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

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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Temperament Part 3 of 3

Temperament – Part 3 of 3

Last week I detailed four of the nine traits which make up your temperament or personality, and the ways in which as a parent, we can cater for our children’s temperaments, when life isn’t always going to go their way. Let’s look at the other five traits:

Regularity:

Support children who are highly regular by maintaining schedules, where possible. Talk to them, if things are going to be different today.

When children aren’t predictable in their needs for food, sleep or toileting, watch them for indications that they are uncomfortable (tired, hungry), as they may not read the signs themselves.

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Temperament Part 2 of 3

Temperament – Part 2 of 3

Last week I listed the nine traits which make up your temperament or personality. Basically you are born with them, and it’s believed they don’t change that much over time – the idea that ‘who you are’ is it.

As a parent, how do we cater for our children’s temperaments, when life isn’t always going to go their way?

Let’s look at each trait.

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Temperament Part 1 of 3

Temperament – Part 1 of 3

You often hear phrases such as: ‘He’s easy tempered’, or ‘She’s got a hot temper’… What does it actually mean?

It’s your personality – the way you act, feel and think. Your temperament, or style of behaviour, is present at birth, is generally resistent to change, and affect our lives into adulthood.

Why do parents need to know about temperament?

As a parent, this is vital information… many parents get upset or annoyed when their child (or partner) behaves in a certain way, because they don’t see the reason behind the behaviour eg why a child gets clingy in a new situation, or why a child doesn’t persist at a task. If you would respond in a similar way, then you will understand why they do things the way they do. But, if they are behaving in a different way to how you would, the child’s reason for their behaviour isn’t always obvious.

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Motor Development

Developing Motor Skills: Birth – 8 months

Motor development refers to the muscles – both large and small, in our bodies.

Gross Motor (GM) are the large muscles in our head and neck, arms and legs.

Fine Motor (FM) refers to the small muscles in your fingers, and eyes.

 

Children develop their muscles from top to bottom, and inner to outer. This means that babies’ muscles develop and strengthen first from the head, then torso, then legs; and from their arms and then out to their fingers.

Remember that wobbly, very heavy head when babies are first born? Gradually over the first few weeks they are more able to control their neck muscles to hold their head upright.

Children develop their muscles through opportunity to exercise them, at the appropriate time. Here’s a summary of the muscle skills they are developing, the approximate time frames for them, and how you can help them:

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