Wollongong parents filled a school hall to hear Australia's favourite kid whisperer talk about resilience and self-esteem on Monday night.
About 100 men and women filed into Lindsay Park Public's school hall in Figtree to hear author, parenting and resilience specialist Maggie Dent's seminar on Real Kids in an Unreal World.
With the event organised to raise funds for the school's P&C, Dent spoke of her "common-sense, practical model" of 10 building blocks to help our children now and later in life.
And at least one member of the crowd walked away feeling zero parental guilt but the desire to make some simple but much-needed changes in the family home.
Here are six things we took away from the evening:
1. Maggie Dent is hilarious
A bunch of tired people thought it was a good idea to sign up for a parenting seminar ... until that (extremely cold) night finally arrived and we actually had to show up.
"You made it, well done!" Dent acknowledged warmly, and from the get-go the crowd knew they'd made the right decision.
Dent is a delightful speaker, breaking up her words of wisdom with funny and wickedly relatable takes on raising kids ("hands up who's dealing with the 15 to 28 age group?") and instinctively knowing when her audience needs some light relief (cue poo jokes).
But the best thing was realising she gets it.
Dent wasn't offering up shiny Instagram parenting advice that sounds great in theory but, for a multitude of reasons, doesn't work in the real world.
Because often both parents work full-time, some are doing it on their own, the village of helpers is dwindling, some kids are neurodivergent, there are clashing personalities and all the other gritty, nuanced, individual circumstances that make parenting feel so impossible at times.
No other child in the world is like yours, she said, and it was a reminder to go easy on ourselves.
2. Giving kids agency
The biggest (and by far the hardest) lesson from the seminar was to do less. Step back and let your child fall and get back up again.
Fixing every single problem they face was robbing them of resilience-building moments that teach them how to cope with life's many challenges.
The key, Dent said, was acknowledging the child's strong feelings - "You're upset because .... Oh, that really sucks" - without instantly jumping in to fix the source of the disappointment and discomfort.
Our task was to do ourselves out of a job, she reminded us, and our children should eventually leave the family nest (unless they can't afford housing!).
So if you're still carrying your child's schoolbag into the classroom in Year 4, you could be holding on too tight. Perhaps it's time to let the kids tackle new things, learn their limits and have some control over their life.
3. Nutrition is a big deal
Feeding children wholesome food is a major factor in building resilience - especially for the ones who struggle to settle in class (Dent did, however, acknowledge the sensory issues some children face with food).
Forgoing evening home-cooked meals in order to squeeze in more after-school activities needed to be rethought, she said while pointing out the value of making evening meals a time of connection.
Dent had some practical tips on teaching delayed gratification: give each child a handful of treats in a bowl on movie night, and when they ask for more, say "no, but we can have some more next time we watch a movie".
Then she added what everyone in the audience was thinking: as soon as the kids hit the sack, you'll finish off the treats yourself and have to replace the bag the next day and eat more to get it back to the same level.
4. Everyone needs more sleep
Another key building block for resilience was sleep - and not just for kids.
Parents and caregivers are better at handling stress and adversity after eight hours' sleep than with four.
And for anyone out there co-sleeping with their children, Dent's on board.
If it's musical beds at your house but everyone's getting the best sleep they can, you're probably doing it right.
Dent's pro tip: If there's a snoring father in your household, put the kids in the big bed with him and go sleep in the children's room.
5. Take the iPad away
A child was never harmed by watching four straight days of Bluey on a big-screen TV, Dent said.
But too much time on hand-held devices was hurting the development of gross motor skills, speech and language.
Rather than giving a child an iPad in the shopping trolley to keep them quiet and happy, she strongly advised talking and "marinating them in language".
Dent also recommended everyone visit esafety.gov.au pronto in order to get up to date on some of the scary and sophisticated new ways predators are targeting children online.
6. Childhood should be magical
"Allow imagination and wonder to be a part of children's lives," says Dent, and amen to that.
With many five-year-olds being forced into classroom settings they weren't developmentally ready for - particularly boys - home needs to be filled with open-ended play, arts - singing, dancing, music, painting, make-believe - and plenty of time in nature.
Let a child experience the awe of a full moon, standing in a forest full of giant trees or interacting with animals.
And for the time-poor among us, the good news is that we can fill a child's love cup with "micro moments" - giving them a smile, ruffling their hair, stepping on their foot. Wait, what?