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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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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3 smiling kids

S.M.I.L.E. – 5 signs to look for that your child is developing well

How’s your smile going? Some days in parenting there are so many things to smile about…. Your toddler saying something cute; your baby sleeping; your children playing together; or watching your child ‘read’ to Grandma. And then there’s all the firsts… the first tooth, the first time they crawl, or take their first steps, or tie their shoelaces – all of these lead to smiles from us and no doubt from the proud child as well!

S.M.I.L.E. is also an acronym, which some Parenting Consultants use as a checklist for development. It stands for:

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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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Image by Miika Silfverberg via Flickr

4 Types of Music your Child Needs

Music for babies begins when you first coo to them, or when you are rocking them to sleep whilst humming, or singing a quiet, gentle lullaby. Babies have even heard your music in utereo, including the ‘music’ of your beating heart!

 

Parents often sing little songs or rhymes to them whilst changing their nappy or bathing them – reciting ‘This little piggy went to market’ or entertaining a young child with ‘Round and round the garden’, on their hand. Music is such a great connecting mechanism between the parent and child. Music provides comfort, familiarity, physical closeness, anticipation and often laughter.

 

There are four components to music: singing, listening, dancing and playing.

Here’s how you can help your child to learn….

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Serious Child

Parents… Please don’t Punish Your Children

Recently I’ve been presenting some ‘123 Magic and Emotion Coaching courses’. This is a 3 session course which provides parents with simple and effective ways of managing their child’s (aged 2 – 12 yrs) challenging behaviours – things like nagging, yelling, throwing toys etc. We know these are often ‘normal’ responses which children do when they don’t get their way; when things go wrong; or when they are tired or hungry. The sessions give parents the best tools to get positive results without the need for them to bribe, justify or yell, and importantly it’s done in a manner which respects the child’s ‘right’ to assert what they are experiencing. It is our job as parents to ‘Calmy and Consistently’ (The Parenting Cafes’ motto) assist our children to learn what is acceptible behaviour and what is not.

One thing which always comes up for discussion in the course is ‘punishment’. The dictionary definition of the word ‘punish’ is to: “Cause to suffer for an offence.” Have our children committed an ‘offence’? Do we want our children to ‘suffer’ for this?

Surely what we want, is that they ultimately learn what is acceptable or not.

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8 ways to enjoy messy play at home

8 Ways to Enjoy Messy Play at Home

How many of you breath a sigh of relief, when the Playgroup or Kindergarten your child attends does Messy Play – I mean it gets you off the hook right? No paint at home, no playdough on the carpet, no glue stuck to the table – phew!

Have you ever asked yourself, why the Playgroup teacher/ co-ordinator seems to be so keen on providing messy play for the children?

Educators know that children learn through all their senses, of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. We aim to provide activities which stimulate the senses – know as Sensory Play. Messy play is one type of sensory play.

It is particularly important for young children’s development, as it allows them to explore a variety of mediums; to develop their tactile skills; and in some cases also their fine motor muscles. It also allows an opportunity for language development (words such as rough, smooth, crunchy, cold, slimy etc) and for the child to expand their thinking skills.

Sensory activities facilitate exploration, and encourage children to learn while they play, create, investigate and explore the materials provided.

Here are some easy Messy Play activities to do at home to assist your child to grow and learn even more: Read more

How do I Talk to my Children about Death?

Death is part of life. It needs to be presented to children in this way also.

We start simply, by pointing our things in the environment which haved died – leaves which have turned brown, the ant that you trod on, flowers you cut from your garden which have now died, the road kill we see as we drive along, and even toys which are broken (ie they aren’t working any more). In this way, you can explain the fact that they aren’t breathing anymore, that they aren’t growing anymore. As the events descibed aren’t ‘close’ to you, death can be explained in an unemotional way. Children may want to look at a dead animal – use your discretion, but be aware that they are coming from a point or curiosity and a wish to understand. It is likely that young children will ask questions, in their attempt to understand at their level – answer honestly and simply.

 

Avoid saying the person has ‘gone to sleep’ as they may lead to fears about sleeping. It’s best to explain that their body stopped working and they stopped breathing.

 

If you wait to explain death until someone close to you passes away, then there is likely to be a strong emotional response in you, making it harder to explain to your child, and to be emotionally available to them.

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