Practical Parenting expert: Dr Justin Coulson

Dr Justin Coulson is one of Australia’s leading parenting experts, a best-selling author and dad of six daughters

Dr Justin Coulson has a Psychological Science degree from the University of Queensland, and is the only person in Australia with a PhD in Parenting and Positive Psychology. He's the author of What Your Child Needs From You, and three best-selling books: 21 Days to a Happier Family, 9 Ways to a Resilient Child, and 10 Things Every Parent Needs to Know. He appears regularly on the TODAY show, The Morning Show, and dozens of radio stations each week, as well as newspapers around the country. His columns have been featured in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

He has worked as an advisor to three Australian Government departments: Raising Children Network, the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner, and the Department of Social Services. He has also served as an advisor to Beyond Blue, Life Education, and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. He also offers wellbeing, relationships, and parenting workshops and talks around the country.

Dr Coulson with his family.,

Dr Coulson with his family.,

Q. Your profession: What drew you to this area? 

A. As a dad in my mid-late 20’s I knew I was getting heaps wrong. After a really bad incident with one of my kids, I quit my successful radio career, returned to school, and began studying psychology so I could learn how to 'dad'. It continued from there.

Q. What do you love most about what you do?

A. Sharing ideas with parents and seeing their relationships in their families improve. There’s nothing like it, because there’s nothing like the relationship between parents and their kids.

Q. Why is it important to you to arm readers with the most relevant and up-to-date information and facts about parenting?

A. We all want to be the best parents to our kids, but sometimes lack skills or knowledge. I want to give parents the information they need to work this out, but also to have their hearts focused towards their kids so they feel the love their parents really have for them.

Q. Your fave topics: What are you most passionate about? 

A. If it’s parenting, I’m pretty passionate about it. But my favourite topics are what I believe every family needs to be happy: Love, Limits, and Laughter.

Q. Off duty: what does your life look like when you’re off duty?

A. I’m not sure there’s such a thing! I love to ride my bike (which I do most days between 5am and 6:30am) or surf (which I’m lucky to do once a month!)… but beyond that, my focus is writing and speaking, being with the kids, or spending time with my wife, Kylie.

Q. As a father of six children, you must have made a few mistakes along the way! What have you learnt?

A First, parenting is about parents, not kids. They’ll always act like kids. How will we act? Second, we can always choose our response. Do I choose to help or hurt? Third, anger doesn’t help. It only hurts. To quote the Beatles, Love Is The Answer. Every time.

Q. Any tips for raising girls?

A. Love. Cuddles. Chocolate. Not necessarily in that order! 

Q. Wise words of wisdom for handling tantrum-throwing toddlers?

A. This is a great chance to connect with your toddler. Remove them from the situation. Offer love and hugs. If they refuse, step back and let them know they can have one as soon as they’re ready. Keep offering as you slowly move further away and eventually leave the room. Go back into the room ten seconds later (if you got that far) and offer again. They love hugs. Remember, they don’t need to be hurt. They need to be helped. They’re hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or stressed. They need love and understanding. Not anger and reprimanding.

Q. Finish this sentence: Kids screen time….

A. Is the enemy of their health, productivity, play and pretty much everything good.

Q. What are you most proud of accomplishing (in your field)?

A. I’m not really 'accomplishment' focused. I just love helping families. If I help one parent, I’m thrilled. What makes me most grateful is the email, letter, or call from a parent who says, 'Wow. You’ve helped me. I’m grateful.' That’s the best accomplishment of all (professionally). It beats all the books, the letters after my name, the lot.

Follow Dr Justin Coulson

Web:  happyfamilies.com.au Twitter:  @justincoulson  Instagram: @drjustincoulson

Related tags