Facing Karma – A lecture by Rudolf Steiner.

Vienna, February 8, 1912. Bn 130, GA 130, CW 130

At the end of the two public lectures I have given in this city, I emphasized that anthroposophy should not be considered a theory or mere science, nor as knowledge in the ordinary sense. It is rather something that grows in our souls from mere knowledge and theory into immediate life, into an elixir of life. In this way, anthroposophy not only provides us with knowledge, but we receive forces that help us in our ordinary lives during physical existence as well as in the total life that we spend during physical existence and the non-physical existence between death and a new birth. The more we experience anthroposophy as bringing to us strength, support and life renewing energies, the more do we understand it.

Upon hearing this, some may ask, “If anthroposophy is to bring us a strengthening of life, why do we have to acquire so much of what appears to be theoretical knowledge? Why are we virtually pestered at our branch meetings with descriptions about the preceding planetary evolutions of our earth? Why do we have to learn about things that took place long ago? Why do we have to acquaint ourselves with the intimate and subtle laws of reincarnation, karma and so on?”

Some people may believe that they are being offered just another science. This problem, which forces itself upon us, demands that we eliminate all easy and simplistic approaches toward answering it. We must carefully ask ourselves whether, in raising this question, we are not introducing into it some of the easy-going ways of life that become manifest when we are reluctant to learn and to acquire something in a spiritual way. This is an uncomfortable experience for us and we are forced to wonder whether something of this attitude of discomfort does not find expression in the question that is being asked. As it is, we are led to believe that the highest goal that anthroposophy may offer us can be attained on easier roads than on that taken by us through our own literature.

It is often said, almost nonchalantly, that man has only to know himself, that all he has to do in order to be an anthroposophist is to be good. Yes, it is profound wisdom to know that to be a good person is one of the most difficult tasks, and that nothing in life demands more in the way of preparation than the realization of this ideal to be good. The problem of self-knowledge, however, cannot be solved with a quick answer, as many are inclined to believe. Therefore, today, we will shed light on some of these questions that have been raised. We then will come to see how anthroposophy meets us, even if only by appearance, as a teaching or as a science, but that it also offers in an eminent sense a path toward self- knowledge and what may be called the pilgrimage toward becoming a good person. To accomplish this we must consider from different points of view how anthroposophy can be fruitful in life.

Let us take a specific question that does not concern scientific research, but everyday life — a question known to all of us. How can we find comfort in life when we have to suffer in one way or another, when we fail to find satisfaction in life? In other words, let us ask ourselves how anthroposophy can offer comfort and consolation when it is really needed. Obviously, what can be said here only in general terms must always be applied to one’s own individual case. If one lectures to many people, one can only speak in generalities.

Why do we need comfort, consolation in life? Because we may be sad about a number of events, or because we suffer as a result of pains that afflict us. It is natural that, at first, man reacts to pain as though he is rebelling inwardly against it. He wonders why he has to stand pain. “Why am I afflicted by this pain? Why is life not arranged for me in such a way that I don’t suffer pain, that I am content?” These questions can only be answered satisfactorily on the basis of true knowledge concerning the nature of human karma, of human destiny. Why do we suffer in the world? We refer here to outer as well as to inner sufferings that arise in our psychic organization and leave us unfulfilled. Why are we met by such experiences that leave us unsatisfied?

Read the full lecture at the Rudolf Steiner Archive here

Listen to the lecture by Rudolf Steiner audio here

In thy thinking cosmic thoughts are living;
Lose thyself in cosmic thoughts.
In thy feeling cosmic forces are weaving;
Feel thyself through cosmic forces.
In thy willing cosmic beings are working;
Create thyself through beings of will.

A Healthy Emotional Diet

with thanks to Mary Heard of simplicityparenting.com

Long after our children are weaned they continue to feed off our emotions. That is why it is so important right now to stay out of our ‘fight or flight’ response as much as possible, to be a safe harbour for our children and to prevent anxiety from polluting their childhood. ‘Simplicity Parenting’ author Kim John Payne explains how children’s learning and development functions can be ‘hijacked’ by stress. As parents our task is to create filters to protect our children from the deluge of adult information, pressures and concerns and to allow them to grow up with a sense of confidence and trust in the world.

We protect our children by regulating our own internal world as well as by being conscious of the adult conversation our children are exposed to. Children do not have the mental faculties to process a lot of adult information. For a young child this information does not prepare them for the adult world, indeed it is the gentle experience of a protected childhood that provides them with the resilience and strength of character that allows them to deal with the harsh realities of life as they grow up. The words of the adult world can be experienced by children as emotional and verbal clutter, what they mainly hear is the emotion running through the words and if this emotion is fear, our children will feel afraid.

So we need to be very careful right now. Just as we would not expose our children to physical dangers, we need to use the same vigilance around emotional dangers. We need to create boundaries around the adult world, taking care of these concerns ourselves and meeting our responsibilities as adults while honouring the sanctity and freedom of childhood. Children need to relax knowing that we are capable of taking care of the adult world for them. We need to be careful that the adult information they receive is processed so as not to cause them any alarm and that they are not privy to any inappropriate adult conversation.

It is so easy in these turbulent times to forget about what is most important, like our children’s emotional wellbeing and development. We do not want worry and fear to pervade the atmosphere of our family lives. We need to be the strong foundation for our children and to move through the world in a way that sets a good example because when they are young it is our actions that really count.

So it is important as parents that we exercise discipline. Simplicity Parenting recommends that we limit our exposure to media that informs rather than alarms. This will help us to navigate this territory calmly and to stay grounded for our children. It is so tempting to get caught up in conversations and media that reinforce our views about what is going on right now but as parents of young children that is a luxury we can’t really afford. We need to put our children first in this situation, to be there for them as much as we can and to be a ‘lighthouse’ for them in turbulent seas.

Discipline And The Four Pillars Of Simplicity

An excerpt from The Soul of Discipline, by Kim John Payne, M. Ed

How to Dial Back the Outside Pressures

“Before simplifying our family life, whatever I said to my kids seemed to set them off and make them goofy or defiant. After calming down the pace of our days and giving more down time, everything became easier. What I especially noticed was that when I had to give a direction or make a transition, my kids would come along in a much better way.” With the growth of the Simplicity Parenting community and practices, like this mother who made this comment, countless parents have experienced a direct relationship between dialing back the pace and pressure of daily life with improvements in their kids’ behavior.

There are four key ways you can immediately reduce these pressures and prevent a child from becoming disoriented and pushing back against your directions. If you’ve read my book, Simplicity Parenting, some of these concepts will be familiar to you, but it’s important to revisit them in the context of discipline:

1. Balance and simplify the amount of stuff your child or teen has (i.e. books, toys, clothes)

2. Strengthen rhythm and predictability

3. Balance and simplify the amount of scheduled activities

4. Filter out the amount of adult conversation

In a follow-up article, we will take this one step further by looking at the huge behavioral benefits of filtering out the adult world by going low-screen or noscreen.

One: Simplifying the Amount of Stuff

A great starting point for dialing it down is to clear out the clutter. Reduce the number of books, toys, clothes, gadgets and other extraneous items in a kid’s room and around the house in general. Countless parents have reported that, when they reduce physical clutter, their child’s or teen’s behavior improves. This makes sense if you consider what happens in the mental and emotional life of a child when she has less. When you have fewer things, what you do have becomes precious. And if you are playing with other kids, you learn how to share what little you have. The more a child’s imagination becomes fired up by one little object—that blanket they’re putting over a frame, those two cars they drive along the living room rug, that plank of wood that becomes a roof—whatever it is, it’s very likely they will find multiple uses for it, since there aren’t that many other options. When this happens, the limbic system and the frontal lobe of your child’s brain, which stimulate collaboration and cooperation, are encouraged to develop. The limbic system is critical for emotional processing and behavior and has also been connected to the development of emotional health, social cooperation and empathy.

Parents who have adopted the Simplicity approach say things like, “When I’ve got less stuff around, my three kids actually fight less. Isn’t that strange?” It may seem counterintuitive. But, in fact, when there are fewer things to play with, kids have to collaborate more. They can’t dart about from one toy or digital device to another, a behavior pattern that stimulates the amygdala, which in turn triggers our primal flight-or-fight response. A child with too many toys and gadgets is likely to develop unhealthy play, rather than good, creative interaction. The area of brain that develops as a child learns to find multiple uses for a single toy is also related to the building up of social cooperation. The positive changes in behavior and cooperation you see when you simplify your child’s or teen’s home environment may appear magical, but they are grounded in developmental fact.

Having your children play in a cooperative way means a parent needs to arbitrate much less to sort out conflicts. Why wait until there is fighting over toys to be forced to intervene remove them? Do it proactively and enjoy the giggles and long moments of quiet play with the few simple toys you thoughtfully provide.

Read the full article at simplicityparenting.com

This link will take you to The Simplicity Parenting Podcast with Kim John Payne 

Inner Gardening – Food Garden Consciousness Raising Tips

with thanks to Peter Kearney myfoodgarden.com.au

Inner gardening is a pathway to improving your well being and one of the best places to start this journey is in your food garden.

Successful food growing in urban environments is a juggling act. There are so many factors to manage and its easy to think that growing food is purely about the materials you use and grow. How you are in the garden, not just what you do, has a profound affect on its success.

Why not devote some of your valuable time to cultivate a more beneficial state of mind when your are in the food garden, some inner gardening. In my experience, mastery of this inner gardening will not only reveal a green thumb, but also create a flow in the rest of your life.

The garden will then present you with a twofold opportunity: to grow healthy food and to raise your consciousness (inner gardening). There is a very subtle interplay between using the garden for inner gardening and what you receive back from the garden in healthy soil and plants and a beautiful energy that makes you want to give your time in exchange for its gifts.

Here are some tips on doing inner gardening and achieving a better outer garden at the same time:

  • Observation –  Develop the discipline to check in on the garden each day and walk slowly around it, as if you were greeting friends. Look at what is changing, what needs help and attempt to appreciate the state of the whole garden environment before jumping to conclusions on specific issues. Move what you have observed in the garden around in your thinking without getting too emotional and then decide to act.
  • Attitude – Be very careful with your attitude when you are working in the garden. A deep concentration on the beauty of the garden and the purpose of your physical work, rather than what you weren’t happy with at the office that day, will help you see things in the garden that you would not normally notice and act in more appropriate way
  • Quiet time – Select a time in the day when you sit in the garden and either concentrate on its beauty or meditate. Try to maintain a very concentrated and quiet state of mind. You will be surprised at how energised you feel after this.
  • Focus on purpose – Be clear on your purpose when entering the garden and concentrate your intentions on that purpose.

I am sure you will see from each of these tips that they could apply to virtually anything you do in life that is complex.

Its interesting in working with biodynamic food growing methods in the context of inner gardening. The impact of biodynamic (BD) soil and plant preparations (preps) is enhanced with a strong intention on their positive purpose when you are preparing and applying the preparations. This intention flows energetically into the BD preps. This series of articles from the 2018 International biodynamics conference has some very interesting research on the impact of the gardener or farmer intention when using BD preps.

Happy inner gardening: Peter Kearney www.myfoodgarden.com.au

It’s Time to Talk About Angels: A Matter of the Heart

By DEBORAH CRAYDON – Certified Flower Essence Practitioner

Angels are real and many children experience them. We’re moving into a time when closer contact with Angels is happening so it’s good to talk about them.

Rudolf Steiner said that by the end of the 20th century, a new stream of children coming to Earth would have what he called ‘the fifth chamber of the heart’ in seed form. This new heart chamber is etheric in nature, not physical. It’s been present since the 1980s in children and before that in many adults. It’s that place in the heart where you know everything. And more and more children know everything. In particular, they know what you’re thinking and if what you say is true or not. Unless they become damaged, this faculty is there because they are using the heart, not the head, as their organ of cognition. This new etheric chamber in the heart contains an opening into the spiritual world. When this gateway opens, the Angels are there on the other side.

The color of this opening is Indigo and leads to the inner spiritual world of Violet. In Violet you connect with the inner altar of the Earth; the Earth becomes a living being for you. This is the threshold that humanity is passing through at this time. Indigo-dyed blue jeans are the most popular clothing and children are sometimes called Indigo. This is why.

This doorway that’s opening between here and there is transparent for many children. Young people into their late twenties and thirties are also keeping this doorway open, although it’s taking an effort due to media interference. There’s resistance as well. Little children happily speak about their experiences with their Angels and invisible companions. Later, young people often recoil from this type of talk. Why is this? What’s wrong with talking about Angels?

The one piece of information that comes easily to the question of why we’re here is that we have free will. We learn right away that we get to decide. If your heart tells you what’s right, and your head or will aren’t interested, you might create what you want, because you have the right to do so. There’s a right and wrong thing to do at any given moment. When listening with your heart, the Angels will tell you what’s right for you at the moment. Fear that this may impede your own personal will or thoughts is part of the resistance to Angels, especially from young people.

It’s very important that this door to the heart stays open. There’s something happening, and with special intensity since 1999, that comes from the Angels. They are seeding humanity with thoughts of universal brotherhood. And they are whispering secrets about who we truly are. This is having the effect for each one of us to begin having real interest in the other person, no matter who they are. Sensing that who we are is beyond what we imagined, this interest in the other is a seed that can take root and grow, when the heart door remains open.

It’s hard not to talk about Angels without mentioning Rudolf Steiner, since he said so much about them. The main thing he said is that we now have to ask for help from the Angelic hierarchies. They can’t help us anymore until we ask. We’re required to become co-creators with the spiritual world. Geoffrey Hodson wrote about this development in his classic book The Brotherhood of Angels and Men.

Lorna Byrne, who has seen Angels since she was a baby, has written two books about them recently: Angels in My Hair, and Stairways to Heaven. She says that she has never seen a single human being who wasn’t accompanied by their guardian Angel. Here’s how you can see them too: Gaze softly about two feet behind a person and you’ll have the impression of what looks like a sword of light about a yard tall, standing from about the mid-back up over the head. This is the guardian Angel in closed form.

One of the greatest tools a parent has is to pray for help to the guardian Angel of their children. When your child gets older, rather than communicating directly; silently asking that your combined Angels bring harmony between you works well, even in seemingly impossible situations. Parents have the right and the obligation to envision the highest good for their children. Unless you have an intuition that something is wrong, striving to envision a perfect outcome for them is more helpful than worry.

Flower essences are natural remedies that are over-lighted by Angels, or Devas of the plant world. They are wonderful tools to help children and young people keep this new door open in the heart. When young people doubt and experience pain, they may become open to this modality. While they may not understand that it will be connecting them to the Angels of flowers, they are grateful when they receive heart-based answers to difficult questions, through their influence.

Read the full article at waldorftoday.com

How to show kindness even to people you don’t like or don’t agree with …and why it’s so important, especially this year.

From bodyandsoul.com.au. Click to listen to the podcast with Hugh

Social psychologist Hugh Mackay has literally written the book on kindness. Here, he shows us simple steps to extend the olive branch to all.

The phrase it’s a ‘dog-eat-dog’ world exists for a reason. We’ve slowly become a society built on climbing ladders, winning and having an ‘all costs’ approach to pretty much everything we do.

So when the bushfires hit at the start of 2020, followed by an unprecedented global pandemic that brought our dog-eat-dog culture to its knees, a dynamic shifted.

We started noticing the old man down the street who couldn’t get his groceries, dropping extra toilet roll over to the next door neighbor during #tpgate, and ultimately attacking a pandemic with the one thing we could – a collective kindness and respect that was as unparalleled as the situation itself.

Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, social psychologist Hugh Mackay says, “Notice how people are talking about the ‘new normal’, which is implying that given all that’s happened, we don’t just want to slip back into being stressed, anxious, individualistic, overwhelmed, too much travel, too much stuff – filling up, too much time with too much activity.”

“As we always learn, whether it’s fires, floods, illness or even a personal catastrophe like a bereavement or a relationship breakdown or retrenchment – we learn what it means to be human,” he tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode Hugh Mackay’s simple ways to be kinder every day.

“What it means to be human is that we belong to a social species, that we actually need each other, and that we are hopeless in isolation…The big lesson we learnt in the pandemic was to be kind and respectful to each other.”

Mackay encountered thousands of random acts of kindness during the research for his new book The Kindness Revolution.

The pandemic was in a way, a great equalizer. Not in the sense that everyone has had the same experience of it (that has certainly not been equal), but it’s equal because it does not discriminate. Everyone and anyone can be struck down.

It reminds us that there’s something above religion, ethnicity, background, beliefs, values – we’re all human. Mackay believes that we have the capacity to be kind to everyone, even those we don’t like or don’t agree with.

“We’re capable of being kind to people we don’t agree with. Kindness alone amongst the human expressions or the expressions of human love, kindness is the one that doesn’t require any emotion at all.”

If you’re about to say that you find it really hard to be kind to people you dislike, that’s true. Mackay isn’t saying it’s easy.

It’s about separating love and affection and kindness. You don’t have to agree, or be friends with, or work with someone if they aren’t one of your ‘people’ but it doesn’t mean you can’t still show them kindness and respect.

“`If you talk politics and your blood is going to boil, don’t talk politics. Or if you have to talk politics, you can say, ‘Look, respectfully, I need you to know I don’t actually buy any of that. I get that you do and there are a lot of people who think like you, but I’m not one of them’. That’s okay.”

“That can be done with a smile. You can terminate a relationship kindly. You can terminate someone’s employment kindly. You can ask the neighbour to train their dog to stop barking at 2am kindly. You can do all these things kindly or not. It’s a choice we make. And yes, sometimes it is, it is hard. But let’s remember the dream.”

As a child kindness is something that’s drummed into us. Say sorry, say thank you, have manners, be generous, be respectful – how does that get lost in a world of adulthood?

The truth is, we’re all so wrapped up in everything that it can be hard to separate ourself and our actions from how it makes others feel. A dose of kindness might be all we need.

And that ‘dream’ Mackay is talking about?

“What kind of society do we dream of? I’m sure we dream of a society in which there’s no war, no violence…our dream is of a place where we’re kind to each other regardless of prejudices and differences, religious, ethnic, political or whatever,” he says.

“So if that’s the dream, there is only one way to make it come true, and that is to be committed to living as if this is that kind of society.”

The best bit is there are steps you can take today. Mackay recommends following his C-A-R-E model (connect, accept, respect, engage).

Connect
“Connect means whenever you encounter someone, it’s very simple. The act of kindness is simply to smile or say G’Day or wave across the street to someone, just something that indicates to that person that you acknowledge their existence on the planet. And given that the deepest of all human social needs is the need to be taken seriously, to be acknowledged, to be recognised, etc., even a smile, even G’Day, can lift someone’s spirits.”

Accept
“The ‘A’ is accept. We need to accept people as they are. We don’t have to like them, as I’ve been saying, we can be kind to anyone regardless of their situation. We don’t disqualify them from our kindness because we happen to disagree with them or not.”

Respect
“The R is respect. We need to respect each other simply because we are all part of this thing. In the pandemic, we were fond of saying ‘we’re all in this together’. We’re in life together. We humans exist in this shimmering, vibrating web of interconnectedness. We can’t afford to be selective in the respect we show towards our fellow humans.”

Engaged
“Get to know your neighbours, be part of your neighbourhood, join a choir, join a discussion group or book club, a community garden or anything – so that you’re in touch with the life of the local community to the extent that you become aware of needs, that that’s why we need to engage so we know when people need us.”

Find out more about Hugh’s book The Kindness Revolution (Allen & Unwin, $32.99), here.

Teens, smartphones and how to get it right

Presenter: Maggie Dent

Teenagers love their phones. All day. Every day. Even at night. And while there are lots of really great things about smartphones, there are so many pitfalls — strangers, bullying, porn, sexting. How do you guide your teenager’s digital life? Find out when Maggie Dent talks with Dr Ginni Mansberg, GP and co-author of The New Teen Age, a book which looks at what teenagers are up against on their devices.

To listen please click here

To hear Maggie’s top tips on teens, smartphones and how to get it right, scroll to 19:30.

John Marsden’s tips for parents

1. Give children space. Back off. Let them roam. Let them be bored. Don’t over-plan their lives. Cut way back on the after-school activities programs.

2. Keep away from all those ghastly, soulless, sterile playgrounds. Keep away from shopping malls. Look for real places. Wild places.

3. Be an adult. Say no to your children at least once a day. If the role of Adult in your family is vacant, then one of your children will fill it. And it won’t be pretty.

4. Don’t take up all the space. If you are dominating, loud, forceful, your children are highly likely to become passive, lacking spirit and personality … and/or sullen.

5. Believe about 40 per cent of the dramatic stories your children tell you of the injustices, corruption and satanic practices happening at school.

6. Teach them empathy. For example, after their jubilant victory celebrations when they win a sporting match, remind them that their jubilation was only possible because someone else – the losers – have been made to feel awful.

7. Help them develop language skills. Don’t finish their sentences for them. Don’t correct them when they mispronounce a word – they’ll work it out sooner or later. Ask them open-ended questions, that need a detailed answer, not Yes/No questions.

8. Make sure they have regular jobs/duties at home and that those jobs are done to a consistently high standard.

9. Don’t whinge endlessly about the miseries of your adult life. A lot of children now are fearful about growing up because their parents paint such a grim picture of the awfulness ahead.

10. Teach them to be very wary of people who Absolutely Know the Absolute Truth about Absolutely Everything! The colour of truth is always grey. Extreme positions are for the ignorant. Every creature, every person and every situation is complex. The universe is a wonderful mystery.

In Difficult Times: How Do I Find and Create Goodness for My Children?

by Susan Weber

In difficult times such as these it is not easy to feel the goodness in life. In an external crisis, our urge is often to listen and see the news and to share our feelings with other adults. As a consequence, it is easy for the children around us to be exposed to things that they cannot understand, to become fearful about situations they will never see and cannot change even if we think that the media or adult conversations are not attended to by the children. Even pre-verbal children can sense profoundly the distress in our inner being.

But nothing brings stamina for life and daily wellbeing to our children more directly and strongly than surrounding them and immersing them into an atmosphere of goodness and joy. For us as adults, the message they seek from us is this:
“I am happy to be alive; I am interested in the world around me and I want to find a place for myself within it.”

Children are born with an openness to meet what their lives will bring. Despite their individual destinies and challenges, this openness is present and as the adults in the child’s world, we have tremendous potential to cultivate this openness.

For the child just beginning life, there is one single mantra that needs to guide those early steps and years: the world is good. No other belief will carry him forward through the tumbles and stumbles, through the mysteries of his encounters with confidence and eagerness. Without this overarching rainbow of trust in life around and above them, children shrink back into themselves, lose the shine in their eyes, forgo the impulse to experiment, to see things as the adults around them never have, to imagine new solutions to the simplest experiments – piling blocks, washing a dish, dressing themselves upside down.

The world is good – and therefore I enter into it, explore it, wonder, stop and look, touch, encounter, meet what comes to me with interest and growing confidence.

Fear paralyzes children – it reverses children’s natural gesture of trust, openness, and interest in the world. To develop in any way – cognitively, emotionally, physically – children need to be able to enter easily into life around them. They need to feel welcome, and above all, safe. For who of us is able to take risks, try new things, when we have a question about the safety of our surroundings?

There are times when circumstances beyond our control create uncertainty or worse for our families. In addition, we could also say that our times are, in fact, uncertain times. At the same time, however, our children are just beginning their lives. We owe to them their birthright: the world is good, and I am grateful and happy to be in it. It is a safe place for me to grow in. And later, much later, I will be able to take on its pain and burdens. But give me time, peace, and space in which to discover the goodness in life for myself, in which to grow strong, capable, brave, and enthusiastic for life. Protect me from the challenges of adulthood until I am ready.

How can we do this for them?

  • We can protect them from information that they cannot comprehend or digest – saving our adult conversations for later, turning off televisions and radios in their presence.
  • Give them the strength building elements of rhythm, form in daily life, predictability, that reassure them of the goodness and security of each day.

I was once told that young children are very good observers, but poor interpreters. I, and many parents as well, have found this to be true. Whether it be the large world and its sphere of difficulties, political situations near and far, our professional work and its daily challenges, our own personal frustrations, angers and fears – young children are not able to interpret any of these. None of these are a suitable menu for young children who cannot digest it. It all then goes inside of them to then be expressed in ways that we ourselves may not correlate with what they might have heard, for information about these realms of life will often bring anxiety, nervousness, fear, withdrawal, sleepless nights, or aggressive behavior.

As the adults in their lives, we have the possibility to stand there beside the children with confidence for life offering them a model for imitation. We lead them out into our world: we walk alongside them. We have seen much, experienced much. It is an amalgam of joy, of pain, suffering, discovery, celebration, disappointment – and at times of fear, questioning. All these experiences and feelings will have come to us by the time we reach parenthood. As adults, we have tremendous freedom to explore these feelings, to reflect upon our own experiences. If we as adults listen to the outer world as it often presents itself, how do we then find our own paths to believing confidently in the goodness of the world? It is of utmost significance that we strive toward this belief, for our children look to us for signals, for images of where to begin seeking their places in the world. They imitate our deepest inmost feelings and beliefs, and these carry them far as pillars of strength when they require it.

Take a walk, find your way into nature, hold deep in memory the most recent good thing we have encountered. Begin and end your day with gratitude for the good in our lives – however challenging this may feel at moments. Pick a tiny bouquet of wildflowers or seasonal things from the nature just outside our doors – the wonder of one snowdrop or crocus in spring bloom emerging through the receding snow, a single acorn, one brightly polished apple – each of these can remind us of the wonder and miracles of the universe. Look up at the stars in the heavens and ponder the miracle that all over the earth human beings are united by experiencing the same starry heavens above them. Find a poem, even if you have never thought of poetry as your interest – just a few lines – copy it onto a piece of paper and put it on your refrigerator. Recall a human relationship that has helped you along your way. And see if, step by tiny step, you can rediscover, in difficult times, that the world truly is good.

Rudolf Steiner offers us a verse that can bring us strength in difficult times:

Steadfast I stand in the world
With certainty I tread the path of life
Love I cherish in the core of my being
Hope I carry into every deed
Confidence I imprint upon my thinking.
These five lead me to my goal
These five give me my existence.

From waldorfearlychildhood.org

Young people, Sexting, and the laws you need to know

When we were teenagers, sharing a nude or semi-nude image of ourselves wasn’t even a thing, so it’s no wonder it is incredibly worrying and stressful for many parents.

Research conducted by the Australian Government in 2018 found that 33% of teens aged 12-19 were engaging in some form of sexting activity either with a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, or other. We are confident in saying that this figure has risen substantially in the last four years since this research was released, and a more recent study is quoting that up to 70% of tweens and 87% of teens have been exposed to nude images online.

The peer pressure on teens today to fit in and share nudes is unprecedented and is also a double-edged sword in most cases. If they share an intimate image, they are often critiqued for their bodies and judged for sharing, and if they don’t share, they are also evaluated for being boring and considered not ‘worth it’ by their peers or crush.

For a lot of young people, sexting is often fun and consensual. Teens often see sexting as part of building relationships and self-confidence and exploring sexuality, bodies, and their sexual identities.

To most adults, sexting is risky, dangerous, and illegal. Yes, this is the case. There are risks, and teenagers can be pressured into sexting, but it isn’t always simple.

Young people DO worry about their images being shared with other people including friends and family members.

Many try to reduce this risk by making images without their face and send only for people they trust, and with whom they have or hope to have a romantic or intimate relationship. But some teenagers do send sexual images to people they’ve never met.

So what can parents of tweens and teens do?

Discuss this topic with any tween or teen child in your house with a device or phone. We experience that kids discuss these topics and share their experiences around this in the schoolyard way before we think they are old enough to discuss it. Early discussions and open conversations ensure that kids feel safe to discuss it at home with you, and a lot of potential problems are cut-off and dealt with quickly. We always suggest a good place to have these conversations is one on one in the car. They are beside you or behind you and it is less intimidating to a teen rather than sitting across a table face to face.

Young people want to be able to talk openly and honestly with their parents about sexting. But often this is not possible.  If you are a parent, talking with your child is the best way to help them learn about the risks and what to do if something goes wrong.

As parents, we need to talk about what sexting is and what to do if they see or receive a nude or a sexy selfie and the laws around this. What the risks of sexting are. Whether sexting can be part of a respectful relationship. The younger you start talking about this the better.

Here are some questions that can get a conversation going:

Do you know people at school who’ve sent or received nude?

Do they do it for fun or to flirt?

Was it their idea to send the photo, or did someone persuade them to?

What do you know about people sharing sexual images of someone to get revenge?

Do you have any questions about things you’ve heard?

Do you understand the law?

If your child has questions about sexting, try to answer them as honestly and openly as you can. If you have concerns about the risks of sexting, you could explain your concerns and why you’d prefer your child didn’t send sexts.

Once you’ve started talking about sexting with your child, you might find talking gets easier the more you do it.

Get familiar with the law

Make sure your child knows the legalities and laws around sharing intimate images. Please get to know your own state’s legislation and discuss it with your child. For example, even sharing personal photos between two similarly aged children is illegal in all states in Australia until sixteen years old. (or older in some states). We have added all the state laws at the end of this email.

Discuss and explain

Even private messages or messages that seemingly disappear are not private. Screenshots, screen recordings, and forwarding images can happen with a couple of taps on a smartphone. Once an intimate image is shared with someone, there is no way to control what happens to the image once it’s sent. Discuss with them how it might make them feel if a photo of theirs was shared? Empower them to understand that there are laws to protect them from image-based abuse and sextortion should this happen to them. Encourage teens to think about what could happen if they broke up or fell out with someone who had sexual images of them. For example, that person might share sexual images to get revenge. You could also explain that once images are on the internet they can be very difficult to remove. It’s also important to help your child understand the legal consequences of sexting and image-based abuse.

Come up with a plan together

Talk about what they can do or say if they are asked for a nude or have a nude sent to them. By helping them plan for the eventuality of being asked, they can make an informed choice and decision instead of acting under the pressure of the situation.

Explain that sexting is sexual activity. All sexual acts – including sexting – need consent from a partner. (they cannot legally consent under 16yrs). Breaching consent by sharing a sext isn’t respectful or OK. It’s also not OK to share other people’s sexts or to send a nude to someone who hasn’t asked for one. It’s important for teens to know that they have a right to say ‘no’. For example, ‘It’s never OK for someone to pressure you into doing anything sexual, including sending sexual photos of yourself’. It’s also a good idea for teens to practise saying no by just saying, ‘No, I don’t send nudes’.

If young people have seen sexting photos of another teen they might feel guilty, ashamed, and uncomfortable about doing ordinary things like going to school or socialising. The situation can be very humiliating, and their reputation may have been damaged.

It can also harm friendships and social network.

Sexting can expose them to bullying or cyberbullying. For example, when people share images, they might also post nasty comments, attack their reputation, call them names, ask for more images or make other inappropriate demands. Often girls get more of this kind of bullying and criticism than boys. This is because some people apply different standards to girls and boys. This situation can lead to mental health issues like depression and self-harm in extreme cases. We also regularly hear of ASD kids, others with learning disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ kids purposefully targeted.

As scary as the nude and sexting culture is, the reality is that our young people are dealing with it regularly. But as with any issue, education and empowerment is the key to resilience!

To read the “Laws you need to know about” please read the full article here

For more tips and hints, check out the Safe on Social Toolkit. www.safeonsocialtoolkit.com

Access CBRSS Safe on Social resources here

Art Gallery of NSW exhibition of work by Swedish artist, spiritualist and medium Hilma af Klint a ‘wake up call’

Spending time with the paintings of Hilma af Klint feels a little like having the furniture in your psyche gently rearranged.

Her visual language – marked by botanical illustrations, refractions of light and colour, spiralling snail shells and swans, coded letters and colours – tilts at the complexities of the human experience and our place within the cosmos but defies the brain’s attempts to pin down meaning.

It’s not surprising that so many describe viewing the Swedish artist’s paintings as a spiritual or wonder-filled experience.

Writing about her “flabbergasting” work in The New Yorker, art critic Peter Schjeldahl described af Klint’s work as having a “transcendent intensity”.

So why are we only really learning about her now? And why is she having such a profound effect on so many of us?

When af Klint died in 1944, she left behind more than 1,300 paintings and over 26,000 pages of typed and handwritten notebooks – a fraction of which is currently on display in the major exhibition Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).

Her work and research was initially withheld from the world at her own behest, but then disregarded by an art establishment not much interested in re-writing the history of early-20th century modernism, particularly to make room for a woman considered more mystic than artist.

This is despite the astonishing fact that af Klint’s earliest abstract works precede the likes of art historical greats (and men) Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich – the so-called ‘fathers of Abstract art’.

But it’s not just af Klint’s art-historical significance, or even her formative experiences as a female artist and spiritualist, that make her so compelling — though these are important facts. It’s that her work and messages continue to feel so utterly contemporary.

Perhaps because she knew she was painting them for us? But we’ll get to that.

Af Klint was born into an aristocratic naval family in Sweden in 1862 and went on to study at Stockholm’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts (one of the first colleges in Europe to accept women, however modest their ambitions for their female students may have been).

Af Klint’s family was supportive of her education, and outside the Academy she was also educated in science, botany, map-making, mathematics and astronomy.

For Sue Cramer, who co-curated the AGNSW exhibition, this evidence of af Klint’s intelligence, curiosity and deep research into the scientific and spiritual discoveries of the time should put paid to any lingering romantic ideas of af Klint as a recluse or quack.

Much has been made of af Klint’s spirituality and work as a medium, but her interests in spiritualism and theosophy were not unusual for the time. It was, historically speaking, a period of genuine wonder, with discoveries such as radioactivity and quantum theory demonstrating the existence of things beyond the visible, while psychoanalysts including Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were also beginning their enquiries into the unconscious mind.

At the same time, “the tenets of civilisation were being greatly questioned in the aftermath of the wars, and she was part of all of that”, says Cramer.

Cramer reflects: “It was a period of intense questioning. And although she [af Klint] was a Christian, she believed in the idea of flexible thinking, and in open-ended truths and inquiry. She didn’t believe in black and white … but in the blending and harmonies of things.”

In 1879, at the age of just 17, af Klint participated in her first spiritualist séance, and two years later claimed to have received her first messages from spiritual beings. In 1896 she founded De Fem (The Five), a spiritual group with four other female artist friends.

De Fem conducted seances, painted, and undertook automatic drawings, claiming to receive messages and predictions from other realms through guides they called “High Masters”.

While af Klint would continue to paint and occasionally exhibit her more traditional portraits and landscapes during this time, Cramer suggests that it was (somewhat ironically) her gender that gave her the space to make her more spiritual works.

“Because she was marginalised, she was forced to work outside the strictures. She found a space through spiritualism where she could realise this extraordinary artistic ability that she had, this vision.

In 1906 af Klint reported receiving a commission from one of the High Masters, called Amaliel, to create a series of works that would become known as The Paintings for the Temple.

By 1915, af Klint had completed a staggering 193 paintings, many of which are included in the AGNSW exhibition.

The exhibition opens with works from the very first series for the Temple, Primordial Chaos, and closes with the three Altarpieces from 1915, which marked the conclusion of the so-called ‘commission’.

Af Klint’s series The Ten Largest, given its own room in the exhibition, is absolutely jaw-dropping. Created in 1907 and painted in bursts of four days at a time, these 10 dazzling and staggeringly large paintings (3 metres high each) meld geometric forms, spiritual diagrams, strange scientific languages, and coded symbols, in arrestingly bright colours.

Af Klint spoke of them as documenting the human life cycle, and they do seem to thrum with a strange life force.

Frustratingly for curious fans and art historians alike, af Klint didn’t write much about the experience of receiving her visions.

Elsewhere, however, af Klint wrote of the spirits standing beside her, and of her disobeying them.

“It has emerged that there was a dialogue between them and that she was very active in her decision to take on this commission that Amaliel offered her,” says Cramer.

“So more has emerged about the complexity of that, which goes hand in hand with her as a really informed person who’s bringing ideas of science and botany, and the religious ideas of her time [to these conversations]. And so, we start to get a much deeper idea of where these works are coming from.”

So much for the origins and intentions of af Klint’s work; but what about where it went?

In 1908, with The Paintings for The Temple already underway, af Klint met Rudolph Steiner, one of the leaders of the Theosophical movement, and showed him some of her work. It’s not known what he said, but many have noted the four-year break af Klint took from Amaliel’s commission shortly after.

Nevertheless, af Klint continued to follow Steiner’s teachings and to paint her more conventional landscapes and portraits, which don’t feature in the exhibition here.

Read the full article by the ABC here

Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings is at the Art Gallery of NSW until September 19.

Read about Hilma af Klint and her connection to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy at reverseritual.com here

Listen to an ABC podcast about Hilma af Klint here

Marlon and the octopus – Marlon is in Class 8 at CBRSS

From The Echo 

Lennox Head’s 13 year old Marlon Denning had an exciting and educational experience during the home-schooling lock-down period in 2020.

Before the Netflix hit My Octopus Teacher came out, Marlon made friends with not one but two octopuses (these were the common species, not the poisonous blue-ringed octopus).

His mother Sharyn Denning told Echonetdaily, ‘He’s got a very unusual affinity with most animals, or really weird animals anyway! Frogs and lizards and snakes.’

Normally Marlon goes to Cape Byron Steiner School, but during lock-down he spent time every day at the ocean rock pools with his mum, who’s an environmental scientist.

Marlon remembers, ‘I just stuck my face in the water with the goggles on, and I looked around and I saw a tentacle and thought, there’s an octopus over there, so I went over to where I saw it, and sure enough there he was.

‘I wriggled my fingers around the water, then he started chasing them around. He chased me back to a shallower part, then he found a little cavern thing, and he hid there.

‘Then he came out and he was swimming around me, and trying to catch my toes and fingers,’ said Marlon.

‘He was there for a week and then one day he wasn’t there. He wasn’t in the same spot for a few days.

‘Then we went back there, and my dad was wading through a slightly deeper part of the pool and then he latched on to his ankle. He grabbed his foot and he screamed!’

Mr Big
When the smaller octopus disappeared for a few days, Marlon made friends with a larger one.

‘That’s when I found the big one you see in the photos that’s touching my hand,’ he said.’That’s Mr Big.’

Marlon’s mum Sharyn says it didn’t take long for her son to build up trust with the normally shy sea creatures.

‘He’s really gentle, so most animals just stay with him for hours, even lizards and things he finds in the garden, he’s a bit unusual like that.

‘He knew that octopus were quite smart, ’cause he reads a lot of nature books. And I’m saying, “Oh it’s not dangerous is it?” He said “no Mum”.

‘They’d just play with him. It was quite incredible really. Then he taught them how to high five, and he knew all their little spots, where they’d be, ’cause this went on for three months.’

‘I had a great time,’ remembers Marlon.

Sadly, he lost contact with his octopus friends after the lockdown period ended.

Sharyn Denning remembers, ‘Then he was back to school, so he could only go on the weekends if the tide was right, so we weren’t there as often.

‘And he hasn’t been able to find them again, so they’ve either moved on or – specially the real big one – that might have just been his life. They only live a year or two. But the little one, he might have just moved on, especially if the tide’s real big, they might use it as an opportunity to move on.

‘But it was really quite incredible, and the really big one, it had an injured tentacle, so over the months we saw it regrowing. That was pretty cool too.’

Octopus art


Marlon still hasn’t seen My Octopus Teacher, but says he’s looking forward to it.

Recently he’s been busy helping artist Austin NITSUA complete a spectacular new mural at the Lennox Skate Park, which has just been finished, and includes an octopus.

‘Yes he said he would put an octopus into the mural after I told him my story,’ said Marlon. ‘There’s tentacles coming out of the waves and kind of touching the hand, which is surfing on the waves.’

Marlon told Echonetdaily he’d like to do something with animals when he’s older. ‘Yeah definitely, I’d love to own a zoo, or work at a zoo.’

Marlon has already been in touch with BBC nature journalist Steve Backshall, and made it to the top ten of Australia Zoo’s nature photo competition for his photo of a frog, out of 6,500 entries.

David Attenborough watch out!

Below is a link to a video shot by Marlon’s mum, Sharyn, showing Marlon with one of the octopuses:

https://youtu.be/cWPDCo8NDdE

Safe on Social

Kirra Pendergast from Safe on social visited the school Monday the 31st of May to talk to HS students and also parents of classes 4-12 in the evening.

Safe on Social Toolkit link

Social Media is viewed by most people as a fun way to share information about themselves, friendships, family and things that happen in their day-to-day lives.

But things can go wrong…

It is important to understand that what you post on social media sites can affect your life both in good ways and bad. The guides available on our website contain detailed information to help parents and students make informed decisions when using various platforms.

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School E-Safety Information 

Instigating downtime with no screens

Story by Caitlin Read from Kidspot.com.au

Caitlin Reid is an accredited practising dietitian, yoga teacher and accredited exercise physiologist from Health & the City.

Kids today are busier than ever with jam-packed schedules containing everything from school and homework to play dates, birthday parties and multiple sporting ventures. Then there are the ever-present lure of screens, which can seem like the perfect option when parents need some peaceful minutes to complete everything from household chores to work calls.

While time lazing on the couch watching Netflix or playing video games might seem like downtime, these activities still require children to be fully engaged. Too much screen-time overstimulates kids instead of giving them the break they need to chill out. So if true downtime does not involve screens, what actually is downtime you ask?

What is downtime?
Downtime is a time to relax and to not do too much. You can think of downtime as simply playtime without any structured activities that involve rules and directions. When play is unstructured, children are free to do what interests them without any guidelines set in place.

Psychologist and teacher at Kid Psychology, Kate Plumb, says downtime is an opportunity for kids to be kids.

“Activities for downtime can be anything that interests your child, gives them the freedom to choose what they want to do and uses the brain and body in different ways. Whatever it is your child chooses to do, the point of downtime is to enhance creativity, imagination, executive functioning and social skills,” explains Plumb.

Things like playing outside, daydreaming, creative play, taking a bath, arts and craft, walking in nature, reading a book and playing a card game are all examples of downtime.

Why do kids need downtime?
While parents have been guilted into thinking that good parenting comes with exposing our children to endless opportunities, this overscheduling can lead to stress and anxiety. Children need time to rest, relax and recharge. Downtime allows your child’s brain the break it needs to consolidate memories, revive focus and renew the drive to learn. Downtime is also vital for all aspects of your child’s development.

“Downtime is vital for your child’s cognitive, academic, social and emotional development. Giving your child the time and space to have downtime enables them to develop self-determination where they express their own wants and needs. Kids develop best if they are free to create, use their imagination and explore the world around them,” says Plumb.

Free time or that feeling of “being bored” also helps children to learn how to manage their feelings. This time teaches children the ability to occupy themselves without relying on others to amuse them, while also giving them the ability to cope with uncomfortable feelings like impatience. Children who are constantly occupied with structured activities don’t have the time to engage in problem-solving like children who experience downtime.

How much downtime do kids need?
A little bit of downtime each day is recommended for all kids. However, exactly how much they need depends on a few things.

“In terms of how much downtime is needed on a daily basis, depends on the age of the child, the amount of structure they already have in their lives and the competing demands of sticking to a routine,” explains Plumb.

“Generally though, the younger the child, the less they need an itinerary of structured activities.”

How to schedule in downtime
Downtime isn’t something that just happens – we need to schedule it in. Creating regular and frequent time for children to unwind is essential for keeping them in balance. Each day set a limit on screen time and encourage your children to spend some time outside each day. You could also set up a special place like a reading corner to encourage relaxation.

Establish a household rule of quiet time before bed where your children can either read a book or draw quietly. This is a great way for the whole family to reduce stimulation and get ready for bed.

As parents, we should lead by example and make downtime a priority. Children tend to mimic the adults around them, so if we want our children to participate in regular downtime, we need to take the time to relax.

“This can be done by organising a relaxing outing as a family, chatting to your child about how much better you feel when you get your own downtime, or even making appointments for downtime if your current schedule is that jam-packed,” explains Plumb.

When you make downtime a priority, you show your little people the importance of having unstructured time each day where they get to take the time to follow their own interests and just be.

It isn’t always easy to protect this downtime so parents need to remain vigilant in making sure their children have space to take a breath and relax. Give yourself and your children permission to enjoy free play each day.

“Play together. Play alone. But make sure you play. Your mental health depends on it,” finishes Plumb.

Visit here kidspot.com.au for references and citations.

Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking

by Kristen Duke, Adrian Ward, Ayelet Gneezy, and Maarten Bos

Summary.
In two lab experiments, nearly 800 people completed tasks designed to measure their cognitive capacity. Before completing these tasks, the researchers asked participants to either: place their phones in front of them (face-down on their desks); keep them in their pockets or bags; or leave them in another room. The results were striking: the closer the phone to the participant, the worse she fared on the task. The mere presence of our smartphones is like the sound of our names or a crying baby — something that automatically exerts a gravitational pull on our attention. Resisting that pull takes a cognitive toll.

“Put your phone away” has become a commonplace phrase that is just as often dismissed. Despite wanting to be in the moment, we often do everything within our power to the contrary. We take out our phones to take pictures in the middle of festive family meals, and send text messages or update our social media profiles in the middle of a date or while watching a movie. At the same time, we are often interrupted passively by notifications of emails or phone calls. Clearly, interacting with our smartphones affects our experiences. But can our smartphones affect us even when we aren’t interacting with them — when they are simply nearby?

In recent research, we investigated whether merely having one’s own smartphone nearby could influence cognitive abilities. In two lab experiments, nearly 800 people completed tasks designed to measure their cognitive capacity. In one task, participants simultaneously completed math problems and memorized random letters. This tests how well they can keep track of task-relevant information while engaging in a complex cognitive task. In the second task, participants saw a set of images that formed an incomplete pattern, and chose the image that best completed the pattern. This task measures “fluid intelligence,” or people’s ability to reason and solve novel problems. Performance on both of these tasks is affected by individuals’ available mental resources.

Our intervention was simple: before completing these tasks, we asked participants to either place their phones in front of them (face-down on their desks), keep them in their pockets or bags, or leave them in another room. Importantly, all phones had sound alerts and vibration turned off, so the participants couldn’t be interrupted by notifications.

The results were striking: individuals who completed these tasks while their phones were in another room performed the best, followed by those who left their phones in their pockets. In last place were those whose phones were on their desks. We saw similar results when participants’ phones were turned off: people performed worst when their phones were nearby, and best when they were away in a separate room. Thus, merely having their smartphones out on the desk led to a small but statistically significant impairment of individuals’ cognitive capacity — on par with effects of lacking sleep.

This cognitive capacity is critical for helping us learn, reason, and develop creative ideas. In this way, even a small effect on cognitive capacity can have a big impact, considering the billions of smartphone owners who have their devices present at countless moments of their lives. This means that in these moments, the mere presence of our smartphones can adversely affect our ability to think and problem-solve — even when we aren’t using them. Even when we aren’t looking at them. Even when they are face-down. And even when they are powered off altogether.

Why are smartphones so distracting, even when they’re not buzzing or chirping at us? The costs of smartphones are inextricably linked to their benefits. The immense value smartphones provide, as personal hubs connecting us to each other and to virtually all of the world’s collective knowledge, necessarily positions them as important and relevant to myriad aspects of our everyday lives. Research in cognitive psychology shows that humans learn to automatically pay attention to things that are habitually relevant to them, even when they are focused on a different task. For example, even if we are actively engaged in a conversation, we will turn our heads when someone says our name across the room. Similarly, parents automatically attend to the sight or sound of a baby’s cry.

Our research suggests that, in a way, the mere presence of our smartphones is like the sound of our names — they are constantly calling to us, exerting a gravitational pull on our attention. If you have ever felt a “phantom buzz” you inherently know this. Attempts to block or resist this pull takes a toll by impairing our cognitive abilities. In a poignant twist, then, this means that when we are successful at resisting the urge to attend to our smartphones, we may actually be undermining our own cognitive performance.

Are you affected? Most likely. Consider the most recent meeting or lecture you attended: did anyone have their smartphone out on the table? Think about the last time you went to the movies, or went out with friends, read a book, or played a game: was your smartphone close by? In all of these cases, merely having your smartphone present may have impaired your cognitive functioning.

Our data also show that the negative impact of smartphone presence is most pronounced for individuals who rank high on a measure capturing the strength of their connection to their phones — that is, those who strongly agree with statements such as “I would have trouble getting through a normal day without my cell phone” and “It would be painful for me to give up my cell phone for a day.” In a world where people continue to increasingly rely on their phones, it is only logical to expect this effect to become stronger and more universal.

We are clearly not the first to take note of the potential costs of smartphones. Think about the number of fatalities associated with driving while talking on the phone or texting, or of texting while walking. Even hearing your phone ring while you’re busy doing something else can boost your anxiety. Knowing we have missed a text message or call leads our minds to wander, which can impair performance on tasks that require sustained attention and undermine our enjoyment. Beyond these cognitive and health-related consequences, smartphones may impair our social functioning: having your smartphone out can distract you during social experiences and make them less enjoyable.

With all these costs in mind, however, we must consider the immense value that smartphones provide. In the course of a day, you may use your smartphone to get in touch with friends, family, and coworkers; order products online; check the weather; trade stocks; read HBR; navigate your way to a new address, and more. Evidently, smartphones increase our efficiency, allowing us to save time and money, connect with others, become more productive, and remain entertained.

So how do we resolve this tension between the costs and benefits of our smartphones?

Smartphones have distinct uses. There are situations in which our smartphones provide a key value, such as when they help us get in touch with someone we’re trying to meet, or when we use them to search for information that can help us make better decisions. Those are great moments to have our phones nearby. But, rather than smartphones taking over our lives, we should take back the reins: when our smartphones aren’t directly necessary, and when being fully cognitively available is important, setting aside a period of time to put them away — in another room — can be quite valuable.

With these findings in mind, students, employees, and CEOs alike may wish to maximize their productivity by defining windows of time during which they plan to be separated from their phones, allowing them to accomplish tasks requiring deeper thought. Moreover, asking employees not to use their phones during meetings may not be enough. Our work suggests that having meetings without phones present can be more effective, boosting focus, function, and the ability to come up with creative solutions. More broadly, we can all become more engaged and cognitively adept in our everyday lives simply by putting our smartphones (far) away.

From the Harvard Business Review

Worries about sex, drugs & technology

From Conscious Creative Courageous Living with Children, Susan Laing’s resources for understanding creativelivingwithchildren.com

With the media continually reporting stories on the worrying behaviours of some Tweens and Teens today, many parents become anxious about their own children’s possible use of drugs, early sexual intercourse and the effects of the new technologies and all these allow access to. While the consequences for these children and teens at high risk are great, and our concern for them remains, their numbers are actually smaller than is usually assumed. The majority of young people, perhaps even 85 %, do not regularly partake in unhealthy behaviours related to these risks.

Parents need to do a number of things: assess the risks for their own children, and act to alleviate those risks; educate their children well on all the issues involved, for example on sex education, cyber safety, sensible and safe use of technology, and the effects of drugs on the body; get help for those at high risk; then, having done what you can, work together with your children with trust in helping them to keep themselves safe and healthy, while still allowing them to take on new responsibilities, experiences and adventures.

Click this link to read 3 articles available on sex, drugs and technology for pre-teens and teenagers.

Creating a meaningful Easter

For those Christians with religious inclinations Easter will already be a significant time, but, for many, Easter has become a secular celebration and, in some countries, an opportunity to get away for a few days. Yet it also offers an opportunity to build a meaningful celebration around the universal values it contains.

Finding the universal human values to celebrate in the Easter traditions.

The original significance of the Easter story and many of the Easter symbols has been lost in the commercialization of Easter. Easter in the broadest, most universal sense, is the celebration of new life, of resurrection, of the archetypal loving deed done on behalf of others. It is about seeking for the best part of ourselves, our spirit. For children ideally it is about the joy of Easter Sunday, of the risen Christ in the Easter event, not the darkness of the crucifixion of Easter Friday; for sensitive young children can understand simple death, and burial, but not torment, torture and agony.

The date of each Easter is set at the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the spring equinox, a powerful time for the forces of growth in the earth in the northern hemisphere. Many of the symbols of Easter – in the egg, the chicken and the hare, (which has transformed into the rabbit)— are ancient symbols of spring, of the coming of new life after the hard winter. These are northern hemisphere traditions.

In the southern hemisphere, it is of course autumn at Easter, a very different time when the hens may even stop laying eggs! Nevertheless, in the temperate zones in the south, we can also observe a renewal of life in nature. For with the first autumn rains, the earth really sings, the plants and the insect world come alive again. The plants and the microbial activity in the soil, which have withdrawn from the scorching heat of summer, open up, to grow in the gentler autumn sun again before the cold of winter takes hold; the grasses begin to shoot; the autumn wheat is planted, along with the bulbs and seedlings which will flower later in the southern spring.

In the tropics, the rhythms are different again. Perhaps April at Easter time creates a breathing space between the tropical cyclones and storms in the south and those in the north. We need to observe what is happening with nature in each place. What is flowering or fruiting? What are the clouds, the rain and the winds doing? What is changing? Can we find the symbols of Easter, the cross, the egg form, in the flowers, fruits and seeds or in signs of new life and of resurrection here too?

Creating meaningful Easter celebrations

Much can be done to make a meaningful beautiful Easter within the sacred religious traditions of course. But we can also bring more meaning to what has become secular, the eggs, the chicks, rabbits, Easter hunt and hot cross buns. You may want to research the origins of these symbols on the web for ideas—Wikipedia articles have more depth, than a general search. You can work with the concepts of new life, service to others, and the seeking in the Easter egg hunt.

Traditions like finding a hill to watch the sun go down on Easter Friday in a quiet contemplative mood, and come up on Easter Sunday, with the experience of the renewal of life in all the joy of increasing light and life and bird song, can provide special moments in the festival. Planting something for the future in the earth on Easter Friday can be a wonderful thing to do with children— bulbs for later flowering, trees for the good of the earth, flowering plants for the native birds to feed in. Such activities can bring a continuity of awareness from Easter to Easter as the children watch their gifts to the earth grow. In such activities children can experience the joy of the traditional Easter event, of renewal, of unconditional love, of the re-enlivening of the earth and humanity. Easter can be a festival of life and hope in a world which can be depressing at times as we listen daily to stories of violence, poverty, war and environmental degradation.

Can the love of the beautiful form of the egg, with its endless possibilities of decoration, display and discovery, bring a different sort of joy and richer memories than just being given cheap eggs from the supermarket (often of poor quality chocolate at that). Home-made, blown decorated eggs can be hung from a branch to make an Easter Tree or placed in a bowl of freshly sprouted wheat. Eggs, and nests for little eggs, can be made from healthier ‘treats’ like roasted nuts and seeds, shredded coconut and dried fruit mixed with melted carob or chocolate. You could even make jellied rabbits in colourful salad gardens. You can find food from your multicultural traditions, like we had in our family in our own Nonna’s Pizza Chiena, sometimes called Italian Easter pie, a bread made with cheese and salted meats at its centre.

Family traditions can be made in your own Easter egg hunt. We have an Easter story in my family of when my mother was a small child in the early 1920s. Her family got together with another family to hide eggs in the garden for everyone, adults included. One year my grandfather’s egg was hidden at the top of a pine tree. When everyone had found their eggs but him, they stood around the tree looking up until he scaled the tree to find his egg. He was in fact a church minister, with considerable athletic ability and a very good sense of humour. In my own family here, we would hide a nest of eggs for each person in the garden late at night, until one night a fox made off with one of the nests before we had our hunt. Such stories become part of our family traditions, memories of which can sustain us through our lives.

The delight in the seeking of eggs in the garden in an Easter egg hunt, is best if the motivation is as much in the seeking, like the enthusiasm for the living of life, seeking for meaning, for inner riches—rather than just in the finding and accumulation of prizes. A collection basket, where all the found eggs are placed for sharing out more equally later, makes it less competitive.

The possibilities are endless for you to create your own Easter festival, into which you can bring your values, love and appreciation— making it meaningful and relevant for your own family. Ideally here we make our primary motivation to bring meaning and human values to what we do, not just adding more ‘decorations’ or ‘activities’ to our festival. For more ideas on creating meaningful family festivals in general see the photo link below.

With thanks to Creative Living with Children, Susan Laing’s resources for understanding children.  creativelivingwithchildren.com

Click for the full article including links to Easter activities

Child Safety Handbook

A new edition of the Child Safety Handbook is now available online with updated safety content.

We urge all parents and carers to download this latest edition and discuss the safety content with your children.

Read the Child Safety Handbook here

Waldorf education and social justice

Created by Neil Boland 04/09/2020.

Neil Boland would like to focus on Waldorf education as an education for social justice, to explore how Rudolf Steiner phrased this a century ago and then consider how it can be approached in a twenty-first century context. What the author wants to encourage here is a wider conversation, wider debate on social justice within Waldorf education, what it might mean, what is (not) working, how the ideal can be strengthened and how we can engage more widely with social justice partners to facilitate this.

Social justice has multiple meanings, but for me it is that all members of society are acknowledged as of equal merit, value and importance. In addition, no group or groups within society should be privileged to the detriment of others, be that based on gender, class, wealth, resource ownership, culture, belief or non-belief, ethnicity, sexual or gender orientation, education, physical or mental abilities, epistemological viewpoint or other identifying characteristics.

Waldorf education has its roots in the movement for social renewal envisioned by Rudolf Steiner, the three-fold social order. This movement was created at a time of great social upheaval and need after the First World War and the Russian Revolution; the world is perhaps at another moment of great social need. Waldorf education is the child of this movement which has found greatest success and acceptance in the intervening 100 years. There are praiseworthy instances of Waldorf schools working strongly with notions of social inclusion and social justice. Individual teachers work hard and achieve similarly praiseworthy results. Of the three independent areas of the movement for social renewal which Steiner identifies, I am going to be taking two, the legal sphere and the cultural sphere.

Legal and cultural sphere
In the legal sphere, equality reigns. The current English translation of Towards Social Renewal puts it like this: “In the political and legal sphere, each individual has an equal voice simply through being a human being” (1). I find it a call to action as many people in our societies so manifestly do not have an equal voice.

In what Steiner calls the cultural sphere, we are free, all different, all individual. I would like to take freedom in the same sense as Bloom when he points out, “By freedom, Steiner meant it in the spiritual sense rather than political. Each person must be left free to form her or his identity” (2).

Now I presume that you agree with these two ideas – that all people should have equal voice simply by being human beings and that each person should be left free to create their own identity. However, as Steiner also says in Towards Social Renewal, “People do not always judge their own motives and impulses correctly” (1), and therein lies the rub.

We live in a world in which social justice is not realised. Racial discrimination and attacks, religious intolerance, increasing inequality, the plight of refugees and immigrants, oppression of minorities are all in the news. We read of fear, oppression, intolerance and suspicion around the world. Sexism and patriarchy are not new to any of our societies, neither is the affluent minority being able to wield power over the less well-off majority. Many of us grew up in societies which were to a greater or lesser extent homophobic, white-dominated and which saw gender as a binary concept. Many of us grew up in societies in which the indigenous inhabitants of the lands we live in were often marginalised, forgotten and not considered part of current debates.

Education cuts both ways
What we can lose sight of is how this influences what we think, feel and do. It is difficult to have lived through the past and not have been influenced by systemic racism, sexism etc. These form unconscious biases which we then can unwittingly carry into our work and so perpetuate. Education cuts both ways: it can empower and liberate; it can work just as easily to replicate the inequalities and injustices of our societies. We may well be people of goodwill, wanting to do good in the world, but have we identified things which might be holding us back?

What or who do those biases involve? They involve difference, dealing with the Other, with people who do not come from dominant groups in societies (some of these change according to society, some seem to remain constant). They can include being of non-dominant gender (aka female), different colour skin, different religions, different world views and historical perspectives, different sexual identities, different expressions of gender, speakers of other languages, those who dress differently, the handicapped, the poor, refugees, the homeless. The list goes on. If Steiner’s ideal was that everyone has an equal voice by virtue of being human, how well is that expressed in the society you live in? What do students learn about these groups within their Waldorf education? Is what students learn nuanced and rich in complexity?

In order for people to have equal voice, it is necessary as teachers to identify ways in which we unconsciously and unintentionally discriminate and, unwittingly and unwillingly, are ourselves biased (3), so we can experience “what it means to unlearn certain regressive behaviours, ideas, habits, and values that the dominant culture imposes on [us] as second nature” (4). Without this first step, worthy actions we undertake in the direction of social justice can only have limited success.

Social renewal
The roots of social justice in Waldorf education are long and deep. The education was established in order to renew society. It is possible that this impulse has to some extent been eclipsed by the myriad other concerns and challenges schools and early childhood settings face.

I would like to suggest that this initial aim be revisited in light of two short passages by Steiner. The first comes from Towards social renewal again: “Social structures continually give rise to anti-social forces. This has to be overcome again and again” (1). A similar quotation comes from The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness which is both stimulating and sobering:

“We … must seek ever-new ways, look for new forms over and over again … however good the right may be that you want to bring to realisation – it will turn into a wrong in the course of time.” (5)

To what extend does this apply to accepted Waldorf forms? There is a documented tendency within Waldorf education to accept what has gone before as how it is, as what is accepted, and often as how it should be. Are there anti-social forces which can be discerned within Waldorf education today and which need to be reviewed? Is there anything within Waldorf education which, by not remaining contemporaneous, not staying current, through not finding new forms again and again, it can be argued, has turned into “a wrong”?

A final quote from Steiner draws attention to the notion of inclusivity. “All those who think about the proletariat [Steiner’s term] rather than with it have only the vaguest notions … notions which … can have a harmful effect” (5). If we expand what Steiner says here about the working class to any group, when wishing to act for social justice, we have to work with groups, not do things for them or teach about them. This challenges the notion of the well-meaning, liberal teacher as ‘do-gooder,’ wanting to help the disenfranchised. How do you work with or think with marginalised groups? This can be as simple as reaching out and contacting people, visiting them, asking advice on how to bring minority viewpoints into lessons, asking for advice on the complexities of alternative readings of history, belief and worldview.

Social justice as a notion seeks to level the playing field, to empower the disenfranchised, to acknowledge the forgotten, to give voice to the marginalised. It is challenging and uncomfortable as well as rewarding, complex and not given to quick fixes. Above all it is an open-ended process, a process which, once entered into, does not stop, working towards an unrealisable ideal which must, nonetheless, be striven for.

Lastly, working towards a socially just education can be linked to striving to embody aspects of the consciousness soul, taking Elan Leibner’s definition of the consciousness soul (6) as the “empathetic soul”. For me, working towards social justice, towards inclusion and decolonisation requires and is what happens when you have empathy for the Other. Feeling within yourself how the Other suffers when marginalised, oppressed, caricatured or rendered invisible, and not just understanding or knowing it, marks the beginning of change. It is an important step towards social renewal, which lies at the heart of the Waldorf movement.

To read more about Neil Boland and to access the full article and references please visit waldorf-resources.org

Happy International Women’s Day for yesterday!

What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day (8 March) is a day for us to join voices with people around the world and shout our message for equal rights loud and clear: “Women’s rights are human rights!”

We celebrate all women, in all their diversities. We embrace their facets and intersections of faith, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, or disability. We celebrate those who came before us, those who stand beside us now, and those who will come after.

It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of women, whether social, political, economic or cultural.

What is the theme for International Women’s Day in 2021?
The global theme for International Women’s Day in 2021 is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World’. COVID-19 has impacted women and girls in profound ways, amplifying the inequalities they face every day. It is fundamental that diverse women’s voices and experiences are central to national and global recovery plans.

A key contributor to a more equal COVID-19 world is increasing women’s access to leadership roles. Unfortunately, women still face significant cultural, socio-economic and political barriers to accessing leadership. You can read more about this in our research Women’s’ Pathways to Leadership: Our Pathways, Our Voice, which investigates how and why women become leaders, and the gendered barriers they face along the way.

Click here to find out why it matters and how to get involved.

From IWDA iwda.org.au

Why we need much more than consent training in our schools to stop sexual assault

POSTED ON MARCH 8, 2021 maggiedent.com

Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and uses sexual terms.

One of the main reasons I wrote my bestselling 2020 book From Boys to Men was to help parents and those who work with tweens and teens to raise boys to be happy, healthy men. No-one wants to raise their son to be a creep, a sexual predator, an abuser of girls and women or worse, a murderer who kills his female partner and children. Sadly, on this International Women’s Day we know that statistically violence against women is increasing.

At last there is some serious light being shone on the dark underbelly of inappropriate sexual behaviour and abuse and most specifically rape from boys and men in Australian schools, communities, businesses and parliament. From the moment that the courageous advocate for survivors of sexual assault Grace Tame became Australian of the Year, something shifted.

Then, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins finally disclosed her alleged (I use that word only for legal purposes) rape in the office of a Federal Minister. This disclosure from an eloquent young woman has been the catalyst for others to speak up about similar assaults in our Federal Parliament.

Then appeared the petition by former Kambala student Chanel Contos now signed by almost 30,000 girls and young women. The testimonies that they have left are harrowing and distressing to read however the light needs to shine on the stories so that we collectively know the truth of this violent culture and stop it happening to other girls.

Chanel has now set up www.teachusconsent.com and this is a message from that website:

“Those who have signed this petition have done so because they are sad and angry that they did not receive an adequate education regarding what amounts to sexual assault and what to do when it happens. These are uncomfortable conversations to have with young teenagers but it is far more uncomfortable to live knowing that something happened to you, or a friend, or perhaps that you were even the perpetrator of it, and it could have been avoided.”

Many of the stories shared are about appalling behaviour from boys from elite private schools. Since then, stories have been shared that include government schools so it is safe to say this is problematic for many adolescents, not just in Australia but around the world. I know and I want to acknowledge that not all boys behave in these disgusting ways, but many decent boys stand by and do nothing, and that has to stop too.

In Chanel’s words.

“The following testimonies were sent to me by those who passionately believe that inadequate consent education is the reason for their sexual abuse during or soon after school.” www.teachusconsent.com

First, let me explore some of the reasons why I believe things seem to have got worse since the digital world arrived. Indeed, most children and tweens have smart phones which give them access to content that can be shattering their child-like innocence and feeding a ‘hook-up’ culture where sex without intimacy is almost the norm. We need to keep in mind today’s children, teens and young adults DID NOT create the digital world. It was created by adults and, sadly, it is our young who are paying the price.

Access to free porn
Porn is freely accessible and sadly many children stumble upon it accidentally. Heck it can even be found on Kids You Tube where sickos embed links that take children to graphic hard-core pornography. There has been a significant increase in inappropriate sexual behaviour, often of a penetrative nature, with children under five. One of the main ways children learn inappropriate sexual play is by seeing pornography or through having another child who has seen it, doing it to them. Research has shown that sibling-on-sibling sexual violence is common among children with problem sexual behaviours – and the vast majority have experienced early sexualisation via porn.

The first thing we can do to better prepare our children to avoid being sexually abused or becoming a sexual predator, is to ensure that access to all pornography needs to have an age verification. Many good parents have told me that, even with parental controls and conversations about how to avoid seeing bad pictures and videos, their children have been exposed to porn by other children. With smartphones, this can happen on the bus, in a school playground or on a play date or sleepover.

Protective behaviours and body awareness education must start in the home and thankfully there are many excellent picture books and resources that can help with these conversations. We must teach our children about their ownership of their own body and that it’s not OK for anyone to touch their private parts. This is also where we first start talking about the importance of consent. It is now built in to early childhood education and in our schools however we need to be addressing this in our homes just as importantly. No matter how awkward the conversations are, they need to happen, often.

Adolescent sexual maturity
Evidence is now showing that today’s children are beginning puberty earlier than ever. There are so many changes on this journey – physical, emotional, cognitive and hormonal and one of the drivers on this journey to adulthood is sexual awakening. This is normal, however if our young people are learning how to express their sexuality by watching pornography it is problematic. Why? Firstly, because they are watching porn during a stage where they lack the cognitive capacity to understand and make sound choices through reasoned decision-making using a fully formed executive functioning brain (this doesn’t develop til the mid-20s or so). Secondly, during adolescence, they are biologically driven to belong, and to be liked and validated by those of the same age so they’re more prone to being influenced and so we can understand how this could become problematic. There is plenty of research that indicate that our young people’s sexual behaviour is being shaped (negatively, more often than not) by porn.

This problem of male entitlement where boys demand that girls meet their sexual needs, or where boys think there is no problem with raping a sleeping or unconscious girl, has to come from somewhere. It has been a part of traditional patriarchy for years but it seems to be reaching a tipping point for teen boys today – attitudes aren’t shifting as we might expect. This is not just about the lack of consent education. This is a lack of character building from not only their family and society at large, but also their school community, and the communities that surround them whether that be sport, faith or the arts.

Raising healthy, happy respectful men takes a lot of time and measured intention and cannot be left to chance or the world wide web.

Read the full article by Maggie Dent here

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call the 1800 Respect national helpline on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Wholesome Ways to Prepare for Christmas with Children

By Annie Bryant

Christmas is all about the journey, and here’s some daily rituals and activities to help bring wonder, patience and joy into your family home during the festive season.

Even if you’re not ‘into’ Christmas, it’s very difficult to avoid the busy energy and consumeristic onslaught that unfortunately dominates the Western culture in the lead up to December 25th. I think it was my own massive aversion to this unsavoury aspect of the season that inspired me to research and create wholesome ways to bring Christmas to my own children.

Children LOVE Christmas, and it just didn’t feel right to me as Mother to deprive my boys (or myself) of the wonder and joy and beautiful messages that can be found within the Christmas stories from around the world.

By consciously celebrating the lead up to Christmas in a meaningful way, I find it helps immensely in grounding and connecting our family at a time when packed schedules and neverending to-do lists can otherwise scatter all of our energies!

Read the full article by clicking this link

Finding Christmas – An Australian Christmas Story by Annie Bryant

Where do you find Christmas in your family?
Is it hidden within the pages of your favourite story book?
Maybe it’s wrapped up in a gift made especially for someone you love?
Or perhaps, it can be found amongst the delicious smells of a Christmas feast?
Well, this is the story of a little boy who went on his own search for Christmas….and you’ll
never guess what he found!

Joey had looked everywhere, but still had found no signs of Christmas.

They were staying on his Grandparents farm, way out west for the whole month until after Christmas – and while Joey usually loved the tractor rides and farm adventures – this time he couldn’t help but think about all the ‘Christmassy’ things he was missing out on back home.

First, there was the Christmas Market & the end of year school Concert.

Then, there was the Santa sleighs and giant candy canes and bright lights up and down his street, not to mention the fake snow and happy carols playing in all shops.

But out here on the farm there was no shiny tinsel or red hats to be seen and he was starting to worry that maybe Christmas just wasn’t going to happen at all?!

And he also missed Dad.

Dad was coming to meet Mum and Joey and his little sister May at the farm on Christmas Eve and it felt like such a long time away.

When they chatted on the phone one night Joey whispered his concerns about Christmas and Dad reassured him, “Don’t worry mate, you’ll find Christmas out there – you just need to know where to look.”

But so far, he hadn’t found anything.

So, before bed that night Joey asked Lil-Ma & Jo-Pa in a very serious voice, “Do you know where to find Christmas on your farm?”

His grandparents looked at each other with mischievous smiles before Jo-Pa turned to Joey and replied with a wink, “I think we might have a few ideas.”

Read the full story from talesandsongs.com here

Bridging the Divide – Conversation with Lisa Romero and Jonah Evans

Jonah Evans and Lisa Romero dive into essential questions for our future: the human heart and being of Christ; the moral forces of our humanity in relationship to technology and the spiritual beings connected to it and how this impacts the future of human culture and the earth.

Please click to listen

Online safety tips for parents to keep their kids safe this holiday season

Whether your child is receiving their first device, or they may be online more over the holidays. Remember you wouldn’t give your child the keys to the car and let them drive off down the highway without lessons. It is the same with devices. Here are a few tips which will help you to support your children in navigating the online world better.

1. Talk as a family about what is ok and not ok to share online.

For example:

· Whether any member of the family shares a photo of the house or pet’s name online.

· When to share family holiday photos and what photos can be shared.

· What is not to be shared online.

If your child is receiving their first device, make sure that you get them to do a little presentation or write a small project sheet on cyber safety in the lead up to their first social media apps on the device.

3. Respect the age recommendations; it is not illegal for a child to use social media under the age of 13yrs with their parents’ permission. But they need to remember to update their age on any site that has asked for it when they turn 13yrs. This way, the app will not think they are older. As an extreme example, if your child signs up to use Facebook when they are 10yrs, and they have to lie and say they are 13yr, by the time they are 15yrs, if not corrected, the app will think they are 18yrs. Then they can get a Tinder account as it relies on Facebook for verification!

4. Respect the classifications on games. The average age of a gamer is 34-36yrs old. Classifications are there for a reason. It is not ok for a child under the age of 18yrs to be playing R Rated games even with their parents!!! If your child is playing online games, set healthy boundaries around time playing as well.

5. Teach your kids to think twice before they accept a friend request or chat to a random stranger through a game. Just because someone is a friend of their big brother or sister or cousin who goes to another school does not mean they should let them into their life. Also, talk to them that online, someone may ask to be their online boyfriend or girlfriend (we hear this a lot from primary school-aged children at the moment). If this happens, they need to tell you immediately so that you can help block and report. They never know who they are talking to.

6. Know how to block and report on every app and game your child is using so that you can help when things go wrong if you don’t know how to sit with your child and learn together.

7. Put healthy boundaries in place. Don’t ban them from their device if they forget to do a household chore or are naughty for something unrelated to their device. Do not take it off them if they speak up about something that has happened online because you are scared. This is the quickest way to drive all the conversations that you want to be having underground. Instead, if you have a healthy boundary like all devices are banned from the bathroom or bedroom. So then, if they are caught with their device in either place, you ban them for a week. This way, they will learn that it is safe to speak up about what is going on online without punishment unless they break the rules about device use.

8. Be a good role model. Keep your screen time in check and set a good example for your children. Teach them to review who they are following often and unfollow accounts that make them feel bad about themselves. Teach then to follow accounts that inspire them, health, happy and creative is always a good place to start.

9. Please help them to check and manage privacy settings. Set all of their accounts to private. This is something you can do together when they are younger by making it a shared experience.

10. Ensure they are not being moved from another social media site or game to another by someone they don’t know. This is a big one that I hear about far too often. Particularly for kids under 13yrs, but it may happen to older teens also. They make “friends” in games such as Roblox. Their new “friend” suggests that they connect on TikTok. Once they are both following each other, they can message each other for free. This includes sharing videos. This can become every parent’s worst nightmare in the blink of an eye.

11. Teach them to look for the verification symbol there is verification symbol on all social media sites proves it is the actual verified celebrity or group. On most, there will be a little blue circle with a white tick in it next to the name; on YouTube, it is a grey circle with a white tick, and on Snapchat, it is a yellow circle with a black star. No tick, no follow. Predators can set up fraudulent accounts with a small spelling mistake or a similar version of a celebrity name.

12. Encourage your kids to speak up. Kids need to understand that an adult can help when they know what is going on and will help them without the worry of being banned from their device or game for speaking up.

13. What are they looking at? You may never know what they see, and there is a lot of graphic content, porn, and other inappropriate content online just an accident click away. Ensure they know to get off the app immediately if they see something that makes them feel uncomfortable or worried.

14. Know how to take a screenshot. In case you need it as evidence. This is a great tool to teach kids as young as possible.

15. Teach them not to give away any personal information. Use a fake username like “popcorn fairy” or something. Teach your kids never to give away things like name, address, age, phone number, where they go to school, etc.

16. Watch out for what is in the background. It is easy for people to determine a location, take a screenshot, and zoom in on a certificate on the wall.

17. Turn off location tracking in your device settings, turn location tracking off for major social media apps completely.

18. Set time limits and be very clear about how long they can be online, or they can be watching all kinds of stuff for hours!

19. Teach them the importance of a strong password and not to use the same password for everything.

20. Strategise with your children. Most young people would first turn to their friends for help. We need to teach young people how to support their friends, and while they are young, they must understand that the best way to keep their friends is to speak up. By default, we are teaching them what to do to help themselves at the same time.

Ask them questions like these:

· What would you do if a friend came to you because they are cyber bullied?

· How would you address your friend who is sharing too much information online?

· What do you do if a friend shares an inappropriate photo of themselves? Then define inappropriate.

When you feed this information to a young person so they can support their friends, at the same time, you are teaching them that they can be a leader and someone their friends can count on. As long as they respond to any of those questions with “I would tell you,” you are winning.

However, with older teens, you must always advise when there is absolutely no other option other than to get a parent or a trusted adult involved when the issues are:

· Friends sharing inappropriate photos.

· Friends are going to meet someone they have met online.

· Someone is self-harming or talking about self-harm.

This way, you are giving young people a lot of authority and autonomy, but you are also defining healthy boundaries.

21. If bullying occurs:

· Make sure your child knows not to respond

· Take screenshots or screen record

· Block and report the bully to the app that is happened on

· Support your child

· If the bullying material is not removed within 48hrs report to esafety.gov.au/report or straight to your local police or Crime Stoppers crimestoppers.com.au

From safeonsocial.com

To subscribe to the safe on social parent toolkit click here