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my child JUNE 2014

Q&A Are BPA-free bottles really safe?

Hello& Goodbye


WITH/Lauren Matheson

Best loved

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Products Favourits

Follows in






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Hello&Goodbye Lauren Matheson, a finalist in our My Child/Parenting Express writing competition, welcomes her twins into the world, only to watch them depart 5


s I feel the pressure deep within me begin to descend, I exclaim to the midwife, ‘I think the baby is coming.’ I am squatting, holding onto my husband, and before the midwife crosses the room our beautiful daughter comes into the world. There is no rushing to assist her; she isn’twhisked away to check her Apgar score, which determines her fitness now that she is outsidethe womb. There are no cries, just an empty


and devastating silence. She has been born at only 20 weeks and four days; it is simply just too early for her to survive in the outside world. I am helped back onto the bed. I look at my husband, who is crying silent tears. I am asked for her name. We look at each other. It’s still too early and we haven’t decided on names yet. She is wrapped and placed into my arms. I look down at her tiny, perfect face. I softly run my finger along her nose, her lips, trying to >

MY 5 FAVOURITS Natalie Hershan , owner of Aust ralia n bab y clothi ng label Marquise, sha res some of her best -loved products

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Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm

I love the smell and texture of this cream. It’s simply heaven to apply to the skin!

Marquise designer singlets To support the Sydney Children’s Hospital,we established an annual campaign in 2010 whereby leading Australian designers such as Lee Mathews, Sass & Bide, Dinosaur Designs and Megan Park design their own Marquise singlets to be auctioned off. I adored the singlets so much that I even decorated my kids’ rooms with some of them. 7

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I have arange of terrariums of different sizesand shapes – I am obsessed with them at the moment!

Snow globes My kids and I have a huge collection from all around the world. Every time our friends or family go away we ask them to bring us one back. My favourite is one we got from Alaska.



Terrariums by Miniscapes

My iPhone This sounds so cliched but I’d honestly be lost without my iPhone. It has photos of my children and family, and my favourite music, so I can’t go anywhere without it.


Count the buttons on their shirt As you’re helping your child dress, count with them as you do up the buttons on their shirt, cardigan ordress. Kids learn to associate the number word with the correct number of things.



Sing songs, read stories & do craft activities Think about nursery rhymes and jingles suchas Three Blind Mice and Baa Baa Black Sheep –anything that references numbers or counting and include them as a part of your repertoire of songs and stories. You can also do craft projects together that involve making and writing down numbers out of fun materials you find around the house, such as pasta, string, old fabric and cutup newspapers. Try writing a single number on a piece of paper and getting them to decorate it with glue and glitter.

Need help with the washing? Take your child outside and ask them to pass you the pegs as you hang up the wet washing, encouraging them to count the number of pegs as they hand each of them to you. Children learn the pattern of counting by repeating numbers, so once the numbers Count anything! Eggs in a carton, Weetstart getting higher, it’s common for kids to leave gaps in the pattern. If they make Bix in the bowl, the number of steps to the an error, count the pattern with them and front door, absolutely anything that can be 9 counted. encourage them to repeat after you.




Are BPA-free bottles really safe?

Back in 2008, major news sources issued health alerts over baby products containing bisphenol A (BPA) owing to its toxicity and links to cancer, diabetes and obesity. Also a known endocrine disruptor, BPA mimics hormones when in the body and therefore has a negative effect on the reproductive system. It was found to be particularly harmful for hormone development during pregnancy, infancy and childhood. BPA reportedly leaches from plastics, especially when they are heated, and the issue of heated milk in baby bottles has been a hot topic here in Australia for a few years. Now there are countless plastic products on the market said to be BPAfree and safe for children, with “eco” productsin particular becoming popular. But as consumers are we receiving the whole truth? Michael Green, an environmental health executive and father, recently exposed that some of the “healthier” range of alternative products actually contain synthetic oestrogens that are harmful for both humans and animals. Some companies have allegedly switched from using BPA to using the oestrogen-mimicking BPS (bisphenol S), which he says is just as toxic and potentiallyeven less biodegradable.The Centre forEnvironmental Health, US, sent 17 of Michael’s daughter’s and other branded apparently “BPA-free” cups and


bottles for testing in a CertiChem lab – more than a quarter of them came back positive for oestrogenic activity. These results mirrored recent findings by the National Institutes of Health in the US. Oestrogenic chemicals, in doses too little or too high in utero or during childhood, can alter brain and organ development. Synthetic hormones that mimic oestrogen may actually be eclipsing the activity of naturally-produced hormones in children. According to environmental engineer Laura Trotta from Sustainababy, ‘While the relative dose of BPA and BPS from plastic bottles and toys is extremely low, parents wishing to take a precautionary approach to their baby’s chemical load can minimise exposure by using ceramic, glass or stainless steel bottles and containers.’ Generally, the safest option is tempered glass, which is great for kids and virtually unbreakable (though heavy for babies). If plastic can’t be avoided, the safest type is silicone; it’s the slowest to leach chemicals into your water and food.

What’s wrong with smacking? Spanking, slapping, hitting or matter what you call it, it’s an ineffective way to discipline our children says Child psychologist John Waring The research evidence is overwhelming: smacking children is an ineffective way to manage their behaviour and damages their development. It is perhaps ironic that we have laws governing assaultive behaviour foradults yet many people still believe smacking children is a legitimate form of discipline. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child expressly outlaws corporal punishment of children. In 2013, 34 countries around the world and 22 in Europe had already passed laws forbidding all forms of physical punishment of children whether at home or at school. In Australia it is still legal, provided it is “reasonable”, although this is currently under review. WHAT’S WRONG WITH SMACKING? Research confirms that smacking children teaches and perpetuates the use of acts of aggression and violence to solve problems;


a sobering thought given our society’s growing concern about violence. Other impacts include: Lowers self-esteem Children who are smackedhave lower self-esteem than those who arenot smacked. They often develop resentments towards their parents and get angry with them and sometimes seek revenge. Does not educate Smacking a child does not educate them about appropriate behaviour. Smacked children change their behaviour out of fear of pain while non-smacked children learn to change their behaviour on the basis of right and wrong, and eventually require less parental intervention. Is ineffective A child who has been smacked may learn to cover up their misbehaviour or mistakes. They may become secretive, blame others and even lie to avoid being smacked. Smacking is ineffective as research shows us that children cannot remember what they were smacked for. They find it harder to >


develop remorse, empathy and compassion for others because they are overwhelmed by pain and anger and are not able to focus on the effects of their misbehaviour. Turns kids into bullies Smacked children are unable to retaliate against the adult because of their size and power, and so often take out their anger and frustration on younger, smaller children. In this way smacking contributes to the development of bullies. Increases the risk of child abuse Smacking kids increases the risk of child abuse. Parents who rely heavily on smacking their children to manage their behaviour often escalate the smacking when the behaviour deteriorates. When the parent is particularly tired, stressed or frustrated, they can end up physically hurting their children. Is illogical When you think clearly about smacking as a discipline technique you can see it is illogical. For example, your three-yearold son hits his two-year-old sister. If your response is to smack your son, then not only have you modelled the exact behaviour you want to correct but you have demonstrated that “might is right”. Imagine your child’s confusion when they hear you say, ‘Don’t hit your sister’ as you smack them! ALTERNATIVES TO SMACKING There are many alternatives to smacking our children. They include such things as logical consequences, choices, having the child do “make-ups”, time-out, time in, catching your child being good, having clear family rules and consequences, reward schedules, positive reinforcement, extinction and many more. Families’ lives are very busy so it is easy to understand how good behaviour can go ignored. Sometimes as parents, when we see our children misbehaving, we leap to punish them, believing that this is our responsibility as a parent. The alternative is to see a child’s misbehaviour as an opportunity primarily to educate them about appropriate behaviour


rather than as a time to punish. Occasions of misbehaviour should be seen as a time to let your child know exactly what they have done wrong and exactly what they are supposed to do. For example, punishing a young child for being “silly” does not tell them that you no longer want them to wash the family cat in the toilet bowl. BEHAVIOURAL STRATEGIES Consider the following behavioural strategies you can use to help your child behave: Positive reinforcement The most effective way to increase your child’s good behaviour is to positively reinforce the behaviours when you see them occur naturally. The catchphrase to remember is “catch your child being good”. Positive reinforcers can be anything your child likes. For example, verbal praise such as saying to your child, ‘Well done! I like it when you clean your room without me asking you to.’ Pocket money can also be used to positively reinforce your child’s good behaviour, as can special outings, afternoon teas like chocolate biscuits, and good old hugs and cuddles. Negative reinforcement An example of negative reinforcement is when you make your child’s bed in the morning in exchange for them wiping up the dishes at night. In this way your child has avoided making their bed (something they didn’t want) and you have reinforced the behaviour you did want (them helping out with the dishes). Punishment Punishing a child by smacking them is an ineffective way to change their behaviour as I have previously explained. On the other hand, some forms of punishment, such as removal of privileges, time-out in their room (for a few minutes only) or losing part of their pocket money can be effective behaviour management strategies. However, it should be said that punishment techniques are less effective at changing behaviour than positive approaches of rewarding good behaviour. Extinction You can extinguish certain types

of misbehaviour by working out what your child is trying to achieve via the behaviour and by not delivering what they want. That is, if they don’t get what they want from the behaviour it will decrease over time. There are a number of goals of children’s misbehaviour,including attention-seeking, power, revenge and a display of inadequacy. The goal of attention-seeking occurs when the child shows off and pesters the parent to maintain their attention. The misbehaviour is only temporarily stopped when attention is given. Sometimes the message your child is giving by attention-seeking behaviour is, ‘Look at me, I’m still here, spend some time with me.’If you’ve been on the phone for 45 minutes then their behaviour is a legitimate request for some of your time. Sometimes the goal of a child’s misbehaviour is actually a power challenge. This is where the child states ‘I’m the boss’ through their behaviour. Giving in to this sort of behaviour in young children can lead to real problems parenting that child in the future. A third goal of misbehaviour can be revenge. A child may be disappointed about a broken promise or be angry about being smacked. They may then engage in revenge types of behaviour such as defiance, or being sullen, hostile or withdrawing. In working out what the goal of your child’s misbehaviour might be we need to be careful not to over-interpret the behaviour. Ascribing adult types of motives and reasons for their misbehaviour is inappropriate and unhelpful. We need to remember that growing up involves making many mistakes and learning from them. Remember to help your child make the most of their mistakes/ misbehaviour by teaching them the right behaviour. Catching your child being good and rewarding them is the most simple and effective way to improve your child’s behaviour. *For more information and a range of tip sheets visit J ohn Waring’s site at


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