ANXIETY / FEAR, BOOKS, CHILDMINDING, Esteem, Home Schooling, Proactive Parenting

Approaching children’s fears using Books with Heart Felt Messages

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying ; “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

Our world has suddenly turned into an uncertain place recently, causing a lot of anxiety for everyone but how will that impact our children both now and in the future?

The early messages our children receive will determine whether or not they grow up in a friendly or hostile world.

Life is not all doom and gloom, but if our children are being exposed to bad news every day, then they may start to believe it is.

We should take care to protect our young, innocent children’s impressionable minds. Regular exposure to such negativity could cause nightmares, and some sensitive children could become fearful, sad, or depressed.

We do not, however, need to hide the truth from our children or try to protect them from hearing about anything unpleasant. Quite the opposite, it’s actually beneficial that they are aware of both the good and the bad news.

Yes, bad things happen in the world but so do good things too. We just need to give our children a more balanced outlook and show them what’s good about life more often than highlighting the bad news, and inform them of the dangers without leaving them feeling fearful.

Recently I was asked how we can help explain ‘Stranger Danger’ to pre-schoolers without causing anxiety. You can find the full article in the autumn issue of mums and tots’ magazine. https://www.mumsandtots.ie/

Emma Grant holding Mums and tots Autumn 2020 issue.

But one of the best ways I’ve found to communicate messages to young children is through books. Being an author myself I may be biased but stories and picture books are more relatable to young children.

As parents we want our children to be able to relate well to others but we hear so much bad news that, we fear them being out of our sight for a second. And this fear can transfer onto our children. But this blanket fear can do more harm than good. If we tell our children strangers are dangerous, they will quite literally believe every stranger is and this can cause separation anxiety.

Most young children are naturally cautious of strangers, because they fear they’ll be taken or come to some harm when their parents are not around. This can become extremely difficult when they come to start childcare, nursery or school, and can often cause sleeping problems if the child has to sleep without the parent.

We can help our children overcome these fears or we can reinforce them. How we react and how we proactively prepare them for the unthinkable -they go missing, is also is key.

If on their return we panic, scream and shout or worse physically and emotionally punish them, we increase their fears. As Parents we may want our children to get this message so they don’t repeat the behaviour and go missing again but what happens when we need them to go to strangers without us, such as a new babysitter or starting childcare, nursery or school?

Then we will ask them to go to a new, unknown place or person, full of unfamiliar strangers. We may know it’s a safe place, but our children may not, so we have to communicate this to them. This means being careful not to project our own anxieties, worries, or fears onto our children.

Stranger danger is a difficult topic to portray to pre-schoolers, so we have to approach it in a light hearted manner, even if it’s a heavy issue for us. We are so transparent to our children who pick up not only on how they see us behaving but also on how they feel our emotions (yes, our energy radiates outward and our young children pick up both our good and bad vibes) The best way to do this is to use stories, songs and rhymes that are age and stage appropriate for your child.  I love the old classic Never Talk To Strangers (Little Golden Books) by Irma Joyce 

Because it has pictures that are of animals which young children love and it’s also a rhyming book with the vital repetitive message ‘Never talk to strangers.’ which children love to join in with as I read it. It helps to encourage conversation on the topic of stranger danger too.

‘Never Talk to Strangers’ – Happy Childcare Story time!

Another simple way to try and explain stranger danger to a pre-schooler I found was, using a dog analogy using the example of a friendly dog they like, that’s familiar to the child and comparing that dog to a strange dog in the playground.

So, a typical example would be;

‘Well Zoë, you don’t need to be afraid of all strangers but you shouldn’t go anywhere alone with them or let them touch you. It’s a bit like Benji our dog, you know Benji… well, he’s friendly and wags his tail and jumps up to greet you to play, he never hurts you. But if you see another dog you don’t know, say in the playground when you are playing, he may not be friendly like Benji is, he may hurt you, so it’s best not to touch him or let him touch you. Not all dogs are unfriendly but not all dogs are like Benji, some do bite and it’s the same when you meet a stranger.’

There are many good children’s books out there, that can relieve children’s fears and increase their self-confidence and esteem, written by positive, motivational authors such as the late Louise Hay’s, The Adventures of Lulu or inspiring books by Dr Wayne Dyer such as Incredible Me or No More Excuses. All of these portray positive, life affirming messages. They also help our children to deal positively with the real problems in life too.

I recently read all the children I care for a wonderful new picture book, that encourages children to find their special talent called, Big Splash Circus by Karina Choudhrie. It is a beautifully illustrated and designed picture book that all the children ranging from 10 months to 8 years loved.  It’s an adventure in a fun-filled undersea world, full of characters and with a heart-felt message for young children about inclusion and using your special skills.

Happy Childcare Big Splash Circus Story time!

Big Splash Circus is a place of inclusion, where everyone can take part and discover what makes them special, from acrobatics to music to making people laugh. The sea creatures in the circus are like a classroom full of children – where they all get a chance to shine!  (Big Splash Circus is published by CandyJar Books and is available in hardback (£11.99) and paperback (£5.99) at all good bookshops and online retailers.)

As parents we have the power to direct our children’s attention positively. To help relieve anxiety at this unsettling time, instead of electronic devices and the media exposing our children to what’s happening in the world, we can counterbalance those messages by sharing positive books with heart felt messages in. You can read more about this in my book – The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting

Until next time, Stay Present!

Em x

Thanks Photo’s by Kelly Sikkema Katarzyna Urbanek on Unsplash


ANXIETY / FEAR, Behaviour, PLAY, Recreation

Half term holiday help!

LETTING GO OF CONTROL

Half term already? Feels like they’ve only been back to school five minutes!!!

As most of us in the UK are experiencing local lockdown many mums are feeling the anxiety of being stuck at home with the kids again. How are we going to keep them entertained, happy and under control?

Well the good news is we don’t have to control them at all.

In fact, too much control can restrict our children’s potential to become autonomous, decision making, happy, and healthy individuals.  And the reality is, we can’t control our children’s every action or emotion even if we try. It’s difficult enough trying to control our own actions and emotions, let alone our children’s. That’s why the only solution we really have is to release some of that control.

We can do this by acknowledging that our children’s behaviour can be inappropriate and hard to manage or understand sometimes and accepting that’s okay—we don’t have to control it.  If we persist in trying, we’ll only end up frustrated and exhausted. This is when all the toil and struggle in parenting occurs.  

Take a deep breathe in … and breathe out … and …. RELAX

As soon as we learn to let go, we will feel a lot lighter, calmer, happier, and oddly enough, a lot more in control.  Our children won’t end up out of control if we cease to be controlling.  As long as they have fair, reasonable rules and consistent routines in place, there is no need to worry. Rules and routines replace control with love and guidance and discipline for coaching. Creating less restraint and resistance.  We can feel safe, then, to let go of some of that unnecessary control by trying out the following exercise.

LEARNING TO LET GO EXERCISE

  • Today, choose fifteen minutes to spend with your child when it’s safe to let go of control and relax. The only time you should intervene is if they are about to do something dangerous to themselves or others. As a proactive parent, your home environment should be a safe place to do this exercise but be more aware and vigilant outside.
Be Present but don’t control their play in any way.
  • In that fifteen minutes, choose to let it be okay for you to let go of controlling the situation. If, for example, your child is painting or making a mess, pulling all their toys out everywhere, allow them to. It’s okay for those fifteen minutes, you don’t have to control anything.
They can paint the town red…all is well in your world.
  • Really feel relaxed. If you are finding it difficult, remind yourself it’s only fifteen minutes, and whatever it is your child is doing, it’s not the end of the world. They are just having fun, and you’re enjoying the freedom of not having to stop them or tell them off. You know that you can easily clean any mess up later on. If your child gets dirty, they can have a bath afterward, and washing machines were invented to clean dirty clothes. But for now, you don’t need to worry about any of that. Yes, even the crayon on the wall or playdough on the floor. You can just RELAX!

This is your chance to let go for fifteen minutes. Relax and refrain from throwing fuel on their fire. Just step back and watch them and silently say to yourself ‘It’s okay’ as you take in a few deep breathes and exhale slowly. Try not to breathe in and out too quickly or too shallow though, you don’t want to end up hyperventilating.

Over time, as we practice doing this exercise, we will soon realise that nothing catastrophic has happened. Then, gradually, we will master this art of feeling relaxed around our children, no matter what, even when we venture outside in public. 

Happy Shopper!

The more often you practice this exercise, the easier it will become. Even if they are throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, it’s still okay.  When they finish throwing a tantrum (and believe me, they will probably stop before the fifteen minutes are up, especially if we are staying relaxed and not reacting to them) then we can just carry on as normal and do our shopping as if nothing happened.

Happy half term 😉

Stay Present,

Em x

AFFIRMATIONS, ANXIETY / FEAR, Esteem, Proactive Parenting, Starting School

BACK TO SCHOOL

So, the day has nearly or finally arrived for our beloved little ones to return to school. Yippee!!!  I can see all the mums fist pumping the air and doing a happy dance around an empty house right now 😊

I’m sure many children are looking forward to going back and catching up with their friends again. But equally there will be some apprehension for most. Here’s a few tips to boost our kids’ confidence and tackle their anxiety about returning to school during the pandemic.

ADDRESS OUR OWN ANXIETIES

Children pick up on parent and carers fears and anxieties, so if we are worried, they’ll think there’s something to be afraid of and that they too should be scared.

PAINT A POSITIVE PICTURE

Help them view returning to school optimistically by telling them about the fun things they will get up to, such as painting, play dough, and reuniting with friends. And answer any questions they’ve got to help them feel prepared.

PLAY THE AS IF GAME

If they can use their vivid imaginations to visualise going back to school positively, they’ll be more inclined to experience that on the actual day. This focuses their attention on what they want, instead of what they don’t want. Getting them to imagine waking up to their favourite breakfast and getting ready in their new school uniform, with their new shoes, lunch box, backpack and pencil case, builds anticipation and excitement, while increasing their confidence and motivation.

RE-ESTABLISH ROUTINE WITH WARNINGS AND REMINDERS

Routines help children to feel relaxed and confident when they’re given notice and know what to expect, when and why? Offer plenty of warnings and reminders fifteen to ten minutes beforehand, such as at meal and bedtimes, to mentally and physically prepare them.

ENCOURAGE SLEEP

Sleep is vital in restoring children’s mental and physical development and growth. Set a regular bedtime time and routine for a good night sleep, such as, 7pm -bath, brush teeth, bedtime story. Keep to this even at the weekend.

PROMOTE EXERCISE

Exercise is important to childrens emotional as well as physical wellbeing.  Children who exercise learn and concentrate better at school, improve their memory and release endorphins, reducing or preventing depression or anxiety.  Wean them off the screen using the ‘Bursts of Fitness 15 Minute Rule’ For every fifteen minutes of sedentary play, i.e. Watching TV, they then have to take a break to run up and down the stairs/garden/hallway or wherever is suitable and convenient, fifteen times, before they resume watching TV for another fifteen minutes. Repeated every fifteen minutes.

3 HAPPY THINGS

Before bed ask them to think of three thing’s they were happy for in their day, remembering the good parts keeps them grateful and focused on the positives.

THE BOTHER BOX

Prevent worries building up in their head or going unaddressed by creating a ‘Bother Box’. Find an old shoebox and ask your child to decorate it as they choose with paint, crayons, or stickers. Buy a pack of copier paper and whenever they’re bothered by something, encourage them to draw a picture of whatever is bothering them and place it in the box. Then sit down together and go through the concerns in the box. As they get older, they can exchange drawing pictures for writing their worries down on post it notes, or in a journal or diary.

AFFIRMATIONS

These are positive statements said as if they’re already true, used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, relieve fears and anxiety, and to reaffirm something wanted. If they are nervous about returning to school, affirmations can bring about positive thoughts and feelings.

Ask them to practice saying aloud;

‘I enjoy going to school and playing with all my friends.’

Giving our children tools and techniques such as these, gives them coping mechanisms and preventative tools to manage their thoughts and feelings, before they need them. 

Mumatherapy Facebook Friendship Group

As mum’s we also need some support sometimes too, that’s why Happy Childcare has now set up its Facebook Mumatherapy Support Group. It’s a friendship support group for Mum’s that’s intended to be a safe place to air our inner most thoughts and feelings, with like-minded others, in a closed, supportive group. Sharing helpful parenting advice and providing some helpful tools and techniques, to alleviate stress and anxiety and increase confidence and self -esteem, such as, hypnosis, guided meditations, EFT and affirmations and quotes. The only goal is to love one another like you would your best friend or sister, without judgement. It’s also a place to share the joys of motherhood too and your own successes and achievements. A positive place to feel loved, loving and lovable. Please join with an open mind.

We welcome you to join us here.

Next week we will meet little Archie the pint sized entrepreneur, that turned a home schooling project into a profitable business!

Until then, Stay Present,

Em x

ANXIETY / FEAR, Proactive Parenting, SELF-CARE, SELF-LOVE, U Time

LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF

There’s a true saying;

 ‘If you don’t love yourself, then who will?’

We must look after and love ourselves, mistakes, imperfections and all.

If there’s something we don’t love about ourselves, then others may not love that aspect of us either.

Not because it’s not lovable, but because we will transmit the message of how we feel about ourselves to other people that we meet.

Our partners may think we are beautiful, but if we think we are ugly, over time, we will start to dress and look the way we feel.

Self-love shouldn’t be reliant on others loving us though.

We should replace any damaging, empty, unhealthy relationship with another, for a more meaningful, loving relationship with ourselves. 

Getting to know who we really are as individuals is self-love. The relationship we have with ourselves influences all the other relationships in our lives, and our love for ourselves is more important than any other love we may, or may not, receive from others.

Fat, thin, rich, poor, happy, or depressed, it makes no odds; you can love yourself regardless of who you think you are, or however your past may have been.

Loving yourself does not need to depend on past or future events or relationships. Anyone can start afresh today and learn to love themselves, no matter what.

It’s the single most loving thing we can do for our children.

We are their greatest asset in life, so we must take good care of our own health and happiness. Should we become ill, we would not be in a position to care for them. Surely If only to keep us in a strong position to take care of our children at all times, that’s all the motivation we need to ensure we love and care for ourselves?

We need to learn to love ourselves the same way we love our children. To help with this, let’s try the following exercise.

LOVING YOURSELF THROUGH YOUR CHILD’S EYES EXERCISE

Close your eyes for a moment now. Then imagine your child in the future, grown up as a parent themselves with their own child.

Close your eyes and imagine.

How do you see them?

Can you see, hear, or feel them as a kind, caring, gentle, relaxed, patient, and loving parent toward their own child?

Can you hear them enjoying their life, laughing with and loving others?

Are they;

A responsible adult and parent with honesty and integrity? Healthy, happy calm, relaxed, patient, optimistic, and fulfilled?

Making time for themselves and taking care of how they look, spending money that they have worked for on themselves and others?

In a career they love. Smart, successful, and abundant while being humble, content, and grateful?

Or are they;

Angry, worried, stressed, sad, frustrated, or depressed, struggling to make ends meet and sacrificing their time on the needs of everyone else?

What would you like them to look, sound, and feel like as a parent?

Imagine now that you are their child. What do you want for them as your parent? Love, happiness, abundance, and peace of mind?

Can you feel this overwhelming love, respect, and admiration for them as your parent?

Do you look up to them and aspire to be like them when you grow up?

See them as the parent, putting their arms around you as their child. Listen as they wish you all the good that you have wished for them.

Open your eyes now and be their parent again. The parent your child wants you to be and the parent you wish your child will become in the future.

When we love ourselves the way we love our children, we become a living, loving example. (Or a living example of love.)

 When they see us loving and caring for ourselves and addressing our own needs, they reap the benefits of our happiness, and it teaches them how to love and treat themselves.

MUMATHERAPY FACEBOOK GROUP

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve received messages from Mum’s who are feeling overwhelmed with life and motherhood at the moment. Those lucky enough to have partners have shared their feelings only to feel their partners have dismissed them.

When this happens, it can be difficult to confide in anyone else. This can lead to feelings of despair, isolation, loneliness, frustration, anger or jealousy. This can be exasperated by the current world situation where we can no longer just go and seek help in a counsellor or friend easily, face to face. And over the phone or zooming means many mum’s won’t talk about how they are feeling with little ears or partners listening in. So I have been chatting to mum’s about starting a Mumatherapy Facebook group where mum’s can share their thoughts and feelings, real time, and help uplift and empower one another. This can just simply be reading about other people’s experiences, asking questions or joining in to support others. It will be a safe place to air your inner most thoughts and feelings with like-minded others, in a closed supportive group. I plan to share some helpful tools and techniques to alleviate stress and anxiety, and increase confidence and self esteem, such as, hypnosis, guided meditations, EFT and affirmations and quotes. The only goal will be to love one another like you would your best friend or sister, without judgement. It will also be a place to share the joys of motherhood too and your own successes and achievements. A positive place to feel loved, loving and lovable.

If you are interested in joining this free Facebook group please can you comment below or email me emma@happychildcare.club so I can see the demand for such a group or not.

Until next time, Stay Present,

Em x

ANXIETY / FEAR, Behaviour, LOVE, Us Time

10 Seconds to Increase Your Bond with Your Child

Lockdown may have kept some of us apart but if you are fortunate to live with people you love, then give them a hug right now (but please, do not hug just yet those who live outside of your home due to Covid-19).

Hopefully it wont be for long, but for now keep the hugs for your kids!

Did you know that a 10 second hug releases oxytocin, increasing your bond with your child and decreasing anxiety?

That’s why this hormone is known as ‘The love’ hormone.

And that’s why, the next time our little ones push our angry buttons, it’s better for everyone to have a hug.

STAY PRESENT

When our children constantly want and nag and fight for our attention, what they’re really craving is that human, loving, connection. A simple kiss, cuddle and a long hug is all it takes to bring us present together, in the moment.

Being a Present Parent means we are not just there physically, but in mind and energy too. We are focused on one another completely. Everything we do for our children is an act of love. Even listening to them chat about their day at school or childcare or reading them a story. Those things all mean more than money or possessions. But we need to be paying attention, or we’ll miss out as much as our children on some (much cherished in years to come) Us Time (you can learn more about Us Time and The U URSELF Routine in my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child and on Present Parenting in The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting, both books are available now from all good book stockists such as, Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble.

Just Click the button below to find out more.

Love equals Time and Attention, and that’s the most loving investment we can make in our children’s lives. We can always buy more stuff, but we can never buy more time. Once spent, it’s gone forever.

Love in the moment.

This moment is all that counts. And all those loving moments soon add up!

BETTER BEHAVE

Our childrens unwanted behaviour is not their fault, they’re not being difficult, annoying, ungrateful or selfish, it’s just more loving ‘Us Time’ they’re really seeking.

It’s not how our children behave or the things that happen to us in life that’s the problem, it’s how we choose to deal with what happens.

Problems and disagreements are part and parcel of parenting, which we can’t eliminate, but we can learn how to deal with and overcome them.

Offering a reassuring hug, kiss or smile is all it takes to repair a kink in the chain of love that connects us.

Disagreements will always occur in loving relationships, but if we take action to resolve things as soon as possible and are willing and able to work through issues with our children, we strengthen our bonds. 

I know this can be difficult when they wake us at two am in the morning, we may know that there are no monsters under the bed, but a three-year-old may not.

At those times, particularly when we are tired and angry, we can unintentionally miss the opportunity to give them an explanation, hug or a kiss, and to make them feel better, especially if they are behaving undesirably. 

Yet this is when they are crying out for help, and yes, attention.

Ironically, it’s those times when they misbehave and don’t understand their own emotions that, we end up getting upset and angry with them, when all they really want and need is a cuddle.

Each time we find ourselves overreacting, we can stop and try to shift direction, and replace that in the moment reaction with a hug. It means bringing our awareness back to the present moment, and acting from a place of love. Not automatically reacting unconsciously in the heat of them moment, trying to stop our childrens behaviour.

Once upon a time, we were our children’s number one fan, we adored everything they did. Even a poo on the potty was cause for celebration and hugs of proud appreciation, but as they grow, the focus changes.

But is it our children who change, or is it us who change how we view our children?

BONDED BY LOVE

It’s those everyday acts of love such as cooking them tea and chatting about their day, that strengthens the bond we share with our children.

Expressing our love a little longer than expected, reinforces our love.

Next time, try hugging your child a couple of minutes longer than usual and feel the love transmitted back and forth.

That’s our bonds strengthening and reconnecting us to one another.

 

Stay Present,

Em x