Childhood Domains: what makes a good childhood?

This post is part of our series on what makes a good childhood.

The concept of a good childhood means many things to many people. Making a definitive assessment of a good childhood is difficult, but is a task that Berry Street feels is important to undertake for the sake of those children whose childhoods are blighted by violence, poverty, neglect, educational or any other disadvantage. Continue reading “Childhood Domains: what makes a good childhood?”

Early Childhood: the importance of the early years

This post is part of our series on what makes a good childhood.

Although intuition tells us how important a child’s early experiences are, the evidence is now overwhelming. A good childhood really is the foundation for a healthy adult life and cohesive society.

Over the previous decade, we have seen a greater focus on, and understanding of, the importance of childhood wellbeing, both from an objective and subjective perspective. It is now generally understood that children’s wellbeing is crucial, not just for their own lives, but for society as a whole. Continue reading “Early Childhood: the importance of the early years”

Childhood Wellbeing

This post is part of our series on what makes a good childhood.

Childhood wellbeing – how we define it and what its key factors are – is a growing field of research around the world.

Childhood wellbeing is generally understood as the quality of children’s lives. It is an overarching and multi-dimensional concept that encompasses both subjective indicators (i.e. perceptions of quality of life and overall life satisfaction) and objective indicators (i.e. household income and health status) that focus on the immediate lives of children but also consider the longer-term outcomes. Continue reading “Childhood Wellbeing”

Childhood in the 21st Century

This post is part of our series on what makes a good childhood.

What are the key factors impacting on childhood today?

The pace of change in the 21st century has been rapid.

Despite children being raised in a time that is firmly focused on the needs and cares of children – with greater awareness and knowledge than ever before on the factors that impact childhood – evidence suggests that Australian children and young people growing up in the 21st century are not faring as well as they could be. Continue reading “Childhood in the 21st Century”

The longest relationship

Children in out-of-home care often have uniquely strong sibling relationships. This article looks at some of the reasons siblings are separated and ways sibling relationships can be maintained and nurtured while children are in out-of-home care.

By Dr. Trish McCluskey, Berry Street

Almost all of us have one, or more. Sometimes we wish we hadn’t and then we cannot imagine our lives without them. Remember primary school? We fight with them, they fight with us and then we fight for them.

Siblings: our closest genetic relative, our soulmates, rivals for parental affections, the keepers of our unembellished history.

For children in out-of-home care and indeed for all of us, our siblings are usually the longest relationship of our lives. Sometimes these are close and loving relationships and other times they are not. Interestingly even fraught sibling relationships can often be repaired and research shows siblings being identified as major supports as we get older.

Why then do sibling relationships seem to be so underestimated and overlooked for children in foster, kinship or residential care? Continue reading “The longest relationship”

The value of strength-based parenting

Strength-based parenting can bring huge benefits, using positive psychology to unlock your children’s potential and enhance their wellbeing.

By 

It’s widely accepted in today’s culture that good parenting requires a balance of warmth and control. Research shows that parents who respond to the needs of children in loving ways, whilst setting rules that build independence and emotional intelligence, produce the best-adjusted, most resourceful, and highest-achieving kids.

Referred to as ‘authoritative parenting’, this style of parenting was identified by University of California, Los Angeles, psychologist Dr Diana Baumrind, whose research on parenting spans three decades, from 1960-1990.

Her work identified that authoritative parenting has the most positive effect on a child’s wellbeing and inspired further research that began in the 90s, on emotional coaching (the warmth aspect) and autonomy-granting parents (the control aspect), and still continues today.

While I certainly agree with an authoritative approach, I’d also argue that parenting research needs to evolve. Sure, parent-child relationships still need warmth and control but, as a psychology researcher and a mother of two, I’m interested in updating our knowledge of effective parenting. After all, we’re well and truly into the 21st Century and yet the bulk of parenting practices are based on ideas put forward in the 1960s and 1990s. Isn’t it time for an upgrade? Continue reading “The value of strength-based parenting”

Root of youth riots demand, not management

By Dr Sarah Wise, University of Melbourne and Berry Street Good Childhood Fellow.

Spectacular incident and response scenes at the Parkville youth justice precinct have sparked a lot of talk in the community on how to manage serious and violent acting-out behavior and offending by a small number of young people in Victoria. Predictably, the voice of ‘tough on crime’ populism has been at high volume.

Before we snap to punitive responses, it’s worth understanding the true complexity behind these events and youth crime more generally, as well as the systemic approach to youth justice that we have in place already. Continue reading “Root of youth riots demand, not management”