Parenting expert and ‘Queen of Common Sense’ Maggie Dent will be in Tumut next week, her first visit to the area.
She’s from the country herself – “I’m very proud to be county government school educated,” she said – and is looking forward to speaking with rural parents about the unique challenges they face.
“I do still find in rural communities there’s not that fear of outside play, kids being in nature – that hasn’t been lost,” she said.
“Kids seem to play more often, they’ll spend the whole day playing together which is incredibly helpful. I do actually think there’s a stronger network of support in rural towns; we know when somebody’s struggling, we know when someone’s had a death in the family – truckloads of food will be dropped off. There’s a stronger sense of community in rural areas, which is such an important part of raising children.”
She will be giving two talks in Tumut, organised by Tumut Birthing and Babies Support (BaBS). The first, on Thursday, September 28, at Franklin Public School Hall from 7pm – 9pm with doors open at 6pm, is for parents.
The theme will be ‘real kids in an unreal world – building resilience and self esteem in your child aged 0-12 years.’
Maggie said she will be building on an advantage country kids already have when it comes to resilience.
“We can plot resilience with all sorts of things, and we know for a fact there are increasing levels of anxiety in kids, children are struggling with things they didn’t used to struggle with, there’s heightened levels of mental health problems in our adolescence. What I’ll be talking about is that understanding that you can build children’s resilience, you don’t just tell them to toughen up.
“I’m going to put my neck out again and say I find rural communities raise more resilient children. They’re aware of disasters a little bit more and how that impacts on everyone – I think country kids see more and have to learn how to recover from more things.
“I grew up in a country area, and after a bushfire all us kids had to make sandwiches, kids were expected to help, you know.”
However, no matter where you live there’s no doubt kids are facing new challenges growing up in the fast-paced world of the 21st Century.
In fact, so are parents. Maggie said one of the things she sees a lot of are wonderful mums with developmentally normal, healthy children, fearing that they’re doing a bad job, because they are comparing themselves to the curated world of Instagram.
“Sometimes having lousy Wi-Fi in the bush is a good thing!” she laughed.
“What I think most people feel after my seminars is that most people have conversations about exactly the things that I talk about, but I’ve also got the research behind me that reassures people that they’re doing absolutely okay – it’s absolutely okay to have days where your children don’t like you!”
The second seminar, on Wednesday September 27 also at Franklin Public School Hall from 7pm – 9pm with doors open at 6pm, is for educators: ‘Educator seminar for early years and primary educators: Dare to be exceptional.’
Maggie is a regular contributor to Fairfax’s Essential Kids website and she can often be heard on commercial and ABC radio around the country including Nova 937. She also appears on national TV programs.
She is the author of ten books, several e-books and a prolific creator of resources for parents, adolescents, teachers, educators and others who are interested in quietly improving their lives.
Maggie is a former educator and suicide prevention counsellor, as well as a proud mother of four wonderful sons.