaviour. I also found it useful to explain that sometimes other kids are still 'learning' the correct behaviour and that they are acting out of their own frustration, to help him understand that it's not necessarily about him. And similar to the 'that's your opinion' comment by Jodie, I have encouraged him to think about whose opinions he really values when he feels upset by names a child is calling him. I asked him whether what that child says is really important to him, compared to what I (or other friends whose opinion he values) say, and he agreed that it's not important. I tried to reiterate that it's ok to feel upset about it, just remember that it's not too important.

It's tricky with very young children to not over-do it to the point where they become confused, but I am pretty sure it reassured him. He asked me why children like this one boy are constantly doing things to hurt others, and I replied that maybe he has just not learnt how to control his feelings just yet, but that doesn't mean that you have to put up with it. Doing something about it in a constructive way helps the child process their fears and act assertively without retaliating or becoming a helpless victim. It's worth perservering with this valuable lesson.

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