Childhood stress – protective or destructive?

Childhood stress – when is it protective and when is it destructive? There is a fairly simple rubric to figure out whether stress is destructive or protective, and I have provided lots of tips below for the times you decide to step in. What you find protective stress someone else might find destructive and vice versa. And what is true for childhood stress is largely true for adult stress. I want you to look after you, as well as your child. When uncontrollable, overwhelming events or situations are traumatic, frequent and have no end in sight the result will be long-term impacts on the […] Read more »

Is meditation a wonder drug?

Girl meditating meepoohfoto

Meditation: magic pill or path to enlightenment? Meditation will continue to intrigue the researchers for some time but the magic elixir will continue to elude them until they start looking in the right place. Mindfulness meditation (staying still and continuously returning attention to something for a period of time) is a great skill for a whole lot of reasons, not least because we tend to lead such hectic and overscheduled lives that we need to practice the delicate art of doing nothing and being aware and present. But… the delicious benefits we are promised will be hit and miss if we […] Read more »

Keep your child safe from sexual abuse

Unhappy Young Woman by David Castillo Dominici

How can I keep my child safe from sexual abuse?   One great side effect about learning how to protect our children from sexual abuse is that we can set our children up for a more healthy sexual life throughout adult hood. This is something many parents don’t think about – we just leave our child’s sex life to them to figure out. *Squirm* – who wants to delve into that stuff? But for much of our lives after childhood we use sex to connect in our most important relationship.  Or we try. For many it can be a bewildering, bungled attempt that […] Read more »

Surrounded by the arts

Indulging in the arts is humanising I’m a strong believer in searching out and supporting diversity in the arts. I have no problem with the Harry Potter phenomenon, but I think it is also important to surround our children with arts that come from the same cultural context as they do, small-scale artists and artists that speak to us about things we might never have thought of. Giant globalised brands provide us with a common experience we can use to connect with anyone around the world but the conversations we can have through the diversity of expression at close range is […] Read more »

Self-help is one big con

Helga Weber 62 365 On a diet

Why the self-help industry is guaranteed to fail you   We are becoming increasingly obsessed with our minds. But before we get carried away with the Designer Brain Industry a word of warning… The Diet Industry. Some say it started in the 1800s, others claim our fixation on thin really kicked in after the war when rationing stopped and fashion returned but the fact is that very recently in human history we started to think, en masse, that we could do something to perfect our bodies. Wanting to look attractive is nothing new and that desire is unlikely to go away. What is […] Read more »

Intention and Action: the secret behind every outcome

Swami Satchidananda

Beating myself up never got me meditating. It’s funny. I do all this research and writing on how we can shape the brain to create a more adaptive mind so I’ve known for a long time that regular meditation is good for you. But I had a huge resistance to sitting down every day and doing it. I’ve been to lots of retreats, I know how to meditate, I practice in a million other ways through the day and I teach it to kids, yet I just. didn’t. want. to. sit and do nothing. I’d long ago decided not to […] Read more »

How to disappoint your child and improve their mental health


What disappoints you can make you stronger You could write a PhD on what this Jimmy Kimmel prank says about our society. He asked parents to film their children while they were told all their Halloween candy had been eaten. Some of the reactions are hilarious, some are heartbreaking and some are shocking. Depending on their mood at the moment of impact I could be confronted by almost any of those reactions from my children. It’s all about the framing and the expectation in the child’s mind. Some of the children in the clip complained that they had worked so hard to earn that candy and […] Read more »

The naked reality of body image

Nude Not Rude Dominic Alves

Innoculate against body image disorders   Surrounded by real, live nudity I had to ask myself how I wanted to represent the human body to my children. It had been a while since we had camped so I tracked down the nearest family-friendly festival. When we arrived at the entrance the woman taking money had no pants on. Just a shirt. She chatted merrily with us and then directed us to a man, also wearing only a shirt, to give us a tour. Oh. Clothing optional. I hadn’t read the fine print. Once our rainbow-shirted man had left us to unpack I turned to […] Read more »

Game changing discipline tips for raising emotionally intelligent children

Father with daughter Ambro

Discipline – are time-outs the best option? If you want to teach a child a high level of emotional intelligence your best bet is to develop that in yourself and model it. Using time outs, spanking, shouting or any other method of discipline in a fit of rage that terrifies the child and disconnects your relationship with them triggers what Daniel Goleman calls an ‘amygdala hijacking‘ – the child switches into survival mode and you’ve lost any chance of them learning the finer points of life, like emotional intelligence. When we are in survival mode we learn quickly and deeply but we only […] Read more »

The Balancing act – stress and renewal

The balancing act between stress and renewal   Stress and renewal are like the two ends of a see-saw. When we are stressed our body is prepared for immediate action for our survival. When we are in a renewal state our body is relaxed and can carry out maintenance functions like digestion and emotional processing that help us thrive. We were designed to deal with major stressors, and we are typically very resilient in the face of a crisis. We were not designed to deal with constant low-level stressors like rushing about getting the kids ready for school, battling peak […] Read more »