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Program leaders at Tomorrow Today Foundation’s Parents’ Early Education Partnership (PEEP) have secured quite the coup, lining up national parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson to share parenting tips for the COVID-19 period with the Benalla community, delivered right into their kitchens and living rooms.

Dr Coulson is a sought-after and well-respected public speaker, having written six books on parenting and family wellbeing. Through his ‘Happy Families’ practice, he is dedicated to helping families grow healthy relationships. He writes a weekly advice column for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, and appears regularly on The Project, the TODAY Show, Studio 10, Mornings and several radio stations around the nation.

The live chat between Dr Coulson and PEEP’S program coordinator Cath Warnock was recorded to share with program participants. It is part of the ongoing parenting education work undertaken by the foundation, including parent Talk Time normally held during weekly child-and-family sessions at Tomorrow Today.

The video chat was warm and practical, informed by Dr Coulson’s expertise in positive psychology and his own experience as a father of six children.

Dr Coulson’s top tips
• Take control of your time – work in sprints, when your child is settled into an activity or down for a nap, or before they wake in the morning. Use that time to get your tasks done so you feel calm and in control.
• Lower your expectations – if you need to work from home, you won’t be able to be as productive as you would be in the office. Students won’t get as much work done at home as they might at school, either. For younger students, an hour of good school work a day is enough in these times – don’t push it.
• Look after yourself – consider watching less Netflix, cut down on alcohol and junk food, and get some exercise. Be intentional about your choices so that you can function better as a family.

On the topic of promoting harmony in the home when things are in upheaval at the moment, Dr Coulson said: “It is inevitable that with children being home more often, there will be conflict. After conflict, give children the chance to calm down before talking it through and helping them work out better strategies for next time.” He recommended providing calm guidance to children, saying,

“Emotions are contagious. Your kids will catch your chaos, they’ll catch your crazy, they’ll catch your cranky. But they can also catch your calm.”

Cath asked Dr Coulson about children’s screen time during the current restrictions. “Too much screen time will have an impact. But – more importantly – it’s the kind of screen time that they’re getting that matters.” The message was to keep an eye on the content; using devices a little more at this time, for educational purposes and entertainment, is okay.

Cath and Dr Coulson wrapped up the conversation with a warm invitation to visit PEEP in Benalla any time.

Executive Officer of Tomorrow Today, Rosie Koop, says: “Our PEEP program focuses on giving parents extra tools and knowledge to help their children prosper. During this time of social distancing, we are trying to find new ways to share ideas and coping strategies. It’s great to have experts like Dr Coulson generously offer their time to talk to Benalla families; I commend the program team on their initiative.”

“We hope our online resources provide families with useful tips during this challenging time. We know that parents and carers need support to thrive and flourish, and that is difficult when we are isolated from friends and family. The PEEP team continue to reach out to families by phone, online meeting and social media so that we can all stay connected.”

View the video, and other online resources developed by the PEEP program, here.


Dr Justin Coulson and Cath Warnock PEEP

Dr Justin Coulson and Cath Warnock chat via Zoom