Superannuation & The Gender Gap
There has been considerable debate about the gender gap with superannuation where females are lagging behind males. This means that females will retire with considerably less superannuation than males. However factors such as financial literacy, values, age can influence why the gap occurs (De Zwaan, Brimble, & Stewart, 2015). Therefore, working with these factors may help mitigate the gender gap in superannuation.
For example, older individuals and those with a self managed super fund (SMSF) are more engaged in superannuation (De Zwaan et al., 2015). Financial literacy also plays a role as it will encourage the user to explore choices rather then the default option or their current one to receive a higher rate of return. It is also important to explore how well your fund has performed to compare options. The study conducted by De Zwaan, Brimble and Stewart (2015) found that females were less likely to understand the relationship between performance of the superannuation fund and risk and return.
It is also argued that women tend to spend less time in paid employment as they are usually the ones to stay at home while raising their children, earn less than men (also due to part-time work while raising children) and may have less financial literacy than their male partners or men in general as they may rely on them to manage the finances. The problem is exacerbated when separation occurs as even though superannuation may be split 50/50 there is the gap in financial literacy, getting back into the workforce after working as the stay at home mum which can result in lower income from starting at the bottom.
It is important to seek advice about superannuation, explore your options and think about your retirement early to ensure that you have sufficient funds to retire on. I also encourage a family discussion so each member in the family as well as teenagers can learn the importance of retirement planning and become more money wise.
De Zwaan, L., Brimble, M., & Stewart, J. (2015). ENGAGEMENT WITH SUPERANNUATION: Is there really a gender gap? JASSA, (4), 12–18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1786577943/
The environment around children and young people can help improve social and emotional development. Children learn through their senses. From the age of 2, according to Piaget's Sensorimotor Stage, a child will learn with their senses being what they see, feel, hear, and taste. A garden or any other part of the environment can give these children an ability to learn through their senses within their natural surroundings. The environment can also teach the child about the cycle of life and outcomes achieved from growing a plants from seed or seedling, feeding it and enjoying the end result.
In todays environment, children and young people are often not given the opportunity to engage with the natural environment because of a busy lifestyle or living in a residence with hardly any green area. Even a trip to the local park can mean playing in the playground without any thought to the natural surroundings.
Take the time to teach your children the natural environment through their senses no matter what age. This activity can be learned when going for a walk or exploring your backyard if you have any greens in there. Children will learn the value of their environment, that caring for it is meaningful, and how to nurture if they have a chance to grow something.
Nature can help improve stress and increase empathy as the surroundings are calming and growing plants or even animals can teach a child now to nurture and care for others.
Behavioural finance is an important aspect to consider when learning about investment decision making and wealth management as it helps us understand the how bias can influence success and failures.
Financial crisis often has an impact on our bias just as any crisis. The brain holds onto negative situations more than positive ones. Think about any negative situation in your life and how your may ruminate on it more than good memories. Therefore, looking back at decisions you made in finance and thinking about how bias will impact on what you notice can improve discernment and what you see.
The behaviours to watch in any situation and especially a crisis is when fear and greed influences decisions. Behavioural portfolio theory states that fear and greed influences investors decisions. Fear can cause the investor to diversify their portfolio in investments that are low in risk and low in savings while greed can influence investors to diversity heavily in high risk investments in the hope of high returns. As a result fear can cause investors to sell shares when a crisis hits as it is high risk. However, this activity may not be helpful if your long term goal is to improve your retirement plan. So while you notice the crisis around you and your emotions also consider your goals in your investment strategy.
While attitude influenced the 2008 financial crisis, the financial crisis in 2020 was caused by a different nature. However, attitude can influence how you manage it. While emotions can guide life, you also need to look at your strategy which would include your goals and objectives to make informed decisions when investing. If your investment strategy is to retire well, then you need to consider your long term goals, alternatively if it to live on then it would be a short term strategy.
Trauma is a distressing experience that is above and beyond the person's ability to control. It may be human related which is intentional or non-intentional such as sexual, emotional, physical abuse or neglect or it is non-human related such as natural disasters. One event is traumatic however repeated events such as ongoing sexual, emotional or physical abuse is complex trauma. The traumatic event can be physically and psychologically distressing.
Trauma symptoms can range from feeling safe to complex post traumatic stress disorders. Therefore, not all people who have been through trauma need treatment. However, the earlier the treatment the better.
Treatment can help improve traumatic symptoms such as lack of concentration, hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour, oppositional behaviour, dissociaiton, lack of self-esteem, flashback of the traumatic event through intrusive memories, negative thinking, feeling the world is unsafe, unhealthy physical symptoms, lack of trust in others and more. Therefore, the traumatic event if left untreated can continue to effect the person's life.
While a person's sense of self can become shattered, through the the right support can heal and rebuild. If left untreated, the symptoms may harm the survivor and those around through aggression, anger, anxiety, dissociation and an inability to live a full and healthy life.
A longitudinal, epidemiological study of over 17,000 adults by American companies Kaiser Permanent and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention studied adverse childhood experiences (ACE) otherwise known as childhood trauma. Participants were recruited between 1995 and 1997 and continue to be monitored to measure mortality and morbidity rates.
Participants completed surveys to indicate the number of adverse childhood experiences they experienced when young, which included:
The study found that adults who have experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences had 4 to 12 fold increased health risk of alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and suicide attempts. The more categories of ACE a person had been through, the more health risk factors and other risks in later life they encountered. Moreover ACE was common as approximately two-thirds of participants reported at least one ACE and 87% of those experienced more than one.
The above list is not exhaustive but provides some risk factors that can occur when a child has unhealthy life experiences. The study indicates the value of ensuring a healthy environment for children as it creates a healthier society.
The study sends an important message of what adversity when young can do when the child grows up, as well as the value of ensuring a healthy environment when raising children.
Below is the pyramid that illustrates how adverse childhood experiences influences health and lifestyle risks across the lifespan.
On a last note, I have noticed there are many online quizzes that help measure the amount of your ACE and your risk factors you may experience later in life. I would not endorse any as they may cause you unnecessary worries as there are many other factors that need to be considered, such as how you have coped when growing up (e.g., getting help or social support), and other positive life experiences which can help you build resilience.
Therefore, even though you may have been through adverse life experiences when young, you are not doomed to many risk factors. The support you received is key to a healthy life trajectory. Trauma-informed therapies are one way toward a healthy lifestyle after adverse childhood experiences.
Source: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html
Felitti, Vincent J et al (1998). Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine , 14(4 ), 245 - 258.
An exercise to Improve Attention
Improving attention through visualisation is easy and will help you improve your ability for selective attention and focusing. Improving your attention will also help improve your memory. All you have to do is focus your attention on one thing. This thing can be a pen, a visual image, or anything else. Keep your attention on the object or image and notice all aspects of it. Notice the colour, texture, shape, function and meaning. When ever your attention becomes focused on something else other than the object or image, just gently bring your attention back. You can start with 2 minutes of focusing and then gradually increase the session over time. This exercise will help your ability to maintain attention in conversations, on your task and on your goals. Don't forget to do this exercise in a comfortable position, such as sitting on the floor, pillow or chair and to use a meaningful object or image.
Benefits of Improving Attention
Self-awareness and being self aware of others is an important aspect in maintaining focus. Improving your attention will help you will learn to identify how you feel, to trust yourself, and to know your strengths and limitations. When you need to focus on group work or to maintain a conversation you will learn about the other person's likes, dislikes and goals without judgement but full acceptance because your attention will stay with what is in front of you rather than shift to another topic, idea or object.
There are many factors that can cause parental stress. A few include financial, relationships, child temperament, work challenges and own past challenges.
Parental stress and child temperament is causal, however it can be argued if one causes the other. Studies have shown that children with challenging behaviours can cause maladaptive parenting strategies such as aggression or avoidance. On the other hand, parents can be stressed from factors outside of the child's control such as workplace issues which can cause maladaptive parenting styles, leading to challenging behaviours in the child.
Child temperament includes slow to warm up, fearfulness, effortful self-regulation and being difficult. These children are more likely to develop behaviour problems when exposed to stress in the family home compared to other children. The parent becomes irritable from stress, resulting in the child with poor self-regulation to become challenging. While a child who is able to self-regulate will soothe him or her self through self-talk, keeping one self occupied with something else such as playing and maintain good behaviour.
Therefore, it is important to consider child temperament and his or her environment to understand why challenging behaviours occur. Especially when one child misbehaves and the other doesn't in the same environment.
Starting school can be an anxious time for both parents and children, however you can all do something to help relieve the anxiety and have a safe and confident start to school.
While the early years are important in helping the child become into their own person, school is another stepping stone to becoming a confident, healthy individual. It is about understanding their strengths while supporting those qualities they may not be so good at to excel at school.
The My Time My Place framework for schools suggest that educators and parents think about their own transitions, how it felt and how they managed it to understand the perspective of the child/ren. Additionally, it can be more difficult for children who have autism, as they will need to be reminded before the transition what it will be like. It will also be helpful if you have a child with autism to have him/her meet the teacher, their classroom and discuss the structure of the school day so he/she will be prepared in advance to help manage their anxiety of the unknown.
When children transition well into the school environment they will feel a sense of belonging. The sense of belonging will give them increased confidence, inter-dependence, autonomy, resilience, a sense of agency, and a stronger sense of identity.
As an educator you may want to ask your students what helped them transition well, what did not help so you can understand how to improve your process the next time.
Transitioning well includes listening to the child/ren's feelings, what they think about it, talking to them in advance about the transition, visiting the school and the teacher/s before they start, talking about your own start to school and how you managed it well, visiting the school's website to learn about what they do including their fun experiences, talking about what education will do for the child in the future such as achievements and practical experiences such as being able to count their birthday money and write a Christmas wish list. Most of all it is important for the teacher to get to know the child including their uniqueness which may include learning their interests, what bores them, how to engage them, and what sets them off.
Transitioning into school is a great start to a new journey of self discovery and possibilities. Hope this helps to make it an enjoyable one!
Polish psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1964) termed the construct overexcitabilities (OE) to mean that certain individuals have stronger responses and are more sensitive to certain stimuli, which include psychomotor (e.g., need to move more, impulsive activity, restlessness), sensual (receiving more sensual input than other people such as a strong reaction to loud noise, textures such as wool and/or tags, sight including light, or certain tastes), emotional (feel emotions more intensely such as a strong sense of sadness, joy, hurt, empathy, compassion, strong effective recall of past experiences), intellectual (independence of thought, sharp sense of observation, curious, questions everything, makes connections that others would miss), and imagination (tends to daydream, recognises associations through images, loves stories which represent the world of fantasy, doodles, invents).
In summary there are five overexcitabilities which gifted people may have being psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional.
Researchers have stated that gifted people are more overexcited that non-gifted people and therefore can be gifted in any of these areas such as creatively gifted, intellectually gifted, gifted in sports (psychomotor) or gifted with world issues due to strong feelings and morals. Understanding children and others through this OE lens will help inform their mental health, abilities and avoid misdiagnosis for a disorder.
Some researchers argue that there is not a strong correlation between giftedness and OE while others agree with the correlation. A meta analysis was conducted to determine the validity of the idea and found that gifted people had higher scores in some OE areas compared to non-gifted people. For example, the difference in intellectual and imaginational overexcitabilites between gifted and non-gifted people had a medium effect size. The difference in sensual and emotional effect size between gifted and non-gifted people was small and psychomotor overexcitabilities effect size was not significant. The meta analysis found that OE may not be the best way to determine if people who are sensitive and overexcited are gifted but can be a part of their character and indeed when a person presents with overexcited responses such as high energy, lack of impulse control or sensory issues, that giftedness should be considered and measured when doing a mental health assessment or to understand the personhood in educational settings.
Source: Winkler D., & Voight, A., (2016). Giftedness and overexcitability: Investigating the relationship using a meta-analysis. Gifted Child Quarterly 60(4), 243-257.
Some facts about the teenage brain. Did you know...
Josephine will update you with the latest and relevant research and discussions about mental health for adults, children and young people as well as money & behaviour, parenting strategies and learning