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.

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…

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…

Ep20 – Praise

I think I am starting to get the idea of how to praise Andy the right way. Before I was just going over the top and doing it too much. He just didn’t seem to believe me. Now I am being more selective, and really thinking about what exactly I am praising, and making it more believable. My husband and I are trying to build his self esteem, which has been dropping at times,  and it seems to be working.…

Ep17 – The fried egg of communication

Can you communicate effectively with your child and not let their or your emotions get in the way? It can be difficult to do this, especially when things are tense. What are you actually trying to say? What are they actually trying to say? Are you hearing each other? Key points Define the problem and the emotions around it State calmly what the problem is Teach your kids to look beyond emotions The fried egg of communication When we are…

Ep15 – Siblings and Gender

When we brought the new baby home, everything seemed to be going well at first. Davy seemed to be very fond of his new younger sister, even if he did try and pat her on the head a little too firmly! Over the next few months, however, things went pear-shaped. Davy’s behaviour deteriorated. The frequency of his tantrums dramatically escalated, he became so clingy, and if I dared pay attention to his younger sister, boy, he would just lose it.…

Ep14 – Connecting with kids

What we do together It may sound obvious, but we need to spend time with our child so we can model and connect. Over-scheduling and multitasking can be barriers to this connection. I like to call the minutes and hours we spend engaged in this mind to mind connection ‘connection time.’ How much connection time do you have with your child, and how much are you planning to have in the future? Key Points Effective parenting requires time. Spend time…

Ep13 – Emotions and Identity

How do we deal with our child’s negative emotions? It can be very confronting. There can be what can seem an ‘ocean of emotion’ in front of us, that our child and perhaps ourselves have little idea about how to approach the situation. Acknowledging the emotions, understanding that they are a part of every human being’s life experience and helping them to learn how to explore and learn from these negative emotions will help your child learn more about who…