Best of the Web: Overcoming a fear of dogs, and more

How we can help children not to fear dogs, eight lessons learnt from raising teens, and Dr Justin Coulson's quick tip for settling 'first dibs' arguments.

Our selection of thought-provoking and useful resources from around the web on educating and raising children, and supporting families.

Why some children fear dogs and how to help them overcome it

(Kellie Scott, ABC Lifestyle)

A fear of dogs is estimated to affect 1 in 20 Australians, with the fear being more prevalent in children. In this article, the author explores strategies for helping children overcome their fear of dogs.

The author discusses the importance of understanding the root cause of the fear, which can vary from traumatic experiences to learned behaviour.

Anthony Berrick, a psychologist and dog trainer, says, ‘Something as “innocuous” as a dog licking a small child on the face can be a “really weird and unusual experience” that triggers a fear response. They want it to stop and they don’t know how, so they start screaming or run away and then the dog gets excited’.

One approach suggested is gradual exposure, where children are introduced to dogs in controlled settings, allowing them to become more comfortable over time. The article stresses the need for patience and support during this process. Additionally, teaching children about dog behaviour and body language can help demystify their fears.

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I loved having teenage kids – but I was often terrible at it. Here are eight things I eventually learned

(Emma Beddington, The Guardian)

There will always be battles when raising teenagers, but in this article, the author writes that it’s possible for everyone to emerge as winners. Sharing insights gained from her own experiences, the author shares eight essential lessons.

Emphasising the importance of picking your battles wisely, the author suggests that only some issues are worth the energy to confront. She also underscores the value of saying ‘sorry’ and listening to teenagers without judgment, fostering open communication. The article also highlights the importance of respecting the privacy of teenagers, with the author lamenting that she ‘didn’t get this right’ with her now adult sons.

She writes that the journey of raising adolescents will astound you.

‘I felt as much – maybe more – delight and wonder when my sons and their friends became adults as I did when their limbs were first unfurling, or when they learned to speak.’

Overall, the article offers a candid and insightful perspective on the complexities of parenting teenagers and is filled with practical advice. She ends the article with a comment saying, ‘… any pain you go through in the teenage years (a time when you are, essentially, birthing new adults) is absolutely, wonderfully, worthwhile’.

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How to solve 'first dibs'

(Dr Justin Coulson, Happy Families)

Do you have children who seem to always be fighting over who sat in the front seat last? Who chose the show to watch on Netflix? Who gets to decide what’s for takeaway dinner this week? You aren’t alone.

In this short but practical article, parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson shares a tip that might just help with these challenges.

He introduces the concept of a ‘first choice token’ to help decide who gets ‘first dibs’. The token is given to one child to hold on to for as long as they wish. When a circumstance arises where they want to use their ‘first choice’, they hand the token to their sibling. No squabbles, no drama. Everyone gets a fair opportunity to use the token on something that matters to them before passing it on to the next person.

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