Psychotherapist, Facilitator, Artist and Parenting Coach
Annie, tell us a little about your background.
Firstly, I am a parent of two amazing adult children, and two adult stepchildren. I have been blessed with two gorgeous grand-daughters and spend my time between visiting them in London, and living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Tasmania.
I am a parent coach, and now work exclusively online, so I can be anywhere in the world and still work. I have a background in Psychology, Early Childhood Education, and I am a Psychotherapist, Facilitator, Artist and Parenting Coach and have worked extensively with parents and organizations, teaching and coaching for many years.
Why did you decide to become an authority on parenting?
My early training was in child development, and parent education, so after having my own children, I trained as a counselor and psychotherapist. I see family as the foundation of our society, and yet families are increasingly under stress with parents working long hours, and traditional support networks no longer so easily available. Many young parents don’t live near family, and having healthy role models to learn from can be hard to find.
My decision to move my business online, was twofold, partly to reach more parents, but also making my business mobile, so I could support my family in London, plus an elderly Mother in New Zealand. One of the wonderful advantages of the internet.
Tell us what kind of example you had of parenting when you were a child.
My childhood was pretty conventional during my early childhood, Mom stayed at home and raised us four kids, and Dad was the breadwinner. But during my teenage years, our family experimented with more alternative lifestyles, schools and eventually my parents divorced.
Not all these experiences were happy ones, but we learn so much from all our life’s experiences and so long as we don’t stay stuck in pain, blame or suffering, we can chose to do things differently, and learn whatever we need to create the kind of family life we want.
What was the hardest parenting experience you personally had? What did you learn from it?
Probably being a single parent for most of the time raising my children, I divorced when my children were very small. I think it taught me to be resourceful, both financially and making sure my children had a well rounded life, given that they only saw their father occasionally.
I think one of the biggest issues for Parents, and particularly as a single parent, is looking after yourself. Parents are running on empty, and a stressed, exhausted parent does not parent very effectively. I learned to develop good support networks, and my Mum was wonderful.
The most difficult time for me, was when my son decided to move overseas and live with his father for a year. It was definitely something he needed to do, but it was really hard for us both, and it taught me a lot about letting go and trusting in his choice, that it would be the path he needed to take. He did return to live with us, and by then I was with my second husband (to be) and so we all had a big adjustment to make. Life is full of change, and we have to roll with it, and figure out ways to make things work.
Spanking has been a highly controversial topic in recent years. What are your viewpoints on it?
Spanking has been made illegal in Australia and New Zealand, and I support the no spanking rule; however I am saddened that it has to be legislated against. Parents don’t need more rules; they need more support and education to help them find alternative ways to have healthy happy families.
I see punishment as not particularly helpful to encourage children to make better choices. Teaching them make amends if they have made a mistake, and putting more emphasis on positive reinforcement, rather than constant discipline is far more effective in the long run. Children need to learn to solve problems, think effectively and manage their emotions and these are all developmental processes. The neural pathways have to actually form in the brain, and punishment simply creates fear, and keeps a child functioning in the reptilian brain. We have to help our kids move from reaction to thinking constructively. Sadly many parents simply lash out in anger, and are not very effective in helping their children to make better choices. What we do teaches our kids far more than what we say.
What is the most common mistake parents make?
Not listening effectively. We tend to want to rush in and fix things up, or we are so busy juggling our busy lives we don’t take enough time to just listen and encourage our children to express themselves, or work through a problem.
What is the number one question parents ask you? What is your advice?
In line with your question above, one of the more common things parents ask me is “Why don’t my kids listen to me”! I wonder where they learn that from? We often expect our children to do as I say, not as I do. But being a role model is the most powerful tool we have to teach our children.
Parenting takes time. It is not just about meals on the table and clean clothes; we have to invest time in our children. They are the future of this wonderful little blue planet, and if we help them to grow to be caring, nurturing young people, that are solution finders, we are setting up a wonderful future.
And my number one piece of advice would have to be have more FUN with your kids.
Playing is learning for children, not just recreation, and parents totally underestimate the importance of play. Playing together as a family is very powerful – it de-stresses the family, it bonds, it creates endless learning opportunities, and pleasure sets off all those wonderful endorphins that make us feel good. When we feel good, we are productive, creative, more loving and giving.
How do you motivate a child that seems unmotivated?
Find what they are interested in, and notice when they “switch on”. If you are talking about schooling, not all kids are going to be motivated in school. Schools are designed to teach average children, who are comfortable conforming. The sheer numbers of children each teacher has in a class, and the logistics of trying to work through the curriculum, means a teacher cannot possibly give much one on one attention or be able to modify teaching styles to fit different styles of learning. Many of our kinesthetic learners, simply cannot learn in a classroom situation, they need physical movement to integrate and think.
How do you keep kids from fighting and arguing with each other?
Fighting and arguing with siblings, is actually how kids learn to negotiate, to test their power, to speak out. Of course we want to stop them resorting to physical fighting, and we want to help them to argue productively. That really comes down to teaching them to listen – and modeling that ourselves. Taking turns to express a viewpoint, learning to take some time out if things get a little heated. I don’t use time out as punishment, but instead as thinking time. We have to help them to get to win/win solutions, and to be problem solvers rather than bullies or victims.
How is your book coming along?
I am just in the final stages of editing Kindle books, so I will soon be available on kindle. I do have two programs available for parents on my site, Super Skills 4 Kids (http://tinyurl.com/SuperSkillsforKids) and EFT 4 Kids (http://tinyurl.com/EFTforKids).
I also answer parenting questions for free online – so parents’ questions and my answer
becomes a page on our site to inspire other parents.
I’d like to make a special offer of a free copy of one of my e-books to any of your readers who are parents.
They can register for a copy of “Inspirational Parenting Tips” here:
Annie’s website is packed with tips and information for parents, and free online coaching. You can find it here: