Parenting for Today

What is this thing called parenting?
Am I doing it right?

Welcome to the website of Dr James Best, one of Australia's leading paediatric family doctors. Here you will find his weekly blog posts on parenting issues relevant to the modern Australian parent, complete with videos of Dr James Best explaining each topic. There is also available on this site his comprehensive e-book, Kidsense, a nearly 300-page guide to all important aspects of child growth, development, safety and health.

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Ep30 – When things go wrong – part 2

The other day we were at the supermarket and the two of them were both screaming about something, I don’t know what, but then Angela completely lost it. I mean, she just went off. She was literally lying on the ground of the freezer aisle and screaming like a banshee. When I tried to pick her up and put her in the trolley she pulled my hair and tried to hit me. I was so embarrassed. Why is my child…
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Ep29 – When things go wrong – part 1

I sometimes feel embarrassed about how I over-react to Nick’s behaviour. I know he can be naughty, and boy, he really knows how to press my buttons, but I should know better. I mean, I am the adult. I don’t know why, but I just lose it. I find myself in a complete rage. There are times when I think to myself that I am glad that no-one I know is there to witness how I behave. Key points Connect…

Ep28 – Success and failure

It seems she takes everything about herself so negatively. The slightest criticism is taken to heart, and she won’t here anything positive that we say about her. I am quite sure she thinks she is a failure. She even called herself a ‘loser’ the other day. I just wish there was some way I could build her self esteem. I mean, she has so many positive qualities. Key points Encourage self-belief. Help your child discover their islands of competence. Let…

Ep27 – Problem solving

I know I should probably have let her sort that out, but I know she is going to just get it wrong. Why does she make such silly decisions? Surely she can see that that is not going to work out well. I just wish she would think a bit more carefully before jumping the gun. I suppose I should be teaching her about these things, but I just don’t have the time... Key points Problem solving is a skill…

Ep26 – The family chat

I love talking about family chats, which is actually my name for what is formally called ‘planned conversations’ in a parenting environment. Outlining family chats is usually met with a mixture of surprise and pensive reflection. Parents rarely have heard of them, and have hardly ever done them. Despite this, they are really useful. Give them a whirl! They usually end up improving family dynamics, and most people, parents and kids, are pleased they are introduced into a household. Key…

Ep25 – Punishment and slapping

Some of the more common questions I receive from parents are ‘Is it ok to punish kids?’,  ‘What is the best way to punish kids?’ or ‘Is slapping ok?’. In order to answer these, it is best to consider what punishment and slapping are, what they aim to achieve and what they actually do achieve.    Key points Harsh and aggressive punishments do NOT work. Accentuate the positive Slapping does NOT work. Punishment The word punishment actually comes from the…

Ep24 – Time Outs

When parents ask me what can they do to help control ‘the terrible twos’ I often start the potential approaches to the melt downs by talking about time outs. They are commonly done, but often not entirely correctly. Common errors include too many warnings, engaging with the child during time outs, holding onto a door to keep it closed and the child in a room, and big long explanations afterwards. Let’s have a think about how we can get it…

Ep23 – Consequences

This is the meat and potatoes – the stuff that everyone wants to know! When I am consulting or presenting, the attention in the room immediately becomes more focused when you start talking about consequences. What do we actually do when they are mucking up? I usually see light bulbs lighting up – oh, that’s what consequences are all about. You will see, it is not so much about being hard or soft, but more about doing it right. Key…

Ep22 – When and how to discipline

Why am I always shouting at my child? He just seems to take no notice of either of us. We just seem to be getting angrier and angrier, and giving him more and more consequences, but nothing seems to work. Our house is turning into a battle zone. I shudder to think what the neighbours think. I wonder if there is something wrong with him, or maybe I am just a hopeless parent? Key points If we discipline too much,…

Ep21 – Why we Discipline Children

Of all the topics I discuss with parents about their children, discipline is by far the most contentious. Some parents have a lot of trouble accepting that their own opinion may be wrong. Others have a lot of trouble reconciling different attitudes of their spouse to those of their own. Yet the paediatric and psychology worlds have well developed principles in regard to discipline based on decades accumulating a vast array of research and thinking. So let’s have a think…