11 insights from a very wise paediatrician

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 15 January 2014


Over the next 10 weeks (except for this week, in which you will recieve 2) I will be sharing one wise insight from Dr Stephan Cowan's '11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew', for you to think about.   He writes: After 25 years practicing paediatrics, and caring for thousands of children, I've noticed some patterns that offer me a deeper vision of health. Here are some of those invaluable lessons:

1. Growth and development are not a race.

These days we’re in such a rush to grow up. In our mechanized, post-industrialized world of speed and efficiency, we've forgotten that life is a process of ripening. To get good fruit, you need to nourish strong roots. Pay attention to the ground that supports your child’s life: Go for a walk with your child, eat with your child, play together, tell him a story about your experience as a child.



2. Creating family traditions encourages strong roots and a healthy life.

This takes time and practice. Personal traditions are sacred because they promote exchanges that strengthen bonds of love and intimacy and build the kind of confidence that will carry your child through this world.

Stay tuned for next week's insight.




Posted in:parenting tipsgrowth and developmentfamily traditions  

How you and your child can cope with bullying

Posted by Dr Kathrine on 8 January 2014

Here is the second article on how to cope with bullying written by Dr Kathrine for Drynites Australia. They have asked me to share them with you. I was very happy to do so, please let me know if you are finding them useful as they have many to share. www.drynites.com.au.

Spotting the signs

Children can go to great lengths to hide the fact that they are being bullied.  They may do this because they are embarrassed or believe if they tell someone the situation will only get worse.  So how can you tell if your child is being bullied?
Keep in mind not all children who are being bullied will show warning signs and some of these behaviours may also be indicative of something else going on in your child’s life:

  • Look for changes in behaviour, an outgoing child who becomes withdrawn, a child who had achieved nighttime continence may start wetting the bed, or changes in eating habits
  • Increase in aggressive behaviours or bullying of siblings
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Increase in physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or pretending to be sick so they can stay home from school
  • Lost or destroyed property
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem
  • School avoidance or lack of interest in school work
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Reduced social contact with friends or loss of friendships

What should I do if my child is being bullied?

  •  Find out as much as you can about the situation (who is involved, how often it occurs, who knows about the bullying) then reassure your child that this is not their fault (bullying can be like a form of brainwashing where children begin to feel that they some how deserve what is happening).
  • Contact the preschool or school.  Ask to see the bullying policy and get the school to clearly outline how the situation will be managed.  Ensure that there are regular follow-up meetings until you have reached a positive resolution.
  • Get your child involved in activities that encourage independence, assertiveness and healthy peer relationships (e.g., sporting teams, cubs or scouts, dance, drama club).
  • Encourage your child to behave assertively in threatening situations by teaching them specific skills such as responding to name calling (having ready and rehearsed responses is always helpful), making assertive statements (“That’s fine if you think that but I do not agree”), and getting help from their peers (it is important that children feel they have someone who they can count on).

Encouraging your child to stand up for others

When victims of bullying do tell someone, it is most often their friends, followed by their parents, with teachers often being the last to know. Children who are witnesses to bullying are referred to as bystanders.  Bystanders have three main roles, they can assist and encourage the bully (bully assistant), they can passively watch the bullying (witnesses), or they can actively intervene to support the victim and try to stop the bullying (defenders).  Bullying, when confronted with a caring and responsive peer group is significantly reduced.

How can you better prepare your child to help and support victims or bullying? 

  •  Discuss with your child what they think bullying is and get them to think about how the victim feels when other children are mean to them.
  • Consider what forms of discouragement would be appropriate without making the situation worse or putting your child at risk.
  • Rehearse or role-play possible bullying scenarios.
  • Discuss how your child may get other children to show their disapproval with the bullying.
  • Talk about safe and unsafe situations, helping you child know when it is important to involve a teacher.
Posted in:being assertivebullyingparenting tipsanxietystressed childrengetting along  

Are you worried your child is being bullied or that they are a bully?

Posted on 20 December 2013

What is bullying and who is at risk?



No parent ever wants to hear that his or her child is the victim of bullying.  Unfortunately this is becoming increasingly the case with as many as 1 in 6 children being bullied in some way on a weekly basis.

DryNites Australia, www.drynites.com.au has commissioned  Dr Cathrine, a childhood development expert, researcher and lecturer at Macquarie University to write some articles on issues that are topical to parents. They have asked me to share some of these articles with you. I hope that you find them useful.




What is bullying?

Bullying refers to physical or verbally aggressive behaviours that intentionally cause hurt or harm to a child. These behaviours are typically repeated over time and evolve from a position of power. We say a child is being bullied when another child or several other children:

  • Say or do mean or hurtful things
  • Hit, kick, punch, or shove
  • Ignore or exclude them from their group of friends or leave them out of things on purpose
  • Spread rumours or tell lies, or try and make other children not like them

Cyberbullying is a new form of bullying that occurs via the internet (e.g. bullying via email, chat rooms, instant messaging, and websites) and mobile phones (e.g. bullying via phone calls, text messages, and picture or video clips). While traditional bullying usually occurs at preschool or school, cyberbullying can occur at any time, day or night, and in any location. Children cannot escape it even in their own home. It can be observed by large audiences and it is easier for cyber than traditional bullies to shield their identity.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”
No matter how often a child is told to just ignore it, the fact is bullying hurts. Children who are bullied can experience a range of negative outcomes including depression, anxiety, bedwetting, social withdrawal, lack of friends, loneliness, dislike or avoidance of school, poor academic performance and suicidal tendencies.

Who is at risk of being bullied?

Some children seem to be almost immune from bullying while others seem to get picked on all the time.  Why does this happen? Researchers have identified a range of individual, social and school-related factors that increase or decrease bullying among children.

  • Children who are frequently victimised by peers are more likely to be introverted, anxious have low self-esteem and lack assertiveness.
  • Children are often teased for deviant physical characteristics or behaviours (e.g., obesity, wearing glasses, bedwetting, speech problems, clumsiness, physical disability).
  • Children who are rarely bullied tend to be perceived by peers as friendly, likely to share and cooperate, provocative victims on the other hand are inclined to be aggressive, engage in attention-seeking, are disruptive, restless, and argumentative.
  • Children at risk of being bullied are also more likely to engage in antisocial conduct, such as lying and stealing.
  • The quality and the quantity of a child’s friends may influence his or her chances of being bullied. Bullies prefer to attack children without friends as they can do so without worrying about retaliation or ostracism.

The school environment contributes to decreases in bullying through positive teacher-child relationships, close monitoring by teachers, the inclusion of anti-bullying policies and activities as well as a commitment by all members of the school community to stop bullying.

Next week I will be posting Dr Kathrine's article which includes suggestions on how to cope with bullying.

Warm Regards,


Posted in:bullyingwhat to do if my child is being bulliedWhat to do if my child is being a bullyparenting tips  

How to help your child manage worries and anxiety 2

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 19 October 2013
Some ideas for teaching children how to understand or manage their fears realistically, test their validity, and become less reactive to anxious feelings.

1. Make sure you understand the child's fear before trying to help them with it

Listen carefully to your child as she explains what's bothering her. Don't jump to conclusions -- and don't assume that saying "Don't worry" will help.
For children who are reluctant to explain their fears, it may be helpful to have them draw a picture.
You might ask him to rate the fear on a 10-point scale.
Don't discount the worry. Acknowledge the feelings while giving the child information. Age-appropriate books on the worrisome topic can help. A child with fears about storms, for example, might benefit from reading about lightning and other weather phenomena. Sam (named changed of course) was a 9 year old boy who had a fear of sharks. He would cry uncontrollably if he glimpsed a picture of one. His parents gave him as much information as possible about sharks and recently he even watched Jaws! He is currently looking forward to a school trip to Underwater World where he will have the opportunity to feed them.
Books about the worries of other children can be especially helpful. Having your child read about how another child dealt with similar fears can help to foster a discussion about worries.

2. Devise a technique the child can use to "banish" scary thoughts

Your child might imagine writing words on a whiteboard or tablet -- and then rubbing them out. Or he might imagine putting the scary thoughts in a box and putting it on a shelf or burying them in a hole or sealing them in a rocket and then blasting it into space. A younger child might feel better by having a “conversation” with a puppet who offers to take the worries for them.

3. Make up a plan to assist them in fearful situations

If your child dreads going to birthday parties for example you could get them to take one of their friends to the party so they don’t have to go in alone, Or you might plan an early leaving time, which can help a child feel that she has some control over the situation.

4. Teach relaxation techniques

Yoga, deep breathing, and other self-calming techniques are highly effective.
Some kids have developed their own ways to calm themselves when they feel worried. Ask them what they already do to self soothe. They might hug a pillow, listen to a recorded story or music, play with a pet or favourite toy. Remind them to do these things when worried as they might not realise that they have already devised their own strategies.
A parent that I have been working with recently told me about the following great set of books calledImaginations: Fun relaxation stories and meditations for kids by Carolyn Clarke www.imaginationsforkids.com

5. A couple of books about worries

Worried No More, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Up and Down the Worry Hill, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

Warm Regards,


Posted in:being assertiveanxietydealing with disappointmentsworried childrenstressed children  

How to help your children deal with disappointment, worries and stress

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 20 August 2013

No matter what, all children will encounter situations which are not to their liking. Knowing how to handle disappointments, stress, overwhelm and worry is a very big advantage when you are growing up as it can greatly assist in developing inner strength (otherwise known as resilience).

Following are some ideas to help children learn to distance themselves from the problem:

1. Stop the thoughts: Say to your child who is becoming overwhelmed by worries or a disappointment to stop thinking about it for a while. You can tell them to put them in an imaginary box for a while, let them know they can think about them again after morning tea or the next day.

2. Help them to start another activity that will distract them: go to the park, get active or read a book.

3. Take a break: If it is study, homework, an annoying sibling or anything else that they can take a break from, let them get away from the situation for a little while and then come back to it later. Help them find a special place to go for their breaks. It could be their room, sitting under a tree in the garden or a run around the yard.

4. Be on their page and be their positive side for them: Let them know that you understand they are feeling bad, and that you know they will feel better soon.
In my next few blogs I will be sharing some more ideas relating to helping children manage anxiety, worries and stress.

Posted in:dealing with disappointmentsworried childrenstressed childrengetting along