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Health

Don’t just Google it!

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Health, prenancy | No Comments

Search engines like Google and Bing are more likely than any other source of information to provoke anxiety during pregnancy, according to research.

A survey of 300 mums who have given birth in the past five years published in the UK Maternity Report by the UK’s leading private midwifery services provider, Private Midwives, revealed that search engines were more likely than any other source to provide information which causes further worry and anxiety.

The news comes following midwife, lecturer and advisor to BBC’s Call the Midwife, Terri Coates, revealed that the Internet was stopping women from turning to their professional midwife for advice.

As many as 41% reported this was the case, while almost the same number (38%) said they had read information about pregnancy in online forums such as groups and chat boards which had caused them concern.

Despite this, 89% admitted that they had consulted the Internet for non-emergency health advice or information about their pregnancy, and outside of midwife appointments, mums-to-be are more likely (53%) to turn to the Internet for non-emergency advice or information than anyone or anything else.

Many will do this regularly throughout their pregnancy – more than one in 10 (13%) searched for advice online on
a daily basis, while more than one in four (27%) did so every few days.

Linda Bryceland, head of midwifery at Private Midwives, said: “Traditionally during pregnancy, women often found themselves receiving huge amounts of conflicting information – everything from well-meaning loved ones, to media and even strangers in the supermarket. But the Internet has opened up a whole range of new sources of information, which in many cases may not be medically qualified and given without context or taking into consideration women’s individual circumstances and medical backgrounds. What’s more, this is available at the touch of the button, on a whim – so it is not surprising that women are finding themselves logging off and feeling more worried than they were to begin with.

“If women have concerns or questions about their pregnancy, the best thing to do is to resist the temptation to quickly search for more information or the answer online, and instead speak to a medical – whether that’s their midwife, the non-emergency NHS 111 phone line or their GP, who can provide professional, clinical information and guidance, which takes into account their medical history and individual circumstances.”

According to the survey, as many as 90% of UK women who gave birth in the past five years experienced anxiety and worry during their pregnancy.

The top five sources of information which provided information which worried mums-to-be during their pregnancy:
1. Search engines – 41%
2. Online forums/groups – 38%
3. People who aren’t medical professionals who I know – 32%
4. Blogs – 27%
5. Strangers – 16%

Private Midwives is a Care Quality Commission registered and regulated service which connects expectant parents with expert midwives who provide antenatal care, birth care and support, and postnatal care at times and locations that work best for parents-to-be.

How to handle criticism of your parenting

By | Education, family, Mental health, Relationships | No Comments

Every parent has the right to raise their child in a way that they best see fit. Experts recognise many different, yet successful, forms of parenting and the fact that there is no one right way to support the well-being of our children.

It’s not only important to acknowledge various parenting methods, but also for parents to be aware that it’s okay to take time to work out what is right for you and your family. This is especially important as what might work for one parent might not work for you with your children. However, the various parenting techniques out there can lead parents to compare themselves to others or feel that they must try out the latest parenting trend, whether that suits their child’s unique needs or not. Parenting is also challenging to keep up with, you might have finally found what works with your child and the next thing you know, they’ve outgrown that stage and you need to try something else.

We are bound to make mistakes as parents, no one is perfect. With each day comes new hurdles and developmental milestones. Raising your children into well-rounded individuals won’t happen overnight, it’s a work in progress, a beautiful one, but work all the same. Unfortunately, with parenting also comes unnecessary criticism, whether this be from other family members, friends, or chatty mums at the school gates. Hearing negative comments about your parenting style can certainly hit a nerve and knock our confidence.

Ben Edwards, a self-confidence expert and relationship coach, has some excellent pieces of advice for handing criticism over your parenting.

Ask why they are criticising you.
If your own parents, for example, appear to be criticising you, it might only be because they feel close enough to you that they can comment on your family.

However, it’s important to ask why they are doing this and what they want to achieve from it. If they can see something you are doing isn’t working or can offer you a solution, ask them if that’s the case. Your parents are likely to want to help and guide you as you parent your child – letting them know how it’s coming across can be an easy way to change the tone.

Differentiate between criticism and advice
Quite often, especially with new parents, when someone offers you parenting advice it’s easy to assume they are criticising what you are currently doing or suggesting that you are getting something wrong. Sometimes, people really do just want to help. Differentiating between useful advice that you can take onboard and unhelpful criticism will help you to see who is worth talking to about parenting and asking for tips and who it’s best to ignore.

Listen to the experts
While it’s true that the only real expert about a child is their parents, if you are really unsure about what’s best, speak to a professional. A health visitor is there to help you ease into life with a baby, so if you are feeling overwhelmed about all the advice and/or criticism you seem to be receiving, ask someone who is specifically trained in the field.

Accept that everyone parents differently
You and your best friend might have done everything together and been very similar for years, but this can all change when you have children. If you and your best friend parent your children differently, accept that everyone is different and remind yourself that you parent in a certain way because it’s right for your children; everybody is unique and what works for one child may not work for another. This will help you to feel secure about the way you are doing things; just because your methods differ does not mean they are any less justified or productive. If you feel your friend is being critical, discuss this openly and be honest about your feelings.

Be confident
When people see you parenting your child in a way that they think is different or don’t agree with, they’ll often feel like they need to comment on it. Sounding confident and certain that that’s the way you do things, with phrases such as “it works for us so we don’t plan to change that until we have to” or “thank you for your ideas but I’ve decided to do this” will clearly show people, in a polite way, that you are secure in your parenting style and this will make it less likely for people to offer unwanted advice.

For more self-confidence and relationship advice, visit www.benedwards.com

Herbs to soothe your child’s chickenpox

By | baby health, children's health, Food & Eating, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Henriette Kress
author of Practical Herbs 1 & 2

Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by the varicella virus. It’s belongs to the herpesviruses. You can remedy all problems caused by this group the same way, including cold sores (herpes simplex) and shingles (herpes zoster).

The most important thing to know about chickenpox is that it can get a lot worse if you use aspirin or ibuprofen. Leave them in your medicine cupboard whenever somebody has chickenpox or herpes.

The second important thing to know is that you have the virus for life. You can get rid of the symptoms, but you can’t get rid of the virus itself. Chickenpox is fairly mild if you get it in childhood. It’s a lot worse if you first get it as an adult, and it’s very contagious. It’s dangerous to the fetus if caught by a pregnant woman.

Herbs for chickenpox
I like three herbs for chickenpox:
1. Lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa) has been shown to be effective against various herpes-family viruses. It’s a mild herb and can be given freely as a tea. Here’s how:

Lemon balm tea
1-2 teaspoons dried lemon balm
or 3-4 teaspoons fresh crushed leaves of lemon balm
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as he likes.

2. Coneflower
Coneflowers (Echinacea-species) are wonderful herbs that help strengthen the immune system. They’re also effective against different viruses in the herpes family. Purple coneflower is widely available as a tincture. To use, dilute the tincture in water and give it to your child:

Diluted coneflower tincture
15 drops coneflower tincture
100 ml water
Mix and let your child sip this throughout the day. Generally, coneflowers work better in acute problems if they’re taken as small doses often rather than as larger doses three times a day.

If you find dried coneflower herb, you can make that into a tea instead. The recipe is:
Coneflower tea
1-2 teaspoons dried coneflower
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as she likes.

3. St. John’s wort
An infused oil of St. John’s wort works wonders for the itch of chickenpox. It’s also great for the pain from shingles. You can make your own, but you can also buy it in well-stocked health food stores. If you can’t get an oil or salve of St. John’s wort, you can use a calendula salve instead.

Infused oil of St. John’s wort
• Fresh flowering tops of St. John’s wort
• Extra virgin olive oil

Fill a jar with the chopped-up flowering tops, then cover the herb with olive oil. Leave the jar in your oven on 50 ºC for two hours and strain the liquid into a wide-mouth jar. Let the water settle out until the oil is clear instead of murky, for about 5 days. Bottle your oil and add a label: ‘St. John’s wort oil’ plus the date. Store in the fridge.

It’s an excellent oil for bruises, sprains, strains and similar and is very effective for chickenpox and shingles.

4. An oat bath
An oat bath is extremely soothing to the itch from chickenpox. To make it, you’ll need a small or large bathtub and rolled oats:

Anti-itch bath
A handful of finely rolled oats
warm (not hot) water
Draw a bath with warm water and adjust the temperature to suit your child. Lower your child into the water and very gently rub a handful of finely rolled oats over his skin. Older children can to this for themselves, too.

5. Chickweed
Chickweed is among our best herbs for various itches. It’s an abundant weed in lush garden soil. Use scissors to take the top off the chickweed and crush it in a little water. Strain and use the resulting green-tinted liquid as a gentle wash on your child’s itchy spots. Chickweed can also be made into an infused oil (see under St. John’s wort); it’s soothing in that form, too.

Those who have had chickenpox can get another outbreak of the same virus decades later. This time it’s shingles, though. Shingles is usually brought on by stress or by an immune system that’s laid low by some other disease. You can use the same herbs for shingles as you used for chickenpox.

Practical Herbs 1 & 2 by Henriette Kress, are available now, published by AEON Books, priced £19.99 each. For more information see: www.aeonbooks.co.uk

The benefits of yoga for children

By | children's health, fun for children, Health, Mental health, Sport, Uncategorized | No Comments

by Charlie Nash
YogaFrogs

We potentially think of yoga as something for adults, yet yoga has so much to offer everyone beyond the adult learners. It’s no wonder then that a growing number of children and families are opting to participate in yoga classes tailored for children. With many yoga teachers now offering yoga for both children and their families, there’s plenty of opportunity around Sussex to experience this, whether it might be in your local community hall, yoga studio, festival, after-school club or a 1:1 session in the comfort of your own home.

Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for well-being on all levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. In the West we often focus on the physical aspect of yoga. The other elements, which go hand-in-hand with the physical, are starting to be recognised and shared with students both young and old alike.

These benefits are being recognised by educational authorities across the country with more primary and secondary schools acknowledging the benefits yoga has on their students’ mental and physical health, particularly around SATS and other public exams.

In an age where technology has taken over our lives, the benefits of yoga couldn’t be in greater need. Whether we like it or not, children and adults are bombarded with information overload from television, the Internet and smartphones. It’s said that in the course of a day, the average person in a western city is exposed to as much data as someone in the 15th century would encounter in their entire lifetime.

Yoga allows children to take time out from all of the above. With continued practice there’s a wealth of benefits that can enrich their entire lives all the way through to adulthood. Yoga is not only fun, it encourages children to think freely and let their imaginations go wild, as they explore the many asanas (postures) that link to nature and animals. Children thoroughly enjoy the connections with their bodies, with movement helping to promote self-awareness of their limbs, joints and muscles from a young age. Yoga subtly teaches us about the interconnectedness of our bodies. From toes and jaws, to heart and lungs. This allows us to keep every part of our body alive and supple, no matter how small.

With regular practice children can find deeper concentration, which may have positive effects in both school and family life. This is achieved through the opportunity and encouragement to clear the mind and to focus single-handedly on each asana at a time. Beyond the physical, yoga teaches children to quiet the mind through different relaxation and breathing techniques. This can help with anxiety and stress, being a skill the children can practise anytime and anywhere.

Children learn to be non-competitive and non-judgemental of themselves and others. They learn to share and take turns with other children in the class, promoting kindness and gratitude from a young age. They learn, through yoga, that they are OK just the way they are and don’t need to compare themselves to others. This allows them to become more accepting and understanding of not only themselves, but also everybody else around them.

The Dalai Lama said “If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation”. With a rapidly expanding and growing world, this quote could not be more relevant. Allowing children to be grounded and centred in their thoughts is one of the greatest gifts we can give. Making sure their true nature is made up of compassion, love, and wisdom, which can then be shared with the world.

YogaFrogs – bringing weekly yoga, mindfulness, meditation and creativity to children, teens and families across East and West Sussex,
www.yogafrogs.co.uk

Discover how to be a better parent and not feel guilty

By | dance & Art, Education, family, fun for children, Mental health, Relationships | No Comments
Top tips from Justine van de Weg,
The Arts College Worthing

As parents it is very easy to feel that we are not doing it right and we are often asked the same questions; How do I become a better parent? What am I doing wrong? I just want my child to be happy, why can’t I understand them? How do I deal with their outbursts, anger and anxiety? Why are they OK at school all day and then difficult at home? How do I say ‘no’ to my child without feeling guilty?

Here are five top tips to help you keep the balance of parenting (without feeling guilty).

1. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can
It is very easy for us as parents to compare ourselves to others and feel that we are in some way failing. The world bombards us 24/7 via social media with unrealistic images. This can make you feel that you should be able to achieve more. Life is often very hectic and many of us are faced with work and home life balance battles every day.

Ask yourself these questions:
• Do I feel guilty and upset after an argument?
• Do I sometimes feel out of control?
• Do I feel like a broken record; constantly repeating the same instruction?
• Do I feel burnt out and tired?
• Do I feel whatever I try is just not working?

All these questions that you ask yourself reveal the following:
• You care – that is why you often worry
• You are prepared to learn new parenting skills when you don’t feel judged or criticised
• You will naturally look at other parents and compare yourself forgetting they are doing the same with you!

Remember, when you compare yourself to other parents you are only witnessing them with their children on their good day. If you really think about it, you have some good days and some bad days but when you are tired the bad days can feel overwhelming and out
of control.

2. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries
What is a boundary? Factually saying aloud what you do not like somebody to say or do to you without becoming personal. Many parents become confused with the word boundary as they assume they are destructively disciplining. You can set the boundary with a calm approach, whilst being open to listening to your child without taking it personally.

Boundaries are healthy actions that allow you to:
• Say what you do or don’t like
• Explain how an action or situation makes you feel
• Want to resolve, instead of win an argument.

Boundary setting can become unclear when you ask your child to do something and threaten them with a consequence but do not follow it through. This is where the repeating of the instruction can feel like listening to a broken record.

Examples; “Can you please wash the dishes.” “This is the second time I’ve asked you to wash the dishes.” “By the time I ask you for the third time to wash the dishes, there will be a consequence of
not watching the movie with
us tonight.”

How many of you stick to the third request and follow through with the clear consequence?

When you are tired you feel yourself giving in and once again the feeling of being ‘a broken record’ arises. Simple, clear boundary setting helps your child understand what you expect from them and what you want them to do.

3. When you ask, give in return
If you want your child to work with you, help with chores and to work together as a team, show them their effort pays off. We all love to feel appreciated and if they are rewarded with a thank you or praise it will make for a happier household (this reward does not always have to be financial, you will mostly find your child just wants to do an activity with you).

4. Giving the special one hour
Every day switch off your phone and enjoy fully engaging without any interruptions and doing activities led by your child. It sounds obvious but how many times do you reach for the phone whilst your child is talking to you or wants your attention?

5. Have a clear routine or schedule
A routine schedule clearly defines to your child when they are spending time with you. Having a monthly calendar on the wall helps them to understand when you ask them to do chores, they will feel they are being rewarded and appreciated by spending quality time with you. If you have more than one child, they can see when it is their turn to do something special with Mum
or Dad.

In conclusion, start being kind to yourself and realise when you are tired, you can ask for help (this is not a sign of weakness) and don’t be afraid to delegate. Trying to do it all by yourself is something that you will never be able to achieve!

Justine van de Weg is the Founder of The Arts College in Worthing.
Art Psychology is a new area of study – a tool for parents to learn how their children’s brain grows as well as develops emotionally and socially in their home.
Call 01903 529 633
www.justine86.wixsite.com/kidsartclasses

Quick and healthy family meals for busy parents

By | children's health, Food & Eating, fun for children, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments

by Jess Crocker
Manager, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

We’ve all been there – after a long day, staring into the fridge willing a decent meal to appear as a tired child moans in our ear. We want to serve up healthy meals our children love, but this ideal can seem far away at times. At the Food Partnership we’ve been teaching adults and families about cookery and nutrition for over 10 years so we’ve seen these same issues again and again. So many of our strongest happy memories are connected to food, so we want to see more families finding simple ways to have positive experiences together in the kitchen and at the dining table.

Here’s our top time-saving tips to make healthy meals easier:
• Hidden veg tomato sauce Lots of parents blend or chop vegetables into pasta sauce to up their children’s veg intake, but we love to find new ways to make this go even further – freeze a large batch of the sauce so you can use it on pita-bread pizzas (see below), in stews, shepherd’s pie and or even as a base for a minestrone soup.

• Do it together
Getting children involved in cooking is a great way to get them trying new foods. Many parents involve even young children in activities like baking but the time, sugar and mess means this isn’t really an everyday option. We often find family meals that give children choice and control help to improve eating habits – and this can be quick too. One of our favourites is pita bread pizzas – all you need are store-bought breads, tomato paste or a basic sauce, grated cheese and some toppings (think frozen sweetcorn, peppers, chopped fresh tomato). Even toddlers can assemble the pizza themselves and wait excitedly to try their creation.

• Don’t fear frozen
Frozen veg often retains more nutrients than fresh food which has been left to languish in the fridge, plus you can portion out exactly what you need and cook it quickly. Keep a range of veg (and fruit) in the freezer to ensure your children get a good variety of foods without spending a fortune. Toddlers who are teething may even enjoy eating frozen peas or sweetcorn, and a little bit of frozen spinach can disperse through a dish as a very gentle introduction to more bitter flavours. It can take up to fifteen times for children to accept a new food, so don’t worry if it takes a while, if you’re eating it yourself they should eventually follow suit.

• Protein power
People often focus on vegetable intake in children – don’t forget protein. Children need two portions per day, roughly the size of their own fist or a handful. As well as meat, eggs and fish, we find that red lentils cook quickly and can easily disappear into a tasty carrot soup or casserole to add extra nutrition easily.

Check out our website for lots of quick and easy family recipes. If you have a top tip or recipe that helps your family eat quickly and well, we’d love to hear from you.

Local non-profit organisation, the Food Partnership has just launched a new ‘Community Kitchen’ on Queens Road in central Brighton – a cookery school where classes with chefs and food experts help subsidise low-cost, accessible community cookery activities.
www.bhfood.org.uk/the-community-kitchen

“I can’t do it – yet!” Growth mindset and the teenage brain

By | children's health, Health, Mental health | No Comments
by Nick Forsyth
Head of Wellbeing, Kingston Grammar School

The teenage brain is a truly remarkable thing. In recent years, researchers have revealed far more of its secrets and, in particular, how it differs fundamentally from the adult brain. While it has a greater capacity to learn and create, we now know that areas of the brain that control behaviour, judgement and emotional control are the last to mature. This partly explains why adolescents are more prone to risk-taking behaviour, more susceptible to stress and mental illness and why they have an increased risk of developing an addiction.

Research into brain development has also given us new insights into how children actually think and learn. The terms ‘fixed’ and ‘growth mindset’ were first used by the world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck. The idea is very simple but has huge implications for the way we teach our children and how they see themselves.

The basic idea is this: children with a fixed mindset believe that being ‘good’ at a particular activity is something that they cannot control. Talent and even intelligence are fixed traits that you either have or don’t have. These children also tend to believe that talent alone can lead to success. Such a view is reinforced in a world where instant gratification is increasingly seen as the norm and where a toxic mix of social media, celebrity culture and rampant commercialism can lead to impossible expectations and an unrealistic sense of entitlement. Overnight success? Sign up for X Factor. Fame and fortune? No problem; become an Internet blogger or You Tuber.

Of course, the converse effect is that when things do get hard, as they inevitably will, children with a fixed mindset will show a lack of resilience or will simply give up. “I can’t do it, there’s no point.”

In comparison, children with a growth mindset understand that intelligence or being good at something is not a fixed characteristic but can be increased through effort, determination and sheer hard work. Mistakes and setbacks are seen as learning opportunities while success is rightly framed in the context of perseverance and trial and error. Now “I can’t do it” becomes “I can’t do it yet”.

There is now compelling evidence that teaching children about the power of growth mindset can dramatically improve a child’s academic performance and motivation to learn. In particular, when children understand that at this age their brains are highly malleable and grow stronger with effort and practice, they are far more willing to stick to a task or activity.

Over the last few years the idea of fixed verses growth mindset has gained considerable traction in education and teachers are now increasingly aware that their actions and, in particular, their feedback can subtly influence how their children perform. So praising innate ability – “you’re so talented at maths” – is likely to reinforce a fixed mindset while praising effort and hard work, “well done so far, now let’s see how we can improve” helps to develop a growth mindset.

The concept can also be taught to children in the context of success in sport or music or indeed any field. When asked about his success, Ed Sheeran said, “When people say you are so talented and you’ve been born with natural talent, I say ‘no’. You have to really learn and really practice.” Or Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, talking about his attitude to failure: “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Growth mindset teaches children that their brains are not hard-wired but can grow and develop in the same way that their muscles get stronger as a result of training and exercise. This not only leads to higher academic attainment but it has dramatic effects on how children perceive themselves. Once they know that it’s normal to fail and get things wrong, we see improvements in self-esteem, resilience, having the confidence to try new things and less stress about exams and the need to be perfect. In short, happier, healthier children.

Kingston Grammar School is hosting a national conference on Growth Mindset, “I can’t do it – yet” on Wednesday 7th November 2018.

Kingston Grammar School, founded in 1561, is a leading co-educational independent day school for boys and girls aged 11-18 years. Kgs.org.uk

The sun has got his hat on – and so should your child

By | baby health, children's health, Education, family, Health, Safety, Summer, swimming | No Comments

When protecting children from harmful rays, clothing is just as important as sunscreen, say dermatologists at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley.

Putting sunscreen on children is one of those chores that can bring a cloud to an otherwise sunny day. A familiar sight on a beach is a parent restraining a child with one hand and quickly rubbing cream in before their ‘little prisoner’ breaks free to head once more into the water.

They won’t thank you now but protecting your child from the sun’s harmful rays could prevent them from having skin cancer when they are in their 30s – and struggling to apply sun cream to their own children.

But parents forget how vital clothing can be. Long sleeved tops, wide brimmed hats and special UV protective swim
wear are easy to put on as part of getting dressed to go out for the day, and often tick a box with the fashion-conscious child. Synthetic fabrics are better than cotton as the weave is not as loose. Hold the material up to the light to see how much filters through and choose clothing with a tight weave. Dark colours such as reds, blues or greens are more effective at blocking sun rays than white, light or pastels – and have the added bonus of making it easier to spot your child on a crowded beach or park.

Even on warm but overcast days, the UV rays can still penetrate through clouds, so continue to protect your child with clothing and sunscreen. And encourage them to cover up or play in the shade during the peak times between midday and 3pm when the sun is at its most harmful.

Children naturally have more exposure to sun as they are more likely to be running around outdoors partially clothed and in and out of water. Trying to re-apply sunscreen every two hours may not always be practical, so clothing can be a parent’s biggest ally. Add a good sunblock and shade, and you will be giving your child a very precious gift that will last a lifetime – that of reducing their risk of skin cancer in later life.

Children can be ‘slippery fish’ when it comes to applying sunscreen. Reduce the stress for you and them by trying these top tips:
• Make putting on sunscreen a natural part of the preparations for going to the park or the beach. If it becomes a ritual, like brushing teeth, children will be more accepting.
• Make it family fun – help each other to apply sunscreen in front of a mirror so you can see which bits you’ve missed.
• Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply sunscreen – as soon as they see the water or playground you will have a battle on your hands. Instead, apply sunscreen before you leave the house. Sunscreen works best after half an hour anyway.
• Time reapplications with a snack or treat for distraction.
• A squirming toddler? Then apply as much as you can while the child is strapped in their buggy or car seat.
• For quick reapplications, use a spray, but avoid eyes and mouths and encourage your child to hold their breath while you apply it. Or invest in a roll-on sunscreen so children can do it themselves.

Did you know?
UV light can penetrate car windows so invest in a stick-on UV protection screen. And certain medication, such as antibiotics or malaria tablets, may make your child’s skin more susceptible to the sun’s rays.

What sunscreen to choose:
Look for a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. An SPF of 30 or more with a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars is a good standard of sun protection for children. Opt for water-resistant creams if your child is
a water baby.

Babies and sun:
Babies under six months old shouldn’t be exposed to sun
at all at this age as their skin burns more easily. When outdoors, always put a baby in the shade with a parasol and fully covered in clothes, with
a wide brimmed hat.

Banishing the misery of prickly heat:
Prickly heat usually appears as tiny bumps on the neck, chest, shoulders and back and is caused when sweat gets trapped under the skin blocking pores or sweat ducts. Babies and small children are prone to prickly heat. The rash usually disappears after a few days but ease symptoms by giving your child a cooling bath and keep away from the sun. Dress them in loose cotton clothing and encourage them to drink plenty of water. If your child is prone to prickly heat, give them an antihistamine half hour before you head outdoors.

Eczema and sunscreen:
Finding an SPF sunscreen for eczema prone skin can be a challenge. There are plenty of ultra-sensitive sunscreens on the market, which are free from perfume and parabens – preservatives used to stop sun cream going mouldy which can aggravate eczema.

If you are using a product for the first time, test it first by putting a small amount to the pulse of your child’s wrist or the crook of their elbow. Don’t wash that area for 24 – 48 hours and watch for any allergic reaction such as redness or a rash.

Advice from Dr Sandeep Cliff and Dr Noreen Cowley, consultant dermatologists at the Spire Gatwick Park Hospital.
Call 01293 778 906 or visit www.spiregatwick.com

How everyday activities can boost your child’s confidence

By | Health | No Comments

by Lorraine Allman

While every child is different, many of the everyday situations families find themselves in provide plenty of opportunities for nurturing children’s confidence and can-do approach to life. Author and educator Lorraine Allman shares her insight and practical tips for boosting children’s confidence that don’t cost a penny, and not a craft basket in sight.

Patience is a virtue
When children achieve something on their own it helps them develop a sense of what they are capable of, fuelling excitement and of course self-confidence. Just watch a child’s face when they manage to tie their shoe laces for the first time or when you let go of the saddle and they realise they are riding the bike by themselves.

Mastering many of the basic skills independently such as tying shoelaces, brushing teeth or making their bed, is a big achievement for any child, and taking steps towards their independence should be celebrated, but bear in mind it can require a lot of patience from both you and them. The more opportunities you give them to practise, with gentle guidance and a good helping of patience, the more they will learn the importance of persistence and determination in achieving success.

Let them take the lead
Giving children the opportunity to take the lead can really boost their confidence and self-belief. This could be simple things such as taking ingredients out of the fridge ready for baking, or try these two fun activities:

• If I were in charge… next time they’re dressing up as a king, queen, or superhero, ask them “What laws would you pass if you were in charge?” Encourage them to go beyond the expected ‘children can eat as many sweets as they wanted’ to explore their innate sense of what is fair
and desirable.

• Do it my way! – they give you instructions to carry out an activity of their choice. Ideally, this will be something they’ve seen you complete lots of times before such as making a hot drink or a sandwich. You must follow their instructions exactly as they are given! Afterwards talk about how they found it and if the end was result was what they were expecting.

Acceptance and support
Self-esteem, particularly in early years, is in the main based on children’s perceptions of how their parents view them, which will show itself through both words and actions. A positive level of engagement – support, trust, and encouragement –
where children feel loved, accepted, and supported, has been shown to nurture children to become more confident, emotionally resilient, and secure.

Showing empathy with how a child is feeling by commenting on and normalising their experiences is important. For example, perhaps they’re upset because a toy has broken. First let them know you recognise they are upset “I can see you’re upset”, then move on to helping them see there are choices about what to do next. For example, seeing if the toy can be mended, or tapping into their curiosity and opening up the toy to discover how it worked. Try not to rush in to fixing things, let them feel empowered to make the decision and know that it’s okay to be upset.

Team family
Whatever the structure of your family, large or small, home is the perfect setting for children to learn and understand what it means to be part of a team in a supportive environment. Achieving things together reinforces teamwork and the value of working together towards a common goal. Family is the first team children experience, and what they learn in the home team will shape their attitudes and character for years to come. Encouraging children to express themselves, to listen, and to exchange ideas all helps in building their confidence. Try this activity:

• ‘Top Dog’ – one child is appointed ‘the boss’. They take the lead in assigning household tasks to family members (including themselves!) and making sure all the jobs get done. They will need to negotiate and make sure tasks allocated are age-appropriate and achievable. When the tasks have been completed, discuss who gets to be ‘Top Dog’ next time and what lessons have been learned.

Be a (not quite perfect) role-model
We know children learn more from what we do than what we say, and this is never truer than learning social skills such as being confident with others. Model the way in which you would like them to be with others, for example how you introduce yourself to new people, how you ask for help, thank people for their time, and give compliments.

Modelling positive traits such as curiosity and perseverance, listening to ideas of others, and taking a methodical approach to problems can also have a powerfully beneficial effect on children’s confidence. Don’t feel you have to be perfect though – in fact, it’s better to demonstrate openness about mistakes along with a sense of curiosity and determination to resolve problems, even encouraging them to help in exploring possible solutions where appropriate.

Decisions, decisions
The more children are involved in decision making, the more their confidence and self-belief will grow. Start with small decisions so it’s not too over-whelming for younger children, for example, offering a choice of two t-shirts to wear, or two sandwich fillings to choose from. For older children, get them involved in deciding where to go on a family trip, what route to take or what to pack.

Stand back and sweat the small stuff
Giving children the opportunity to work out solutions for themselves rather than having a parent rush in to fix things not only builds confidence and self-belief but also helps develop their imaginative and independent thinking skills. Children learn problem solving skills best through experiences which are meaningful to them so creating space in the everyday for them to explore and experiment with solutions to problems rather than intervening, is to be encouraged. From simple situations such as why a plastic lid won’t close, to how to overcome the problem of mis-matched socks, this is one of the few times when ‘sweating the small stuff’ really matters – talk about the problem, stand back, and listen to your child’s take on the solutions!

Helping others
Encouraging children to use their natural skills and talents to benefit others not only nurtures enterprising characteristics and confidence, but helps them recognise their wider role in society and learn that they can make a difference in the world.

Examples may include:
• Holding a sponsored run, a bake sale or art sale to raise money for a charity if they enjoy running, cooking, or art.

• Helping a neighbour clear their path, or walk the dog if they like the outdoors.

• Volunteering at an animal shelter if they have a particular interest in caring for animals.

Don’t fear the ‘F’ word
It’s important to support children in becoming comfortable with things not working quite as expected. If they can learn to cope with the frustrations this may cause, even to relish the challenge and understand the need to be flexible, their confidence will really begin to shine through as they try new things without fear of failure.

Modelling this to children through our own behaviour is important. Take a simple example such as burning the toast – involving them in a light-hearted discussion about what happened and why shows that mistakes are not disasters, providing opportunities to learn more about cause and effect, and discovering better ways to do things.

Set realistic goals
Encouraging children to dream by having a picture of a mountain they want to climb, or of a person they would one day like to emulate can give you interesting insights into what they want, what excites them, or even what they fear. Encouraging an ambitious rather than defeatist approach to life will help develop children’s can-do character as can a simple to-do list.

Encourage them to write out, for example, ‘four things I want to do in the next eight weeks’. Talk through the list with them so they understand what needs to happen for each of those things to be completed, making sure timescales are realistic. As each new goal is achieved, take time to celebrate not just reaching it but also their determination to succeed, and watch their confidence grow.

Discover the joy of learning
The greatest gift to give a child in nurturing their confidence and can-do character is to help them discover the joy of learning through play from an early age. There are so many ‘teachable moments’ in the everyday provided children are given the time and space to explore, experiment, set goals, learn how to work with others, make mistakes and ‘bounce back’.

Lorraine is author of The Can-Do Child: Enriching the Everyday the Easy Way -packed with easy everyday activities and ideas to help nurture confidence and can-do characteristics and skills in children, making family time enjoyable and fulfilling for all.

Balancing praise

By | children's health, Health, Mental health | No Comments

As a nursery owner, manager, Early Years Teacher and MA student I review research, reflecting on current practice and make judgements on how we can best support children’s emotional, social, physical and education needs. Recently, a couple came to me with an alternative approach to how they offered their child praise. It made me think more carefully about how praise is offered in my setting.

by Deborah Tidey, The Nest, Brighton

Like anything in child rearing there is no one sure fire approach that is going to guarantee a desired outcome. For each child comes with their own complex set of ever changing needs and personality traits. How we praise our children and its effects on the child’s natural enjoyment and appreciation in favour of being driven by pressure to perform or constraints is no exception to this rule.

Praise is the positive evaluation that one makes. It is different to feedback and acknowledgement such as “that’s right” or “you scored 80%”. When we offer praise, we are making a judgement.

On a whole, it is generally accepted by society that praise only has positive effects on children. We make a point to praise children for their accomplishments, and we expect our praise to enhance their motivation and boost their self-esteem. Parents are actively encouraged to be positive and praise their children to demonstrate their approval and encourage desirable behaviours.

In reality you may have observed a child who has given up on an activity when praise has been offered or a child who finds praise uncomfortable, particularly in social situations, or even a child who will deliberately misbehave to prove you wrong. In fact, you may be familiar with some of these feelings in your own exchanges as adults too, along with the pressure of needing to perform to the same standard next time or not taking a risk just in case you fail.

There is no questioning that praise does have beneficial affects too but praise cannot be administered haphazardly. Careful consideration should be given to sincerity of praise offered, what is being praised, whether it promotes autonomy, social comparisons and if realistic standards and expectations
are conveyed.

The process through which praise can reduce autonomy and serve as a controlling reward was described by Gordon (1989): “Praise especially acts as an extrinsic reward, and its effect on children is quite predictable. Children who are subjected to frequent praise learn to select only those things they think will please their parents and avoid doing those things that may not. While to some parents, this may seem very desirable, we know that such children are much less apt to become innovative, creative, self-directing. They learn to conform rather than innovate, and to follow a pattern known to bring praise rather than to experiment with something new.”

Only individuals who believe their actions have been autonomous are likely to continue performing that behaviour. So how can we continue to offer praise where praise is due and how can we avoid offering praise that may hinder a child’s autonomy?

It is well documented that praising the process rather than praising the product or person is beneficial to children’s outcomes. This will help the child to identify what they did that helped them to accomplish the result, thus highlighting their autonomous steps. For example, your child may have drawn a picture, instead of saying “it’s beautiful” or “you’re so clever” you may consider saying “I can tell that you have really focused on staying inside the lines” or “I can tell that you put lots of effort into that picture” or even “you could tell your friend really wanted to have a turn.”

Process praise focuses on the enthusiasm, effort, ideas, persistence or a specific problem solving approach. Process praise does not focus on a fixed quality of the child, such as being smart. By saying to a child “you are really smart” we are suggesting that they must be smart in order to qualify for praise, or that being smart is a fixed quality that cannot be changed. After receiving praise that focuses on the product or the person, children may later conclude, “My successes made me clever, therefore my difficulties make me dumb”. Children who receive process praise are more likely to rise after setbacks, try harder and are less likely to give up. Process praise also demonstrates a deeper sincerity by focusing on steps specific to the goal the child is trying to reach. Always saying “It’s beautiful,” “well done,” or “clever girl” seems to carry less meaning when we have said it 100 times.

So continue praising your children, giving careful thought to how your words may be interpreted by them. Try using process praise to help your children develop a more resilient approach to learning and to become more autonomous learners.

Deborah Tidey is an Early Years Teacher, Director and Manager at The Nest, Brighton. We have spaces in our brand new nursery and preschool in Queens Park, Brighton and limited spaces at our Outstanding nursery in Hove.
www.thenestnurseryschool.co.uk