Call for Australians to take an old-fashioned approach to parenting

Aussies are being urged to take on an old-fashioned approach to parenting, following claims parents are making things too complicated.

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Australian parents are being urged to take a step back from the pressures of modern parenting and adopt a simpler approach to raising children.

New research suggests parents need to take on a more old-fashioned style of parenting instead of being worried about keeping children constantly entertained, often resorting to “quick fixes” like video games and television.

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Little People, Big Lives, a new report unveiled by the University of Notre Dame Sydney in conjunction with Sanitarium Health Food Company, calls for parents to refocus on the big picture.

Over-complicated parenting can heighten the risk of serious issues relating to childhood health like obesity, type 2 diabetes and mental health problems, the research claims.

Image: iStock.

Aussie parents are turning to ‘quick fixes’ like technology to keep their children constantly entertained. Image: iStock.

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"Fast solutions to problems"

Professor Christine Bennett AO, Dean of Medicine at The University Notre Dame, said busy modern parents were often trying to find fast solutions to problems but it could actually have a detrimental effect.

“It’s not about ‘quick fix solutions’, but rather going back to basics. Healthy eating and

physical activity are important but there’s more we need for a healthy start to life,” Prof Bennett said.

“Active play, good sleep, limiting screen time, love and care, are all vital to a child’s positive self-worth and social connection.”

She said that reducing the amount of technology children have access to, encouraging them to play outside and eating meals as a family can have a majorly positive impact on a child's health.

Image: supplied.

The majority of parents claim their children don’t do enough physical activity. Picture: Little People, Big Lives report. Source: supplied.

"Parents often feel they don’t have time"

As simple as it may seem, many parents often feel they don’t have time to do these things when balancing their children’s school, homework and after school activities, along with their own commitments.

Salma Hayek (mom to Valentina): “When Valentina was not even 1 month old, my aunt [gave me the best advice]: ‘Put her to sleep yourself every night. Sing to her and cradle her in your arms and sit by her side - every night. Because one day you won’t be able to, and it’s going to happen really fast.”

A YouGov Galaxy research study of Australian families revealed the average Aussie kid spends more time being entertained by screens than with their own parents.

On average parents spend 9.3 hours of dedicated time with their children each week, compared to the 14.6 hours kids spend watching TV and gaming.

Even seemingly insignificant things like having a child walk to school can greatly boost their health.

Nearly half of children don’t spend any time walking to school, but research shows parking an extra 10 minutes away from the gates can add an extra 1.5 hours to a child’s weekly physical activity levels.

Image: supplied.

On average, children spend more time looking at screens than with their parents. Picture: Little People, Big Lives report. Source: supplied.

"More one-on-one time"

Walking with your child also allows parents to squeeze in some more one-on-one time.

Screen time, lack of sleep and low activity levels are the main areas of concern for parents across the country.

Half of NSW parents feel their children spend too much time on electronic devices and nearly a quarter admit their kids spend less than five hours a week in active play.

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Over 70 percent of Western Australian parents think their children don’t get enough sleep, which directly affects their school performance.

More than half of parents in other states would like to see their children eating more fruit and vegetables.

Ada Nicodemou, an Aussie actor and ambassador for the Little People, Big Lives campaign, said parents can often feel overwhelmed by all the new information they are being presented with.

“Parenting isn’t rocket science, although with all the information we’re bombarded with, it can sometimes feel that way,” she said.

“I’m the first to admit family life is incredibly busy, that’s why the practical recommendations resonate with me.”

She encouraged other parents to “take a step back” and take on a simpler approach to parenting.