September Issue 2014

Welcome to this issue of my free parenting E-zine in which I bring you small snapshots of the joys and problems of raising children.



SPECIALS  - Children in poverty

In every country there are children who come from poor families, but in some places like East Timor, over 68% of children live in poverty. More than half the children there suffer from malnutrition and health care is so limited that diseases like leprosy and heart failure caused by rheumatic fever are undiagnosed or there are no facilities for treatment. Leprosy is completely curable and preventable nowadays, but East Timor has hundreds of cases.

Outside of Dili, the capital, medical aid of any kind is very scarce and the death rate of children is the highest in Asia. Many more people live in the remote countryside than in the city and getting to a hospital is very difficult. Pregnant women usually give birth at home with no trained midwife to help. Families are often large so there isnít enough food, children are severely underweight, diarrhoea is common and mothers donít know how to treat it.

There are few trained Timorese doctors. Dr Dan Murphy runs a clinic that has helped countless families over the past 16 years since he left his practice in America. For many of the conditions he sees, there are no resources and no money. For example the only treatment for cancer is morphine and that is in short supply. Occasionally a patient is sent overseas for heart surgery when East Timor Hearts Fund, a charity group in Australia, raises enough money. Since the fund was established in 2010, 15 patients have received treatment in Australia and the group aims to bring 5 patients a year and to do this $100,000 has to be raised. Dr Noel Bayley travels to East Timor each year to identify new patients and to check on those who have returned home after surgery in Melbourne. Here is a link to the fund  

Training Timorese doctors, nurses and health workers is also vitally important and this is occurring at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. This work will see two new Timorese surgeons trained this year.

All around me I see healthy, thriving children and a health system to aid us when our families need assistance. My hope is that people reading this story will reach out to help bring health care to our neighbours, the Timorese people.



Ages and Stages -Sharing

Adults are always pleased when children begin to share. Most children will be sharing well by age five but sharing someone's attention seems to come later than sharing toys. It is common for kids of five and six to still seek attention from parents while the latter is on the phone, talking to another adult, or is concentrating on something that absolutely wonít be improved by child help. Setting up an activity that will engage your child while you are busy doing something else, will help to keep you both happy.

Praise your children when

  • They do not interrupted you on the phone
  • they play happily with a sibling without bickering
  • they share your attention with other siblings
  • they share or take turns without being asked

Children with special needs such as ADHD do need more attention than the usual child. They do best when there is routine, structure and consistency. They also need parents/carers/teachers to be patient and to explain and demonstrate what to do. Set tasks that you know the child can achieve as a frustrated child wonít behave well.


Kids in the news ĖLife at Nine

A couple of years ago I commented on the ABC TV life series and this year the programs showed us the children now they have turned nine. The two programs look at the risks children take, the responsibilities they have and the creativity they show. The psychologists and researches studying the group of children think that they should be more adventurous and have more responsibility than they currently have. Only one of the children packed his own lunch and none walked to school alone although one child lived only a few hundred metres away and was in sight of the school. None of the children ever went shopping alone. Creativity is important as a creative child is better able to solve problems and will find diverse ways to solve problems.

Parents may argue that safety is much more problematic now that when they were children. However there are ways to encourage children to show independence without compromising safety. Have you thought of accompanying your child to the shop, but waiting outside while he/she goes in to select items on a list and takes responsibility for the choice of items, payment and getting the change?

Are you over protective of your children? Do you let them climb, swim, swing, jump, explore, camp out, set and light the barbecue or camp fire under supervision? Are you continually telling them to be careful? Children need to be challenged physically and they learn best by actively doing activities. They need to take risks. The research team emphasized that risk taking is important. The child who hasnít learn to assess and take risks and overcome the challenges, may take his first risk as a teenager when he gets into the driverís seat of a car. The result might be tragic.

I was particularly interested in the creative block building tasks that were set for teams of mothers and children. In every case the mother took over from her child, suggesting and showing what to do and changing what the child did. One child sighed and gave up frustrated and just let Mum go ahead. The next task was for each child to make a construction with the same blocks while alone. They all enjoyed this task and made interesting constructions. I wonder if those parents learnt from watching their own behaviour and in the future stood back to observe instead of controlling creativity. Do you accept your child's creative attempts without showing how you think something should be done?


Kids 'n Gardening Ė Boots in the garden

While it is wonderful to feel soft grass under oneís bare feet, wearing strong shoes or boots while working in the garden is an important safety measure for children and adults alike.  Protecting the feet with boots is especially recommended where grass is long, sharp tools such as spades and mattocks are in use or where snakes, centipedes, bees and other biting insects might be lurking. However, boots and shoes can also be used as mini gardens or ornamental aids.

Children will get a real thrill out of making old shoes and boots into garden features. If there is no hole and the sole isnít loose, drill a drainage hole in the sole before junior fills the boot with soil or potting mix. Succulents, ribbon grass, petunias and small leafed trailing plants will look attractive. Place near conventional potted plants or group a number of shoes together to make a feature of them.


Healthy Living Ė Fresh fruit and kids

Most kids love fruit but when it comes to snacks they think lollies, chips, and chocolate. Type fruit bars into the browser of the computer and you'll get ranges of sweet bars you can pack into lunch boxes. However, a school in Brisbane has installed a fruit dispensing machine, called a Fruit-bar,  near the gym and itís very popular. The bar was suggested by students and the Principal was sceptical. However, itís in constant use early in the mornings and after school. The fruit bar has pears, bananas, apples, strawberries mandarins and blueberries and has been developed by an Australian company,  The company is developing their range further to include snack packs  containing foods such as cheese, tomatoes, avocado and tuna. The quality of products is excellent, the fruit bars being serviced every second day so that taste and quality is always of a high standard. Fruit-bars have also been installed at some hospitals where they are a winner with both staff and visitors. Service stations are also installing fruitbar machines so that hungry motorists and their passengers can buy healthy snacks. They are so popular that they have to be refilled several times a day.

What a wonderful innovation it would be if every school had a fruit-bar like these. This link shows the website but it isn't fully functional yet.


Indigenous news - Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Next month young leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities are meeting in Melbourne to hold a summit about climate change and hope to sow the seeds that will lead to climate change action. The group is excited and committed to taking action and spreading ideas of how they can help the country forward to minimize the effects of climate change. As the young people of a very old culture, they recognize that their ancestors used the land sustainably and they want this to continue. They want a future powered by 100% renewable energy instead of coal and gas. We have so much wind and sun here that this goal should be achievable if everyone sees the benefits. It is great to hear their plans and more will appear soon.


Book Review: Ė Whales and Dolphins

by Judy Allen

Illustrated by Mike Bostock

Published by Kingfisher 2008 ( an imprint of Macmillan Childrenís Books)

This is a Flip the Flaps information book and will appeal to children of four and above. There is information about where whales and dolphins live and how they breathe, eat, travel, communicate and play. Each section has a flap with questions and the answers are there when you turn the flap over. The pages are all attractively coloured in sea-green and blue water colours and there are subtle changes in the picture when you go to the picture under the flap. It may be the whale is spouting or a tail fluke is up instead of down. Kids will enjoy spotting the changes.

In this series there are many other titles such as Planet Earth, Minibeasts and the Seashore.  Children like to ask questions about many things and they like to be given straight forward, true answers. This book and others in the series will be popular with the 4 to 8 year olds. Ask for then at your local library if you canít se them in a bookshop.


Play ideas ĖExperiences in nature

Having a good memory is valued by most people and I was surprised to read that we are much more likely to remember our experiences out in the bush than what we see and do in the city or town environment. Studies have also shown that people have better blood pressure, pulse and heart rate and lower levels of stress when they are out experiencing nature. Studies have shown that even looking at pictures of nature can have a positive effect on our health whereas looking at pictures of cities has no benefits. So letís get our kids outside into natural environments to see what is happening.

Here are some ideas

Take kids into the garden, to a park, to the beach or river, down to the gully, listen to water running over stones or the waves breaking at the beach, climb a hill on a windy day, look for bugs, climb trees, go camping, go hiking, take photos of the blossoms now spring is coming, watch for birds, lie down and watch at the sky, run in the rain, cross a creek, catch craybobs, watch some cows in a paddock, take the dog out to investigate rabbit holes, take a walk on a frosty morning and look for spider webs covered in dew.

As we connect with nature think and speak too about protecting our wild environment. It is these kinds of experiences we give our children that will live in their memories and help to form their values about our natural world.


Reading that will help you understand children

Between three to five years of age children are very busy little people. Their questions, energy and enthusiasm are amazing.

This book will help parents, carers and educators to plan fun activities in essential learning areas. Ideas include cooking, music, storytelling, maths, science, outdoor games and craft. There are also hints on organizing play spaces.

 Available as an E-book from Amazon at this link:         

see all three book in my Mothers' Guides series at my Author's page

The Busy Mothersí Guide to Happy Toddlers

by Helen Evans

Toddlers are delightful little people who will both charm and challenge their parents and carers. They thrive on being busy, playing, exploring, helping, creating and talking. What are the best toys to buy? Which games and activities will help toddlers to develop skills?

This book suggests toys and games that toddlers love. It outlines safe activities for toddlers from 18 to 36 months that will help develop physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language skills.

Available as an E-book from Amazon at this link. 


The Busy Mothers' Guide to Happy Babies

by Helen Evans

Talking to and playing with your baby is one of the delights of being a parent. But what can you do what your baby cries? How can you communicate? Can you help your baby to develop skills? This book outlines easy to follow, safe, sensory activities babies will love. 

Mobiles, tickling rhymes, toys, books, music, messy play and creative ideas are suggested for each stage of development. These activities will keep your baby happy. Mums and dads, family members and child educators will love these ideas for babies from birth to 17 months of age.

Available as an E-book from Amazon at the link below.

Helen's  books, Everyday learning about storytelling and Simply Storytelling, will help you to tell stories to your children. For Everyday learning, go to and look at the catalogue


For Simply Storytelling (ISBN 9780864588104 published by Tertiary Press)  go to and search

Three of Helen's picture books are available as downloads or CD's from Writer's Exchange . Children from 3 to 10 will love them.
Here is the link:
 This will take you to my author's

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