From the Principal

I want to acknowledge again our Secondary student leaders who made such an amazing contribution to the swimming carnivals last week. It was particularly special to see them assisting some of our primary students during their novelty or stroke events.

Parenting can be exhausting. When my children were younger, it often felt like the demands on my time and attention never abated. It felt like there was always someone that needed a little extra attention or care. There were times when the dynamic between a couple of the siblings would shift and they couldn’t be in the same space without bickering. Someone always needed more help in reading or maths at home. Then there was the juggle of sports practices and music lessons.

Adding to the busyness and general intensity was the need to try to maintain consistency and balance. It is normal for children and teens to push boundaries. Even very young children seem intent on trying to assert their independence. I was blessed with four healthy, happy and energetic children who were always ready for a new challenge, so often my role was to weigh up the risks and to draw a line between what was okay and what was not, and to then hold that line in place. Yes, it was fine to climb the fig trees in the park. No, it is not okay to climb out on the branches overhanging the creek today. The creek is swollen after the rain.

There were times when they pushed across that line and I needed to be firm in my response. Discipline was necessary. There was a helpful book that I read, The Whole Brained Child by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. This talks about the upstairs and the downstairs brain. The downstairs brain is the more automated, instinctive brain. The upstairs brain is for the slower functions such as reasoning and reflection.

When children are in any kind of heightened state, maybe they are playing with friends, are tired or hungry or there is lots of noise and activity around them, they are more likely to respond with the downstairs brain. They can act impulsively and are less able to exercise control over their words and actions. This is a time when they need someone to step in, to play the part of the upstairs brain for them. I usually used a time out approach, giving them a chance to slow down and, when they were ready, to reflect on the impact of their words or actions.

For me, it also meant exercising my upstairs brain as I was also often tired. I needed to keep my response in check, to make sure it reflected a calm, balanced response. In some ways, these moments were vital in helping to shape the character of my children as it was a focus on building empathy, respect and self-management. The conversations with them once they had calmed, helped us to talk about the people that I wanted them to be and for them to become more aware of how their words and actions should represent their values. I often finished a conversation by telling them that I would not discipline them if I did not care about them.

When I felt weary and stretched, I was grateful to have God to turn to in prayer or his words of encouragement through the bible. I would try to grab hold of the words of Jesus,

‘Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28) Can I encourage you to also set aside times to rest and find refreshment so that you can continue the vital role you have as a parent or carer in shaping your child’s whole-person development?

Jodie Bennett