Friday, February 26, 2010

In times of need

Teach your children a sense of community and the rewards will surprise you

It takes a village to raise a child.
This African proverb is wonderful in theory, but I have sometimes thought that we are losing our sense of community.
I say this because most families are so busy working and trying to be everywhere and everything for their children, that they don’t have time for their neighbours (and likewise, the neighbours don’t have time for them).
Workplaces can be the same. We go in, we do our tasks, we enjoy the Friday afternoon drinks, but we still retreat to our home and family during the downtime.
A number of workplaces are breaking this routine and improving the teamwork and morale, not by sending “feel-good” emails, but by increasing the amount of personal interaction.
Face-to-face conversation has been lost with technology. Now we SMS, email, tweet or update our status.
While these methods of communication certainly keep us connected, and improve efficiency, if more people made the time to interact on a personal level, we would have the opportunity to create the sense of community spirit that we love.
And I was proven this week that this sense of community is alive and well in the world.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Let's talk about sex

A child’s sex education should start at an early age

Following on from last week’s topic of the importance of role play in a child’s development, I only briefly touched on the subject of how children come to understand sex.
Sex education is a lot different nowadays to when I was a girl, and certainly a lot different to when my parents were growing up where the subject was completely taboo.
Many parents feel that sex education is not appropriate for young children.
They may fear that their child will use this knowledge to participate in sexual play resulting in promiscuity.
But the normal young child lacks a sexual appetite and therefore lacks the desire to be sexually active.
Parents may also fear a child will lose their innocence, but there is a greater risk of a child losing their innocence through someone else.
There is more risk of a child being shocked with details about sex through the media or peers, than through the appropriate and trusted perspective of the child’s parents.
Most parents will wait for the first question on sex before discussing it with their children, but often the first question is a result of incorrect information received from friends, who will probably tell them to keep it a secret.
The more a parent avoids the topic, the more it conveys the message that the parent does not want to talk about sex.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Time for role play

When toddlers start acting like grown-ups, they need to know when their behaviour is not appropriate

Some friends of mine were discussing how it can come as a shock to see a young child role-playing adult behaviour.
For example, last year my daughter and I were shopping in the fruit and vegetable section of Woolworths. I gave her a bean to nibble on, but instead of eating it, she placed it between her little fingers and pretended she was smoking.
I was absolutely horrified and gobsmacked, and so were the people around me who gave me dirty looks of shame and shook their heads.
I told her immediately to stop and then asked her where she had learnt to do such a thing.
Of course, it came from her peers in kindy (one of the cons of childcare, I suppose) but it proves that children are very vulnerable to ideas, and by the time they are three and older, role-playing is a very important part of learning.
The staff at her childcare dismissed the behaviour as “nothing to worry about”, but it certainly bothered me, and I have discouraged her from not only inappropriate role-playing, but also saying swear words (something else picked up from childcare or too much television).
But what is inappropriate to me, may seem completely harmless to another parent.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What NOT to feed your baby

If your child is starting solids, run through this checklist of foods you should avoid

There’s plenty of literature and well-meaning advice out there about the best foods to feed your baby and toddler, particularly when they are starting solids.
But there’s some confusion about what not to feed your child, and at what age it is safe to introduce new foods to their diet.
Often advice given to parents is only for babies in specific circumstances. For example, if there is a strong history of allergy in the family, it becomes accepted that the allergy will apply to the baby as well, but this is not always the case.
The best advice if your family has asthma, eczema or allergies is to speak to your GP.
It is recommended babies be exclusively breastfed for six months, but some babies are just plain hungry and starting solids at four or five months results in a much happier baby.
However, if you introduce solids early, there are a number of foods you should avoid giving your child at this time.