What Does Love Look Like to your Child?

Many years ago a survey was conducted, asking young children (4 – 8y.o) the question: “What is love?”

Their answers varied considerably and were obviously based on what was modelled to them in their environment……

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy 4

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri 4

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby 7

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Anxious Child

How do I Help my Anxious Child?

I was recently asked by a parent of a 6 year old, ‘How do I help my child who worries a lot. He’s anxious, but won’t always tell me what’s going on?’ First thing – give him regular hugs and tell him how much you love him – that’s always a good start!

The following will give you some ideas on how to assist your child if they have a tendency to worry or be anxious.

 

Where did the anxiety come from?

It’s always useful to look at the background of the child… the parents, the home and the past experiences. Sometimes there is an overly anxious parent who constantly gives children messages to: ‘be careful’, to ‘watch out’, or ‘you might get hurt’. When children are told this often enough, they start to believe that their world isn’t safe. In regards to the home situation – has there been a trauma? eg a death, a serious accident, or parents separating, where there’s been a lot of heightened emotions – some children tend to make this mean that’s there’s immediate danger to them or those around them – they fear ‘bad stuff’ will happen to them. There are also children who have been affected by alcohol or drugs when in utero. When a woman uses these during pregnancy, they can affect the developing foetus, and may cause brain changes, which can affect a variety of functions, including being anxious or lacking impulse control. Obviously we can’t change what has already happened in the past, so let’s look at what we can do now, and also in terms of building resilience in children.

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Image by Travis Swan via Flickr

Magic Moments

Have you ever had your child calling: “Mum, Mum, come and look at this.” You go and it’s a dead cricket. At that moment in time you have a choice to make…. To either engage in the moment with your child or to dismiss it/ them. You can either talk with them about what they’ve found, ask questions about what they think happened or what they think they should do with the cricket, thereby making it a time of learning, understanding and connection. Or, you can dismiss it with: “Its dead, leave it alone” or “Is that all, I was in the middle of doing dishes!”

 

One way helps the child feel connected with you, that you have time for them, and that what they have to say or show you is of value to you.

The other way – if said often enough- gives the message that you aren’t interested in what they like, and that dirty dishes are more important than them.

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Imabe by Kah Wai Sin via Flickr

Windows of Opportunity

Many of you will have heard this term before, in relation to opportunities which come our way. The idea being to grab the chance to do ‘xyz’ now, because the opportunity is only available for a short time.

 

Did you know that there are windows of opportunity in relation to children and their development?

 

For babies and young children this is when it is optimal for learning to occur in a certain developmental domain, because the conditions are ripe for learning. It means there is a time when it is easier to learn or develop that area. Let me give you an example using animals.

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Together Time – How to enhance your relationship with your children.

 

Many parents I work with have a hectic schedule of appointments and activities which are fitted in and around work and home duties. These appointments and activities include things such as dental or hair appointments and sporting or cultural activities such a soccer, kindy gym or ballet classes.

Many parents want to give their children the best possible start in life and provide them with more opportunities than they themselves had, believing that these things will lead to more educated, healthy and well-rounded children. I admire their goals, dedication and commitment to getting the child to these classes.

 

Raising healthy, well-rounded children is so much more than just this.

One critical thing is the importance of ‘Together Time.’

 

Generally, when we take our children to music, dance or martial arts classes we hand our children across to a teacher or coach, and we, the parents, become spectators. And whilst there is nothing wrong at all with that, it is vitally important that children get time engaged with us. Read more

Walking on Spheres

Encouraging Resilience in Children

There are many definitions of the word resilience. They revolve around the ability of a person to ‘bounce back’ after difficulties, to overcome challenges and to reframe challenges as problems with a solution.

 

Clearly this is an important skill for us to have as adults, as we know life can be full of the unexpected! The experiences we have and we observe during our childhood lead to intrepretations about coping, which we carry forward into our adult years. They can be messages equating to: ‘It’s too hard’, ‘I can do this’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘It will be okay’ or ‘I’ll get it right this time.’ We all have some of these messages in our heads, and when adversity or a challenge strikes, we act according to the belief systems we have developed about ourselves and life.

A child who frequently hears: ‘be careful’ or ‘let Mummy do that’ will learn that life is risky or unsafe, and that they shouldn’t try. These aren’t messages which will be very helpful as an adult.

We want children to develop a spirit or willingness to give things a go, and to know that even if something doesn’t work the first or the second time, that there will be some solution to a problem, with a attitude of determination.

 

Resilient people are:

  • Optimistic
  • Problem solvers
  • Independent and
  • People Smart

 

How do we build these skills in children?

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Image by Wendy Cope via Flickr

How Children Learn their Colours

I was asked recently: ‘At what age do children know their colours?’ Like most things it depends how much instruction goes in, and how frequently a child has the opportunity to play and practise.

 

Around the age of 2, children are learning about colours. You can aid this by mentioning colours as part of your everyday conversation eg:

You have your blue jumper on

There are yellow buttons on your shirt.

You’ve made an orange painting

You are eating the red apple and so on.

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Yellow Daisies and Blue Skies

The Sun Comes Up Again Tomorrow

I remember my mother talking to me as a child, about disagreements within the family – How sometimes my sisters and I would argue about something or other, and one of us would end up saying (like many 7 or 9 year olds): ‘I’m not talking to you ever, ever again’! The ‘injured’ one would be lamenting to Mum about how mean or unfair our sister was, and after she’d soothed us, she would then say: “The sun comes up again tomorrow” – meaning that tomorrow was a new day, a fresh beginning.

When I was older, she talked about how she never went to bed without saying: “I love you to my Dad” – even if they’d had a disagreement – she refused to take the emotion of anger or hurt to sleep.

I was reminded of this last week, when I went to a Joan Baez concert – a folk singer from the 60 -70’s who was performing in Hobart. One of the first songs she performed had a line it it which resonated for me…. it was: Every new day we have is another chance to get it right”. Now it could be many things… your relationship, an assignment you’ve been working on, or a handyman job you’ve been struggling with. I really like these sentiments as it’s a reminder that indeed the ‘sun does come up again tomorrow’, that yesterdays situation is gone and today is a new opportunity to move forward, to get it right. This also has relevance to parenting and the relationships within our families….

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Image by Pawel Loj via Flickr

Are you a DO or a DON’T parent?

Don’t touch that!

Don’t spill your drink.

Don’t take off your hat.

Don’t throw the ball in the house.

Don’t forget to put your school bag away.

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Image by Pete Markham via Flickr

Why We Must Set Boundaries for our Children

I want you to imagine you now own a horse, and you put it out on the land. It’s on an area where there are no fences – none, anywhere! You call the horse to come to you, and it runs away. Another time you see the horse misbehaving, but before you can approach it, it runs away. Another time, there is danger about, and you attempt to get the horse for it’s own safety, but it runs away. In all of these cases, a fence would have been really useful.

It is the same with ‘fences’ for children. Obviously we aren’t going to fence in our child, but it is vital that we establish boundaries, which are just like fences. A boundary is like saying to your child: ‘Within here you can run/ play/ do, but then you can go no further.’ Let me give you a few examples.

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