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Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert

Questions you post to Australian Family's parent forum will be answered by qualified early childhood and health professionals. The answers and advice you receive here will be based on sound theory and professional experience.

Ready and waiting to solve your trickiest of parenting and early childhood dilemmas are:

  • Australian Family Early Education and Care Award winners: Marion Collison, Melissa Hendry, Lee-Anne Most, Cara Nightingale, Kerri Smith, Belle Spillman, Jacqui Taylor, Stephanie Woerde
  • Helen Mack, Maternal Child Health Nurse/Mental Health Nurse
  • Ruth Wallace, Nutritionist
  • Aimee York, Occupational Therapist
Please to Post your Question.
  • N

    How do I stop my kids fighting?!We are only a couple of days into the school holidays and my two boys aged 10 and 8 won’t stop fighting! They argue about toys, video games, who’s got the best friend, when we’re at home, in the car, at Grandma’s….There’s always a bit of sibling rivalry but this is getting crazy.  Please help!

    • p

      Sibling Rivalry will always occur no matter the age. It is frustrating to witness two (or more) people you love fighting with each other and potentially hurting physically or emotionally. Try not to get too involved and ‘solve’ the issue for them -help and guide them to make the right choices. Separate them while things are heated and ask them to reflect on what the issue is. Do they really want the toy or do they just not want the sibling to have the toy?
      Unfortunately it is a part of social development and will occur on some level no matter what you do. Use it as an opportunity to talk to your children about how they want to be treated and how they treat others .
      Take the time to discuss and role model conflict resolution so when your children have difficulties outside of the home they may be better equipped to deal with the conflict and problem solving.
      If one of the children is in danger physically or emotionally, intervene and ensure they are feeling safe and secure before tackling the resolution and teaching side.
      You will all get through it and there will be days they are the best of friends and the days they are the worst of enemies. I always say my children do it all with passion - they love each other passionately and they dislike each other passionately.

  • B

    Private partsHow do I talk my daughter who will be 4 in June about protecting her private parts. She mentioned something to my mum last week about her vagina being sore because of the boys at daycare. I only found this out today. We have always named private parts with their proper name since she was born, we have taught her that we don’t have secrets only special surprises (eg Daddy’s birthday present). I had a little chat with her and from how she talked I believe that there could be children being inquisitive but want to be proactive. Any suggestions/advice would be appreciated.

  • H

    What do mothers mean by a baby having coliccrying a lot

    • H

      When babies cry a lot, it’s often called colic.
      Here are some things you can do if you think your baby has colic.

      Where possible also look after yourself by getting enough, rest, eating well and relaxation.

      Some things to try
      Check whether your baby is comfortable. See whether his nappy needs changing, or whether he’s too hot or cold.

      Offer a feed if you think your baby might be hungry, or if the last feed was more than two hours ago.

      Offer a dummy or the breast. Sometimes your baby isn’t hungry but wants or needs to suck. You could also encourage her to soothe herself by helping her find her own fingers or thumb to suck.

      Speak softly to your baby, sing to him or play soft music. He might just want to know you’re nearby, or your voice might soothe him.

      Gently rock or carry your baby in a baby carrier or sling – sometimes movement and closeness to a parent can soothe babies. Some babies quieten down when you take them for a walk in the pram. But it’s not recommended to leave your baby sleeping in a pram unsupervised.

      Try to work out what your baby needs when she cries and is hard to comfort. Some babies are bored and need the stimulation of being held, rocked or spoken to. But others seem to be easily overstimulated and need peace and quiet. You could try turning down the lights and trying to calm things down, or you could try some low-level background noise, such as a fan.

      Try baby massage. This will often calm your baby and help you relax too. It can also strengthen the bond between you and your baby. Your child and family health nurse can teach you how to do baby massage. You could also watch our baby massage video or check out our illustrated guide to baby massage.

      A warm bath might settle your baby and promote sleep.
      Try to establish a pattern to feeding and settling, so your baby knows what to expect and can develop some ways of self-regulating.

      Ask your child and family health nurse for advice. The nurse will be able to reassure you about your baby’s health, as well as checking your feeding techniques and providing valuable tips and advice on managing your particular situation. Your child and family health nurse might also be able to advise you about settling programs and early parenting centres.

  • c

    SleepingMy 3 year old daughter has recently started to wake during the night. She has always been a good sleeper 8-12 hours per night. Now she is waking 2-3 times and we are all really tired can you please help?

    • A

      Hi there, it is important with any change in sleeping pattern to find out the cause (i.e. what has changed, and what is happening just before the change occurred). From an occupational therapy perspective, I’d like to know more about her daily activities and for you to keep an exact journal as to what days/times are particularly worse. From there I could provide more specific recommendations. As a general rule it is helpful to create an extra-relaxing environment to ensure that the sleep routine is well supported and see as a good thing instead of a stressful thing.

    • m

      This seems to be a common round the table discussion with parents, let me reassure you it is a very common topic.  As your daughter grows and her mind becomes even more stimulated from her little life experiences her sleeping patterns will change, however sometimes fears become a factor within their subconscious thinking patterns and if this is the case then address these in a positive prompt manner and give plenty of reassurance.  Is your daughter still having her daily daytime time sleep if so, maybe try minimizing this or if she can cope cutting it out altogether.  Be patient, consistent and set boundaries, develop a plan of action and stick with it eg.  taking her back to her bed, giving her a kiss and reassuring her each time she wakes.  As you have said she once was a good sleeper so being consistent with your plan will hopefully assist her in falling back to sleep without any help each time she wakes.  Good luck.