Thursday, 21 April 2011

Why are Challenging Kids Challenging?

Why are children so challenging at times, if not all the time?

Too often parents and teachers see challenging behaviour and immediately begin the well-rehearsed list of threats or bribes.

"Stop doing that this instant!"
"Keep it up and you'll spend some time in your room!"
"If I tell you one more time..." and so it goes.

Among the 'big' people (parents and teachers) there is a pervasive pattern of blaming children's challenging behaviour on motivation. The child, it is implied, does not have the motivation to be "good". (Note, when I say be "good" I'm referring to a big person's value-laden judgement of behaviour that is convenient more than morally right). Since the child is lacking in motivation to be "good" the parent applies external motivators, such as threats and punishments or bribes and rewards.

In many cases, however, the issue in the child's challenging behaviour is not motivation.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Easter Ideas and Over-Indulgence

With the Easter break just days away here are some simple ideas for making sure your Easter is calm, and that the children don't overindulge or go too crazy with all the chocolate.

We've had two experiences in previous Easter periods that may be helpful idea generators for you in your family.

Experience One

We are involved with our local competitive cycling club. Following a recent championship to finish our racing season there was a small Easter egg hunt for the kids. The children went beserk looking for chocolate. There was a large number of children of ages from around 3 to 16. At the completion of the hunt the children began to compare how many chocolates they'd found. As might be expected, the older children had found many more eggs than the younger children.

Spontaneously, and without any adult intervention, I watched several of the older children suggest that now that all the eggs were found they should be pooled and redistributed fairly. Without any complaining all of the children agreed. Older children gave up their eggs for younger children and everyone felt fairly dealt with. It was a great experience to see children develop a solution on their own.

Experience Two

The Easter bunny also arranged for an Easter egg hunt at our home Sunday morning. To help the children, the Easter bunny hid eggs of different colours. Each child was to find a particular coloured egg, rather than racing to find as many eggs as possible. This fostered a spirit of cooperation and sense of fairness for the children. They took delight in finding their own eggs and helping their siblings find their eggs too.
Another idea from a regular Happy Families reader is to provide written/drawn clues that the kids have to follow until they find the "stash". The stash contains a bag of goodies for each child.
What ideas do you have that work well at Easter?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Is there a 'Right Way' to Parent?

Is there a 'right way' to parent?

Many parents have uttered, or at least heard the old cliché “Wouldn’t it be great if the children came with an owner’s manual.”

Parenting can be tough at times – even tougher with some children – and a ready reference might be handy. Of course, most people probably wouldn’t use it. Especially men.

One of the assumptions of this idea is that there must be a ‘right way’ to parent. If a manual existed, surely this would mean that there is a right way. Books, magazines, blogs, and careers have been built on the idea that if parents follow a particular parenting strategy they’ll raise happy and obedient children, and that the pain will be taken out of parenting... So is there a right way, a magic formula?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Body Image: What Society Tells Girls They Should Look Like

I'm a father of daughters... five precious girls.

Being a parenting researcher and writer gives me a lot of confidence in the way I raise my girls. But there is one thing that causes me more worry than anything else. It's the way society tells girls how they should 'look'.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Friends: How to Guide Your Children to Authentic Friendships

Relationships form the foundation of our children’s happiness and wellbeing – not to mention our own. While family relationships matter, friends also have substantial impact on how happy we, and our children, are in life.

Friends make life fun. Friends provide learning and socialisation opportunities. Friends become a child’s trusted confidant. My pre-adolescent daughter recently told me about one of her best friends, Tayah, who is able to keep all 14 of her closest-held secrets that even mum and dad can’t know.

But what can we do, as parents, if we are concerned about our child’s lack of friends?

Monday, 4 April 2011

NAPLAN does not educate our children

NAPLAN does not educate our children.

NAPLAN is being pronounced by Australian policy-makers and politicians as the diagnostic tool that will save our schools, and by extension, develop our students into exceptional learners. In concert with the myschool website, schools and education departments will somehow deliver resources to those students who need help most – and they claim it can only be done by using this standardised test!

These claims, however, remain generally untested. Based on data from other countries that use standardised testing, caution is warranted. There are several things NAPLAN will not do, and these things matter. Our politicians don’t seem to be aware of these faults with the ongoing push for more and more standardised testing in our children’s lives. Here are a few things NAPLAN will not do for your children.