‘I’ve taught thousands of parents the tools to help raise kids. Here are 5 things I share on repeat.'

Thanks to our brand partner, LEGO® DUPLO®

We all want to raise well-adjusted kids who care about the planet and environment around them. 

But when it comes to parenting toddlers, getting through the day can seem like a daunting enough task in some moments. With your (and their) energy being pulled in different directions as new sets of challenges emerge, contemplating the ‘how to’ of building the right foundations for your kids can feel overwhelming. 

That’s where Genevieve Muir comes in. Genevieve is a Parent Educator, Obstetric Social Worker and founder of Connected Parenting. A mum to four boys herself, her passion for helping parents in the early years of raising kids has steered thousands of families through the challenges of parenting toddlers. 

“One of the biggest underlying questions that parents have is, ‘How do I raise my child to be a good person?’ I think all parents feel responsible for raising someone who is resilient, competent, brave, kind. When we look at the real core of it, we just want to feel like we're not 'stuffing it up'.” Genevieve told Mamamia.

Genevieve says that modelling behaviour is the biggest draw card to instil positive, nurturing values from an early age, but she wants parents to know that taking time for themselves is important, too. 

Mamamia chatted with the parenting educator herself about how busy parents can give their toddlers the best start in life, with practical, guilt-free advice.

Listen to this episode of How To Build A Human, where parent Leigh Campbell picks expert Gen Muir's brains about why connection is so important for everything we teach our kids. Post continues below.


The most common concern that parents express, especially when it comes to raising a toddler.

"When a parent comes to me, they might be asking a more direct question like, ‘How do I help my child learn to share?’ or ‘how do I help two siblings get along?’ Often the question comes out in terms of problems, but I think at the core of it, one of the reasons we're stressing about our two or three-year-old not sharing their toys is because we feel responsible about teaching them compassion and kindness. 

"Especially on social media, we're comparing our kids and our parenting to others more than ever. The pace and volume of information can be overwhelming. 

"But just because someone does something once, or a parent educator says that something should be done a particular method, doesn't mean you have to do that all the time (or at all). There's comfort in knowing there's lots of room for error in parenting, and that's completely okay."

How parents can overcome feelings of comparison or guilt, and the point about self-care.

"I don’t think we should ever have a conversation about how to be a better parent or how to take care of kids better, without the secondary conversation about how we are caring for the parents (ourselves)? For example, say you’ve got two children, maybe it’s you and your partner. You’re the co-captains of the ship. If one of you goes down, you’re no good to anybody. 

"Self-care is a discussion that is common these days, but what I say to parents is, it doesn’t have to mean a trip to the day spa. Self-care can really be quite a small but impactful thing, like taking 30 seconds to breathe before you respond to your child, or putting in a boundary, or finishing your coffee, or having your shower. 


"We want to build in more meaningful self-care, but we can focus so much on the needs of the child. I’m a mum of four. I know how easy it is to forget to take time for yourself. But if we're not having fun, we're not going to be showing up into that relationship with everything our child needs."

Navigating the emotional rollercoaster with toddlers, and how parents can turn the day around.

"Play is a fantastic way to reset a day. We know children learn so much better through play. It actually takes around 300 repetitions for a child's brain to create a new synapse, to learn something new – unless it's done through play. Then it’s achieved in only 12 repetitions. 

"If there is something happening in your home with your child that's a challenge, or you want to teach them a new rule or process around bedtime or dinnertime, the best way to talk them through it is through play. I recommend getting some LEGO® DUPLO® bricks and sets, and play the scenario out together. 

"Play is such an impactful way to connect with our kids. In as little as just nine minutes of fully committed one-on-one play with a child (no phones, no distractions), you can help them feel more regulated within their brain, while also feeling completely connected to you. Even if you did that once a week, it would be a game-changer. 

"You don't have to play with your child all day, every day; it's totally okay to say, ‘I can't wait to see what you get up to with your toys.’ while you let them lead their own play, and have you come back and check in. That helps set them up for more independent play, too."


Knowing the importance of play in encouraging kids to connect with nature and the world around them.

"One of the first things I recommend LEGO DUPLO for, is that it's open-ended. This allows for so much creativity, as toddlers build their mindful and problem-solving skills as well. Any LEGO DUPLO sets that move and might even have wheels, particularly the LEGO DUPLO My First Garden range (I'm thinking of that fabulous Fruit and Vegetable Tractor!), they're going to help kids with both fine and gross motor skills. Clicking those LEGO DUPLO bricks together is going to help with that too. 

"The My First Garden range is also excellent in teaching toddlers about the world. It’s through play that little kids get to play out scenarios, and imagine being that farmer, picking the crops, learning how vegetables grow. We want to teach them about healthy eating too, and that exposes them to these really interesting facts, like how veggies grow, but in a way where they get to touch it, feel it and explore in their own way. Kids can also be completely creative. In their mind, they might even be the tractor. They don't have to literally be the farmer and play it out in a traditional way. 

"They might be the tractor, and play out experiencing life as the tractor. Through creative play, they’re using their imagination and exploring the world in their way, making independent discoveries. That independent play is essential for them, in building their cognitive, emotional and social skills. 

"As parents, it's then so important to ditch the guilt and step 'out of the way', and set up opportunities for this."


Behind every single behaviour from your child is an emotion. 

"Group play offers fantastic opportunities to learn about sharing. What I'd say to parents is: don't stress if your child is not able to share just yet. The first thing we want to consider is, what's developmentally appropriate? Oftentimes, we might be over assuming the emotional skills of our toddlers and our preschoolers. The part of the brain that helps regulate emotion doesn’t fully form until we reach our 20s. So, for a toddler, there's such a long way to go in terms of development. 

"It’s important to make sure a parent knows that so much of what they’re dealing with is totally normal. Then, we need to remind ourselves that behind every single behaviour from your child is an emotion. If a child is struggling to share, that behaviour didn't come out of nowhere. Old school parenting advice is to send a child to their room, but if you just treat the behaviour, you're not dealing with what caused it – the underlying emotion. 


"If you’re a toddler, it's really hard to be patient and wait your turn. If we can have empathy for our children who are doing the best they can, and let them know that we still set boundaries but we are supporting them with those emotions – being with them instead of sending them away – things tend to resolve a lot better.

"The last tidbit thing I'd say to parents is trust the process. Children are meant to make lots of mistakes and struggle with their emotions; that's actually how they learn how to be resilient and how to be kind, through practising and making mistakes and learning from them."

Open your child's world of possibilities for preschool play with LEGO® DUPLO®. Explore the new My First Garden range, educational toys that put the focus on fun.

Genevieve Muir is an obstetric social worker, parent educator and mum to four boys with a passion for helping parents in the first five years of parenting. Gen works in a busy maternity hospital in Sydney, and also works privately with families though online programs, parenting groups, and one-on-one sessions. 

Feature Image: Instagram/@connectedparentingau

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