Ten Ways to Amaze your Children

June 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Ten Ways to Amaze

by Steve Biddulph, an award winning Australian author, activist and psychologist who is well known for his bestsellers Raising Boys, Raising Girls and The Secret of Happy Children.

Steve Biddulph






1. Spend a little time each day giving full, positive attention, and physical contact to your children

Have you ever wondered why your kids play up? Children play up for one reason only: they have unmet needs. Of course you feed them, clothe them, buy them toys and keep them warm and clean but there are some extra needs which go beyond the ‘basics’ mentioned. Children play up because they are bored so try and give them more stimulation, like taking them to the park, swapping toys with friends, having a secret box of bits and pieces for imaginary play. They also play up because they feel unwanted and it gets them noticed so make sure you give them your full attention and plenty of hugs and kisses.

2. Make sure your kids play in nature as much as possible

Science is on your side in this. Playing in nature, and getting dirty, turns out to be very good for children.  For example,  researchers think that problems like asthma and eczema may be reduced if your child encounters enough bacteria, bugs and beasties to stimulate their immune system while very young. This may even be the reason that children instinctively put things in their mouths.  (If you find yourself flinching at this, perhaps your own childhood was affected by parental anxiety around dirt.)

Perhaps best of all though, muddy and dirty play gets over that barrier so that they grow up feeling at home in nature, and therefore the whole world around them becomes an adventure, not a fear.

There is even some research suggesting that microbes in soil stimulate the brain to produce higher levels of natural anti-depressants!  Children who often play in nature also have lower incidence of ADHD (because it exercises their ability to pay attention) and lower levels of obesity (because nothing uses energy like playing outdoors).

3. Don’t put limitations on what your daughter can do

One striking way that limitations are put on little girls, even toddlers, is the subtle message that they have to stay neat and clean. This is closely linked in with the wearing of clothes that are too fragile and “dressy” to allow active play.  So while boys can play in the mud, run and roll and climb trees, wrestle and laugh, girls are supposed to sit and be quiet and nice.  More and more today, mothers and fathers dress their little girls in impossibly frilly, delicate and often expensive clothes that in effect say to the wearer “watch out!”, “don’t get dirty!”.   We think we are making them feel special, while all we are doing is keeping them from doing their most important developmental task – having messy fun.  This is a really dangerous message, because it says in effect–  how you look is so important that it affects what you are allowed to do.  

So, we have to reverse this.  And its so simple to do so.  You start by making sure your daughter has, and uses, rough and ready clothes, sturdy footwear, and a durable sunhat, as much of the time as possible – and then letting her know – go for it!. Without any worries about mud or dirt, rips or tears – and washing it off afterwards is half the fun

4. Help your kids play in an unstructured way

It helps if we stay out of things as much as possible. When kids play, in an unstructured way, without adults trying to make it a “teaching” experience, but just being nearby to apply the occasional bandaid or hug, they go into the most intense learning.

5. Keep your young children away from visual screens

Looking at screens like iPads and laptops in early childhood alters the visual brain of a child because everything is the same distance away.  Playing outside, you are holding tiny things up to your face, gazing rapidly away, seeing into the distance and tracking moving things like birds and animals, all brilliant visual exercise.

6. Help your kids become greenfingers

Kids naturally love living things – whether its growing radishes, or keeping a lizard for a few hours before letting it go free.  In fact, give a toddler their own bit of garden, and they don’t even have to plant anything, they just love to dig it, shape it, or poke sticks into it.

7. Don’t spend on your money on expensive toys

Don’t worry about buying expensive toys for your kids. Kids love playing with anything around the home, as long as its safe. Give them a bucket or a few containers, and something to shovel with, a trowel or wooden spoon, and hours of play can result.  If its warm, add some water and the real fun begins!

8. Get other kids involved

When there are other kids around, then play possibilities go through the roof.  There is then so much learning about initiative, co-operation, and how to get along without adults always stepping in.

 9. Be very mindful in the way you talk to your children

When you are stressed out and you say things like “God, you’re lazy”, “You silly idiot”, “Stop that”, “Don’t be such a pest” ‘You’re so selfish” and so on, this kind of talk doesn’t just make a child feel bad momentarily. These put-downs have a hypnotic effect and act unconsciously, like seeds in the mind, seeds which will grow and shape the child’s self image, eventually becoming part of their personality.

10. Be a happy and healthy parent

You can’t amaze your children if you are constantly stressed, tired and overburdened. I often talk with parents who don’t understand why they aren’t coping. They expect superhuman performance without realising that we human beings need ‘fuel’. We don’t just run on food; we need ‘energy’ in the form of love, recognition, touch and talking with others. Look at the people in your life and consider how they help or hinder your fuel resources. Here are a few good ideas to “help refuel your tanks’:

  • Learn to be boring to your children occasionally so they leave you in peace when you need it.
  • Spend half an hour of full attention time with children each day, instead of hours of begrudged half-attention.
  • Spend plenty of time with other parents.
  • On a regular basis, do one activity that is not concerned with being a parent but is an adult satisfying activity, just for you.
  • Play your music and cook food the way you like it.
  • Learn that ‘messy is beautiful’ and give up ‘tidy house’ ideals for a few years.


Steve Biddulph is one of the world’s best known parenting authors. A psychologist for 25 years, he is now retired but continues to write and teach. His books, including The Secret of Happy Children, Raising Boys, The New Manhood and now RAISING GIRLS are in four million homes and 31 languages. They have influenced the way we look at childhood and especially the development of boys and men. Today though, the exploitation and misuse of girls and young women globally are his major concern.He was voted Father of the Year in 2000 for his work encouraging the role of fathers, and is Adjunct Professor in the school of psychology and counselling at Cairnmillar Institute, Melbourne. He has two grown up children, and lives in Tasmania with his wife and co-author Sharon, and assorted wombats. To find out more about Steve Biddulph, please visit his website.

Ten Ways to Amaze your Co-Workers

October 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Ten Ways to Amaze

by Melinda Tunbridge, Director – Human Resources at Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Australia

Mel TunbridgeYou spend more time per week with your co-workers than your family, so how do you stay on the right side of your team mates – better yet, what will make you amazing in their eyes!

1. Ask questions.

Depending on the questions you ask, asking questions can either be ‘amazing’ or down right annoying. If you ask your boss or co-worker something he or she has mentioned repeatedly or something that is obvious, that probably falls more into the annoying camp. Asking questions for clarification or further insight shows that you are eager to learn and equally interested in what’s happening around you.

2. Be ready to lend a helping hand.

No matter what your job is, everyone wants to work with someone that is helpful. If you are ready to lend a helping hand, be the one that can be depended upon, your boss and co-workers will appreciate and admire you for it. And if you say you are going to do something, own it & deliver!

3. Say a big fat “Hi” in the morning.

Do you skulk into the office, averting eyes, shoulders slumped, slump down in your chair and immediately start work? Or worse still, do you scurry past in a hurry whilst yapping on your phone, merely acknowledging other people around you. If so, you’re likely to find that co-workers start to ignore you. Get into the habit of smiling and greeting everyone as you arrive in the morning. It’s amazing how little effort it takes for maximum recognition.

4. Learn the art of small talk.

Ask your co-workers about their interests – their favorite music, films, books, hobbies family, pets, and football team – the list is endless. Showing a genuine interest in them will make them feel comfortable around you. Talk about your life outside the office occasionally as well to remind others, were people, not just employees/team members.

5. Ask what they think.

People love to be asked their opinion, so go out of your way to ask, “What do you think of this or that?” or “How do you think I should handle this situation with X Y or Z?” Then give the advice-giver a sincere thank you, even if the ideas are, let’s say, less than helpful.

6. Spread some love.

You don’t have to be a Pollyanna skipping all over the pace, but try to perform one kind act per week. You could bring in cupcakes for no reason. Another week, it might be a card for a co-worker – maybe a thank-you note for helping you out the week before, or a funny card for a co-worker who seems to be a bit down. It can be as simple as a ‘thank you” post it note on a pc screen – it’s the thought that matters here.

7. Return calls and e-mails promptly.

To win friends at work, a good place to start is good office etiquette. There’s nothing more frustrating to busy people than to have their e-mails and phone messages seemingly ignored. Your silence doesn’t just make their job harder to do; it also conveys an unpleasant message to them: you’re unimportant to me and so is whatever you need from me.

8. Give credit where credit is due.

Don’t withhold credit from others. Embrace the attitude that we all win together, and let others know when someone has done something above and beyond the call of duty or performed well. Also, if someone incorrectly gives you credit and praise, acknowledge your co-worker who does deserve the high five! It will reflect on you well & you’ll be remembered for the gesture.

9. Respect other people’s time.

Always be on time. Doesn’t matter for who or what reason. If you have agreed to a commitment, honor it by being punctual. Always be on time, it shows you respect other people’s time. And let’s face it, you’ll run late occasionally, a quick text or phone call heads up is the very least you can do.

10. Assume the positive about what you don’t know

Managers are clueless, we’re working way harder than anyone else in the building, no one understands what we do – they must be all idiots etc etc. Isn’t it amazing how a team of usually happy individuals can suddenly breed negativity? It’s a negative attitude that is contagious and makes work become miserable. Believe both in the work you’re doing and the organisation you’re doing it for. If you can’t, perhaps it’s time to move on…



Melinda Tunbridge is the current Director Human Resources for the Special Broadcasting Service ( SBS ).
Mel’s HR career spans 15 years, holding senior HR leadership roles within News Limited, Tabcorp Holdings, Jupiter’s Ltd & various State & Federal public organisations. She has also held executive operational positions outside of HR.

A thought provoking & proactive HR practitioner who prides herself in asking the tough questions and challenging the status quo. Mel’s approach is innovative and pragmatic, recognising the imperative of demonstrating ROI & commerciality in all HR activities. Her qualifications include a BA of Science, Masters Human Resources, Masters Industrial Relations, & an MBA.

Mel is married with a gorgeous baby girl named Eloise.


Ten Ways to Amaze your Employees

June 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Ten Ways to Amaze

by Melinda Tunbridge, Director – Human Resources at Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Australia

Melinda-TunbridgeAhhhh employees!

Whether you’re a people manager by choice or not, you are a leader of others and these guys can actually get up and go if you’re not doing it for them. Statistics show that more employees leave organisations because of their managers than any other reason! So love them or loathe them your employees are yours to inspire, motivate and cultivate. So here they are: 10 Ways to Amaze your Employees

1. Acknowledge Employees & their Great Work

People want to know that their work matters—that what they do is valued. An acknowledgment must be sincere or it has little value.

As a manager, taking credit for an idea or piece of work is a big no, no. There is nothing quite like acknowledging the great work someone in your team did & even bigger kudos if you’re Manager can find time to acknowledge the work too.

2. Stand up for Them

If employers don’t care about their people, it’s a matter of time until employees, in turn, don’t care.

If a member of your team is being singled out by anyone stand up for them quick smart. If they make a mistake, it’s up to other people to let you know and you can communicate that to the employee.

Never tolerate yelling, belittling or any other behavior you wouldn’t tolerate from a stranger on the street and if it ever does happen back your people every time. Even if it’s a customer. No exceptions.

3. Role Clarity

Tell people what you want them to do & give them boundaries, then let them go. Micromanaging? No, it’s called clear direction. Give people parameters so they can work within broad outlines & then trust people to get the job done.

4. Be consistent with your expectations.

So many times, I hear, “I wish my boss would deal with so & so.”
Hold people accountable in a way that is consistent & fair. There can be no doubt about what is and isn’t acceptable. Be timely and swift about it.

5. Say Thank You

Two simple little words that speak volumes at the end of the day or end of a project. Verbalise it or a quick note is super powerful way to have employees know you value & notice they are working and supporting you. A genuine thank you publically for a great job is an amazing motivator at the right time.
Its easy to flick a thank you emails, buy a pack of blank cards and keep them at the ready. You can even buy preprinted thank you post its! Jot a message down, stick it to the workstation! Two minutes, months of value gained.

6. Face Up to Your Mistakes

When you make a mistake at work, which everyone inevitably does at some point, face up to it. Acknowledge, fix & move on. Your team will be more inclined to take responsibility and come up with a solution to fix their own mistakes. You may not be wrapped about the mistake a team member has made but you will at least be impressed with their ownership & solution focused approach to fixing it. Your response will encourage people to fess up, not bury the mistakes.

7. Provide autonomy

Trust people to work through things in their own way and truly allow them to do it. Even if you don’t agree entirely with the approach. It’s all great development and you can go over other ideas and feedback as part of a debrief or if they come to you for advice.

Give them something interesting to work on. Trust them with opportunity. They may just surprise you and you may even learn something yourself.

8. Set employees up for success

Give them the clear direction, tools and clear roadblocks as necessary. Nobody wants to fail. Indecisive leaders who keep people in the wrong roles, set unrealistic goals, keep unproductive team members, or change direction unfairly just frustrate everybody and make people feel defeated.
Your job is to make it practical for people to succeed. When you do this, everybody wins.

9. Acknowledge the Whole Employee – family, pets, interests, and the lot

People spend a large part of their lives at work. Get to know their families & circumstances, their interests and so on. Allow them time to be flexible to work from home or leave early to pick up the kids or walk the dog. Whatever is important to them. If you provide the flexibility for people to manage their own time they will repay you in spades. Manage by outcomes, not hours in the office.

A really simple idea is to get people to commit a personal goal on their Development Plans in their Performance Plans. Then support them to attain it.

10. Walk the Talk – Always

No matter what you do as a leader, you are always on show. Leaders don’t get to have a bad day. You team will be looking to you for examples of what is and isn’t tolerated and how to behave. If your espousing one thing (i.e. coming to work on time) and doing another (i.e. always coming in late) you shoot your credibility down in one easy action. You’d be surprised what people notice.


Melinda Tunbridge is the current Director Human Resources for the Special Broadcasting Service ( SBS ).
Mel’s HR career spans 15 years, holding senior HR leadership roles within News Limited, Tabcorp Holdings, Jupiter’s Ltd & various State & Federal public organisations. She has also held executive operational positions outside of HR.

A thought provoking & proactive HR practitioner who prides herself in asking the tough questions and challenging the status quo. Mel’s approach is innovative and pragmatic, recognising the imperative of demonstrating ROI & commerciality in all HR activities. Her qualifications include a BA of Science, Masters Human Resources, Masters Industrial Relations, & an MBA.

Mel is married with a gorgeous baby girl named Eloise.

10 Ways to Amaze Your Partner

April 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Ten Ways to Amaze

by Desiree Spierings, Director of Sexual Health Australia 

To ensure you amaze your partner every single day ask yourself each morning: “what lovely thing can I do for my partner today?”, and then give it to them! Here are ten ideas to start with:

  1. Bucket List – Write down 10 NEW things you would like to do with your partner each week. It has to be something you have not done before. So it could be; going for a walk in a different area, having a picnic, having a cup of tea on the balcony, going for dinner at a new restaurant, etc…Put them in a bucket and each Monday pick one out of the bucket and make it happen that week. This is important as research indicates that those couples who do something new and exciting regularly are happier with their relationship, not just now but also in the future compared to those who don’t.
  2. Two minute partings/greetings – Often couples are very busy and they might just run out the door in the morning, or come home and start working on their to do list straight away without even saying good bye or greeting their partner properly. So take two minutes each time you say good bye or greet each other, where you give them a proper hug, ask them about their day, and wish them well.
  3. Seesaw Principle – In relationships each partner has their roles, for example, one always does the washing and ironing, the other always does the gardening. Try to implement the seesaw principle now and again, where you surprise your partner by having done their role without wanting anything in return, but just because…because you love them.
  4. Reminisce – Often couples have a wonderful love story and history. And this history is what makes their commitment level high. So it is great to be reminded of this, so plan a lovely evening where you can both reminisce and think about the past, for example, your first date, your wedding, when you decided you wanted to have children, memories that made you laugh, great holidays etc… Just a tip; take some photo’s along!
  5. Dream – Make plans together of the future, and dream of what this future may look like. It is great for couples to see clearly what it is they want and work for, which in turn can be a great motivation to get there as a team together.
  6. Send a Reminder – Remind your partner throughout the day that you think of them or love them or care for them, either via sending a text, email, or leave a post note behind for them to find.
  7. Minimize Your Exits – Exits are activities that can interfere with the relationship, as it could feel to your partner as if you are avoiding the relationship, whereas you could be spending time with them. For example: being on your phone, computer, facebook, going to gym 5 nights a week, hanging out with your friends all weekend, spend your whole Saturday morning cleaning etc. It is healthy to have some exits and to think of your personal needs, but too many exits is what we call the ‘invisible divorce’ and can end in disaster. So try to consciously minimize your exits to free up a bit more time for your partner.
  8. Implement Bridges – In the busyness of life it often feels weird to just go from doing to dishes to spending intimate time with your partner. So make sure you implement bridges, these are the things you might do that set the mood, that is a clear break, or sign that we move away from ‘work-time’, into ‘together-time’. For example, having a spa/shower/bath together, having a wine together, giving each other a massage. This creates an opportunity for intimacy to happen.
  9. Express your Love for your Partner to Others – Instead of saying positive things, or giving your partner compliments directly, tell their friends/family/people they care about, how wonderful your partner is, or what lovely thing he/she does for you, or something positive about their looks/character/personality etc…You can do this in front of them, but even if you don’t, it tends to have a funny way of reaching them anyway.
  10. Just for them – Do something just for them. So give them something that they would like without you liking it. For example, give them permission to play their Xbox for one night a week, to go out with their friends once a month, to have a holiday with their brother (without you). It will really make them love you, because it makes them realise you really love them, because you have given them something only they really want, not something you would want.

About the author


Desiree Spierings is the Director of Sexual Health Australia and is a qualified and experienced Sex Therapist and Relationship Counsellor. She has a BA/Psychology from Macquarie University, a PG/Dip in Psychology from Macquarie University, a Master Health Sciences/Sexual Health from Sydney University.She believes that every relationship can encounter difficulties, even the best ones, and it’s how you go about dealing with those challenges that can make a world of difference.
Desiree was the relationship counsellor and sex therapist on the ABC1 TV series ‘Making Couples Happy’, which aired in February 2013.

Additionally is also an Accredited Professional Member of ASSERT NSW and she was a member of the project working group for psycho-sexual issues for women with gynecological cancers, which was funded by Cancer Australia and the National Centre for Gynecological Cancer.