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Food for moods and behaviour

I thought I just had a high spirited energetic little boy, one that I could handle but it seems others struggled with. It was when I moved him to a new daycare lady (the previous one asked me to find a new one) that I first heard about the impact of food on children’s behaviour. I was a single mum struggling to make ends meet and this home daycare lady gentle encouraged me to stop putting certain things into his daily food and to get him tested for ADHD. My whole family were perplexed because Ben was the first grandchild and the first boy in my family too so we just naturally thought that all little boys ran everywhere and were bold and strong willed.

It seems not. So rather than lose another childcare place I began to take certain foods out of his diet and began to see that he wasn’t such a strong willed devil child at all. He calmed right down! He could be reasoned with! He could listen to me and actually follow through on instructions. When I finally got him into the local child and adolescent assessment unit, sure enough he had ADHD but by that time the psychologist advised it was quite mild. Then again, she met a much calmer child than he was just weeks before! [click to continue…]

Raising Resilience in children is not assured if you just do this…

I’m in the throws of preparing for my FREE Webinar next week  (June 23, 2015) on 7 ways of growing resilience in children and wouldn’t you know it, someone else wrote another blog on the subject.. “18 ways to raise a resilient child“.   I do like reading other parenting blogs as there’s a lot of good information out there that helps all of us and I love working with like-minded parenting coaches and counsellors.

sad child - emotions - resilienceI thought this particular blog was OK… but missed the mark a little…

It talked about listening, tuning in, staying calm, spending time with a child and so forth but to me all the suggestions should be applied in general everyday parenting and didn’t address the issue of resilience.

What is resilience and why has it become such a buzz word?!

To be resilient means to have the capacity to bounce back without symptoms (see below) after an adverse traumatic event.

It is far too common that we, as a society, miss the obvious signs of trauma in children and don’t give them the opportunity to integrate emotionally and logically what they have seen and/or experience in a healthy way (and avoid the long term impacts).

It’s so important because of the long term of trauma impacts on all of us. [click to continue…]

3 reasons why you can’t both have the same parenting style…

AND… when your parenting style becomes an issue

It’s one of the biggest myths around parenting… that both parents must have the same parenting style and be consistent.

It totally gets in the way of your relationship with each other and for really good reasons too.

Let’s look at  3 reasons why it’s absolutely impossible to expect both parents to approach parenting their children the same way or even consistently!

1 – Different background experiences and expectations

parenting styles even differ for twinsUnless you married your identical twin (which is pretty illegal the last I heard) then both of you have sprouted from two very different sets of parents, parenting styles and childhood experiences.  One of you may have had very authoritarian parents who were strict, “let them cry” kind of approach and tough on “dishing out the love” (a “toughen them up!” approach).  Perhaps the other had more laid back parents who didn’t yell or use their power to control, maybe they even gave you free-rain.

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Preparing for school… from starting to changing

Wow, how quick and yet how long do these school holidays seem?  At this time of the year you may have experienced a crazy mumma or pappa period… having to expend a lot of energy keeping young ones amused, calm or helping them to return to some level of calmness.

Or you may be chilled out and cruising (way to go if you are)!

preparing for schoolWhat today’s writing is about is managing transition!

Transition to school

Transition to big school or a new school

Transition to high school and even senior college

They are all new experiences, new fears around finding their way, finding their people.

And we can help them prepare for school emotionally … or we can leave them floundering (sure way of getting a stressed out, cranky and emotional child at the end of the school day).

It can be scary walking into a new school environment especially after 6 weeks at home with their siblings – a safe, normal environment.

Suddenly everything is changing and often there’s not a lot of discussion about it.

To prepare for school, I suggest you start talking… [click to continue…]

Youth Suicide and Self Harm – How to help a child

I am heart broken and disturbed by the news that a girl as young as 10 years of age felt there was no other option but to take her life this week.

I was horrified to hear that over 50 young people present to hospital with self harming injuries in Australia each week.

Holy cow! That surely cannot be right?!

I totally want to be sensitive to each and every case here… I want to acknowledge that we just don’t have the whys and the story for each person, or have the time to pick it all apart..

However, we, as adults, parents, teachers, doctors, carer(s), grandparents, coaches and community members need to stop and take a look at the kids we are sharing our lives with and start looking for signs of distress because clearly some young people find it hard to ask for help

or perhaps they just have stopped asking… [click to continue…]

If they are an @#$!! then what does that make me? Single parent mistakes.

single parent

My family is blended.. I have an amazing, loving boy from a previous… ummm hiccup.  It’s hard for me to even call it a relationship as you can see because at the time it happened, it wasn’t.  I was in a dark place in my life.. I felt abandoned by love and this young man offered me some solace for my hurt ego.  I was only 18 and yet to begin healing myself.

Needless to say that joint parenting didn’t work for me.  I wanted stability in my son’s life and yet despite all my efforts, I made some huge mistakes that I’m hoping to help you avoid.

So you don’t do what I did.

So you don’t inadvertently hurt your child…

And unintentionally send the message that they are not good, worthy, loveable.

There’s a natural order to love in families and when that order is honored then we give our children the opportunity to grow and thrive and a solid sense of themselves.  When we don’t… we create unconscious disturbance and issues within our children around their sense of worth. [click to continue…]

The art of happiness.. Why don’t we teach this at school?

In my (dream) ideal world children would have an understanding and a language around both the facts of the world and also the emotions of the world…

The inner and out world that is… what is happiness, what is frustration, what is grief and so on.

We teach our children academic subjects and some creative subjects but we don’t focus a lot on our emotional well being.

Why not?  It’s what makes or breaks us in the end.  It’s where we find happiness and how we get it, that drives happy people!

There are very rich people in this world with many emotional and mental health problems that make them unhappy.

There are very “poor” people in this world that have very little in the way of possessions and yet happiness in abundance.

So money doesn’t equal happiness.  And yet schooling can focus a lot on academics and getting a job/career for life.

Children need a language around emotions and they need to also identify what makes them happy.

Then they need permission to go after happiness… instead of marks that mean nothing once you leave school.

Showing them the art of happiness and why it’s so important for them (shown with loads of empathy and consideration of others around them of course.. but you’d teach them that, right?) means you’ll be setting them up for happiness in their life.

The art of happiness


MUDY.. My Ugly Duckling Youth & Beauty Redefined

Beauty Redefined

There’s an empowering movement, one I’m quite passionate and grateful for and it’s called Beauty Redefined.  It calls to light some of the hideous cultural messages we send girls and women and sets girls up to feel less than worthy based on just their looks.  It’s time to stop it because it is an insidious and harmful message that females are just objects that need to look pretty in the landscape of life to be of any worth.

My own experience began in my own family.  Being the youngest of 4 daughters (no boys), I chose to take the role of the tomboy and was by my father’s side at every opportunity I could. I also had a preference for short hair, pants and clothes I could get messy and run around with the other kids in.  Dresses weren’t my thing until I hit my teenage years and the hormones helped me reconsider.  Then I started developing breasts that could not go unnoticed and along came with that was the attention from the boys in a way I’d never experienced before because I always had played invisibly in the crowd or on the edge.  My first dance and my mother took my sister and I shopping and we got very similar clothing, a dress shirt and skirt and we got dressed up and put on make up.  My father was over the moon and dragged us out for photographs (a painful slow experience as he was not great with camera’s).  It was during this experience that my father decided to share with me why I had the nick name of “Mudy” most of my life…. it was because it stood for My Ugly Duckling Youth.  BANG!  I remember the shock I felt hearing that… my own father had thought I was ugly…  my own father only equated my value with being beautiful (as I was now with my new clothes, my hair done and makeup plastered on my face).  From that day forward I wasn’t seen without makeup and I took  greater attention to my clothing.  I even began working part time jobs to fuel my clothing purchases.  It took me years before I was comfortable being seen by my husband without makeup.  I never missed a day of work without it on… not one day.  And I grew into a parent showing this belief to my own children.

Now I don’t hate my father, I loved him (he passed away 8 years ago) and I know he believed in me an a strong capable person.  He was just brought up in the era where women were valued for their physical looks and not their abilities.  This belief was instilled by his culture, his upbringing and by the media that has fed this to him from an early age.

Now I want something different for my daughter.  However, it’s really been only the last 8 years that I have steadily realised how hard we, as women, have to overcome the belief that we are not valued if we don’t have the right body, hair style, looks, colour, skin type or any other physical attribute.  I just haven’t really stopped to take stock how much it has affected my life and yet it has… I have fought tooth an nail to prove my worth in male dominated environments and even female environments.  I’ve fretted, like most women, over the smallest of details of my physical appearance, struggled with diets and had to wean myself off treating myself as the own worst enemy (thankfully I found tapping and other modalities to help heal me). I don’t want that for my daughter and yet I know it’s already happened.  I don’t women’s magazines or even watching shows that promote the physical is more important than your ability, strengths, character and whether you’re a nice person!  And yet, just recently a new layer of awareness came up when the Twitter’sphere of #AllWomen went crazy in response to a young man killing young women (and other men) because women wouldn’t sleep with him… like it was his right.  I read some of the most amazing tweets about how women coped with unwanted attention from men, how they reduced the likelihood of attack and also how culturally it’s accepted to harass women and girls.  One tweet really shocked me saying “Because men never have to text their friend to say they got home all right”.   That’s so true… culturally we set our girls up to fear and protect themselves from the actions of men… we blame the girls for the attack… what she was wearing, why she was their in the first place.  It’s crazy!  We set boys up to be perpetrators and girls up to be victims culturally.

It starts early… even with a simple book like “The Ugly Duckling” which teaches our children that you can only fit in if you have the right look…

It’s time to have our Beauty Redefined

So what’s the answer?  Education!  Open discussion!  And we need to do it from a very young age.  Beauty Redefined helps give women and parents the tools to raise the discussion with our children (boys need to be educated too!) and to help women also rediscover who they are beyond the physical, objectifying media that is pushed into our faces everyday.  So I’m urging you to support the movement and begin helping your children (from as young an age as possible) understand that women and girls are more than decoration.

A fantastic talk highlighting some of the issues up for discussion is below:

Why you’ll never win an argument with logic…

win an argument, lose the relationship

Have you ever faced down your partner’s arguments with your own obvious logical arguments? Or lost the argument to their seemingly overwhelming logical point of view?  Or tried to express your emotions only to be talked down to?

It’s frustrating being on the end of someone trying to win an argument using logic because often we don’t have a come back we just give in and end up resenting the other person…  In other words, we both lose!  Even if you think you’ve won, you’ve suffered a loss because the other person now resents you and you’ve missed a golden opportunity to build understanding and resilience into your relationship.

What happens when we try to win an argument with logic

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Trust… the cornerstone to any relationship

Are You Cultivating Trust  or Trust Issues?

What do you teach your children about trust?  What are they learning by watching you… because it’s your actions rather than words that mean everything to a developing mind.  When children witness a lack of a trust between parents, just imagine what that tells them about love, especially when those parents are still together.   We show them how dangerous it is to trust your loved one and they grow up with trust issues.   When we demand our children to be honest and “don’t you lie to me!” and yet we lie to them all the time… some trivial (Santa, Easter Bunny etc) and some major lies in the name of “protecting” them from the reality of what you’re going through.  And yet often they sense the lie and are left in that state of confusion and trust issues are confounded.  When we answer their probing questions, (generally when they are young and ask “are you OK?”),  with the standard answer of “I’m fine” when you clearly are not.  We teach children not to trust us and that it can be dangerous to probe too deeply, especially when we snap at them.  Later, we wonder why we have teenagers who don’t really tune into our needs or moods, because they’ve learned to switch off and ignore our pain and they certainly don’t share with us, unconsciously knowing they can’t trust us.

Trust comes in so many forms and is lost quickly by those that have learned not to trust the world.  Trust issues are common… because the world is confusing… people say one thing and do another.   “Don’t drink” says the parent as they drink their wine every night.  “Eat healthy food” says the mum who buys biscuits and chocolate and stashes them in the pantry.  We believe in equal rights says the government and yet we lock up children for entering Australia without permission.  We even learn not even to trust ourselves when we say one thing and yet do another!  Often people with major trust issues will accuse their partners of cheating, not just once, but repeatedly and end up pushing their partner away and destroy the relationship or will continue to attract those partners who do cheat and lie to them.

trust issuesCultivating Trust

The first step is to take responsibility for your own actions… if you say something, then follow through on the action or apologise and acknowledge to others when you don’t.  When you do feel a negative emotion, own it!  Name it to tame it and instead of blaming someone else for your feelings, own  you’re own internal world and dialogue that got you to that trigger point.  There is no button on you that turns that feeling on!  It’s an internal job… so own up to it and deal with it.

Look at your relationships and find a way to cultivate your trust in that person.  If they genuinely are honest and have integrity, and you won the trust issue, then get yourself sorted out!  The more that you learn to trust others, the more you begin to trust yourself and the world and the less untrustworthy people show up in your life.   As a reformed person with trust issues, I know for myself, I had a strong distrust of women.  Growing up in a family of 4 girls and an emotionally unavailable mother who had many mental and health issues which were kept from us girls meant that I learned not to trust women.  I couldn’t trust what came out of their mouth and I certainly never trusted them to follow through on their promises.  That just didn’t happen in my family. So it took me years to cultivate trust in female friends.  And yes, some of them let me down… big time!  But I learned from each and every one of them, I learned to drop my expectations of them and find new connections that did support me.  I learned to spot a trustworthy person and have discernment around those that I knew I couldn’t rely on.  I have a whole network of women friends that I trust now.  This doesn’t come without a willingness to work on yourself!  And a realisation that no one out there is responsible for your beliefs and emotions and thoughts!  When you’ve reached adulthood, you have to begin to grow up and sort your internal world out.  For the sake of yourself, your children and your partner.

In your most intimate relationship, trust is essential.  Cultivating a place of safety so that you can really reveal and explore who you are to that person takes time and courage.  Sharing your inner world with your partner can help as they become a safe support person to talk to.  Boundaries are essential though!  Giving your partner and idea of what you need from them is helpful… say to them things like:

  • Please listen and don’t feel you need to provide me with a solution when it’s my problem
  • Please don’t judge me, this is my experience/thought/belief/value
  • Respect my views even if they don’t match your beliefs – we do not need to agree on everything
  • Allow me to safely express what I am and I will give you the same in return
  • When we’ve both felt heard, we can then find a solution that works for both of us.

Also set up a space where you can safely talk and do it often!  Always use “I” language rather than “you”.  “I feel…” “I think..” “I need…”  And if you think your inner thoughts will upset the other person, using touch and empathy to their response is much more effective than getting defensive straight up.  Often if you express your concerns whilst touching (holding hands, hugging, snuggling etc), and saying what you need to in a calm voice, it can be heard easily.  Sharing what bothers you with your partner in a way that can be heard and discussed calmly builds trust!  It shows they other person that you are not out to attack them, but to work with them to find a solution.

Here’s a beautiful exploration and explanation of the value of trust in a relationship…  This goes for your lover and for your children…  trust is essential to having a strong relationship.