Parenting SA
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Parenting SA is an initiative of the South Australian Government and part of the Department of Human Services

General Parent Easy Guides

About babies

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    These days many parents have not had a lot of experience with babies until their first baby comes along. If you are one of these parents you will probably find you have many questions about this new person who has come into your life and who is so small and helpless. It can be overwhelming and scary when you realise your baby is so dependent on you for everything, especially if you feel you don’t know a lot about babies. Understanding what babies are like may help to make it easier to care for your baby.

See also Living with babies and Right from the start

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Attention deficit disorder

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    Most parents are concerned about their child’s behaviour at some time during childhood. However, for some parents their child seems to be out of control, unpredictable and very difficult to manage. The behaviour may be causing problems with school work and with making friends. There are many reasons why children’s behaviour might change, get worse or stay very difficult. All parents would like to understand their child’s difficult behaviour so that help can be found for both their child and the family as a whole. Our community is now more aware that some children, who in the past may have been called ‘naughty’, may have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADD, or ADHD, is not the reason for every type of difficult behaviour in children. It is important to have a proper assessment, so that the right kind of help can be given to your child.

See also Self esteem

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Bedwetting

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    Bedwetting is sometimes called enuresis. While a lot of children grow out of wetting the bed by the time they start school, many children of primary school age still wet the bed. Most children stop daytime wetting by about three years of age and wetting at night by the time they are five, although most preschoolers have 'accidents' from time to time. Until the age of ten, about one in every ten children wet the bed. If your child wets the bed she is probably not the only one in her class or amongst her friends who is wetting.

See also habits, Living with toddlers and Toilet training

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Being a Dad

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    Dads have a special and important role in their children’s lives. children are lucky if they have a dad who is involved in their lives, who knows their friends and is Interested in how they spend their day. It really helps if children know They are loved and cared for by both parents. In the past, fathers were often responsible for discipline and setting rules and mothers did most of the caring. There’s now much more flexibility in what each parent does and more sharing of the parenting role. There are lots of different kinds of dads. You may be in a two-parent family, in a stepfamily, be a full-time single parent, or have your children with you for some of the time. While parenting can be done by either parent, children have unique experiences with both their fathers and their mothers.

See also Being a parent

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Being a Mum

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    'Mum'. The small word carries a big meaning for most of us. That meaning partly depends on how we feel about our own mothers and grandmothers and also what our communities expect of mothers. We each have different pictures in our heads about how we should be, or want to be, as a mother. Most mothers learn as they go, influenced by the way they were brought up or by what they have read or watched others do. The job that mothers do of shaping and influencing the life of another human being must surely be the most important thing that anyone can do.

See also Being a parent

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Being a Parent

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    Becoming a parent does not come with an instruction manual for all the things you will face. It is one of the most important and difficult things you can do. It is also one of the most rewarding. To raise a child is a huge responsibility which is usually taken for granted and for which no training is required. Parents grow into their role, and should not expect to be perfect and have all the answers all the time. Parenting styles differ, and as long as children’s well-being is ensured, the style that works best for parents is likely to make them feel more confident in their role. Most parents learn as they go, influenced by the way they were brought up, or by what they have read or watched others do. We want our children to become healthy, happy, well-adjusted, successful, honest, caring, responsible adults who will be respectful of others’ feelings and property, be able to get along with others and to cope with difficulties! It is a lot to ask. Your children and your community rely on you to do this well.

See also Being a mum and Being a dad

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Blended families

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    Building a new family can be an exciting fresh start for parents and children. It is not always easy. It takes lots of time, energy and care for the new family to work well. Each family has its' own strengths to build on and challenges to deal with.

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Bullying

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    Bullying is verbal, emotional or physical abuse which is repetitive and intended to hurt, frighten or threaten someone. It’s a form of violence and a way of having power over others. It needs to be taken seriously as it can have long-term effects on the child being bullied, the one doing the bullying and those who witness it. Bullying often happens in places where children spend lots of time, such as in families, early childhood centres, schools, sporting or recreational clubs and interest groups. Any organisation which has contact with children is required to have policies to keep them safe. However children can be bullied anywhere and it’s not always by other children – adults can be bullies too. Cyber bullying has become a real concern because it can happen anywhere at any time, even in the safety of your home. Sometimes children fi nd it hard to talk about being bullied but will show it in their behaviour. They need adults to listen, believe and support them. You can help them by talking to adults with the power to stop it. You can also help children to develop coping strategies and to take action themselves. This way they can gain a sense of control and feel more confident.

See also Cybersafety and self esteem

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Child Abuse

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    Sometimes children are abused or neglected by their parents or carers. Some people think it is only abuse if a child is physically hurt. Children are also abused when they are made to feel worthless or unloved, when they live with violence or their basic needs are ignored. This leaves just as many scars and the effects can last a lifetime.

 

Children biting

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    Biting is fairly common in young children but is very troubling to parents. Biting is often very painful and frightening for the child who is bitten. It can also be frightening for the child who bites, because it upsets the other child and makes adults angry. Biting can make the child who bites feel very powerful because of the strong reaction and attention that it brings. This feeling of power can also be frightening for children because they need to feel secure and know that feelings can be managed.

See also Habits, Living with toddlers and Discipline (0-12 years)

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Children with a disability

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    Finding out that your child has a disability, whether at birth, or after an illness or accident is one of the most shattering things that can happen to parents. You may go through all of the emotions that people feel after a major loss - the loss of the child you expected to have, the loss of your dreams for your child's future, the loss of your child's quality of life, the loss of your way of life. When these losses happen unexpectedly there is the added shock of things going wrong at a time of life when you expected everything to go well. There are such big adjustments for parents and families to make that it is no wonder it causes stress and puts pressure on relationships.

See also Bullying and Disability - brothers and sisters

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Children’s mental health

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    All parents want their children to be happy and successful. At some time most parents wonder whether their children are happy and doing what is expected for their age. Most children at times misbehave or are unhappy, but these times usually pass. Sometimes a child’s behaviour can be unusual or seem different from other children of the same age. A child may be distressed or behaving unusually or differently from how he has in the past. These changes may be Gradual or they may happen quite suddenly. Either way they are a sign that your child needs understanding and help.

See also Grief and loss, Being a parent and Young people, feelings and depression

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Coping Skills

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    Helping children build inner strength to cope with the ups and downs of growing up is one of the best things parents can do for them. Over the years many researchers have looked at what helps some people to manage difficult times while others don't cope so well. They have looked at some of the things that cause stress to children, and at the things that parents can do to help children build the strength to cope with stress. Often we cannot prevent things going wrong for children but we can try to help children build the strengths that will help them cope.

See also Self esteem and Optimism

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Cybersafety

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    The internet and mobile phones have completely changed our world. It's important for parents to recognise their role in children's lives. Using technology confidently is already second nature to many children. However, this doesn't mean they know how to use it safely. Your job as a parent is to keep then out of harm's way as they learn. You don't have to be an expert. Knowing where to find things out and get help is what's important. Knowledge, supervision and guidance are the best protection as well as having agreements about use, both at home and away from home. It's also important to set a good example.

See also Being a parent, Safe Technology Use

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Dealing with a crisis

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    Stress in our lives isn’t always unhealthy. It is often a time when we make changes for the better. However, if we get too stressed and believe we cannot cope any more, then we are in crisis. In a crisis, children need to feel safe and that there is someone they can rely on. They have similar feelings to adults but may show them in actions rather than words. Children learn by watching how their parents deal with a crisis. Parents can face many crises through a lifetime of raising children.

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Developmental delay

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    Parents want their babies and children to be the best that they can be. Parents and grandparents often compare babies to see who is the first to walk or say a word as they watch them grow and develop new skills. If your baby seems to be slower to learn new things you may worry about it or you may decide to wait and see. You may take your baby or child to have various tests and checkups, or you may just accept that everyone is different. This guide may help you to decide how best to help your child.

See also Optimism, Children with a disability, Disability - brothers and sisters and Bullying

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Disability - brothers and sisters

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    When your child has a disability it affects everyone in the family including brothers and sisters (siblings). How brothers and sisters react to having a sibling with a disability can depend on the kind of disability, their age, the age of the child with the disability and how it is managed in the family. Most importantly it will depend on how parents manage and the support all the children get from their parents. Brothers and sisters can have some of the same feelings of loss that parents have. It is important that their feelings are heard and understood. Brothers and sisters can also have a lot of joy from their relationships with their sibling with a disability, and learn a lot that will help them develop into caring, thoughtful young people.

See also Children with a disability and Bullying

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Discipline (0-12 years)

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    Children need discipline, limits and guidance. They need to feel safe and secure as they learn to get along with others and to live in society. Discipline is about teaching your child what to do, and setting clear limits about what not to do that your child can understand. The best discipline leads to children learning self-discipline. People often confuse ‘discipline’ with ‘physical punishment’, but they are quite different. Discipline is about teaching. It is not necessary to physically punish children in order to teach them. Many adults don’t always know what to do and tend to treat children the way they were treated. Discipline guides children to choose what is right through teaching and learning rather than forcing. For most parents the question is how best to achieve this. This Parent Easy Guide provides some ideas.

See also Lies and fibs, Self-esteem,Living with young people, Being a parent, Sibling rivalry, Children biting and Tantrums

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Donor conception - telling your child

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    Donor conception is when people use eggs, sperm or embryos donated from someone else to have a baby. This may be the only way some people can have a child. We all have a right to know our own history so it is important for children to know where they come from.

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Families that work well

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    The family that children grow up in is one of the most important parts of their life. It has a big impact on how well they will cope with life. A loving, caring family can help create a happy child with good self-esteem, but an unhappy family can lead to low self-esteem and a range of problems for children.

It's important that families have ways of doing things that make family life easy and happy. Here are some ideas for helping your family to work well.

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Family break-up

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When a family breaks up it is hard for everyone, especially children.
Parents need to move from being a couple to being partners in parenting. How they handle this and deal with any conflict has a big impact on how children cope.
Children need the love and support of both parents as they adjust to the changes. It is important that they feel safe and secure.

See also Thinking separation?, Single parenting and Blended families

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Family Violence

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    (previously More than arguments – domestic violence) - Many families argue at times but domestic violence, or family violence is more than just arguing. It is actions or words that hurt, scare, control or bully others. Everyone in the family is harmed by violence, especially children. Living with the stress of violence affects children’s brain development even if they are not the victim. It can lead to problems with emotions and behaviour, and make it harder for them to learn. Family violence hardly ever goes away without help. It often gets worse unless the person using violence changes their thinking and how they behave.

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Feeding toddlers

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    Parents sometimes worry that their toddler is not eating enough healthy food. It can help to remember that:
- parents decide what food to provide – children decide how much to eat;
- if you provide healthy food, your toddler will eat well whatever they choose;
- toddlers need less food in their second year as they are growing more slowly. They have small stomachs so need to eat small amounts often.
Try to keep meal times relaxed and happy, and avoid battling with your toddler about food.

See also Living with toddlers, Milestones and Tantrums

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Grandparenting

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    Grandparents are very special in children’s lives. They can give children lots of love and security, have fun times and share the family history. Children are lucky when
they are close to their grandparents as well as their parents. Grandparents don’t have set roles as parents do. Talk with your adult children about what each of you expects. Some grandparents are closely involved in children’s lives while others are grandparenting from a distance if their children live far away. Others may be grandparenting through sensitive family situations such as separation, divorce, or in a step-family. Whatever kind of grandparent you are it’s important to support your family, to be open to new ideas and willing to talk things over. Seek help and support for
yourself if you need to.

See also Families that work well

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Grief and loss

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    Growing up is an ongoing process of change that involves losses as well as gains. For children changes such as starting childcare, school, sleeping over at a friend’s house, changing classes and teachers, or losing a pet, a friend or a family member all bring new challenges and new learning. Depending on the support children receive and how these early losses are dealt with, children can learn to manage and deal with the losses that will happen throughout their lives. Children do grieve and this can happen at an early age, but not in the same way that adults grieve. Children are likely to show their grief in less direct ways than adults. Children move in and out of grief. One day they will seem to be fine and another day they will be showing that they are not managing so well. Children often have more needs at times of loss which can lead to demanding behaviour as they try to get closeness, care, information, reassurance and support from adults. The experience of loss affects each child differently. The child’s age, emotional maturity, the circumstances of the loss, and the ‘connectedness’ with the person or whatever the child has lost are important factors. It is important to look at each child individually and work out what will best help that child.

See also Running away, Family breakup, Bullying and Pets

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Growing and learning in the family

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    The first and most important learning in a child’s life happens within the family. Children learn from the way people treat them and from what they see, hear and experience as soon as they are born. Children are natural learners. Between birth and five years, and especially to three years, children grow and learn at the fastest rate of their lifetime. It is easy to see the enormous opportunity that parents, and those who care for children have in these early years to help shape children’s learning, long before they start school.

See also Families that work well, Right from the start and Being a parent

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Habits

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    All children have behaviours that soothe and comfort them. Sometimes these develop into habits that worry, annoy or embarrass parents. Habits can start when a child is tired, stressed or bored. They can continue after the reason has gone. Most habits are not a cause for concern. They usually go away by themselves as children mature.

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Home alone

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    It’s not easy to decide the right time or age to leave children at home on their own. There is no actual law stating the age children can be left at home alone. However the law is clear that parents are responsible for their children’s safety and they should not be left in dangerous situations. There are many things to think about when deciding whether your children should be left at home without you, such as safety, your children’s ages, how mature and capable they are, and whether they could cope in an emergency. It’s important to have ‘ground rules’ and that your children understand them.

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Learning to talk

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    Learning to talk is one of the most important steps that young children take. It helps them make sense of the world, to ask for what they need and to get on with other people. If you think about how hard it is for adults to learn a different language you can get some idea of what it is like for an infant to learn to speak from having no language at all. Language and speech, like other development, take place at different rates for different children.

See also Milestones, Right from the start, and More than reading and writing

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Lies and fibs

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    Almost everyone tells lies ometimes for a variety of reasons, such as avoiding hurting someone’s feelings or getting out of an awkward situation. When children don’t tell the truth it can be very worrying for parents. It is easy to become upset about the lie and to overlook what it means to the child. It is important to understand the reasons your child might lie before you react.

See also Habits and Self esteem

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Living with babies

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    Having a baby is the start of one of the most exciting journeys in your life. Babies bring the excitement of watching a new person grow and develop, the love that comes with caring, and the responsibility of knowing that someone depends on you for everything. Sometimes this also means a shortage of time and money, the feeling that everything is getting out of control and a complete change in the way you live.
For most parents, bringing home a new baby is not what you expected. You may not be ready for the very strong feelings you will have or for the many changes that having a baby brings. It is important to remember that this is what happens for everyone - you are not alone. Babies learn more and grow faster than they will at any other time in life. Make the most of this time with your baby!

See also About babies, Milestones and Right from the start

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Living with toddlers

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    Between the ages of one and three years your toddler's world is growing rapidly. This is a time of many changes for toddlers. The most important learning for your children in these years is that they are separate, independent people. Many of the troubles that some parents experience with their two year olds are because children are struggling with learning to feel independent. At the same time they are still babies in many ways and need a lot of parental support.

See also Discipline (0-12 years), Toilet training, Milestones, Being a parent and Sleep (0-6 years)

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Living with young people

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    (previously Living with teens) - Watching children grow into mature and independent young adults can have many rewards for parents. There can also be ups and downs in the family as young people test limits and try new freedoms. It can help to remember that young people are going through rapid physical and emotional changes, want freedom, but still need the security of their family, often feel unsure of themselves behind their ‘grown-up’ attitude. It is important that parents continue to guide young people during this time. Good communication will make this easier.

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Milestones: Children 0–4 years

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    Babies and young children develop quickly in the first few years of life. This is a guide to what you might expect in their first four years – often called developmental ‘milestones’. All children are different and some will do things faster or slower than others. If you think your child is ‘out of step’ for their age, check with a Child and Family Health nurse or your doctor. It is important that children get help early if they need it.

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More than reading and writing

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Most parents know that reading and writing is so important for children. How words help us to understand our world and make the most of opportunities is much more than reading and writing. This is called literacy. The word literacy often makes people think of school and many parents expect that literacy will be taught to their children once they start school. Children do not wait until they start school to develop literacy skills. From birth, babies and children are learning all the time. Literacy is a part of everyone’s daily life. The experiences that are given to children influence their knowledge and understanding of their world. Children need opportunities to practise the skills they know and are able to do in order to become confident learners. In everyday activities and in your relationship with your children, you have a wonderful opportunity to help them develop literacy skills.

See also Why stories are important, Starting school, Television, Cybersafety, Growing and learning in the family

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Optimism

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One of the best things parents can give their children is a healthy attitude to living. There is a sense of satisfaction and achievement for parents who feel confident that their child is equipped to handle difficulties and challenges. We live in a world of uncertainty and change where many things are beyond our control. How we manage often depends on the way we see situations. Helping your child become an optimist and ‘look on the bright side of life’ is a step towards preparing your child for a strong future.

See also Self-esteem, Children's mental health

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Peer pressure

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Many parents worry about peer pressure, but peer pressure is not about a group forcing someone to do something against their will. It's more about a person choosing to do something because they want acceptance, to belong and feel valued.

See also Young people, feelings and depression, Living with teens, Bullying, Self-esteem

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Pets

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    Children and the whole family can get lots of fun and enjoyment from having a pet. They can be special friends and playmates for children, and help them feel better if they are low. While they are a great joy, pets also take some work and commitment. It's important to think about your family and the kind of pet that will suit you all best. Consider the care your pet will need and whether you and your family will be able to look after it. Helping to look after a pet can help children learn to be responsible and caring.

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Pocket money

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When, whether, how and what to give for pocket money is an issue that often concerns parents. There is not just one way to go. To a large extent it depends on family values and finances but there are some general points that you might like to consider in making your decision.

See also Discipline (0-12 years)

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Protecting children from sexual abuse

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    Sexual abuse of children is a crime. It causes serious harm to children and their
families. The effects can last a lifetime.
There are things that parents can do to help keep children safe. It is important
children know when something is wrong and how to tell others about it.

 

Right from the start

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Most parents know that the early years of a child’s life are the building blocks for the future but why do the first few years matter so much? In recent years there has been new research into how babies grow and develop. We now know how important it is to care for babies and provide experiences that help to prepare a strong base for their future. When you have a baby you want to do all you can to give your baby the best start in life. Learn how to make the most of your child’s early years... right from the start.

See also About babies, Living with babies, Milestones

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Running away

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Children and young people from families in all walks of life run away from home for all kinds of reasons. It can happen because they are reacting to something emotionally in the heat of the moment, or when they are testing the limits. Most young people who run away and are reported to the police are found within 48 hours. Whilst runaways usually return home within this time, it can be very scary for parents and family. Adolescence is a time for testing values and boundaries and trying out new things. During this period of development, the influence of friends can be very strong as young people start to form their own ideas and values. As part of testing new things out, young people can often believe at ‘nothing will happen to me’ and take risks that other people wouldn’t take. They are often torn between wanting complete freedom very quickly, and wanting to be cared for as they have been in childhood. As a parent you are torn between trying to make sure they are safe as well as supporting them to gradually become more independent. For all these reasons there can be arguments and disagreements between parents and young people and some of these may lead to running away.

See also Grief and loss, Living with young people, Dealing with a crisis, Young people, feelings and depression, Peer pressure

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Safe Technology Use

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For children today, TVs, computers, gaming devices, mobile phones and tablets are part of everyday life. Screen technology is a big part of how they learn, socialise and have fun.

There are health risks for children when they spend excessive amounts of time in front of screens, or use devices inappropriately. Parents can help children stay safe and healthy as they get the most from these technologies. It is important that children develop healthy screen habits early, and have a balance of activities in their life.evented.

See also Being a parent, Cybersafety

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Safety for children 0-4 years

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Parents have an important role in keeping children safe and helping them to learn new skills, have fun, take risks, and gain confidence in their abilities. Young children have a way of getting into things, and often do what you don’t expect. They have lots of energy and like to explore. They are still too young to be aware of danger and may not be able to keep themselves safe. Telling them and teaching them about danger is important, but it is not enough. You need to make sure they are in a safe place and are supervised. Childhood injuries are not usually ‘accidents’. Most injuries can be predicted, and therefore prevented.

See also Living with toddlers, Being a parent

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Second baby

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    A new baby arriving in the family brings big changes for everyone. It can be a stressful time for young children, especially toddlers.
Toddlers don't have a strong sense of security. They may feel less loved when you spend time with the new baby.
- Helping your toddler to feel loved and secure will make things easier for everyone.
- Tell your toddler about the new baby, but not too soon – it's a long time for them to wait!

See also Living with toddlers, Families that work well, Growing and learning in the family, Sibling rivalry and Tantrums

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Self-esteem

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Healthy self-esteem is feeling good about yourself, and feeling that you are a worthwhile person. While we all have self-doubts at times, it is important for children to feel okay about themselves most of the time. Self-esteem enables them to try new things without too much fear of failing, to reach out and make friends, and to manage problems they are likely to meet along the way. Self-esteem builds a solid foundation for coping with life.

See also Children's mental health, Coping skills, Self-esteem

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Sibling rivalry

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    Parents often worry about their children fighting with each other. Some conflict between children in families is normal. It is part of how children learn to get along with others.
- Parents can help reduce fighting by making sure that each child feels equally loved and valued. Clear family rules and routines can help too.
- Show your children how to work things out fairly. It will help them learn how to get along with others.
Parents need to step in before things get out of hand or someone gets hurt.

See also Second baby, Families that work well, Growing and learning in the family, Coping skills, Children biting and Tantrums

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Single parenting

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A growing number of children in Australia are being raised in single parent households. The breakdown of relationships causes some parents to choose to leave a two-parent relationship to become a sole parent. Others are left behind with the children when a partner leaves. Other people become single parents through a range of life choices and circumstances, including the death of a partner. Each path has its own issues to deal with. Parenting alone is different in many ways to being in a two-parent household and it can have its difficulties and challenges. It can also have positive benefits such as being able to make your own decisions about parenting and having more time to spend with your children and develop a closer connection. Children can have a very positive experience in a sole parent household. It’s important for them to know where they come from, and to know and love both parents without feeling guilty. Single parents usually find it helps to have a strong network of friends and family for support.

See also Being a parent, Young parents, Family break-up, Thinking separation?, Dealing with a crisis

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Sleep (0 - 6 years)

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    Managing sleep for babies and children is one of the most common concerns for parents. Many worry about whether they are doing the right thing if their child doesn’t sleep soundly all through the night. There are many different ways for parents to help babies and children to sleep, and patterns vary between cultures and families. What matters most is that bedtime is relaxed and comfortable and that babies and children have comfort when they need it and that they are safe. If things aren’t working well for you, some of the following information may help.

See also Being a parent, Sleep disturbances, About babies, Living with babies and Bedwetting

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Sleep disturbance

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    Many children's sleep is disturbed by nightmares, night terrors or sleepwalking. These can frighten children and worry parents.
- There is often no clear reason why they happen. They are usually nothing to worry about and most children will grow out of them in time.
- They are more likely if children are stressed, unwell or not getting enough sleep. They are not linked with any emotional or mental health problems now or later in life.
- It's important to comfort children if they are afraid, and to make sure they are safe.
- If sleep disturbances keep happening or you are worried, talk with your doctor.

See also Sleep (0–6years), Bedwetting, Coping skills and Dealing with a crisis

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Starting school

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    Starting school is an exciting time of change for children and families. There are many things you can do to prepare for the changes. Helping children to feel confident and positive about school will give them a good start.

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Stuttering

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Children who stutter know what they want to say, but have difficulty with the smooth flow of speech. It can be a worry and become embarrassing for children, as well as a concern for parents. The earlier parents tackle the problem, the greater chance they have in helping their child overcome the stuttering.

See also Learning to talk, Developmental delay, Milestones

 

Talking sex with young people

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    Young people learn from parents about relationships, sexuality and having sex. Parents and carers convey very important messages through their own attitudes and behaviours whether they talk about it or not. Some parents think telling their son or daughter about sex will make them want to try things out. Some feel too embarrassed to talk about it at all. Some cultures and religions ave a particular view or way of talking about the topic. Other parents avoid it in the hope their young person will learn about it at school or from the media. If you don’t talk to them, the information they get from others may not be accurate and could place them at risk. Giving young people balanced and accurate information about sex is very important. This helps them understand their values so they can make informed choices rather than be pressured by others. It helps strengthen your relationship when they know they can come to you about anything.

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Tantrums

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Tantrums happen when children have frustration or stress that they cannot cope with. Children react to frustration in different ways. It is important to remember that the anger of the tantrum is always mixed with other feelings. These may be feelings such as fear, jealousy, or feeling unwanted or unloved. Young children often feel frustrated because there are so many things that they want to do and that they can’t yet do. In older children and teenagers it is likely to be because they feel prevented from having or doing what they want, especially if they are Stressed. Tantrums are most likely to happen in toddlers. If there are many tantrums in older children you need to look for a cause or talk with a health professional about it.

See also Discipline (0-12 years), Sleep (0-6 years), Grief and loss, Family break-up

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Television

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Many parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend watching television and the effect it might have on them. Can it do any harm? On one hand the educational and entertainment value can greatly benefit children. On the other, there are concerns and questions about the impact of media on children, especially violence and advertising. Television entertains us all, and for children it also provides a window on the world. That world influences their development. They take in messages about other lifestyles and behaviour. They can be overloaded with the violence and harsh realities of life and given messages that are harmful to their development. Television can also be positive and show responsible ways of acting in the world. Children need the chance to see to a wide range of attitudes and behaviours at a pace they can manage. They also need to experience the world outside of television. Children need to talk, play, daydream and to read, as well as watch television. As a parent you need to keep television in balance with other activities.

See also Cybersafety, Sleep disturbance

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Thinking separation?

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    If you are thinking of ending your relationship, it is good to be realistic about what it might mean. Ending a relationship has a big impact on everyone involved. Children have no say in a separation but it changes their lives. It is important that they feel safe and secure.

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Toilet training

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    Learning to use the toilet is a big step for toddlers and it can be difficult for some. Some children just seem to train themselves when they are ready, but many need some help from their parents. Parents see toilet training as an important milestone for their children and often become concerned if it doesn’t all go smoothly. For toddlers it is something new to learn. It is one of the steps from being a baby to fitting in with what other people want.

See also Bedwetting

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Violence towards parents

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    Aggression or violence towards parents or other family members by children or young people is more common than most people realise. It is not often talked about because parents can feel embarrassed to admit it’s happening. Violence toward a parent is an attempt to control or bully them. It is when their young person frightens, threatens or physically hurts them. It can involve using abusive language, pushing, shoving, kicking, throwing things, or threatening with knives or other weapons. They may also hurt pets or damage furniture and property. Violence towards parents often happens in the home but it can happen in other places too. Whether it happens only once or happens often, it is serious and must be dealt with.

See also What about parents rights?

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What about parents' rights?

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Rights and responsibilities are important – we all have them. The law sets out the rights and responsibilities that parents have in relation to bringing up their children. Sometimes rights are discussed in the media and it’s a topic often discussed in schools. Children’s rights include things like the right to be safe, to be treated with affection, to be educated, to have medical care and to be protected against cruelty and abuse. Parents are there to protect children’s rights until they are old enough to make their own way in the world.

See also Being a parent

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Why stories are important

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Stories help children to cope with many feelings and problems. Story time can be a special caring time with you that your children will remember all their lives. Whether they are the stories you tell, or in books, stories are one of the ways that children learn to enjoy reading. Books and the people they read about in books can become like friends. Children can also learn that books are a way to find out useful and important information. Many people look back with pleasure on their favourite stories from childhood. It is now known that reading aloud to babies and children is so important in their early years and has an impact on their overall development and future learning.

See also More than reading and writing, Growing and learning in the family

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Young parents

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There are lots of good things about being a young parent as well as lots of new things to learn. Being a parent is one of the most important roles anyone can have and it can be both hard work as well as fun. Sometimes you might feel like you just want to be free of the responsibility of being a parent and have someone look after you. Having a partner, family or friends who provide practical support can make it a bit easier. Without a good network of people who can help out you might feel like you're doing it all on your own. It's important to look after yourself as a parent so you can look after your family. When you have a new baby and as your child grows up, it's also really important to know where to get help with all the things you need to know and do.

See also Talking sex with young people

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Young people and drugs

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Many parents worry about whether their son or daughter is taking illegal drugs, how they can tell, and what to do about it. While there is a lot of concern about illegal drugs which is sensationalised in the media, the most harm and the greatest risk to young people comes from using legal drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes and medicines. Many parents wonder why young people would even think of trying drugs. Part of growing up is to experiment with new things and test limits, so it is not surprising that some young people try illegal drugs as well as those which are legal. Many young people however don’t experiment with drugs at all. Fortunately, out of those who do try drugs, many will not go on using drugs regularly, and only a few will develop serious problems. It Seems that the longer young people wait before they first try or regularly use drugs, the less likely it is that a problem will develop. While this can offer some comfort to parents, it is important for parents to be well informed and know what to do for their young person.

See also Young people, feelings and depression, Living with young people, Young people and parties, Abuse of parents

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Young people and food

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    As young people grow up, they strive for independence, and try to work out where they fit in the world and ‘test the waters’ at home. Choosing friends, clothes, videos and leisure activities are important ways they can ‘have a say’ in their lives. Choosing what foods they eat and how they eat is another way. They may want to try new ways of eating, such as eating only some types of foods, skipping meals, eating at odd times, or eating less. For most young people this does not cause health problems and will pass. You may still worry about whether their eating is healthy during this time.

For some young people new eating patterns are a sign of troubled feelings, and confused thinking about food, eating and how they think they look. These patterns can persist and become a major problem. It’s important to be aware of the thinking behind your child’s eating and to take action early if you are worried. Having lots of healthy food in the house and encouraging a healthy attitude towards food as an enjoyable part of life are important ways you can help your young person.

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Young people and parties

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    Adolescence is a time for young people to learn the personal and social skills they need as they become adults. Having parties, being invited to parties and going to parties are very important events in a young person’s life. Not only are they fun, parties and social gatherings play a part in helping them develop new skills with their peers. Most young people look forward to parties with great anticipation and excitement, but it is also very common for young people to feel nervous and not confident about socialising. When young people want to have a party or attend someone else’s, most parents worry about what can go wrong!

See also Young people and drugs, Young people, feelings and depression and Living with young people

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Young people who are gay or lesbian

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Most parents don’t think much about whether their children may be attracted to the same sex. We all grow up with values and beliefs that have been passed down through the generations and we may not have really understood, or given much thought to what ‘homosexuality’ means. To discover that your son or daughter is homosexual could be difficult for you, for them, and for others in the family. This guide may give you some understanding of what other parents have experienced and what was helpful when they found out their young person was gay or lesbian.

See also Talking sex with young people

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Young people, feelings and depression

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    Parents worry when their teenager seems upset or angry a lot of the time. It can be hard to know what to do, especially if they don’t talk about what is bothering them. Young people feel lots of emotions as a normal part of growing up. Learning to cope with negative feelings is an important life skill for young people. Being ‘good at feelings’ is more important than feeling happy all the time. Parents can help by being available when their child wants to talk, and helping them work through problems. Don’t leave them to sort things out alone. Some young people may be diagnosed with depression.

See also: Abuse of parents, Living with young people, Peer pressure, Young people and food, Young people and parties, Young people who are gay or lesbian.

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Page last updated: 18 January 2016
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