Posts Tagged parenting tips

Encouragement from a former Commissioner for Children in Tasmania

July 15, 2009

Dear YesVote team

New Zealand has shown real moral leadership with their law reform on physical punishment for children and I congratulate all who worked hard for the repeal of an unjust law against children. I strongly support your endeavours in opposing the unethical and misguided referendum question soon to be put to the vote .

I want to comment on the upcoming referendum on “smacking”.

I am not surprised that both your Prime Minister and Opposition leader will not be voting in a referendum that is so awkward and misleading in its wording. Their concerns reportedly include the fact that the question can be seen in many ways and that voting will send a wrong message. I agree with them but I worry that those not in favour of smacking will let those who are, win by abstaining from the vote. Yet if only a small number actually vote, or vote “no”, that in itself should send a strong message to the public and government. Nevertheless I encourage supporters of children’s safety to register a strong “yes” vote.

I have seen reports in the Weekend Australian (5/7/09), about two recent cases you had in Wellington and Christchurch. In one a father appears to have pushed a 7 year old child at a sports event repeatedly and another had intentional forced contact with his 4 year old son’s ear in a park. Can either be classified as a “smack” as one was repeated pushing to the ground and the other a “cuff” to the ear? Both would have been hurtful and humiliating to the children, but sadly it appears that some in favour of the use of smacking as a “good” parenting tool may be using these cases to support theirs. I wonder if I can ask a few questions about the terms of the referendum and these cases?

  • Do these acts of pushing and striking amount to “smacks” to opposers of reform?
  • Are these parental actions loving acts?
  • Do they show parental respect for the child’s perspectives and worries?
  • Are they examples of “good” parenting?
  • Can homes with such activities be homes filled with love?
  • Do those who believe this is good parenting believe in “light” smacks too?
  • Do voters really want to permit such adult misbehaviour against children?
  • How can “good “parenting include actions that police class as assaults?
  • How is teaching children by smacking them “good” parenting?
  • Is it “good” practice to smack under 18s like apprentices, cadets etc?
  • Will such under 18s learn better with this type of teaching tool?
  • Is it not illegal to teach horses, dogs and circus animals by smacking them?
  • Should the small number of charges require a change in the new law?
  • Why would members of parliament change the law that a majority accepted?
  • Why is it OK to use such large funding to promote the cause of those who want to hit children?

New Zealand has been a fine example to other countries where child advocates speak out for law reform on legalised physical punishment too. I hope for the sake of the children of the world that your politicians remain steadfast in their support for equal protection for children.

Best wishes

Patmalar Ambikapathy

Barrister and Human Rights Consultant for Children

Disciplining dad

July 3, 2009

Scott Kara’s (rough) guide to being a first-time dad on his New Zealand Herald blog

Most of the time, I’m a big softie. But this week, with Incredible Hulk-like tendencies, I turned into Super Domineering Dad by taking a stand and putting the little one into time out for the first time.

I thought I was looking out for her personal safety with my tough and loving stance. Crikey, she’d pulled herself up onto the cabinet in front of the TV, which is a fair-old fall to the wooden floor boards below, and was slapping the plasma screen with glee. It was the third time – in quick succession – she’d done it so what’s a dad to do?

While that might not sound like dastardly behaviour I couldn’t help but imagine that slab of electronic wizardry falling off the wall and squishing little honey lamb into a shrink-wrapped luncheon sausage.

It turns out, I think time out is a miserable failure and my wife and I don’t believe in it anymore. Not that it didn’t work, I just didn’t give it a chance. In fact, I was the miserable failure because my heart caved in to an uncontrollable longing to pick her up, hug her, and wipe those tears dry after shutting that door in her face.

So what do you do to stamp out wilful toddler tantrums and disobedience? Because, as Mr Ear Clip of Christchurch found out earlier this week, times have changed when it comes to discipline.

Gone are the days when mum cracked the wooden spoon on the bench as a threat – and boy, did my sister and I laugh when it broke on one occasion. Then there was the ultimate I-mean-business threat of dad – a far bigger softie than I am – pretending to take off his belt.

So instead of time out I’m resorting to either asking the little critter nicely to do something; praising her by way of coercion; ignoring her and hoping like hell she stops doing it eventually; or – and this is best of all – distracting her (which requires a ball, a puzzle, or, if I’m desperado, a TV show).

But hang on a minute, I thought I was meant to be a parent? I thought I was the one calling the shots?

Maybe I should harden up, stop being such a sook, and stick to my guns.

Then again, no matter what your approach, disciplining a toddler – and a teenager for that matter – is always going to be torture.

Smacking – “It’s wrong, full stop” say children

June 23, 2009

Media release: Barnardos New Zealand             23 June 2009

“It’s bad that they are smacking them. It’s good that they are disciplining them but they shouldn’t be hitting them really hard. Maybe they could send them to the corner”

11-year old girl who participated in the What’s Up survey.

The debate around the Referendum ’09 on physical punishment has been widely debated by adults but who is listening to the voice of those who are at the centre of this debate – the children?

As New Zealand’s largest telephone helpline for children and young people, 0800WHATSUP provided an opportunity for children and young people to express their views about physical punishment and whether or not adults should be able to claim a legal defence if charged with assaulting a child.

“The initial results from the survey show that the majority of callers (more than 55 percent) do not think parents taken to court for hitting a child should be let off if they say they were disciplining the child”, says Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand.

“Despite this, comments from the children and young people who participated in the survey suggest many children are conditioned to expect and accept physical discipline from parents. Importantly, many of the callers suggested that parents should be let off with a warning or community service if they perpetrated low levels of violence against children”.

“This is how the child discipline law is working in practice. Parents are not being prosecuted for lightly or occasionally smacking a child, only serious levels of violence are being prosecuted”.

“Barnardos welcomes the sample of results in the survey that provide valuable insights into the views of children and young people about physical punishment. We are pleased that What’s Up has done this survey, giving children and young people the opportunity to express their point of view about a subject matter that affects them most in Referendum ’09”, concluded Mr Edridge.

Download the full report.

The telephone survey was conducted from 27 April to 10 May and was successful in eliciting a large proportion of meaningful votes and comments, with a response rate of around 10%. What’s Up continues to invite children and young people to express their point of view on the matter of “smacking” until the referendum closes on 21 August.


Uschi Klein, Communications Advisor
DDI (04) 382 6717
Mobile 027 228 3088
PO Box 6434, Wellington

Parenting Tip: Encourage your children to take naps

June 9, 2009

Napping may have a significant influence on young children’s daytime functioning, according to a research paper presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. Results indicate that children between the ages of 4 and 5 who did not take daytime naps were reported by their parents to exhibit higher levels of hyperactivity, anxiety and depression than children who continued to nap at this age.

Previous studies have linked not enough or poor sleep to symptoms of hyperactivity, anxiety and depression. Researchers in this study were happy to show the potential importance of napping for optimal daytime functioning in children, as napping is often overlooked in favor of nighttime or total sleep.

Do you use the carrot or the stick for changing your child’s behaviour?

June 9, 2009

From the American Counselling Association. Sponsored by the ACA Foundation

NO parent enjoys constantly warning or threatening his or her child, yet many children do seem programmed to drive mum and dad crazy, at least some of the time. So how can parents encourage good behaviours without shouting themselves hoarse?

Our usual reaction to a misbehaving child is often toward the side of anger, focusing on the negative and warning, ordering or threatening the child to behave.

Sometimes we issue warnings and threats before the child has misbehaved. A young child may be told: “If you don’t behave at grandpa’s birthday party today, you’ll be sorry,” while an older child might be threatened with: “Forget to turn in one more homework assignment and you’re grounded for a week!”

Studies find such warnings, threats and punishments are generally not very effective in modifying behaviour. Yes, a loudly yelled order may halt the immediate misbehaving, but it seldom makes a long-lasting difference in how your child acts.

Researchers find rewards are more effective in terms of achieving desired behaviours. This shouldn’t be surprising. As adults, we don’t like being lectured, threatened or punished, but often work harder and look forward to opportunities to do well, be recognised and reap a reward for our efforts. We all perform better when we feel good about ourselves.

Children respond in the same way. For young children rewards that immediately follow the desired behaviour are most effective simply because delayed gratification is too abstract for a young child’s mind to grasp. Older children, however, are able to look forward to something promised.

Rewards can take a variety of forms. While it can be something tangible, like a new book or CD, effective rewards can also cost nothing. Catch your child in the act of doing something positive and compliment him or her. Or pay more attention to that school work and offer praise when real effort is being shown. Sincere compliments and praise really work, and so do rewards like spending extra time with your child for a special activity, or just granting extra play or TV time for doing well.

Rewards shouldn’t be bribes, but rather a means to encourage positive behaviours so that they become long-term behaviours. To help that happen, don’t reward constantly, since that just makes the rewarding less meaningful. And remember to reward positive efforts, not just final outcomes. Trying hard counts as much as succeeding.

Use rewards correctly and you’ll find that they can be much more effective, and pleasant, than constant shouting, threatening and punishments.


  • “The Counselling Corner” is provided as a public service by the American Counselling Association. Learn more about the counselling profession at the ACA web site,

Parenting Tip: Nip anger in the bud

May 29, 2009

Take steps to control your own rage:

  • Don’t stew over things, distract yourself if you’re feeling mad
  • Practise self-control
  • Learn how to connect with people in a safe and respectful way
  • Find positive male and female role models
  • Care for yourself by connecting to things that are meaningful to you like nature, meditation or art

Thanks to Cynthia Morton of the Emotional Fitness Foundatation for today’s tip (and HT to Stuff)

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please let us know below.


Parenting Tip: Follow your child’s lead

May 28, 2009

Participate with your child in those activities that bring them pleasure, even if it feels strange to you.

Joining your child in their world requires an essential parenting skill-imitate and follow. Don’t make demands, don’t ask them to perform (i.e., “What color is this?” or “What does a cow say?”), and don’t direct the play. While it may sound simple, it’s not! As parents we all want to feel proud of what our children know. We get great pleasure in asking them to show off, especially in front of other people so they can see what great parents we are. However, most children don’t like to be drilled (nor do adults, for that matter), and when too much of this occurs, the child may simply withdraw, or do the opposite, have a tantrum.

Truly joining in your child’s world gives them the feeling that you treasure what comes from inside, not only what you draw out of them. It says “I’m so delighted in you that I’m going to sit here with you and watch what you do, do it alongside you, and wonder with you why this is so fascinating.” Granted, as parents we will always be tickled by our child’s responses to our approaches or our questions, but expecting too much of this will backfire on you. Instead, join in, talk about what you and the child are doing (i.e., “Boy, these rays of sunlight on the floor are really interesting.” or “You really like the sound of that block banging on the table.”). Finally, don’t be afraid to add to the play with your own creations in the hope that your child will someday become interested in you, too.

If your child has limited awareness of others, you can gently create situations in the play to get your child to notice you. For example, if they are building with blocks, you might “accidentally” knock them over then help build them up again.

Today’s tip comes from Dr Sarita Freedman.  This tip is extracted from her excellent article, “Top 10 Tips for Parenting an Autistic Child“.

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please let us know below.


Parenting Tip: Stop the show

May 27, 2009

When the going gets tough, stop the show.

If you find that your child is misbehaving badly or exhibiting tantrums, for example in a public place, then stop whatever programmes that you’ve planned for the day and go home. This can be tough, especially when you have already planned out your day. But if your child is misbehaving, they need to know that there won’t be any “exciting” activities for the rest of the day unless they stop their bad behavior.

Thanks to James Lehman for today’s tip!

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please let us know below.


Parenting Tip: Love and warmth works wonders with kids

May 23, 2009

Love and warmth works wonders with kids.

Like all of us, kids naturally want to please those who love them.  Managing behaviour of children becomes lots less of an issue when the general feel in the home is one of love and warmth.

Of course we don’t get it right all the time and sometimes it’s right to be negative, but sincere praise and encouragement far outweigh any negative remarks. Aim for a split of around 6-8 positives to offset a single negative.

Children who know they have their parents’ support and love are much more keen to please them with their behaviour – they want to get it right.

Thanks to S.K.I.P. for today’s tip!

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please let us know below.


Video: Dr Joan Durrant discusses Positive Discipline

May 22, 2009

Dr Joan Durrant offers us this very watchable 10-minute digest of Positive Discipline, her 356 page manual covering establishing goals, providing warmth and structure, understanding how children think and feel, problem solving, and responding with positive discipline.

Watch in particular the first few minutes of the second video, which describe a positive parenting approach to dealing with traffic — exactly the situation which Jimmy Mason was faced with in the recent “face-punching” trial.

Parents are children’s most important teachers.

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You can see more videos on our videos page.

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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