Tag: Parenting

Hugh Van Cuylenburg Talks Resilience, Mental Health and More With Life Education Queensland

Looking for a new podcast to keep yourself entertained? Wanting to learn more or gain support on mental health? Well now you can listen, learn and grow all at the same time. The popular charity Life Education Queensland is featuring Hugh van Cuylenburg, the creator of The Resilience Project and host of the popular podcast The Imperfects, on their own Life Education podcast.

The former teacher shares his wisdom on resilience, positive mental health, tools for greater happiness and more.

Hugh says: “Life Education is such an iconic program with a 40-year history. I can remember the Healthy Harold van from own primary school years. Then when I was a teacher, it always made me smile when I’d see the Life Education van parked in the school grounds.”

“Both Life Education and The Resilience Project share a common goal. We both want to have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of children…”

On the podcast, Hugh talks with Life Education podcast host and journalist Tracey Challenor. They cover things such as what people can do to shift their mood, to bringing gratitude and mindfulness into your everyday life.

Michael Fawsitt, Life Education Queensland CEO, says the charity’s podcast series is a way to support the parents of the thousands of children who attend the Life Education program in schools each year. The podcasts provide advice from experts as well as strategies that all parents can use at home. “Our program is increasingly focused on building children’s resilience. Our core program is also on drugs and health. Because of this, we’ll regularly be featuring guests like Hugh, who are experts in children’s emotional wellbeing,” says Fawsitt.

The Life Education podcast isn’t the only thing that the charity launched this year, however. The new online platform called the Life Education Hub, provides even more support for both schools and parents. You can visit it for advice, resources, news and more.

Life Education podcasts can be found on their website here, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRADIO and Soundcloud. There is one episode so far with Hugh. One more will be released within the next week or two.


Check out Life Education at Home here, a free online program for learning. 





The Thing Is…My Kids Ask Me 100 Questions! – with Bree James

One of the things about being a parent is; you get asked A LOT of questions. Everything from “Why is the sky blue?”, to “Why do dogs sniff each other’s butts?” And don’t forget “Why do I have to wear underpants?” Plus some of these questions aren’t even from our kids, they are from our significant other. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the constant questioning does my head in.

The thing is, I do love that my children are inquisitive. Some of the questions they ask are really quite interesting and I am so thankful for Google. When I was a kid, my mum would send me to the encyclopedia set on the shelf and I’d have to look it up myself. Otherwise I would just live with the fact that I’m not going to have an answer after many days or even weeks of pondering it.

These days, we can pretty much google anything and get the answer instantly. The questions that are actually inquisitive and a learning opportunity, I do not mind whatsoever, and I quite enjoy learning alongside my children. Kids ask some really great questions and I think I have learnt more from their inquisitive minds than I did myself at school.

However, the questions that drive me nuts are always the ones they really know the answer to;

Clean up your room – “WHY?”

Go to bed – “WHY?”

Don’t put your wet clothes on top of those dry clothes – “WHY?”

And you know your response isn’t going to be a one-off either. You could make these statements “go to bed” and get “WHY?” every night for years. It’s no wonder “because I said so!” screams out eventually.

My darling husband the other day was cooking from a recipe. He had it right in front of him. Yet, he asked me from the other room what the next step was…?! Or he’ll ask me “what am I cooking?”, even though it’s written on the meal planner (we prepared together the night before) right next to him.

My wonderful children will ask me what I am doing, even when they can see clearly what I am doing; i.e. sitting on the toilet.

My next favorite though, is when they ask a question, you give the answer, and then they ask you again. So, you give the answer in another way, and then they ask you the question again, so you give the answer in another way… and then they ask you again.

Sometimes you just shake your head and look back at their years on the earth and worry; did you have too much Panadol when you were pregnant or give them too much when they were teething? Or you second guess yourself and conclude that you really aren’t a good parent if you can’t answer your child in a way they understand.

The ultimate questions that make parent’s hearts stop or drop are the ones they ask perfect strangers. “Are you a pirate cause you have a patch on?”, “Did you fart- what’s that smell?”, “Are you dying?”, “What happened to your hair?”, “Are you Santa Claus?”, “Are you drinking because you’re an alcoholic?”

These questions are enough to tip any parent over the edge!

In the end, our children are going to question us just as much as we question ourselves. Questioning is a huge part of their learning, and even though it drives us nuts, there is nothing that can help you understand your beliefs and knowledge more than trying to explain them to a child with an inquisitive mind. Millions saw the apple fall from the tree, but Newton asked WHY? So as much as it drives us absolutely insane sometimes, take a breath, and ask “why do you think?”. This buys us a little time and encourages them to keep on searching and being inquisitive, or just walk away and clean their teeth like you asked them to.

Read more of Bree’s blogs for PakMag here. 

Check out the Bree James website here. 



Work-life Balance Tips for Parents

During lockdown, it might have felt harder than ever to achieve that elusive work-life balance – especially for parents working at home. Trying to get a productive day’s work while homeschooling children is challenging. While things may be slightly returning to normal, it’s likely the coronavirus may continue to impact our working routines.

Although we cannot predict the future, it’s always worth taking a moment to pause and discover what we’ve learnt during this difficult time.  Here in Australia, workers are supported by Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act). However, this is not the case with other countries like in the United Kingdom. Recent research shows that the majority of parents there get less than an hour a day to themselves. So, to help those who are still struggling with their changes in work environment, we’re going to take a look at how parents can create a better balance. Here are our top tips:

Recognise the importance of scheduling 

It sounds boring, but it’s essential as a family. You need a daily schedule, including your working hours and any activities the kids are doing each week. It doesn’t have to be really strict, as things may change from week to week, but do keep it up to date. As a parent, you may also need to actively schedule in time to spend doing the things you’d like. It’s natural to prioritise what the kids are doing, but make sure you give yourself some time too. 

With a schedule, you can set expectations with younger children around when you’ll be able to help with school work, when you need to focus on your work, and when it’s time for some family fun. You can also make sure that you have enough time to take a break for yourself. 

Scheduling resources: 

Weekly and monthly overview planner downloadable 

My daily tasks downloadable 

My habit tracker downloadable 

Play to your strengths 

Within that schedule, make sure it’s allowing you to play to your strengths. When do you feel your most productive? If you’re a morning person, give yourself time to do those important tasks first thing. Don’t put them off until the afternoon, when you may feel in a bit of a slump. If you work best later in the day, just flip this round. To make sure this works for you in the long term, communicate with your colleagues and employers.

Learn to switch off from work 

When working from home, the lines between your work and home life can blur. In fact, a study showed that 22% of remote workers found unplugging from their work the biggest challenge. It’s easy to just reply to an email after you’ve finished for the day, or work through lunch, and it can slowly take up more of your quality time as a family. 

You need to make sure you have a clear start and finish to the working day.  Break the habit of checking your emails outside of these times. Make sure you still get up and ready for the working day in a dedicated, comfortable space. Don’t be tempted to skip a shower and work from the sofa – it’s just not a good idea. Some people even find a walk round the block useful to replicate the sense of a commute to work.

Prioritise time to exercise

You could exercise as a family, or choose to do your exercise alone for some time to yourself. But it’s important to get some exercise into your weekly schedule and encourage your kids to do the same.

Exercise is good for us, with plenty of studies showing how exercise helps to reduce stress. Adding another activity to your daily routine may seem counterintuitive, as it’s just something else to try and remember to fit in. But one study found that individuals who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle the interaction of their work and home life. They were less likely to be stressed at work, so it’s definitely one thing worth finding the time for. 

Get your kids to help around the house

Where possible, encourage your kids to help out with some chores. It might be a bit of a challenge at the start convincing them, but it can mean a few less things for you to do. Depending on their age, you could consider recognising when they’ve helped with some kind of reward chart. After all, trying to achieve a work-life balance as a parent will be a bit of a family effort. 

Resources for getting your kids to help out: 

My monkey dollars reward system downloadable 


About the Author

Ross is a freelance researcher and content producer from Kent. He is finalising his post graduate research papers on modern day parenting and technology effects on children’s behaviour. His recent work includes Lockdown, School response, and Children’s Boredom. 




Your Guide to Childcare and Kindy in Mackay

Kidzplay and Learning Centre

This centre provides your child with a secure and safe “home away from home,” where they can play, learn, connect and grow. Qualified staff are caring from sunrise to sundown (6.30am to 6.00pm) and will help your children explore the wonders of this awesome world. The play-based programs are sure to challenge and excite young minds.

The centre provides nutritious meals within the innovative and fun facilities. Babies and toddlers are welcome from six weeks old to three years!

A 29 Huron Crescent, Andergrove

P 4918 8588

E info@kidzplay.com.au

A 80 Field St, West Mackay

P 4863 4711

E info@kidzplaywest.com.au


Adeona Mackay

Adeona is a unique service that combines the natural world and exploration, encouraging responsibility, open investigation and respect.

The centre offers all the essentials your child will need for the day, including delicious and nutritious morning teas, lunches, and afternoon teas, as well as hats and sunscreen for outside play. There is also a Japanese teacher engaging children in bilingual experiences.

Hours 7.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday

A 63 Celeber Dr, Andergrove

P 4942 5563


Goodstart Early Learning Centre

Goodstart lays the foundation for a lifelong love of learning through exciting early learning experiences. They focus on the importance of early language and communication, and encourage children to take risks in a safe environment to build confidence and self-belief. Goodstart will help your child to make friends wherever they go — a great skill for life. Goodstart knows how important it is to build secure relationships, which is why your child has a Key Educator, someone who is their primary person and attuned to their individual needs.

Goodstart will help your child develop coordination, creative expression, communication skills and social awareness through dance, creative play and intentional and inspiring learning experiences

A various locations

P 1800 222 543

E enrolments@goodstart.org.au


Kookaburra Child Care Centre

Kookaburra Child Care Centre prepare yummy meals daily, there are large spacious playing areas both indoors and outdoors and a minimum of three educators in each room. They build respectful, secure relationships with the children and each child is viewed as a capable and successful learner. Children are allowed to take the time to get to know themselves, face challenges and enjoy all the simple pleasure of everyday life. Play and real-life experience is valued as the most effective context for learning at a young age.

A 256 Bedford Rd, Andergrove

P 4955 2398

E admin@kookaburrachildcare.com.au


Snugglepot Kindyland Education and Care Centre

Located conveniently close to Mackay’s city centre, Snugglepot Kindyland provides an environment that recognises your child’s individuality. Featuring a grass play area, a wide range of natural toys with sunscreen and hats are provided. Programs are guided by the Early Years Learning Framework, focusing on children’s development. Give your child a great start to life in their nurturing, safe and secure learning environment. All children are precious. Because of this, extra services are provided such as inclusion support for those with additional needs, and there is a focus on developing relationships between both other children and staff.

A 51-53 Grendon St, North Mackay

P 4957 4466

E info@snugglepotkindy.com.au


Mackay Family Day Care

Safe, positive and inspiring services taking place in a home-based learning environment conducted by passionate, dedicated educators. The small care groups allow the educators to foster a strong bond with your child and guide them through early learning and social development. Flexible hours are offered to suit your family, from standard hours to after and before school care as well as school holiday care.

A (Office) Cnr Shakespeare and Rae St, East Mackay

P 4965 9999

E admin@mcdc.com.au


Wonder Kids Early Learning

Wonder Kids believe children develop best when their days are filled with play, learning and fun, and this is reflected in their service featuring a waterpark, sandpit and obstacle courses. Children from age 6 weeks to school age are accommodated and the comprehensive programs are delivered enthusiastically by the team of highly qualified educators. They strive to help your child develop a variety of skills and grow.

A 1 Youngs Lane, Walkerston

P 4959 3500

E director1@wonderkids.com.au


C & K Childcare and Kindergarten

C & K has educated and cared for over one million children since being established in 1907. They offer a strong play-based curriculum in large, natural and sustainable outdoor environments that encourage children to discover, explore and learn through nature. Programs include nature play, risk play, STEM, literacy and language and much more. Empowerment, respect, inclusion and fairness are all promoted and every child is provided with the foundations to be a life long learner.

A Various locations

P 1800 177 092


St Catherine’s Kindergarten

A caring learning environment is provided at St Catherine’s Kindergarten, where children are given ownership of their learning and are nurtured to ensure they have the best possible start to their learning. The focus is placed on helping children build social skills, resilience, friendships and good communication. Teachers, assistants, counsellors, literacy and numeracy advisors and speech pathologists all work together to support each child.

A 96 Renwick Rd, Proserpine

P 4726 3299


Pioneer Community Kindergarten

Both indoor and outdoor activities take place at Pioneer, presenting many opportunities for physical, social and emotional development. The outside play area has an abundance of toys and equipment to be enjoyed and there is a lending library, yearly excursions and annual events including visits from performers. The facilities and program are to the highest standards and enhance your child’s kindergarten journey.

A 10 High St, North Mackay

P 4942 3340

E admin@pioneerkindy.org.au


Green Leaves Early Learning

This is brand new facility providing innovative and flexible learning. Children have their voices heard and are encouraged to explore their own interests and ideas through play-based learning, challenges and meaningful experiences. There is a bike track, timber play fort and a performance stage. Family and community are central to Green Leaves Early Learning and are provided with a lounge to relax in. Here they can connect with each other over coffee and treats. A fully qualified chef makes nutritious snacks and meals for the children each day.

A 2-4 Discovery Lane, Mt Pleasant

P 4862 3584


Community Kids, Glenella Early Education Centre

Children’s individual religious, nutritional and cultural needs are catered for here and the centre is designed to meet the unique needs of every child. The outdoor environment includes native plants, vegetable and herb gardens, fruit trees, and well-loved pets which include chickens, a bird and a guinea pig! Children can get actively involved in feeding and caring for them. A friendly cook prepares nutritious meals, plus there are also fun excursions.

A 21 – 23 Schapers Rd, Glenella

P 4942 9486

E glenella@communitykids.com.au


Mackay Cubbie House

This locally owned centre ensures high quality care that is developmentally appropriate as well as providing meals. It is open from 6.15am to 6.15pm for parents who may start and/or finish later, and families are always welcome within the centre. Educators are dedicated, trained, experienced and qualified to help your child develop and grow.

A 16 Beaconsfield Rd, Beaconsfield

P 4942 7700

E mackaycubbiehouse@bigpond.com



The Dangers of Challenges and Dares for Teenagers

If I had a dollar for every parent who has said in frustration to their teen “just because your friend dared you to do it – doesn’t mean you should have done it. I didn’t raise you to be a sheep!” then I’d be a VERY rich woman.

And with teens now having connections, not just with friends in their immediate circle, but access to the millions of teenagers on social media around the globe, the “dare culture” and the “world social media challenges” are even more worrisome for parents.

Challenges and Dares

It may not make any sense to an adult, but teens have been engaging in a variety of modern-day dares and challenges. Some are much more dangerous than others. Worrying challenges include the laundry pod challenge, the outlet challenge and the cinnamon challenge. Here’s a brief overview:

As parents, we need to be particularly careful to keep poisonous substances out of young children’s reach. A study in Paediatrics noted that 92% of children ingesting laundry detergent packets between 2012-2017 were under six years of age. More recently, it’s not just young children ingesting laundry liquid that parents need to be worried about. In fact, an increased number of older children are swallowing laundry pods in response to the Tide pod challenge – making teens very unwell!

The outlet challenge is where the plug of the phone charger is inserted into an electric socket. A coin is then inserted between the plug and the socket. This can not only result in a fire but it can also electrocute the person completing the challenge.

The cinnamon challenge is a seemingly harmless challenge. It involves teens filming themselves eating a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. However, an article in the American Academy of Paediatrics noted that short-term harms included choking, breathing cinnamon into the lungs and lung damage. Longer term there can be lasting lesions, scarring and inflammation of the airway.

Given the potential for harm, why do teenagers take on these challenges?

Surviving the Teenage Years

Parents often talk about “surviving the teen years” when their sweet young child becomes unrecognisable as an unruly, disrespectful and unmanageable teenager. I’ve heard parents say their children went to the “dark side” during the teens years. Thankfully, most also said that their teenagers eventually came back. However, parents need to take measures to help their children stay safe and survive the teen years unharmed.

The Dangerous Teen Years

Did you know that the teenage years are the most dangerous period of life for human beings? Risk taking is at its most extreme in the adolescent years. Teenagers not only respond to dares and challenges but also engage in other dangerous behaviours including:

  • Experimentation with drugs
  • Binge drinking
  • Attempted suicide
  • Self-harm
  • Reckless driving
  • Unsafe sex

And that’s just to name a few.

Why are Teens so Reckless?

While teens might look like young adults, and even be able to reason like young adults – they are far from being responsible adults. In fact, teen brains are “wired for risk taking” during the adolescent years.

Now, instead of confusing you with a whole lot of brain science, below are the simplified key parts so that you can get a general sense of what is going on inside your teenager’s head.

Teenage Brain – Really Simplified

In teenagers, the part of the brain that experiences emotions, motivation and pleasure is heightened – everything feels so good. This drives teens to seek pleasure and want to experience the euphoric “high” of risk-taking.

However, the “thinking” part of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex), the part that manages impulse control, reasoning, planning and considering consequences, is not fully developed until the early- to mid-twenties for girls and the mid- to late- twenties for boys.

The adolescent brain drives teens to follow their impulses without the ability to curb those impulses and think things through – especially when they are with their friends. Teens feel an intense need to be accepted by their peers, which is often why they engage in risky behaviours like dares and challenges.

Laurence Steinberg PhD, an expert on adolescents, likens teenagers to a “super-charged car with no breaks!” Steinberg has authored numerous articles and books about teenagers including ‘Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence‘, a great resource for parents wanting to navigate the teens years successfully.

What Can Parents do to Keep Teens Safe?

There’s no “one” easy solution for parents and children to safety navigate the teen years. However, while there is no magic solution, we know from experience and the research of Steinberg and others that parents can make a significant positive difference in the lives of their teenagers by:

Focusing on maintaining a strong and open relationship with their teen. Making time to ask about their day and how life is going. Listening to understand, rather than judge, criticise and reprimand.

Understanding teenage brain development and that they aren’t fully able to manage their emotions, make responsible adult decisions. They also can’t fully foresee negative consequences.

Being empathetic, trying to feel what teens are feeling and experiencing – not from an adult perspective but a teenager’s view of the world. Repeat back what they say, to show you were listening and understand. Making it safe to talk to you about anything without being shamed or punished means they are less likely to hide things from you.

Being a good sounding board for teens to test their ideas. Offering options rather than telling them what to do and offering your solutions. We all know that teens don’t take being told what to do well and will probably do the opposite!

Being involved in your teen’s life but NOT micro-managing. Knowing where your teen is and who they’re with. While children are in your care, they will always need some guidance on expectations, limits and boundaries.

Finally, when it comes to dares and challenges, be clear that it’s about keeping your teen safe. Focus on HOW challenges are dangerous and WHY you have limits and expectations. Teens are more likely to comply when they don’t feel like you’re exerting control and want to stop their fun.

Most of all, give your teen lots of LOVE and endless amounts of PATIENCE (a sense of humour helps too). Rest assured, one day, your teen’s brain will mature and they will return from the “dark side”!


Visit Dr Rosina’s website here

Read more PakMag Tweens and Teens blogs here and Parenting blogs here. 




Talking to Children About Racism, Discrimination and Equality

The recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US, the public support in Australia and from around the globe, has brought the issues of racism and inequality to the fore. After the loss of another human life with the tragic death of George Floyd, an African American man – individuals have taken to the streets to protest police violence against black people. Here, in Australia, our First Peoples also experience discrimination and inequality. There are disproportionate statistics for Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody. So, this isn’t an issue that’s far from home.  

Inevitably, our children will witness these events in the media. As parents, teachers and carers we can take the opportunity to teach our children about race, racism and equality. This helps our children be part of the movement for positive change in the world as they come to understand what’s behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Now as a parent you might be thinking “yes, I want my children to understand that Black Lives Matter. Additionally I also want them to understand that ALL lives matter, so I’ll have a conversation about that instead.” Here’s why it’s important to consider having a conversation about BOTH as fundamentally, they’re not the same issue. Plus YES, Black Lives Matter is relevant in Australia. 

Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter movement is dedicated to raising awareness and stopping police brutality against African American people. It began back in 2013, following the death of African American teen Trayvon Martin. The movement highlights the differential treatment of People of Colour when compared with White people. This treatment is in terms of police discrimination, brutality and death.

I spoke with Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Munya Andrews about the topic. I wanted to gain a better understanding of the issue and how it relates to Indigenous Australians. Here is what Aunty Munya had to say:

Some people have taken the “Black Lives Matter” slogan to include the phrase ‘All lives matter’ and while that is true, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are talking about the systemic brutalisation and discrimination of black people. When this systemic brutalisation impacts all people in society equally, then we can talk about “All lives matter.”

There are some people who claim that the “Black Lives Matter” movement is not relevant to Australia but that’s not the case at all. Aboriginal people face the same sort of treatment that African Americans do and our social indicators such as the high disproportionate figures of Indigenous incarceration are virtually the same. So, the “Black Lives Matter” movement is totally relevant and applicable to the situation here in Australia.

We all need to stand together as Allies to end this appalling, intolerable treatment of people based purely on the colour of their skin.

“Black Lives Matter”.

As parents, carers and teachers, once we’ve opened up the conversation on Black Lives Matter with our children, we can then talk about the importance of respect and equality for all people.

Respect and equality for all of humanity

To create a world where all people are treated equally, we need to help our children develop:

  • knowledge and understanding about what privilege, discrimination and racism are;
  • beliefs that all people deserve to be treated equally;
  • skills that enable children to interact and communicate with others in a caring and respectful way; and
  • an understanding of the importance of standing up for equality and inclusivity. Understanding the importance of not supporting discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, class, or sexual identity – with thoughts, words or actions.

Children learn how to be in the world by watching those around them. Therefore, how adults behave when it comes to equality and inclusivity, matters. Children also learn by what parents, teachers, family and friends teach them. We can start our children’s education on race, inclusivity and equality at a very early age. It’s the same way we teach our children numbers, reading and writing skills – we start very simply and add the complexity when it’s developmentally appropriate.

Making time to talk

I understand that talking about race and racism isn’t an easy topic. Parents and teachers we need to have conversations about many difficult topics like drugs, pornography, domestic violence and death. But, just because they are challenging topics doesn’t mean we can avoid having them.

To give you some ideas on how to start a conversation, here’s a simple 15-minute activity you can complete with children on privilege, racial discrimination and equality. This short activity is from one of my Life Skills e-books to help children develop their Social and Environmental Understanding – just one of the many topics we explore in my series of seven life skills e-books. These resources were developed to give parents and teachers short activities they can complete with children to help them develop key life skills to navigate life successfully. You can find out more about the Life skills e-book series here.

Helping your child understand more about racial discrimination

Social awareness is about being conscious of the issues that different people, communities, or societies face on a day-to-day basis. Children with an awakened social consciousness are more likely to act in a positive way. These children will be more empathic towards others regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, class, or sexual identity.

This activity looks at privilege, racism and equality and serves two purposes:

  1. Increases your children’s awareness of how they and others live in society.
  2. Helps your children become more empathetic towards others and consider how they can make a positive difference either now or in the future.

Step 1 – fact finding

Invite your children to share if they have friends from other countries or other cultures. Ask your children to explain if they know what the terms “race” and “racism” mean. Invite your children to think about whether they have noticed children being mean to others based on their country of origin or culture or if your children have experienced racism?

Ask your children if they have seen anything in the media about the recent protests in the US and Australia to stop police brutality against black people Black Lives Matter.

Invite your child to discuss what they have learned about Australia’s First Peoples and the gap between Indigenous Australians’ and non-Indigenous Australians in areas such as education, health and life expectancy.

Explore the concept of privilege from your child’s perspective.

Step 2 – doing the activity

Building on your children’s understanding as indicated by their responses in step one, discuss with your children what privilege, equality, race and racism are by sharing your knowledge, understanding and views. Here are some points that may help you. 

Racism can include verbal abuse or ridicule, social exclusion and even violence. Racism can be based on many things including: appearance of people from different races, differences in religious beliefs or practices, differences in cultural or religious dress.

Privilege is an advantage or entitlement that a person or group of people may have. Privilege can include things like food, money, education, possessions or status. Privileged groups can be advantaged based on social class, age, disability, ethnic or racial category, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or religion. People with privilege can use it to the benefit or detriment of others. Most importantly, privilege isn’t a bad thing and can be used to do good in the world.

Science proves that humanity – although diverse – is one family and one people. All people feel pain if they are hurt; bleed if they are cut; are born of a mother and father; are able to love and are capable of hateful actions.

Children may either respect, support and care for each other – regardless of ethnicity – or they can be cruel and hurtful. Ask your children how they wish to treat others. Ask your children to talk about how they wish to be treated. 

Explore what your child might do if they saw someone being racist or mean to others because of their social class, age, disability, ethnic or racial category, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or religion.

Ask questions like: how would you react? Would you join in? Would you stand up for the person – if it is safe to do so? If it isn’t safe – would you get an adult to help? Giving children options can help them know how to behave if they encounter racism or discrimination.

Finishing up the activity

Ask your children to share if this activity has it increased their awareness of discrimination, the Black Lives Matter movement, our First Peoples and the importance of treating people equally. Has it started them thinking about racism in their own lives or in society? Ask your children to talk about how they could be more inclusive of people from different races at school. Invite your children to think about how they could make a positive difference either now or in the future to children from different ethnic backgrounds. Discuss ways your children can manage racist remarks they may experience. Or, what to do if they see others being racist. Ensure your children know how to seek assistance from an adult if needed. 

Tip’s for young children

Even young children can be taught the value of equality and diversity in society. Furthermore all children can be encouraged to be socially inclusive with their friendships. Cultural diversity allows us to experience different foods and ways of being in the world. Just keep the language simple. Explain that people from different counties may dress differently, eat differently and speak different languages. These differences are what make society interesting and rich. Discuss why it is hurtful to tease or exclude other children based on their skin colour, cultural or religious beliefs.

You may also like to talk about what you’d like your children to do if someone teases or hurts them based on their ethnicity. For example, you may encourage your children to say to the offending child “I don’t like it when you talk to me like that. Please stop it now.” Or you may prefer to instruct them to simply walk away. You may recommend to your children that they talk to an adult (parent or teacher) if it happens repeatedly to them or to other children. Providing young children with possible courses of action helps them to navigate the world effectively. 

Tips for older children and teens

After an initial conversation, you could encourage your children to learn more about the topic so they can understand how to make a positive difference in their community. Reading the book, Young Dark Emu: A Truer History by Bruce Pascoe or for older teens. Dark Emu is a great way for our children to learn more about the historical treatment of Aboriginal people at the time of colonisation and  how our First Peoples’ knowledge of the environment and environmental practices has sustained the land across Australia. Families can continue the conversation by discussing Australia’s historical treatment of our Indigenous peoples. Discuss the negative impact it has had on their lives and what we can do to close the gap in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The book ‘Young Dark Emu’ by Bruce Pascoe is a great resource for younger and older children (aged 7 – 12) that uses the accounts of early Europeans explorers, colonists and farmers to argue for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. 

Ongoing conversations

One conversation isn’t enough. In the same way that we continue to support our children to learn to read and write over many years of schooling – developing life skills that support children to be inclusive and promote respect and equality takes time and effort. As children mature, parents and teachers can have ongoing conversations about race and racism. Adults need to provide consistent positive messages about kindness, respect and equality for all people.

It’s important to continue to reinforce positive behaviour and consistently remind our children how to be respectful when we see negative behaviour. By the same token, parents need to model good behaviour consistently as well. How diverse is your friendship base? If you encounter racism – what do you do?

Being a proactive and vigilant parent will take a little more time in the short-term. However, there are many benefits for your family and for society that make it worthwhile in the long-term. Teaching your child to be respectful means they’ll be less likely to engage in aggressive or disrespectful behaviour that you’ll need to address with friends, or at school. No-one wants to get called up to the school or have a difficult conversation with another child’s parent! Right?

Are your children experiencing racism?

If your children are experiencing racial discrimination, you can seek assistance at school and from government organisations in your area. If your children are inflicting racial discrimination, you can provide them with the information and resources to understand a more respectful way to be with others from diverse backgrounds as explained above.

Learning social skills that help children to nurture relationships will support them to make friends. They will be loving members of their family and caring members of their community.

Changing the world starts at home

Every adult can play a key role in stopping violence, discrimination and inequality. This can be done by raising our children to expect respect and to be respectful to others. Yes, that’s regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, disability, class, or sexual identity. Parents and carers can teach their children these skills by being good role models. Additionally we need to guide them to change their behaviour whenever they behave in a way that harms others or themselves. This way, we not only improve and enrich our own family life, but also the lives of others in our community, our nation and over time – the world.