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Tired of being the playground umpire?

Parenting from the heart Talking with babies Connecting with children through play

You don’t have to be!

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Inside this issue... Issue 13, Autumn 2012 Regular Features Editor’s letter


Letters to the editor


We Love... Storksak Nappy Bag 3 Recipes: One-pot family meals 3 Book Reviews


Featured Articles Essential Child Issue 13, Autumn 2012 Editor Sarah Rogers Early Childhood Consultant & Sub Editor Pauline Pryor Jodie Smith Creative Director Sam Pryor Cover Photo Captured with Love Photography Contributing Writers Jo Field Katharine Cook Dr. Nicola Holmes Advertising enquiries: Sarah Rogers, phone 0410 338 201 Contact: Phone 02 6656 2109 Fax 02 6656 2131 PO Box 1587, Coffs Harbour, NSW, 2450 ABN: 47 491 617 953 Essential Child is published four times a year by Essential Child. No other parties or individuals have any financial interest in this magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher. Content within this magazine is information only and not necessarily the views of the editor. It does not purport to be a substitute for professional health and parenting advice. Readers are advised to seek a doctor for all medical and health matters. The publisher and authors do not accept any liability whatsoever in respect of an action taken by readers in reliance on the recommendations set out in this magazine. All reasonable efforts have been made to trace copyright holders.

The heart of parenting Jo Field promotes respectful relationships


Tired of being the umpire? Teaching children to resolve conflict


Talking with Babies Vital for future wellbeing


Remembering how to play 9 Katharine Cook on letting children take the lead The power of friends Local woman changing lives in Africa


Immunisation 13 HPV Vaccinations show positive results

Do you want to join the Essential Child team? We’re looking for special people to help us grow! If you live on the midnorth coast, enjoy talking to people, have experience in sales and can spare a few hours a week, you might be just the person we need. For more details, please call Sarah on 0410 338 201 or email: We’d love to hear from you! essential child


Editor’s letter. I

t’s Autumn which means the days are getting shorter and cooler. But it also means it’s our birthday! It’s been three years since the first issue of Essential Child was published. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in that time and would like to thank everybody who has supported us. We’re a small, family-run business, without the resources of a big publishing company. But what we do have is a committed team, a strong sense of community and a great desire to continue bringing you, our dear reader, interesting information and expert advice from all of our contributors. So, whether you are an advertiser, a regular reader, a child care worker or a writer, please continue to support us in any way you can so that we can continue to bring you Essential Child every quarter. We simply can’t do it without you. This special issue is all about making connections with our children. Regular columnist and family psychologist Katharine Cook gives us some ideas on how to connect with our children through play. She says you don’t need to have Mary Poppins’ sense of adventure to do this – in fact, allowing children to direct the play can connect you in

ways you may never have realised. Local counsellor and educator Jo Field also outlines an approach that connects child to parent through strong and respectful relationships. And our resident Early Childhood consultant Pauline gives her tips for talking to babies from birth and how this helps children become good communicators later in life. Pauline has also written an inspiring article on teaching conflict resolution to children as young as three-years-old. I recently tested out Pauline’s approach on my own three year old and her friend as they fought over a doll’s pram and the result blew me away. The girls quickly and easily came up with a solution they were both happy with. Next time your child gets into a spat with another child, I highly advise giving Pauline’s easy method a try. You might be very surprised what children are capable of and relieved that you don’t have to be the umpire every single time! Enjoy this issue and if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please write into us via mail, email or Facebook. It takes a village, as they say, to raise a child, and your input to Essential Child is highly valued.

Sarah x

P.S Thanks once again to Laura at Captured With Love Photography for this issue’s gorgeous cover shot. Liam is the third winner of the cover photo competition and we just love this shot of him!

Letters to the editor.

Facing fears I recently read some wise words that support the ideas in your article about separation anxiety (Overcoming morning tears, EC issue 12). Early Childhood consultant Pam Linke . says that having control of a fearful situation helps make it manageable. Your strategy of encouraging children to work out what helps them to feel better allows children to gain control over their emotions. Another way of giving them control, if they are old enough, is to let them decide on what sort of goodbye they will have. They can, for instance decide which activity to do first, whether Mum will stay for 3 minutes or 5 minutes, and where they will say goodbye (e.g. at the swings or at the door). Drawing simple pictures about this helps. Linke also talks about the influence of adults’ approach to fears. A parent who is worried that a child may be upset might try to reassure the child, but use a worried tone. The child may interpret this as meaning that something really bad might happen after the parent leaves! So it is really important that while reassuring children we don’t act as if we are afraid ourselves. Marg, Coffs Harbour

Featured Letter

School transition found wanting Everyone agreed that my 51/2-year-old boy was well and truly ready for school. However entering the formal school system for the first time with my boy has left me astonished with the way children are treated in school as opposed to the early childhood settings they have come from. What was meant to be an exciting milestone in my child’s life has very soon turned into a distressing situation. My child attended a long day care centre for three years before venturing off to school. I loved the way my son was cared for in such a nurturing environment where feelings had always been acknowledged and children were helped manage strong emotions and build resilience when disappointments occurred. Reassurance was always given by emotionally available staff who comforted my boy whenever he was unsure of a situation and let him know he was safe and belonged.

The school environment is a complete turn in the opposite direction in my experience. Children are distracted from their emotions, feelings are not acknowledged, and there is no reassurance given that they will be OK and safe. My usually confident boy has had difficulty settling into school. Some days there have not been any teachers available to comfort him when I left. I have seen other children left crying in the playground also. At the very most a Year 6 ‘buddy’ (who may or may not drag themselves away from their intense handball game) might be waiting to greet my child. In my opinion an 11-year-old child is not capable of managing a 5-year-old’s separation anxiety. The whole environment for a child in kindergarten is overwhelming at assembly when 600 children scatter

in every direction to line up. The uncertainty of such an incredibly large, hectic, foreign environment for such a little person definitely poses risks for altogether ‘losing it’, particularly when you consider that some of these children are only 41/2 years old. Is it any wonder I witnessed tears! I also feel that there has not been enough effort put in to building rapport with me, to the point that I don’t feel that I trust the school or teachers. If it was a childcare centre I would be giving my notice and finding somewhere else that suited us. When I first handed my child over at childcare I knew, with my mother instinct, that he would be fine. Now I walk out of the school in tears feeling very unsure and helpless to do anything about it. I think schools could learn a lot from early childhood people! Melissa, Coffs Harbour

We Love...

Recipes: One-pot family meals

Chicken Pilaf Garam masala is an Indian spice mix that includes cinnamon, cardamom and cumin, but no chilli. So this easy dish is perfect for children who don’t like things too spicy. It is also a great way to add more vegetables to their meals. Serves 4

Storksak Nappy Bag W

hen my first baby was born, I bought what I considered a cool-looking canvas bag to carry all the essentials my baby needed while we were out and about. It looked good, but it didn’t really go the distance as a nappy bag. After a couple of months of having nappies, clothes, hats, change mat, my wallet, phone, keys and water bottle squeezed in, it gave up the ghost. Stitching came undone and the zip was rendered useless. So now, with my second baby due next month, I’m in the market for a nappy bag and I’m looking to spoil myself. While browsing through Baby Bella, Coffs Harbour recently, I came across a splendid range of nappy bags called Storksak. OK, I’ll admit, what caught my eye was the promotional picture of handsome Brad Pitt carrying one of these equally handsome bags, but on further examination, I discovered this was indeed the bag I’d been looking for. There is a Storksak nappy bag for all tastes, including the popular Jaime “Dad” bag. But the one that caught my eye is the the Sofia soft leather nappy bag. Complete with five outer pockets and a multitude of inner pockets, thermo-insulated bottle holder, padded changing mat and wipe-clean linings, the casual look of the Sofia makes it my number one choice. It’s stylish, practical and looks like it could withstand the rigours of everyday use. I think this is one investment I will not regret. Normally $499.95, the wonderful people at Baby Bella are currently offering the Sofia bag at the special price of $399.95 [SJR]

Beef Crust Pie This easy, economical and tasty dish has a rissole-like mix as a base, with a simple cheesy rice filling. Serves 4 Crust: 500g minced beef ½ cup breadcrumbs 1 chopped onion 1 egg, lightly beaten 2-3 tablespoon chopped herbs e.g.parsley, oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs) 3-4 tablespoons tomato sauce 1 -2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil 500g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and diced 1 onion, chopped 1 carrot, peeled and chopped (or grated if you have a child who baulks at the sight of vegies) 1 zucchini, peeled and chopped 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon minced ginger 1-2 teaspoons garam masala 1 ½ cups basmati rice 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock ¼ cup sultanas 1 cup frozen peas Optional: Chopped red chilli, coriander leaves and peanuts or almond flakes to serve. Preheat oven to 180° Heat oil in a large stove-to-oven dish that has a lid. Brown the chicken for a few minutes (in 2 batches if necessary to avoid ‘stewing’ the meat). Remove and set aside. Lightly brown the onion in the same dish

Preheat oven to 180° Mix all ingredients together, and press into an oiled oven-proof dish or pie dish to line the base and sides. Cook in oven for 20mins.

Add the carrot, zucchini, ginger, garlic and garam masala. Stir for two minutes, adding more oil if the vegetables start to stick.


Add the rice, stirring until the grains are shiny with oil.

1 cup rice 3 tomatoes, chopped ¼ capsicum, chopped 1 stick celery, chopped 200g grated cheese

Return the chicken to the dish. Add the stock, stir and bring to the boil. Add peas and sultanas, mixing well.

Cook the rice

Cover and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Mix together the cooked rice, chopped vegetables and half of the cheese.

Serve with the chilli, coriander and peanuts or almond flakes as optional toppings.

Fill the cooked crust with the rice mixture, and top with the remaining cheese.

Variations: Use baby spinach leaves, sweet potato, corn, or any other vegetables. Add turmeric for an appetising yellow colour. Serve with yoghurt – plain or with a little salt, minced garlic and lemon juice added.

Bake a further 20 minutes. Serve by itself or with a green salad.


ious c i l e D

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Jo Field has worked in the areas of communicating and relating as a counsellor, parent educator, group facilitator and mother for 15 years. Before then, she was a State and Waldorf/Steiner trained teacher. Her true passion is to empower and support parents to truly enjoy their children and the journey of parenting. “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” Fredrick Douglass (abolitionist)

The heart of parenting Jo Field outlines a respectful approach to parenting that is based on good relationships.

“The Heart of Parenting” is a practical, fun and enlightening look at how we live in relationship with our children. It explores:

• The skills to promote and

support a strong parent- child bond/connection

• How to parent through

connection, respect and true communication rather power, punishment and coercion

• Decoding children’s behaviour and responding to their needs instead of reacting to their behaviours.

• How to break generational


here is no such thing as control over our children. All we have is influence within a strong and respectful relationship. With a background in teaching, I took on the prospect of becoming a parent with naïve gusto. Having studied child development at college I though I would be well prepared for what was ahead. I could not have been further from the truth! When my three-and-a-half year old daughter (now 17) would speak to me with her hands on her hips in a tone of voice I recognised as my own, I thought, “I need help!” It became very apparent this little human being had a will, agenda and feelings of her own. Most of my training as a teacher did little to guide me as now I was emotionally invested. This was MY child - not someone else’s I could give back at the end of the day!



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How was I going to get her to do what I wanted, without having to resort to punishment or methods that did not sit well in my heart and with my values? This question set me on a path of exploration and discovery of what it meant to be in a mutually respectful relationship with my almost four year old and be able to guide her as her parent. I felt lost and confused in the sea of information available. Much of it was contradictory and definitely not a match with my inner compass. The work of Carl Rogers was my inspiration and supported the way I knew I wanted to parent, where love was not conditional and where we didn’t only get what we needed when we ‘deserved’ it - dessert when we finished vegies and love and affection only if we ‘behaved’. “Getting positive regard ‘on condition’ is very powerful and children bend

patterns and learn how our feelings are caused by our unmet needs not our children!

• How to raise cooperative,

respectful and self disciplined kids without being a dictator or a doormat

• The importance of emotional

intelligence and how it helps to raise children’s self-esteem and independence

• How to strengthen and deepen your relationship to last a lifetime

BELLINGEN COURSE 2 consecutive Sundays. 20 &27 May COFFS HARBOUR COURSE 5 Friday mornings. May 25 – June 22. Cost: $250 waged and $220 unwaged. Payment plans possible. Contact: Jo Field on 0423 100 999 or for bookings or further information.

connection is on a daily level, just like food.

Children do not rebel against their parents but rather against the control methods they employ. themselves into shapes determined not by their natural actualizing tendency but by a society that may not have their best interests at heart. A good little boy or girl may not be a happy/healthy boy or girl. Children begin to like themselves only if they meet up with the standards others have applied. If they are unable to meet these standards they are unable to maintain self esteem.” Carl Rogers For the past 13 years I have been researching this relational approach to parenting and facilitating parenting workshops known as “The Heart of Parenting”. The focus of the program is to develop awareness and skills to strengthen and deepen the parentchild bond. This connection is a vital condition necessary for children to mature and thrive. It is also the most potent parenting tool we have. Parents often see uncooperative behaviour as a challenge to their authority. Once we understand that cooperation is directly linked to the emotional connection a child feels with the parent, we can decode the child’s behaviour as trying to communicate something, such as an unmet need or emotional hurt, which they are unable to put into words

We do not say that we will not eat for a few days but will feast on the weekend! If your children are not getting enough connection time from you, they will demand it by way of their behaviours. For example, at bedtime if they have not seen you much that day it could be one more story, need to go to the toilet, want a glass of water, and so on. We need to be able to decode this as them wanting more time with us, not being ’manipulative’ or ‘naughty’. In this example, a parent could aim to start bedtime half an hour earlier and give time willingly. Otherwise, children will find strategies to get the connection they need, even if it is not in the most enjoyable way! We need to respond to the unmet needs rather than react to the behaviours, as children’s behaviour is their communication. Instead of asking the question, “How can we get kids to do what they’re told?” and then proceeding to offer various techniques for controlling them, we want to be asking, “What do children need - and how can we meet those needs?” This question then generates ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them. ‘This all sounds great…but what about discipline?’ many of my workshop participants ask. Relational Parenting asserts that co-operation is directly linked to the connection and safety a child feels with the adult they are relating to. When a child feels safe, loved and connected to the adults around him, a child’s intelligence is fully engaged. He can learn, cooperate, be flexible about his wants and needs, and be more in tune to the needs of others. That’s why Relational Parenting grounds ‘discipline’

in love, connection and respectful communication rather than relying on rewards and punishment or fear and control. Children need to rest in secure relationships, in the context of home and in any other framework in which they are cared for such as daycare, school or with grandparents. These secure relationships are vital for maintaining influence with our children, especially in their teenage years. Children do not rebel against their parents but rather the control methods they employ. There is no such thing as control over our children. All we have is influence within a strong and respectful relationship. We need to model the respect we expect.

Love t his! -Ed

This approach is not permissive parenting. Children need firm boundaries. It is how we communicate these that will determine the amount of mutual co-operation.

Authoritarian methods only disconnect our children from us and lock us into unworkable power struggles while a ‘hands off’ approach is just as alienating. The ‘Heart of Parenting’ course I run, which explores these issues, is based on the principles of Connection Parenting and Compassionate Communication (alternatively called Nonviolent Communication) developed by Dr Marshall Rosenberg. Dr Rosenberg asks “What do you want your child to do and what do you want their reason for doing it, to be?” We are hoping it is out of a genuine connection to you and your relationship, not out of fear of punishment, for a reward, guilt or duty.” Jo Field

For example, a child who is using a whiny tone whjch you interpret as ‘demanding’ may be asking for your presence or attention or for connection and reassurance. We forget how busy our lives can become and often our children are struggling with the pace. When we are stressed so are they! “Children are like the corks that bob up and down on the waves of their parents’ stress levels.” Steve Biddulph A child who is ‘unco-operative’ or plain angry may be in emotional overload. They may just need a cuddle or some ‘special time’ with you. They may just need a good cry as a download of their overwhelming feelings. This helps to reregulate their nervous system. Remember our children’s need for

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Tired of being the umpire? Help children sort out problems themselves!


onsider this scene: Ben (5) and Alexander (4) both want the same hobby-horse. Ben is on the horse, and Alexander is yelling, “I had it first”, while trying to pull Ben off.


Alexander, you seem very upset. Tell Ben why you are upset.


I had that horse…. .

Sound familiar?


No he didn’t. I just picked it up over there.

There are many ways we might respond to altercations such as this, and most of them put us firmly in the role of umpire, having to make decisions that inevitably leave one child (and sometimes both) feeling disgruntled.


Wait, Ben, let Alexander finish what he was saying. Then I’ll listen to you.


I had it first, and I just went to get my hat.


So you were riding the horse, and then you put it down over there while you went to get your hat. Is that right?


Yeah, and it’s my turn.

But imagine if you didn’t have to be the umpire. Imagine that your children could sort things out for themselves.


It’s your turn to talk now Ben. Tell Alexander what happened.


Well, I saw the horse over there and no one was riding it….


But, but….


Wait, Alexander, it’s Ben’s turn to talk.


Well, no one was riding it so I picked it up.


So, let’s see if I’ve got this right. Alexander, you were riding the horse, and you put it down to go for your hat. Ben, it seems that you saw the horse there and didn’t know that Alexander was coming back for it. Is that right?

It is surprisingly simple to teach children (from about 3 years of age) to do this. I recently observed the scenario above being dealt with by Rita, an early childhood teacher. After first ensuring neither boy was being hurt she gently put her arms around them and calmly asked each in turn to tell each other their version of what had happened.

Notice that Rita didn’t impose a solution. Rather than being an umpire, she acted as a coach, helping the boys to come up with their own solution. “More often than not”, Rita said, “children come up with an idea that they can all accept. It often surprises us, but I guess we need to remember that children are very capable.” So, if you would like to avoid the role of umpire when children have disputes, read on. Rita outlined these general steps to follow in helping children resolve problems. She emphasised that we don’t need to memorise exact words to use, so long as we follow the general principles. The most important thing, she says, is to make sure the children talk to each other, rather than ‘telling tales’ to us. Sometimes it is best to avoid getting


essential child

Ben: Yes Rita:

Well I can see that you both want to ride this horse, but it upsets me to see you being cross and yelling, and I’m worried that Ben might get hurt if you pull him, Alexander. What do you think you could do so you can both be happy?


Ben can play with something else. (At this, Ben started to walk away, as if he thought Ben’s suggestion would be followed, but Rita encouraged him to come back)


Ben, tell Alexander what you think of that idea?


(looking surprised that his opinion was being sought) I don’t want to play with something else. I want to go on the horse.


But I want it!


So what else could you do?


We could take turns.


What do you think of that idea, Alexander?


Yeah, I could have it till lunchtime.


No, that’s too long.


How long do you think would be fair?


Five minutes


What do you think, Alexander? Would five minutes be OK?


No! Three minutes!

Ben: OK (being five, and not silly, he understood that this was a good deal!) So Alex went off happily on the horse, and before even the three minutes were up, he called out, “Ben, it’s your turn!”

Make sure children talk to each other, rather than ‘telling tales’ to you. involved at all in minor matters by simply suggesting that children talk to each other. You could ask, for instance, “So what have you tried so far?”, suggest, “Tell her you don’t like that”, or ask, “Have you told him what your problem is?” You could try coaching them in what to say with something like, “What could you say?” and “Show me how you would say it.” Encourage eye contact and a strong voice.

Rita’s general steps in conflict resolution: Acknowledge the children’s feelings You could say, for instance, “I can see that you are both feeling upset.”

Give each child the opportunity to tell each other their version of events. Note that they need to talk to each other, rather than you. If they attempt to interrupt each other assure them they will have a turn to talk, but insist they wait. It can be helpful to clarify what each child said by saying something like “I think you are saying ... Is that right?”. For children whose language ability is still developing, you may be able to suggest words to use. For example, you could say, “Tell him, ‘I want a turn’”. Keep going until each child appears satisfied that they have been heard.

Tell them how you feel about what has happened. Maybe you were afraid that they might get hurt or something could be broken. Maybe you were worried that they might wake the baby, or maybe you just don’t like yelling.

Ask what they think can be done to solve the problem Try saying something like “What can you do so you are both happy?” or “What could you do next time instead of snatching?” Ask each child involved for his or her ideas. Accept all input, but be sure to challenge anything that is unsafe (such as ‘get a big stick’). Then encourage the children to say what they think of the suggestions. Support them in expressing their opinion by saying, for instance, “Susie says she doesn’t

like that idea, so what else could we do?” Children may suggest saying ‘sorry’ as a solution. While this may possibly help a hurt child to feel a little better, it is not enough to help everyone to be safe and happy, and children don’t learn anything from this easy ‘get out of gaol’ strategy. Also, the expectation that children will say ‘sorry’ may lead to a child giving in and apologising rather than speaking up about their side of the story, and they may be left feeling that justice wasn’t done. You’ve probably all heard an insincere ‘sorry’ barked out. This is meaningless! So accept ‘sorry’, but dig deeper! Ask for ideas about how to solve the problem or make sure it doesn’t happen again. It may surprise you what children will come up with when you persist.

Children have a limited concept of time. If you can get them to agree on a time limit for turns, you can arbitrarily announce when the time is up, and they will accept it. Another great idea is a timer, which can remove all arguments; especially as it gives clear visual proof that the time is up. When children have agreed to take turns it is important to follow-up to make sure that the exchange of turns happens. Young children tend to think that once they hand over an item it has gone forever, so if a child is reluctant to relinquish their turn at the end of the agreed time, it can help to assure them that they can have another turn later.

Decide on a solution You might say something like, “Let’s try that and see if it works – let me know how you go”, and then move away to let the children independently try the decision they have made. Acknowledge that they were able to work out the problem themselves. If the chosen solution doesn’t work, go through the process again until a solution is reached. Sometimes, or course, children won’t be able to come to an agreement, and in those cases they will simply need to move away and/or play with something else. And unless you are superhuman you won’t have the time or energy to go through this process every time your children get into a scrap. Sometimes you will simply step in, let them know they have overstepped the mark, and impose your own solution. But the more practice they have in expressing their needs to each other and considering the needs of others, the more likely they are to be able to come to a satisfactory solution without adult involvement. It’s a bit like learning to swim – whether you have occasional lessons over an extended period, or go to an intensive swim school, you will eventually learn to swim. And, just like swimming, being able to resolve conflict (without an umpire) is a valuable skill for life.

One final tip: Move on! Avoid any temptation to talk on and on about the issue or about how disappointed you were with the initial behaviour, otherwise you may undo all of the valuable work you have done. Remember that your aim is for children to learn something about sorting out problems, not to create feelings of guilt. Accept that the issue is over, finished, sorted, and be happy!

We are giving away three sturdy 3-minute timers from Modern Teaching Aids, Ph: 1800 251 497. Contact us by the 25th May on Facebook, by email or by letter to PO Box 1587 Coffs Harbour 2450, to let us know in 25 words or less why you would like a timer. Make sure you include your contact details so we can let you know if you have been successful.


essential child


Talking with Babies

TLR is just as important as TLC W

e all know about the importance of TLC (tender loving care) for babies, but did you know that TLR (talking, listening and responding) is every bit as vital for their future wellbeing? Although talking may seem to happen naturally, it is actually one of the most important and complex skills children learn. Children who are good at talking and listening will do better at reading and writing when they go to school. Parents have a very important role to play in helping children learn to talk. Talking to your baby from day one will help the two of you get to know each other, and gives your child a great start in life. The more you talk to your baby, the more you enable him or her to

become a good talker and a confident, happy child. • Babies just a few minutes old, if content and alert, will seek out faces and look at them intently. Try slowly opening your mouth or sticking out your tongue – your baby may copy you. • As soon as your baby is born she can recognise and turn to the sound of your voice. From birth your baby is listening, so keep talking.

• Babies are born with a wide range of emotions; from birth their faces will light up with pleasure. Your baby’s facial muscles will soon develop,

• Sing to your baby, even if you don’t think you sound great. Your baby will love hearing your voice, and any song will do.




The only stunning maternity wear boutique on the Coffs Coast.

essential child

• As the weeks go by, your baby will look at you for longer and make little cooing sounds. Have a conversation by copying her sounds. • Games are a great way to talk together. You don’t need any toys, just each other. Count your baby’s toes or play tickling games.

& by a


• When your newborn is in the mood to chat he might move his mouth a lot, as if he is talking. Answer your baby by saying something like “What a good story you’re telling me.”

• Talk in the language that you know best. It is important for babies to hear their home language.



enabling a full blown smile.


• Talk about what you’re doing throughout the day – when you’re bathing or feeding your baby, or changing her nappy. • Look at your baby as you talk and give him time to respond to your chatter. • Read books with your baby right from birth. It’s never too early. There are lots of simple picture books for little ones, but baby will also enjoy hearing the rhythm of your voice if you are reading a novel, a gossip magazine, or even poetry. • Remember that just like adults, babies don’t always feel like being social, especially if they are hungry, tired or uncomfortable. So respect your baby’s need to take time out. Source: The National Literacy Trust,

In my opinion, the best thing a parent can do with a younger child is ridiculously simple. Set aside 10 or 20 minutes, sit of the floor of a bedroom, with your child. Make sure there are no TVs or phones to distract you ... and watch! It’s that simple. Don’t direct them, don’t encourage certain toys or activities, just let them lead. Let them do whatever they want (except anything dangerous or too destructive). It may amaze you how much they communicate what they are thinking, what they are feeling and what is going on in their world.

Don’t direct them, don’t encourage certain toys or activities, just let them lead. Katharine Cook is a Child and Family Psychologist who works with people to manage complex issues and solve problems creatively.

Remembering how to play Katharine Cook on letting children take the lead


ush me on the swing!” ... Really? Does it make me a bad parent if I push and check my email at the same time? “Play with me!”... Again?? I have so much else to do. Who has the time for silly games? It’s quite frustrating playing with them ... and well, if I’m honest, I don’t even know how to play! It has been said that parents are losing the capacity to play with their children. Research in Britain in 2010 found that one in five parents reported that they had forgotten how to play, almost half said they didn’t have time and a third of parents said that playing with children is boring. The reality is that very few of us are Mary Poppins, and in today’s hectic world it seems reasonable that parents prioritise other tasks over play. But the truth is that play is important. In fact it is crucial to a child’s development. Play is a way by which children learn lessons about emotions, connecting, interacting, taking turns and cooperating. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles. It helps them develop new skills that lead

to wonderful things like resilience and competency. As a Psychologist who uses play therapy with children in my practice, it often amazes me how much children and young people communicate with their play. When words are difficult to find, and emotions too overwhelming, the simple process of carefully watching a child play, allows me an insight into their world. A glimpse of confusion, a demonstration of anger or a show of joy and affection. And when a teen is stuck trying to explain something, it is incredible how things change when presented with a ball of clay, or coloured crayons. So how does this relate to the everyday world? And is it realistic to be asking parents to play when so many have forgotten how? In the British study 90% of the kids questioned said that they didn’t want their parents playing electronic games with them ... what a relief! Most actually said they wanted to play card or board games or play outside. But for those of us who have had enough of swings, and just can’t get our heads around boards games ... why not try something different?.

And the same goes for those kids who are bigger….why not tell them that you want to spend time with them and just sit on the floor with some pens and paper and see what happens? Remember no directing, no guiding, no questioning. If they roll a car along the ground, and hand you a car, follow them and roll your car too. If they hand you a block, don’t immediately tell them to stack blocks, Just see what they want you to do with the block and let them direct you. If your child draws a circle, don’t presume it will be a face or a sun. Say “you’ve drawn a circle” and see what they do next. Let the time be creative and spontaneous. Interactions that occur this way tells children that their mum or dad is paying attention to them. This helps build enduring relationships. Less verbal children may be able to express their views, experiences and frustrations through play allowing parents to understand their perspective better. Parents who can glimpse this side of their child have a chance to communicate in a gentle and nurturing way. Play may lead to discovering something new about your child ... and it doesn’t cost a cent! And the next time I go to the playground? I promise to leave the phone in my pocket and maybe I’ll be convinced to have a play myself. Try playing with your child like this and let us know what you discovered about them. Twitter: kidpsychologist

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The power of



s a teenager, local woman Jannah Currie didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life. But there was one thing she felt for sure – Africa was calling. Today, the ex-Orara High School student has found her calling, founding children’s charity Friends Vision in Kenya. After leaving school and spending several years moving around Australia, studying conservation and land management at TAFE, and working in hospitality “just to get by”, Jannah couldn’t get Africa out of her head. Finally in 2007, she’d saved enough money to take that long-awaited journey that would prove pivotal in her life. “I was actually meant to be going to Botswana to volunteer with park rangers, but my travelling companion convinced me to volunteer in a children’s rescue centre in Kenya instead,” Jannah said. “It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.” “The children in the rescue centre were orphaned, abandoned, abused or had simply been separated from their families. It was very hard to see how the children had been treated, but at the same time so inspirational to see how resilient they were. There were a lot of times I was crying my eyes out but still smiling a big smile at the same time.”


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After more than three months in Kenya, Jannah came home to Australia to take up a job in the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory, mentoring Tiwi employees who worked for the conservation company on the islands. “It was such an amazing experience, spending every day with the local indigenous people (the Tiwis) learning about their culture, beliefs and the land we were on. It’s something that will always stay with me.” Then in 2009, Jannah’s Kenyan ‘sister’, Peris Mwangi, wrote with a proposal that Jannah found impossible to turn down. “Peris told me she wanted to build an orphanage, to give the children a chance at life. I told her I’d support her in any way I could and flew back to Kenya the next month. I knew I couldn’t walk away from the beautiful children I had spent my time with. Kenya gets into your skin that way. You never walk out the same person that walked in. We began contacting other volunteers we’d met at the centre, to see if they would come on board. Every one of them said yes.” Fast-forward to today and the group of friends have built, from scratch, a solid foundation for Friends Vision. The organisation runs a child sponsorship programme which so far has given 32 children the chance to go to school. They also run a volunteer programme,

and are launching community development projects designed to reach out to more people in need. But their major goal is to build a home, to give orphaned children a chance at a loving, family life. “We’ve purchased three acres of land in a town called Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley, and have been slowly growing our funds over the last two years to build our home. We hope to start building very soon, with a goal to have the kids in the home before Christmas this year.” Jannah will be the first to tell you it hasn’t been an easy road. But she says she’s driven by the children’s smiles and the desire to give them a happier life. “We started Friends Vision from scratch because we’d seen too much corruption within many organisations in Kenya. We simply couldn’t trust that the money and supplies would go where they were meant to go. We’ve been up against resistance because we are mzungus (white people), have been forced to move towns, had prices quadrupled on the spot and countless other issues.” “But seeing the smiles and growth of the children makes it all worthwhile. It is so amazing to see the kids off to school for their first time. It is a chance they would not have had without sponsorship through Friends Vision and they are so

grateful for the opportunity. I am so proud of our team and what we have achieved through pure dedication for our kids. We all put in so much of our time and effort to run this organisation completely voluntarily. “ For someone who confesses five years ago she had no clear career path, these days Jannah struggles to find time to do much else but work. Currently studying a degree in Humanitarian and Community Studies full time, Jannah also works two jobs, one of which involves managing a sector in a detention centre in Western Australia, providing support to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. On top of running Friends Vision, it’s not surprising that Jannah says her life is “hectic”. “I try to spend time relaxing with my friends, away from work and uni, but I find my head is always thinking of what I need to do for Friends Vision. I am on the phone to Kenya a couple times a week, or Skype with my Friends Vision colleagues, and it is always in the back of my mind. My friends and family keep me in line though and make sure it doesn’t take over my life entirely,” she says with a smile. “I meet a lot of people who can’t believe what I do, but I just think of what poor people in developing countries have to do to simply find enough money to feed themselves and it no longer seems too much for me. It is nothing compared to the struggle in countries like that for the basic things in life we all take for granted over here. And, of course, seeing the beautiful smiles on my Kenyan kids’ faces as well as having the support from everyone helps keep me motivated.” [SJR]

The Miracle Babies Friends Vision sponsorship program and Children’s Home have a big focus on providing a home, love and care for the ‘Miracle Babies’. London-based Archbishop Gilbert Deya claims to be able to make infertile women pregnant through the power of prayer. Once ‘impregnated,’ he would send the mothers to Kenya to give ‘birth’ to their miracle baby. The ‘mothers’ believed they were pregnant and even experienced labour pains, having been brainwashed by Archbishop Gilbert and his wife, Mary. The women returned home with their newborn, having paid a hefty fee to be impregnated by God. The appalling truth is that the babies were stolen by Gilbert and Mary Deya from poor mothers in poverty stricken slums and given to these women as their own. The real mothers were told their babies had died after birth. Ten of these children were returned to Kenya, after their ‘parents’ were arrested for involvement in the child

trafficking ring. Sadly, it has proven impossible to find their real families. Six of these ‘miracle children’ were sent to live in the Government Children’s Rescue Centres, which Friends Vision is closely linked to. Friends Vision made a commitment to giving the ‘miracle babies’ a chance of a stable and happy life, despite their traumatic history. All six children are now sponsored and attending school, thanks to the kind supporters of Friends Vision. The children will also live in the Friends Vision Children’s Home when it is built this year. It is unknown how many children have been stolen over the years. Sadly, many of Gilbert’s 35,000 followers worldwide still believe that he is a miracle maker and can impregnate infertile women through the power of God. Mary and four other accomplices were arrested for child trafficking and sentenced to two years in prison. They have already been released. Gilbert Deya has orders to be extradited back to Kenya to be charged, but has so far avoided the authorities. Hopefully he will be brought to justice soon.

How to get involved Join Friends Vision volunteer or child sponsorship program. Hold a fundraiser or donate clothes, medical supplies, books or money. Little things go a long way. Check out Friends Vision’s website for more information or contact Jannah on Donations can be made through

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Puggle’s Problem

Little Good Wolf

By Aleesah Darlison Illustrated by Sandra Temple Wombat Books

By Aleesah Darlison Illustrated by Shannon Melville Wombat Books

Ages: Preschoolers and early readers

Ages: 5-8 years

Pipp Puggle is a baby echidna with a problem. He is the only puggle in the whole bush whose spines have not yet appeared. And more than anything else, he wants to look like the other puggles. He asks his friends for advice. Koala thinks that eating gum leaves could make the spines grow; wombat advocates digging; kangaroo and kookaburra have suggestions too. But nothing works.

Little Good Wolf wants to be liked and have friends, but he has one HUGE problem. His dad is the Big Bad Wolf – you know, the one who scares girls in red capes, chases grannies in their nighties, blows houses down and frightens little pigs. No wonder no one will play with Little at school!

Pipp learns from his mother that patience “means waiting and not getting upset and believing good things will happen”. What a wonderful conversation-starter! This gentle story is a heart-warming way to teach children that being different is not only OK; it can have its advantages. As his mother says about his not having spines, “You’re so much easier to hug”. Puggle’s Problem is beautifully illustrated by award-winning wildlife artist, Sandra Temple. The illustrations, surrounded by plenty of white space, represent some of our favourite Australian animals with a clarity that will promote discussion and help young children focus on the characters. I particularly love the drawings of ants on each page and the end papers – watch out ants when Pipp decides to concentrate on eating instead of worrying about his spines! Puggle’s Problem is on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge. It is a perfect book for snuggling up and reading with children.

So Little begs Dad to find a new job. Although his first few forays into respectable jobs end with his being told ”Out, and don’t come back!” Dad doesn’t give up. Urged on by Little, he tries one more time and the story comes to a suspenseful climax that will leave you chuckling. The clear text is supported admirably by Perth artist Shannon Melville’s amusing digital illustrations. Shannon gives credit to her kelpie Banjo for inspiration for the characters. This early chapter book is perfect for older preschoolers and junior primary children, especially those with a keen sense of humour!

Interested in a home based child care career? • Earn a substantial income by caring for children in your own home. • You receive ongoing support, guides and training. • Ideal for people with good organisational skills and self management.


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Make sure you include your contact details so we can let you know if you have been successful.

. eviews Book R

For a chance to receive a copy of one of these books contact us by the 25th May on Facebook, by email letters@ or by letter to PO Box 1587 Coffs Harbour 2450, mentioning the title of the book you choose.

Aleesah Darlison, who grew up in the Manning Valley, writes picture books and novels for children. She has won many awards for her writing including an Australian Society of Authors mentorship. She also reviews books for the Sun Herald. Aleesah has been selected to be a 2012 National Year of Reading Ambassador, and is available for preschool, school and library visits. Aleesah is also a founding member of Literature Live!, a dynamic group of Australian authors and illustrators who present creative writing and illustration workshops to schools through videoconferencing and IWB technology. Her stories have appeared in The School Magazine and several anthologies.

Ph: 6652 7819 ‘The Cottage’ 2 Peterson Rd, Coffs Harbour Email: Accredited by NCAC, licensed by Departments of Community Services, with qualified staff supporting carers and children.

Immunisation Does immunisation really work?

Whooping cough on the rise

The evidence that vaccination reduces diseases/deaths in

Whooping cough cases have almost doubled in Victoria over the past 12 months. More than 4000 people contracted this highly contagious infection in 2011. This is compared to 2061 in Victoria in 2010. Whooping cough – also known as pertussis – has also been increasing in Western Australia. In 2009, 700 cases were recorded. This rose to 1300 in 2010, and in 2011 the number rose to 2900.

communities is overwhelming. Our most recently introduced vaccination, given to teenage girls to protect against human papilloma virus (HPV, which causes genital warts and cervical cancer) has seen an 80% reduction of genital warts presentations to Melbourne’s main sexual health clinic (assessing 25,000 clients per year). The data for high grade PAP smears is looking similar. Diseases that once were common such as diphtheria, polio tetanus now rarely cause deaths in Australia. As our immunisation programmes become successful and risk of disease is low, people become naturally more concerned about the risk of immunisation. For example, there is a one in a million risk of encephalitis (brain infection) from the MMR vaccination. However, the risk of contracting the same infection is 1 in a 1000 from an outbreak of measles! While measles is currently relatively rare, there was a significant outbreak in the ACT in the later half of 2011. There are plenty of anti-vaccination voices out there, some still pushing the autism debate, which has been long ago been disproven by science (the original Lancet article withdrawn and the author deregistered for fabricating data). While there is nothing in life that is risk free and “completely safe” it is important to keep in mind relative risks: by far the greatest risk most of us take with our children is putting them into a car.

Further information & resources: Immunise Australia Program, MMR Decision Aid Australian Immunisation Handbook

In New South Wales in 2010, there were 9000 cases of whooping cough, and by May 2011, 4000 had already been recorded. In 2009, in Queensland, there were 6213 cases, and this increased to 8021 in 2010. The rate of infection in 2011 appears to following this dramatic trend. All state governments provide free immunisation for children and some extend the free program to parents and caregivers. Immunisation providers and GPs can provide further information about being vaccinated. The National Immunisation Program Schedule states that babies at 2, 4 and 6 months of age should be vaccinated. Children should be vaccinated again at 4 years of age and between 15–17 years of age. See your GP early if you suspect whooping cough. The infection can commence with cold-like upper respiratory symptoms and progress to a persistent cough, along with post-tussive vomiting; coughing – which can be sudden and sharp; breathlessness; a blue or purple tinge to the skin or mucous membranes and a ‘whoop’. It is still possible to contract the infection even if you have been immunised. However, the severity of symptoms is often reduced in immunised people. Protection provided by the whooping cough vaccination wanes over time so it is important to speak with your GP if you have not been vaccinated for a number of years. Dr Nicola Holmes (BMED DCH FRACGP) Headspace Youth Clinic, Coffs Harbour

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Essential Child Issue 13  

Autumn 2012

Essential Child Issue 13  

Autumn 2012