Use tough and gentle love

Victoria Park conversation with (from left) Tanya Thirkettle with Logan, Marilyn Eves with Lachlan, and Jemma with Kevin Noffke.
Victoria Park conversation with (from left) Tanya Thirkettle with Logan, Marilyn Eves with Lachlan, and Jemma with Kevin Noffke. Sharyn Oneill

WHEN it comes to raising children, mother-of-three Tanya Thirkettle says there's a fine line between discipline and punishment.

The Mount Isa mum, visiting family in Rockhampton, was responding to a recent survey by CQUniversity researcher Dr Susan Williams revealing the association between negative childhood experiences and adult physical activity behaviour.

A national study of more than 1700 people indicates that children who had positive family experiences such as being praised, having warm, caring parents, and having a sense of well-being during their childhood, tend to have healthier physical activity habits as adults.

Conversely, children growing up with verbal tirades or physical punishment and parental conflict in the home tend to have worse outcomes in terms of adult physical activity habits.

Tanya said as well as consistent discipline, telling your kids you loved them was very important.

"Parents don't tell their kids enough that they love them," she said.

"And when you praise them for behaving, it makes them feel good about themselves."

Tanya said it was very different raising children in today's society compared to when she was a child, but there always had to be boundaries for them.

"Some things won't work for some kids that will on others, and it's the same with parenting techniques. Everyone - parent and child - is different."

Dr Williams said up to 70% of respondents reported being affected by at least one negative factor in childhood, and the association with poor adult outcomes increased as more negative factors came into play.

"These associations between negative home life factors and negative physical activity behaviours have not been studied before, but tend to mirror other studies associating troubled childhoods with poor adult health," Dr Williams said.

"It seems family dysfunction and instability could lead to less favourable adult outcomes, whereas children who grow up in positive home environments may have healthier approaches to physical activity as adults."

Topics:  children discipline parenthood punishment

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