Most ethical bars utilised for shampoo, conditioner and body wash reduce plastic consumption and one is equivalent to three bottles of liquid products.
Reusable goods can last longer and are better quality.
Not only does the move to ethical goods save expenditure but they last longer.
Take toothpaste, if one brushes their teeth twice a day, organic toothpowder will last twice as long as one regular tube.
The same goes with sustainable bars, depending on how often one washes their hair, the bars can last four to five months. Plus, they smell equally as wonderful and work as efficiently as any regular brand of shampoo, conditioner, or body soap.
Improve your health.
A lot of cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals such as volatile organic compounds that can be destructive to our health. In addition to damage caused to our natural environment, chemicals also cause illnesses and disease, such as cancer.
Unlike bulk cleaning products, sustainable alternatives are usually 100% natural and don’t contain harmful compounds. Alternatively, they are plant-based, pose minimal threat and work just as adequately.
Buying locally-made items is a great investment and there are several advantages to us.
Most ethical goods are made regionally so by buying them, we’re putting money back into our local economy and boosting its profits. Plus, it highlights to the government the areas the public supports and puts pressure on them to make sustainable changes.
Unlike these unethical businesses, the other advantage with locally sourced products is that they require fewer travel miles to deliver. They also tend to use much less plastic, which could prevent massive loss of marine life.
Fairtrade and not testing on animals.
In this day and age, equality and ethical rights are of high importance, yet millions of people, particularly children still suffer under unfair labour rights.
However, the remarkable thing about organic items is they use fair trade, meaning producers of the products are paid fair wages and have up-to-standard working conditions. So, by purchasing these items we can be reassured that the making of them is done morally and reasonably.
This isn’t the case with sustainable brands, which all refrain from using the harmful and destructive procedures.
They make you feel great because they cause no harm to the environment.
We like to feel good about what we buy and where it comes from, and with sustainable products, this is reassured. We can avoid feeling guilty about using multiple items, and throwing them away because we know they’re ethical, sustainable, good for us and good for the planet.
Gymnastics is a pretty great sport. It combines athleticism with beauty and grace and develops the basic building blocks for everyday movement.
KinderGym is Gymnastics Australia’s fun and exciting fundamental movement-based learning program for children aged 0 to 5 years.
The program is founded on child development principles and is specifically designed to assist children with their development throughout the different stages of early childhood.
So, what are the benefits?
1. KinderGym stimulates cognitive growth
Did you know the brain has two parts? The left side of the brain is responsible for analytical thinking, while the right side is for creativity and visualisation. To put it simply, your left brain would be the scientist and your right brain, the artist!
Like reading is for verbal literacy, gymnastics is for physical literacy. Through cross patterning actions like crawling along a foam mat; both sides of the brain are engaged. When toddlers are exposed to activities in gymnastics, the whole brain is exercised, encouraging rounded thinking.
2. KinderGym develops strong and healthy bones
With so many fun, soft things to crawl and walk on, gymnastics enables a safe environment for weight bearing. Placing normal pressure on the bones increases and stimulates bone density for a strong and healthy skeletal system!
3. KinderGym increases coordination and encourages proprioceptive awareness
Young children should be exposed to different kinds of learning. In gymnastics vocal cues, music, activities and visual aids are all used to engage and teach. Learning and problem solving though diverse ways encourages both gross and fine motor skills, building coordination and awareness of the body.
4. KinderGym instils an understanding of discipline
When a parent and child commits to attending training as part of their weekly activity, it instils an understanding of schedule and commitment. Gymnastics further cements the respect for discipline in the kinds of regulations it employs for safe and effective practice.
5. KinderGym assists in developing Physical Literacy
When a parent and child commits to attending training as part of their weekly activity, it instils an understanding of schedule and commitment. Gymnastics further cements the respect for discipline in the kinds of regulations it employs for safe and effective practice.
6. KinderGym increases social awareness
Gymnastics classes encourages participation from all within the class, and while focusing on the individual, allows children to be surrounded by other children. This is important in creating a social environment which is fun, new and challenging for all. Encouraging social interactions which are well monitored from the onset is crucial to social behaviour and inclusivity as children get older.
7. KinderGym is FUN!
KinderGym classes are designed to be fun and exciting for children. Many clubs pick specific themes for their lessons that keep the classes entertaining.
It’s also a great way for new mums and dads to meet local families at a similar family stage. You will become fast friends with someone after they have rescued you from a foam pit!
Keen to try out KinderGym but not sure where to start?
Young children often put non-food items in their mouths, such as grass or toys, because they’re curious about the world around them. However, children with Pica take this a step further and actually eat them.
What is Pica?
Pica is an eating disorder characterised by the compulsive eating of non-food items. A person with Pica may eat relatively harmless substances, such as ice, but many crave potentially dangerous ones, including hair, dirt or faeces. This can lead to serious complications and occasionally death. The name is derived from the word ‘pica’, meaning magpie, based on the idea that magpies will eat almost anything.
Pica is diagnosed when:
A patient persistently eats non-food items for greater than a month
This consumption is developmentally and culturally inappropriate.
If the behaviour occurs in a patient with another disorder, such as autism, it must be persistent enough to warrant a separate diagnosis.
Who develops Pica?
Anyone can develop Pica, however it is most common in young children, pregnant women and people with developmental disabilities. It is unclear how many people are affected, but it is believed to be more prevalent in developing countries due to higher levels of malnutrition and food insecurity.
Pica can also be found in other animals, such as dogs or cats.
There is no clear cause of Pica, but doctors have found that it is more common in individuals who experience:
Pica in pregnant women is thought to be caused by iron deficiency anaemia. It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to crave strange combinations of food, however, to be diagnosed with Pica the woman must be craving and ingesting non-food items such as soil, ice, or laundry detergent.
Worldwide, Pica is thought to occur in 25% of pregnant women. The reasons for this are often attributed to the geographic region and the associated risk of malnutrition and anaemia.
Pica in children
Young children often put non-food items in their mouths, such as grass or toys, because they’re curious about the world around them. However, children with Pica take this a step further, and actually consume them.
Small children make up 25 to 33 percent of all Pica cases. The minimum age for diagnosis is two years, as children under two often eat non-food items due to lack of understanding.
Pica in adults
In adults, Pica is usually a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as iron deficiency anaemia. If not, it is often caused by psychiatric conditions or developmental disabilities.
It is difficult to determine the prevalence of Pica in adults, as many may not want to admit to craving and eating non-food items. In institutionalised adults, the prevalence is 21 to 26 percent.
In order for an adult to be diagnosed with Pica, the eating behaviour must be culturally inappropriate. In certain cultures, a non-food item may be considered appropriate for consumption. For example, eating dirt and clay is considered a custom in some parts of rural Mississippi.
Pica in animals
Many animals, such as cats and dogs, chew on non-food objects, but a much smaller percentage actually consume them. Pica behaviours are often caused by behavioural problems, such as anxiety, boredom, or compulsive behaviour. It is also seen in dogs who are teething.
Eating non-food, non-digestible and potentially toxic materials can have numerous consequences, including:
Damage to internal organs
Treatments for Pica vary depending on the underlying cause. For example, if symptoms are due to iron deficiency, supplements and dietary changes may alleviate symptoms without other treatment methods.
Behavioural modification techniques are often used, assisting sufferers to unlearn Pica behaviours. These techniques include:
Aversion therapy, where the individual faces a negative consequence for eating non-food items. For example, a child may have his or her toys confiscated, and a dog may be sprayed with water.
Positive reinforcement, where the individual is rewarded for eating nutritious food, or for not engaging in Pica behaviours.
Overcorrection, where Pica behaviours result in the individual, usually a child, being required to dispose of non-edible objects, wash themselves, and participate in chore-based punishment when they engage in Pica behaviours.
Treatment may also include dealing with complications, such as surgery for intestinal obstruction.
Does Pica go away?
In young children and pregnant women, Pica often resolves on its own within a few months, or after childbirth. Similarly, if Pica behaviours are due to a nutritional deficiency, treatment and supplements should alleviate symptoms.
However, Pica doesn’t always go away. In those with mental illness or developmental disabilities, Pica may continue into adulthood. In these cases, ongoing treatment and support may be required, including counselling and behavioural modification techniques.
In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective.
The ketogenic diet, also known as the ‘keto’ or low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet, is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet in which one’s consumption of carbohydrates is reduced to 50-20, ideally 20, grams per day. When carbohydrate consumption is substantially reduced, the body’s supply of glucose is depleted, forcing it to turn to fat as an alternative source of energy. This metabolic state is known as ketosis. Ketosis leads to the production of ketones, which are stored in the liver and can provide energy to the brain.
In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long-term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective. The keto diet has been linked to the reduction of the hormone ghrelin; the body’s main ‘hunger hormone’. The reduction of hunger signals can lead to a lower calorie intake and less food cravings, resulting in weight loss.
Following a keto diet
The rule of the keto diet is to consume a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and small amounts of carbohydrates. Generally, a person following a keto diet should obtain:
Starchy vegetables (e.g. Potatoes and sweet potatoes)
Most milks, with the exception of unsweetened almond milk
Chips and crackers
Other uses and benefits
The keto diet was originally used as a medical diet to assist in the treatment of Epilepsy, primarily in children.
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder. It is characterised by a variety of unpredictable seizures, ranging from sudden unresponsiveness, confusion, abnormal behaviour, and loss of memory, to convulsions and complete loss of consciousness. A person is diagnosed with Epilepsy if they experience two episodes of unprovoked seizures (occurring more than 24 hours apart), that are not caused by another medical condition such as low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal, or drug overdose.
Keto diets are traditionally used to treat and manage seizures in children when anticonvulsant medication has not worked. Higher ketone levels in the blood often lead to improved seizure control.
Studies have shown that the keto diet is effective in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver. In the past, fatty liver was attributed to those who consumed excess amounts of alcohol. However, today, it is more likely to be caused by other factors, such as obesity and insulin resistance.
A keto diet can assist in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by:
Reducing fat stored in the liver.
Decreasing insulin levels.
Promoting weight loss.
Other Neurological Issues
Due to extensive evidence that the keto diet effectively reduces seizures in children with Epilepsy, it has been suggested that the diet may assist in the treatment of other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and even brain cancer. However, there is currently not enough evidence to support these claims, and more human studies are required.
Risks and side effects
The ‘Keto Flu’
A sudden decrease in carbohydrate intake can come as a shock to the body, which may cause a variety of flu-like symptoms. For most people, the ‘Keto Flu’ is a group of short-term side effects that will resolve within a few weeks. These symptoms may include:
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
As the majority of fruits and vegetables contain high levels of carbohydrates, they are often not consumed while following a keto diet. This increases risk of deficiencies in nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B, and vitamin C.
Lowered Bone Density
Ketosis can have negative effects on bone health. Though there have been only a few studies regarding the keto diet and bone health, results have showed depleted bone density and an increase in fracture risk.
High fat animal products, such as meat and eggs, contain little to no carbohydrates (for example, one boiled egg contains approximately 0.6 grams of carbs) and are therefore staple food items in a keto diet. Eating a lot of these foods leads to a higher risk of kidney problems, such as kidney stones.
Heightened Risk of Chronic Illnesses
Medical evidence suggests that following a ketogenic diet increases the likelihood of chronic, potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.
Who shouldn’t follow a keto diet?
Those with impaired kidney function
As mentioned earlier, those who consume high quantities of animal products, such as meat, eggs, and cheese, are more likely to develop kidney problems. Because of this, those with pre-existing kidney issues should not follow a keto diet.
When it comes to the keto diet and pregnancy, there is little research, mainly due to ethical issues regarding studies performed on pregnant mothers. However, the main consensus between doctors is that following a keto diet is not safe during pregnancy and can lead to a higher risk of developmental delays and issues with organ growth. Following a keto diet during pregnancy may also be linked to organ dysfunction and behavioural changes after pregnancy.
Those who are underweight
Though the keto diet involves consuming high amounts of fat, it often leads to, sometimes rapid, weight loss. For this reason, it is not recommended for those who are underweight.
Those who suffer from, or have a history of, eating disorders
Without the advice of a dietician, it is not recommended for individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating behaviours to follow restrictive diets. There is a ‘slippery slope’ when it comes to eating disorders and dieting. Obsessing about the nutritional content in food may trigger eating disorder sufferers to fall back into dangerous behaviours. What’s more, those with a history of eating disorders or under eating may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies, and these may be exacerbated while following a keto diet.
Keto and diabetes
There are two main types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce an adequate amount insulin, which is vital in converting glucose to energy. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition where the pancreas slowly loses its ability to produce insulin.
There is no simple answer as to whether a keto diet is safe for those with diabetes. In some, following a keto diet may be possible and beneficial, provided they are closely monitored by a medical professional. As many with type 2 diabetes are overweight, the weight loss benefits of a keto diet may be helpful. A keto diet also lowers blood sugar levels, which may also be beneficial. Monitoring carbohydrate consumption is recommended in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as large consumption can cause blood sugar spikes.
However, there are numerous risks involved. Firstly, a keto diet may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Secondly, following a keto diet puts sufferers at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when ketone bodies produce a dangerous amount of acid in the bloodstream. The kidneys then begin to excrete ketones in the urine, which can result in fluid loss. Cases of diabetic ketoacidosis usually occur in those with type 1 diabetes, due to their inability to produce insulin, which prevents the body from producing too many ketones. However, in rare cases, it has been observed in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Before making any changes to your diet, it is vital that you seek advice from your doctor or dietician, monitor your health closely, and report any concerning symptoms. If you are taking any medications, it is also important to talk to your doctor about any effects a keto diet may have on them. All in all, trust your body. If you don’t feel well while following a keto diet, speak to a professional about whether or not the diet it is right for you, and discuss alternatives.
Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity.
Of course it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural to feel the need to look after them. However, there is a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity
It’s true; relationships are about compromise. We give and we take. We care and are cared for in return. But how much is too much?
What is codependency?
In simple terms, codependency involves caring for another to the point where it becomes unhealthy. In a codependent relationship, an individual sacrifices their own needs in order to meet the needs of their partner. One party takes on the role of the ‘giver’ and the other, the ‘taker’. The ‘giver’ often loses their own identity while trying to heal or ‘fix’ their partner’s illness, addiction or dysfunctional personality. Eventually, the two begin to rely on one another for relief of insecurity and loneliness, rather than love.
What causes codependency?
More often than not, codependency stems from childhood. It appears in those who grew up in unstable households, where they were exposed to abuse, emotional neglect, family issues, and lack of communication. A dysfunctional upbringing can cause people to develop an insecure attachment style, which can lead to further difficulty in relationships. A person with an insecure attachment style is more likely to become jealous, clingy and constantly seek reassurance from a partner.
Individuals with low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, or trust issues, may enter a codependent relationship in order to feel wanted or needed. If an individual feels they are being relied upon, they are less likely to worry about being abandoned.
But I care about my partner. Why is that bad?
Of course, it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural for you to feel the need to protect and look after them. However, there’s a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity. A Codependent’s life revolves around their partner’s needs and emotions, leaving them with little time for themselves. This leads to isolation and loss of connection to friends and family. If your partner struggles with addiction or mental illness, your codependency may be enabling them and preventing them from seeking help. This may have negative, and potentially deadly consequences.
If you’ve lived in a codependent relationship for a long time, it can become difficult to notice or accept it, let alone change it. Though it is possible to overcome codependency on your own, many couples require professional treatment or counselling. If both parties are willing to make a change, they can work towards a healthier relationship.
As codependency is complicated, it’s important to find a therapist with experience in dealing with them. A professional can help you to:
Identify codependent behaviour and take steps to address it.
Work through unsolved childhood trauma.
Work on increasing self-esteem and self-worth.
Help with anxiety and fear of abandonment.
Challenge negative thought patterns.
Help you develop an identity beyond your relationship with your partner.
Remember, in a healthy relationship, it’s important to:
In a healthy relationship, people are able to function away from their partner. Spend time with your friends and family, go to the beach, out to dinner, to a movie or a solo outing… maybe that shopping spree you’ve been dreaming of!
Set yourself boundaries
If your partner is constantly texting you, decide that you’ll no longer answer while at work or after a certain time.
Don’t cancel plans to spend time with them. If you planned a day out with friends, don’t cancel it just to be with them.
Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t feel like spending time with them. If you’re sick, busy, or tired after a long day at work, tell them.
Organise a ‘date night’ with them, or plan time you always spend together. That way, you have time to yourself, while still having a scheduled time to spend time with them.
When you have become used to giving and giving, spending time on yourself can feel selfish and wrong. However, self-care is vital in relieving stress and anxiety, strengthening coping skills, and increasing resilience. Whether it’s putting on a face mask, taking a warm bath, or going on a peaceful walk in the woods, self-care can help revitalise your mind and body, leading to a calmer and healthier you.
Embrace positive communication.
Be open with your partner and express your feelings. If they do something to upset you, tell them. If they aren’t respecting your boundaries, talk to them. The more open you are with them, the easier it will be for them to open up in return.
Trust that your emotions are valid.
In a codependent relationship, it’s common to ignore or hide your emotions in fear of causing an argument. However, in a healthy relationship, both parties should feel comfortable sharing how they feel, without fearing the outcome. Regardless of whether you deem an emotion as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you are entitled to feel it.
If you and your partner both decide to make a change, a therapist who specialises in relationships may be able to help you. A professional can assist you in establishing healthy boundaries, work on self-esteem and self-worth issues, and help you to recognise unhealthy thought patterns. Since codependency often stems from childhood, a therapist may also work through any traumas or unresolved feelings that may be related to your need for codependency. Overall, the goal of treatment is to allow an individual to regain their sense of emotions and identify which, in turn, leads to a healthier relationship.
Remember: it’s not your job to ‘fix’ your partner.
We all want to support the ones we love. But remember, you are not your partner’s therapist. It is important to love them without hurting yourself in the process.
While the use of marijuana is largely discouraged within society at large, patients around the world have sworn by the medicinal benefits of one of its central compounds, CBD.
By: Harriet Grayson
“I used to love gardening and weeding, but had to stop, and since taking CBD oil I get outside again.”
After being diagnosed with her second bout of breast cancer, Olivia Newton John described the pain she was experiencing as “excruciating, sleep-depriving, crying out loud pain”. Initially treating her pain with morphine, with the help of CBD oil she was not only able to wean herself off of the morphine but get rid of her pain completely.
Olivia’s story is shared by millions of people around the world, with many claiming CBD oil has been the only medicine to offer them relief. Yet, in spite of its growing popularity, official studies into medicinal marijuana, particularly its individual compounds such as CBD, are few and far between.
Because of this, CBD has been increasingly recognised for its medical potential. Not only is it anti-inflammatory, it is also anti-anxiety, anti-epileptic and has anti-oxidant properties. CBD treatments come in many forms, most commonly in oil, but also in creams or as a vapour.
The History of CBD
The heavy stigma surrounding cannabis can make it seem like CBD’s medicinal benefits are only a recent discovery. In fact, they have been acknowledged for centuries. The first documented use of cannabis-derived medicine dates back as early as 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Cheng Ng.
Since then, CBD has been recognised around the world for its numerous medical benefits. Queen Victoria is said to have used it to treat menstrual cramps during her reign.
While it has been around for centuries, it wasn’t until 1839 through a study done by Irish physician William B. O’Shaughnessy that CBD gained traction in the medical community as a viable treatment. O’Shaughnessy’s study established a variety of possible medical applications for cannabis, but to this day these applications remain largely under the radar.
While worldwide legal restrictions on cannabis have limited research, CBD has become increasingly popular as a natural alternative to prescription medicine for a wide range of conditions. According to a study of CBD users in 2018, some of the most common conditions people use CBD to treat include:
Arthritis or joint pain
Anxiety and depression
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Treating Pain and Inflammation
One of CBD’s most commonly recognised benefits is its potential as a natural alternative to prescription pain medication, especially in treating chronic pain. A study conducted in 2018 reviewed studies published from 1975 to March that year that included the words cannabis or cannabinoids and pain in their title or abstract. These studies examined using cannabis or its extracted cannabinoids, specifically CBD, to treat a variety of different types of pain, from neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain to chronic pain and the pain produced by cancer. Based on their evaluation, the researchers conducting the 2018 study found that medical cannabis, including CBD, was proven effective in treating chronic pain amongst adults with little to no serious side effects.
While human studies demonstrating the benefits of CBD are limited, stories from patients around the world testify to these benefits. One such patient is Stephanie Wray, a mother-of-two who describes her experience of using CBD oil in an interview with Body and Soul magazine.
Stephanie has suffered from carpal tunnel, insomnia, depression and migraines for over a decade. On top of this, a few years ago she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic pain all throughout the body, and bursitis, a condition that causes extreme pain in both her shoulders.
Since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and bursitis, Stephanie’s pain soon became debilitating. She felt exhausted, unable even to do the most simple day-to-day tasks around the house. She was taking “Nurofen, Panadol and Endone and antidepressants” but none gave her enough relief to “just…live.”
Her doctor eventually referred her to Cannabis Doctors Australia, an organisation that helps connect patients like Stephanie with licensed doctors who can provide patients with medicinal cannabis. After a month, Stephanie was given CBD oil that she takes as droplets on her tongue twice a day.
Since then, she has stopped taking all of her other medication and antidepressants. She now has energy she never had to “do jobs around the house” and “get outside again.” She is still taking it “day to day”, but having access to medicinal cannabis has made her feel “more positive about the future.”
Accessing CBD oil in Australia
In Australia, you can only access any form of medicinal cannabis, including any CBD treatment, with a doctor’s prescription, and only doctors are able to access them on behalf of their patients.
Any general practitioner, or GP, can prescribe medicinal cannabis, but they must first demonstrate that it is the appropriate treatment for the patient’s condition and they have the right to refuse access if they decide another treatment is safer or more effective.
While it is legally accessible, many users are often unaware of these requirements. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, of the 60,000 Australians currently self-medicating with cannabis, only 30,000 are doing so legally. Even if patients are able to access CBD legally, it can be incredibly expensive, costing an average of ten to thirteen dollars a day.
Potential Risks of Using CBD
While it has helped thousands of patients such as Stephanie, much like any prescription medicine taking CBD is not without its share of risks. The greatest concern for users is that CBD can potentially interact with other medications such as blood thinners, heart medication and immunosuppressants in ways that can potentially change the levels of these medications in the blood. And unfortunately, due to worldwide legal restrictions on cannabis, there is a considerable lack of evidence from human studies on CBD’s effects on the body.
Always discuss with your doctor before trying CBD oil as a treatment for any medical condition.
For kids, the absence of sex education can run deeper than a simple lack of knowledge. With bodily changes occurring much earlier, children midway through primary school who have not had these discussions can be left feeling scared and confused as they enter puberty – yet experts warn this is not the only danger.
Children’s bodies are developing well before their brains, faster than ever recorded. Creating what Psychologist Jane Mendle calls ‘maturational disparity’, a result of both environmental and biological factors. This condition has been observed as having detrimental effects primarily in young girls – although it can affect boys as well.
Mendle says girls who begin puberty early and experience this condition, are “more likely than others to suffer from panic attacks, suicidality, body dissatisfaction, substance abuse, and depression that extends into adulthood”. She also notes these girls are at greater risk of sexual harassment at school.
While maturational disparity significantly impacts the psychological wellbeing of children, having open discussions about sex and sexuality can positively impact children having such experiences and reduce the risks linked with the condition.
There are other dangers associated with leaving ‘the talk’ too late. Children could be missing out on crucial information that influences their wellbeing and safety. In a recent survey of secondary students by Latrobe University, over one quarter (28.4 per cent) of sexually active students had experienced unwanted sex at least once, and one third of students reported engaging in sexting in the last two months.
While schools are working to reduce risk taking behaviours and are educating students about consent – a parent’s role in sexuality education cannot be ignored. According to the Australian Department of Education, parental involvement in sex education “contributes to greater openness about sex and sexuality and improved sexual health among young people”.
While what your child may need to know is heavily dependant on their personal needs and unique development, health experts have outlined basic information your child should engage with based on their age group.
Ages 0 to 5
For those with children under five, professionals say to start small, sharing information that will help create clear, open lines of communication between a parent and child. For under 5’s:
Teach the correct anatomical terms for body parts.
Explain the concepts of public and private.
Ensure your child understands the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
Ages 6 to 10
At this stage in your child’s development it is important to prepare them for the changes they are about to experience before they begin puberty. Having this discussion prior to such changes happening will prevent fear and confusion when entering this stage of development.
Teach your child how babies are born, and how they grow inside the womb.
Explain puberty, how their body and mind will change as they get older.
Explain different sexualities and preferences.
Discuss gender stereotyping.
Ages 11 to 12
As many children are entering puberty, it may be helpful to explain exactly why these changes are happening, and how to navigate a world in which technology is such a big part of life.
Teach the names and functions of reproductive organs.
Explain sexual intercourse.
Teach your child how to respect themselves and others.
Teach basic hygiene practices associated with puberty, for example: wearing deodorant.
Instruct your child about responsible use of technology.
Age 13 to 18
During high school teenagers are entering their first relationships, and health professionals say it is better to provide the following information before your teenager is sexually active – rather than waiting until it’s too late.
Educate your child on safe sex practices.
Explain sexually transmitted infections, and how to prevent them.
The nausea, the pain and the mental strain placed over the 19-year-old became too much. She sat in the hospital bathroom, holding herself close, alone yet crowded by excessive thoughts. She lifted her phone and started to record.
“This is so dreadful… this is terrible, this is something I have to do, and I know I’ll get through, it’s just, this is my life for the next four to six months,” she shares. “Day four, it sucks.”
I met up with Emili months after COVID-19’s claustrophobic isolation. The tight wrap of her arms reminded me greatly of the fragility of life. After many months of lockdown, I noticed how her hair had changed. No longer was it a thick shade of dark brown but now it waved lightly over her pale cheeks. Its reflective light brown was highlighted by her wide smile, matching her cosmically brown eyes. Her face lit up the room with a rare positivity, yet her voice was croaky – alluding to the reality of her treatments.
In 2020, 19-year-old Emili Milosevska was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma. Over many months of chemotherapy, Emili has won the battle against the tumour that called her lung home. Emili’s outlook on life remained positive throughout, relying on a number of tools to help restrict chemos intense blow. As the chemo progressed and the negative thoughts shrouded, Emili embraced humour to ward off their ugly heads.
In late 2016, a 15-year-old Emili experienced a nasty, recurring cough. It got worse, and doctors diagnosed her with asthma, but the puffers never helped rid of the asthma attacks.
“The thing is they did the scans… but they diagnosed it wrong,” Emili said.
Then last year the physical pain started. Doctors scoured for an answer, and after the years of suffering, she finally received the news that a large tumour had been discovered. After learning the news, the joy-filled Emili decided to give the tumour a name in an effort to de-emphasise the defeatist grip it would hold over her life. Rob began to press against her nerves, causing such immense affliction. The pain was overwhelming and exhausting. Rob was an unwanted foe, thus began the demanding and debilitating process of chemotherapy.
The first 14 days of her first chemotherapy cycle brought many challenges. Doctors attempted to find medications that could be taken home so Emili could continue her treatments in the comfort of her abode. This process, however, was difficult. The medication caused a number of problems that Emili was not equipped to handle.
“I remember that I was hallucinating. I was sitting in bed; I couldn’t move I was so high.” Emili said.
With a hallucinating spell cast over her, she noticed a nurse who attempted to kidnap her. She cried out in horror and began to hyperventilate. The nurse, in fact, had no plan to kidnap Emili, only wishing to continue the work in which they started. In actual fact, Emili had taken medication, anxiety medication, meant to generate a calming effect. However, the opposite occurred.
As the second round of chemotherapy approached, fear tied Emili down. Memories of the first cycle and the torment 11 days spent in hospital had, ate away at her nerves. But her strength and resilience allowed her to face the wall of anxiety as she danced her way into TikTok.
“You know how positive I am, how crazy, so this process was a lot easier for that, because of my mentality.”
Emili still had a long way to go, not only having to experience the dread of chemo, but she also had to endure gut-wrenching fertility treatments. The thought of children had previously occurred to Emili in passing conversations with friends. She never wanted to go through the horror that is childbirth, so she often thought of adoption. In spite of this, she still had the option to conceive a child of her own.
One night, however, whilst at a friend’s party, she found herself crying in a kitchen, isolated the crowds and absorbed in a phone call that changed everything. The treatments didn’t work, the option was no more.
“What do I tell my future husband about kids, how do I bring that up?”
When speaking of this night, I saw a comfort in her eyes. The knowledge that adoption is still an option allowed positivity to take over her young mind. She sat and spoke of her future Gary and the ways in which adoption could be spoken about. Funnily enough her humour began to reveal itself during the disheartening conversation, as the name Gary did not only belong to her future imagined husband but belonged to her hospital IV pole.
Emili’s individualistic experience with chemotherapy was one of positivity and resilience. For Emili she was able to scare cancer off in only two months. She told herself that even though the road was long and coarse, cancer was not going to be the end.
On day four of the first cycle Emili found herself trapped, surrounded by claustrophobic dark thoughts. Split-second conceptualisations of demise began to plague her once pragmatic mind. It was bad. She asked herself, is life worth this treatment? She continued to reflect on family and close friends who became main channel of positivity and assistance throughout.
Whilst we sat eating Emili could not stop talking about the love that continues to grow for her family in which her strength stemmed.
“I feel like it’s harder for the family and friends then it is for the person… I had to go through there’s nothing you can do, but other people have to see me go through that experience.”
With the prescribed medications altering Emili’s hormones, she began to have breakdowns. The strength of her parents shone through during the most difficult of times. A Mum who helped her daughter in showers where the water became a feared enemy of long, transparent glass. When she found herself in compromised positions unable to muster up the strength, her father became her muscles.
During hospital chemotherapy sessions, her father embraced Emili’s style of dry, sarcastic humour, as he began to laugh and joke with doctors.
“Would you give her another bag (of chemo),” he asked the doctor, only to be met with a confused expression.
“Why?” the doctor replied.
“Because she won’t shut up,” he laughed.
Even when retelling the story over coffee, laughter caused Emili’s eyes filled to the brim with tears.
It goes a long way to show just how parents will act when their child is sick, craving to create a smile no matter what. Trying to provide comfort when the idea of such is hard to imagine.
The first cruel cycle led her to want to give up. On the fourth day of an unbearable 11 days in hospital, she sat in the bathroom crying. This became a significant factor in shaping Emili’s idea of hospital, now never wanting to go back. A breakdown was had alone. Emili’s physical and mental state ready to give up. She let it out, standing there unable to convince herself that she could do this alone. Even with the comfort provided by doctors and family, Emili turned to her faith.
“I’m giving you my life God, you want to take it away, you want to use it, you want to abuse it, do whatever, but this is in your control now. I’ll be here for the ride and you do whatever you want to do.”
It wasn’t until the journey home days later where Emili sensed a change. The hardest and most draining part of the first cycle was coming to an end and a shift was felt. The pain and exhaustion began to drift slowly away as her father began to drive further from the hospital. Her life was no longer in her control.
Knowing God held her life, she sat back to await the next chapter of her story. It caused her to shift from dark thoughts and the rollercoaster of emotions began to calm. The sense of a higher power taking control over her life allowed the weight on her shoulders to decrease.
From this Emili started to sing again, play music again. She sat in the bathroom singing, not crying. From here things began to look up and as she sat in that car, reminiscing of the days in hospital, the pain that began to fade and her mood began to change.
“There’s no question kids are missing out on very critical social skills. It puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible.” – Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist.
Gen Z were the first generation to grow up amidst social media, with the first notable site, Six Degrees, being created in 1997. Rapidly, social media has proliferated out of control, gaining popularity across the well known sites we know today.
But what effects has this had on generations starting with Gen Z and that of which followed?
A popular documentary released on Netflix called ‘The Social Dilemma’ examines this and the damaging effect that this has had on children’s social skills. Teenagers in particular have been the primary focus and their ability to create new relationships.
“We’ve created a world in which online connection has become primary. Especially for younger generations. And yet, in that world, anytime two people connect, the only way it’s financed is through a sneaky third person whose paying to manipulate those two people. So we’ve created an entire global generation of people who were raised within a context with the very meaning of communication, the very meaning of culture, is manipulation.” – Jaron Lainer, founding father of Virtual Reality Computer Scientist
In America, a short survey was conducted to discuss this by The Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and they discovered:
– 75% of teens said social media negatively affected their romantic relationship
– 77% chose texting as one of the popular ways to start a relationship
– 82% said texting is one of the two ways to end a relationship.
As children engage in face-to-face communication, they are developing social skills through vocal and visual cues which brings context to the situation. These communication cues can be portrayed through eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions and space between individuals (Knapp & Hall, 2010).
But if children are communicating solely through social media, they aren’t learning these non-verbal communication skills that are necessary to succeed in life.
It has become trendy across all social media platforms for Gen Z to joke about their social incompetencies with comments such as needing their parents to book doctor’s appointments for them because they’re afraid to talk over the phone, but to what extent is this going to affect how society will function in the future?
“We’re training and conditioning a whole new generation of people that when we are uncomfortable or lonely or uncertain or afraid, we have a digital pacifier for ourselves. That is kind of atrophying our own ability to deal with that.” – Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google and co-founder of Centre for Humane Technologies
Perhaps social media isn’t the future, but something that needs to be changed or consumed in extreme moderation.
Optimum nutrition is crucial for physiological and cognitive development, however evidence shows that diet quality in children has declined. Processed foods, skipping meals and following fad diets may cause children to fail in meeting nutritional requirements necessary for growth and development.
Essential vitamins and minerals cannot be synthesised by the body, so a child must obtain them in adequate amounts from food. Poor intake of nutrients and energy could have detrimental effects on health, and contribute to the onset of low self-esteem, dental issues and decreased academic performance.
Epidemiological data estimates that one in five children are expected to develop some kind of mental health issue before adulthood, with half of adult mental health problems developing in childhood and teenage years. This highlights the importance of early prevention.
An Australian study examining 7114 adolescents aged 10-14 years, demonstrated that teenagers on a healthy diet were less likely to report symptoms of depression. The association exists above the influence of family, socioeconomic and other factors.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is key for skeletal development, bone health and teeth, providing hard tissue with its strength. Due to its importance for growth, requirements are higher in childhood, adolescence, pregnancy and lactation.
Calcium is also necessary for learning, mental capacity, the immune system, nerve impulse transmissions and contracting muscles.