Recently I was asked to comment on the subject of the Tiger Mum’s new book.

Her latest musings outline how to help your children achieve success. Whilst I haven’t read the book, having read a lot of the Tiger Mum theories her measure of success would be very different to mine. I think success for me and my two-year-old is a trip to the shops without her weeing her pants in the corner.

Yes this happened, and yes I had to then buy something from the very expensive homewares store to make up for my embarrassment at her puddle in the corner. I purchased a novelty swear jar.

Tiger Mum’s success is probably her two-year-old not only containing her wee in public, but also playing a piano recital, while speaking French and solving world peace. All at the same time of course.

My question was how do I plan to help my child succeed? Packing 10 trillion pairs of undies when going out is one, but the other was more reflective. My answer was simply leading by example. My parents raised five children and were very hard workers, having watched them toil to provide us with the tools we needed to succeed, the least we could do was repay the favour.

Our success in a way repays them for the sacrifices they made to help us achieve our dreams. So instead of pushing my daughter towards success I will just remain mindful that her little eyes are always watching and learning so I should try, as best I can, to be the best I can in the hope I will inspire her to do the same.

It’s a legacy my parents gifted me, and one I hope to pass on.

So I was very interested to learn about Dr Kaylene Henderson, a Brisbane Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist theory on parenting. Being that it is something we learn as children.

We all have different types of memories which are encoded in different parts of our brains.The type that many people think about when they think about memory is explicit memory – these are easily recalled autobiographical memories connected to a narrative e.g. the memory of how you met your husband or your favourite travel memory. But another type of memory which is very important in parenting is procedural memory.

Procedural memory is the memory of how we do things, like how we ride a bike or drive a car. Our procedural memory saves us from having to consciously recall how to do things each time we do them – we can just do them on ‘autopilot’. Well it turns out that our memories of ‘how to parent’ are stored as procedural memory too. From infancy, we are laying down procedural memories about how to parent, based on how we are parented.

That’s why, unless we consciously do things different, our parenting ‘autopilot’ will be the same as that of our parents.

Parents who become enraged at their children each time their kids become distressed most likely experienced the same thing when they were children. And their children will most likely respond in the same way with their kids – because it’s just ‘how you do it’ – it’s like riding a bike. This is the reason why, in my opinion, people are so judgemental and defensive about parenting – they look at others parenting differently and it’s as if they’re watching someone riding their bike with their feet on the handlebars – it’s just not ‘how you do it’ because it doesn’t fit with their procedural memories of parenting.

So that pretty much sums up, in a much more science-based way, my theory for helping my child succeed. It’s how my folks did it, so that’s why I think it will be best for Millie. I didn’t turn out too bad, so I might leave things unbroken. But if you want to learn more from Dr Kaylene Henderson she is running a Circle of Security Parenting Program.

The Circle of Security Parenting Program teaches parents how to see and respond to their children’s emotional needs. When we know what our children need from us (and can start to see that objectively), we can make a conscious decision to either respond to our children’s needs or react on autopilot. With practice, we get better at doing the former. The course teaches that when children have their emotional needs for exploration and closeness met, the benefits include fewer behavioural difficulties, greater resilience, improved self-esteem, better relationships with peers and family, enhanced school readiness and an improved capacity to handle emotions. 

She is doing a condensed weekend workshop format in Brisbane – rarely offered in Australia yet perfect for busy parents – on 29 to 30 March 2014 from 9am to 4pm at the South Bank Institute of Technology. It costs $360 + GST (or an early bird rate of $285 + GST) Her website is here: