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Health

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

Slime time!

By | Education, fun for children, Mental health, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Sharon Me
Creator and Director of Artpod Ltd

Are your children obsessed with Slime? Have they taken over the kitchen with home-made recipes from YouTube, only for you to hear the cries of it didn’t work! Like all good recipes and experiments the devil is in the detail and with a few kitchen ingredients you can have some great fun with your children.

There are several different ways to make Slime, and you can, of course, experiment with using different ingredient sand different amounts to produce varying textures, colours and consistencies.

Here is my favourite Slime to make at home – corn flour Slime also known as Oobleck. This recipe is brilliant for all ages and abilities and is the easiest to make and play with.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup of corn flour
• Up to a quarter cup of water
• Plastic sheet to keep your kitchen table free of mess!

Instructions:
Mix the ingredients together adding a small amount of water at a time in a bowl and you’re done! Yes, that’s it! The more water you add the more dribbles you will get and the more corn flour, the thicker the Slime.

This Slime is, in fact, a non newtonian fluid, which means it simply cannot make up its mind as to whether it is a liquid or a solid! A good way to explain this is by showing how different forces work.

Ask your children to try and pick up the Slime in a ball and they will find it is quite tricky to pick up and that it runs through their fingers.

Next, ask them to pick some Slime up and quickly roll it into a ball in their hands really, really fast. The motion and force of the movement will keep it in a ball until they stop rolling, at which point it will trickle through your fingers again. All very messy but great fun!

Experiment with making more Slime by increasing the quantities and your little scientists could even try walking on Oobleck! This time, make the Slime in a large washing up bowl so that it is ankle deep. Use at least two packets of 400g corn flour, add water and mix to the same consistency as before.

Then ask your little scientists to try the following experiment.

Take their shoes
and socks off, roll up trousers or skirts and then challenge them to jump up and down on the Oobleck and see what happens.

It is a good idea to hold their hands at this point as they can get very excited (also put some old towels down in advance to soak up the splashes!)

Your little scientist will find that the force of jumping up and down causes the Slime to become temporarily solid – however, the second they stop jumping they will start to slowly sink into the Oobleck, which usually creates giggles galore!

To escape from the Oobleck, lift one foot up at a time and let the Slime dribble into the bowl before stepping on to the towel and then repeat with the second foot. Again, hold their hands to help them keep their balance.

Glow-in-the-dark Oobleck
If you want to take the science a bit further you may want to try to make glow-in-the-dark Slime – all you need is cheap indian tonic water to replace the regular water in exactly the
same quantities.

Tonic water will fluoresce under ultraviolet light, owing to the presence of quinine. In fact, the sensitivity of quinine to ultraviolet light is such that it will appear visibly fluorescent
in direct sunlight. You can also try making a mini darkroom with a regular pop up tent and a small black light torch or UV torch. This will make your Slime really glow!

Cleaning up afterwards
Remove any large quantities of Slime and put it in the bin.
Any additional splashes on clothes or carpets are best left to dry as the corn flour dries back into a powder and can then be vacuumed up. Then wipe over the surface with cold soapy water.

Sharon Mee is Creator and Director of Artpod Ltd who design and deliver parties, workshops and events for all ages and abilities. Creativity and fun are at the heart of what we do!
We believe in the power of the imagination and experimentation and that through the process of creating something, magical things can happen!

There’s a puncture out there with your name on it!

By | family, Health, Safety, Uncategorized, Winter | No Comments

So said the marketing campaign from Bridgestone at the launch of DriveGuard, their “game changing tyre innovation, which places safety and convenience in every driver’s seat. ”Contentious comment? Yes! Good solution for safer family driving? Read on and find out what we thought…

On average, every driver can expect to have six punctures in their lifetime and 27% of all roadside emergencies are tyre related. And don’t forget, a flat is not just an inconvenience. If a puncture happens rapidly, you have less control, less braking capability and are more susceptible to the prevailing road conditions. If it happens slowly, you may not even be aware you have a puncture for some time. That can affect your fuel consumption, road handling and even braking distances, particularly in wet or icy conditions. That is why all cars made after November 2014 are now required by law to have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) built in. There are a variety of systems from the various car manufacturers as well as third party products that can be retro-fi tted to older vehicles, but fundamentally the TPMS alerts the driver that tyre pressure is low and that there may be a problem with one or more of your tyres. Over time, all tyres will lose pressure, including your often forgotten spare, so regularly check and top up your pressures as per your car manufacturers recommended levels. Whether you’re on the school run, driving to work, going home or meeting with friends – there’s never a convenient time for a puncture. In fact, in 23% of cases, punctures happen during the evening or late at night which adds additional stress and anxiety to the situation. Of these, more than 50% happen in inconvenient locations and no driver wants to fi nd themselves stranded, changing their tyre on the side of a busy road, in the dirt, in the rain, in the dark. Particularly if you’ve a young family on board. It’s perhaps no surprise that 72% of women and 33% of men don’t change their own tyre. However, if there’s no cellphone reception to call for assistance – you’re on your own!Where is the spare? Has it any air in it? Is it under all the luggage? Where are the locknut keys? Where is the jack? No wheel spanner! Is that skinny temporary thing really the spare? You fill it with what!?
With over 60% of drivers experiencing a puncture in the last four years – leading to feelings of helplessness and insecurity combined with lost time of up to three hours – the Bridgestone team have comeup with a very, very good answer to the problem. DriveGuard can, in practically all conditions, help prevent accidents resulting from punctures, sudden loss of pressure or other types of tyre damage. It provides a safe and reliable solution, allowing drivers to wipe their hands clean of inconvenient puncture scenarios.So how does it work?
At the moment of puncture, you still have complete control over the vehicle and are made aware of the problem by your PTMS on the dash. You can continue to move with the traffic without immediately having to pull over or risk driving on and shredding the tyre. A flat tyre leads to rubber deformation which generates heat or friction; by using a special patented compound, Bridgestone has created a high-tech cooling fi n design in the sidewall that channels the increased heat from the sidewall towards the rim and thus helps to preserve the tyre.Based on state of the art technology, DriveGuard’s sophisticated tread pattern helps evacuate water to resist hydroplaning, while engineered sipes increase the number of biting edges to enhance wet road traction. As a result, Bridgestone DriveGuard has achieved the highest rating in wet grip performance (EU Tyre Label: A grade) with short braking distances, while offering a level of comfort comparable to conventional tyres, placing it at the frontline of road safety.The new age DriveGuard technology uses a proprietary high-tech cooling fin design as well as supportive and tough reinforced sidewalls which allow drivers to maintain control and continue driving safely and comfortably for 80km at up to 80kmph (50 miles at 50mph) after a puncture; fast enough and long enough to arrive safely at their desired destination or to seek assistance at a convenient service point.We drove a standard saloon car, with a deliberately punctured tyre for over 10km, and it handled just like a normal car. In fact, one of the other review teams managed to have a SECOND puncture during testing, and drove trouble free with both front tyres blown!“Bridgestone DriveGuard empowers you to keep moving and avoid the immediate burden and unsafe circumstances of a fl at tyre; drivers get to choose when and where they have their tyre replaced – within the indicated speed and distance limits. Our revolutionary new technology will considerably contribute to road safety and give drivers additional peace of mind and convenience while on the road,” said Eduardo Minardi, Executive Chairman of Bridgestone EMEA. Bridgestone DriveGuard eliminates the need to carry a spare tyre and is environmentally conscious due to being fully recyclable. That means less weight so less fuel and 20% fewer tyres required per car so less material required.Despite the impressive safety benefi ts and convenience advantages, a full set is only marginally more expensive than any other premium tyres of the same size. Your vehicle will be safer, lighter and have more space on board.So, in our opinion Driveguard offers a major contribution to road safety and all family cars should have them fi tted whenever practically possible!
www.bridgestone.co.uk
www.facebook.com/Bridgestone.EU
www.twitter.com/bridgestonetyre
www.linkedin.com/company/bridgestone-europe

 

Pregnancy myths

By | baby health, prenancy, Uncategorized | No Comments

Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant parents but it can also be a daunting minefield of conflicting professional and personal opinions. As bump grows, mums and dads and grannies and grandpa’s (not to mention colleagues, neighbours and strangers at bus stops) impart their wisdom, asked for or otherwise, and often it is at odds with the midwife’s official guidance.
Spatone natural liquid iron supplement looks at some of these “In my day…” gems of advice to see if any of them still hold true.

Myth 1: How you are ‘carrying’ the baby can tell you the sex.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The shape and height of your bump is determined by your muscle tone, uterine tone, and the position the baby is in, not by the sex. The only way to know is via an ultrasound scan or amniocentesis and even then it is not always possible to be completely sure.

Myth 2: You shouldn’t drink coffee while pregnant.

You don’t need to give up caffeine entirely, the current advice for is to limit yourself to (ACOG 2010, FSA 2008, Jahanfar and Jaafar 2013) 200mg of caffeine a day – this equates to drinking approximately two mugs of tea, two mugs of instant coffee or one mug of filer coffee a day. If your habit exceeds these amounts try a
de-caf version in the afternoons, it may help you sleep better too!
 
Myth 3: Heartburn means baby has lots of hair.

Heartburn is a common discomfort during pregnancy because your stomach is pushed higher by the growing baby. It is no way an accurate predictor of baby being born with a full head of hair. Lots of women who experience heartburn give birth to bald babies!

Myth 4: You shouldn’t eat smoked salmon when pregnant.

Pregnant women can eat smoked fish and are not advised to avoid it currently. Fish is good for mothers-to-be because it is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids like DHA. There are some types of fish you should limit to two portions a week, this includes oily fish like salmon. There are also fish you should completely avoid like swordfish. The NHS website provides a full list.

Myth 5: You are eating for two.

In the first six months of pregnancy our energy needs do not increase. The average woman of normal weight pre-pregnancy only needs about 200 extra calories per day in her third trimester to promote her baby’s growth. That’s roughly the number of calories in a piece of buttered toast and a banana. Gaining too much weight can result in gestational diabetes and a struggle to lose the weight
post birth so think twice
before eating a double helping of dessert!

Myth 6: Lying or sleeping on your back will hurt the baby.

While you won’t harm your baby if you lie on your back for short periods of time, lying on your back after 16 weeks can be uncomfortable. After 16 weeks it can make you feel faint as the baby presses on major blood vessels. Sleeping on your side might be more comfortable and as your bump gets heavier you might find it better to prop yourself up with pillows so you are almost sitting.

Myth 7: Guinness is a good source of iron.

Mums and nans are forever telling us about the daily dose of stout they consumed during pregnancy because it is a good source of iron and a lot of people still believe this old wives tale. In fact Guinness and similar stouts contains no more iron than standard beer and you would need to drink a whopping 35 pints to get your daily intake of iron. But more importantly, pregnant women should avoid alcohol altogether as not only does it carry an increased risk of miscarriage but may be harmful for the unborn baby.

A guide to spotting loneliness in children

By | children's health, Education, family, Health, Mental health, Relationships | No Comments
by Karen Dolva
CEO and co-founder of
No Isolation

Loneliness, like many psychological distresses, is difficult to spot. Recently, it has been extremely present in the national news and has been labelled an epidemic. The fact that loneliness has been increasing as a topic of discussion is very important, as one of the biggest issues is the taboo that surrounds it.

Loneliness is difficult to describe and verbalise, and children especially can struggle with this. They may understand that something is wrong, but not grasp how to verbalise their feelings, or even if they should. Spotting ‘symptoms’ of loneliness is difficult, as loneliness is a very subjective feeling. It is not possible to give a ‘one size fits all’ diagnosis. To give one could mean that some lonely children are overlooked, or children experiencing depression or anxiety are misdiagnosed.

Parents may often sense that something is wrong, but spotting and understanding the exact trigger can be difficult. Having spent the last two years researching and trying to fully comprehend the depth of the problem, I share below my best suggestions to spotting loneliness in children:

Normalise loneliness
For adults, loneliness is a stigma, which means that often we are not open enough about it with each other, let alone with our children. Creating a taboo around loneliness makes it a subject people can be very self-conscious or shy about.

As a consequence of this taboo, many people are not educated on what loneliness actually is, or what it feels like. In the British news, several people in different newspaper articles admit that they either did not recognise the feeling of loneliness or did not understand that they were lonely. They thought it was something typically experienced by older people, and that they were too young.

In truth, loneliness is a normal, but also very subjective, feeling. Typically, when simplified, the feeling is best described as a discrepancy between desired and actual social contact. Loneliness does not discriminate on age or borders, and at some point in life we all experience it. Big changes in our lives make us particularly vulnerable. Despite loneliness being something many experience, the magnitude varies from person to person.
To understand this, we have to start making loneliness a topic that we feel comfortable discussing.

Big changes make children vulnerable
As children grow older, they become more aware of big changes, and are more acutely aware of the impact that these changes can, and do, have on their environment.

This shift makes them more vulnerable to feeling lonely. This is especially common in children moving from primary to secondary school, or to a different city or country as they experience changes in their environment, their routines and their peer groups. Because this, to an adult, is ‘normal’, it can mean that those suffering from chronic loneliness and isolation during this period of childhood can be overlooked.

When talking with Dr Gerine Lodder, who researches loneliness amongst young people, she shared that “80% of parents underestimate or overestimate the level of loneliness of their child”. This could be for a number of reasons, and could include overlooking a chronically lonely child, or assuming loneliness and social isolation when the problem is quite different. To avoid this, parents should be open with their children about what these changes might mean for them, and receptive to their concerns, apprehensions or fears.

What to do when loneliness has been spotted?
Parents have the role of spotting loneliness, and discussing it
with their child. However, some cases of loneliness and social isolation are chronic, and once this is identified further help should be sought.

3-10% of children experience chronic loneliness, that cannot simply be cured by meeting new people, and may need the help of a professional. It is important that parents try to understand if the feeling is from internal or external factors, if it is new and if it is solvable. That way they can start to work on a solution.

Social isolation can be obvious in some circumstances, for example a child who has no friends or social contact and struggles to fit into their environment. Yet, as mentioned above, many can feel lonely without recognising the emotion or without actually being socially isolated.

My best tip: To spot if your child is lonely, you need to explain the emotion and normalise it. Distinguish the difference between this and other emotions, and figure out the magnitude of your child’s experience. The stigma around loneliness needs to be broken. If children learn that being lonely is a failure by them socially, then they are less likely to admit it is something they are feeling.

Being lonely is a very normal feeling that we all experience from time to time, and opening up the discussion around loneliness will help children verbalise their feeling and, in turn, allow parents to give them the help that they need.

(www.noisolation.com) an Oslo-based start-up founded in 2015, with the goal of reducing involuntary social solitude.

Positively pregnant!

By | baby health, Health, prenancy | No Comments

Pregnancy can stretch you to the maximum, both physically and mentally. It can become easy to focus on the negatives, and aches and pains of pregnancy. Instead, try and see it as nine months to concentrate on good health, motivation, looking after yourself and having some fun.
Never again will people be so willing to help you as they are when you are pregnant. Most people will offer you their seat on the train or bus, and you should accept any offers of help from friends and relatives – you will probably be able to repay the favour in the future.

It is easy to feel less confident about your looks and body when you are pregnant so do what you can to boost your self-esteem. You will need some new maternity clothes anyway, so make the most of the excuse to buy some new outfits. You can always re-use them for future pregnancies, or you can pass them onto pregnant friends. Beauty treatments will help you feel better; even when you have put on all your baby weight, your nails can still look glamorous!

Many women find pregnancy is a good time to look again at their priorities. Pregnancy and giving birth needn’t limit the possibilities, but it gives you a chance to think about what you want for your family in the future. You have a few months to step off the treadmill of life and think about what you want from your life.

Changing hormones may make your hair stronger and thicker, so you may be able to change to a different hair style if you wish. You may want an easy to manage style when baby comes along, so spend some time talking to your hairdresser and enjoy the chance for a change.

The need to look after the baby growing inside you, is sometimes the motivation we need to look after ourselves. It is the right time to develop healthy eating habits and to stop drinking alcohol. Together with moderate exercise, these will all help you to be fitter and better able to cope with the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth. You may have become used to working longer hours, but now is the time to leave work on time, and perhaps have a walk or swim in the evening instead.

Pregnancy can be a time when you become closer to your mum. You will be more able to understand what she went through, and your mum may be the one person that you feel able to talk about certain things with.

Many women make lifelong friends from prenatal groups so find out what is going on
in your area. These are the women who are going through the same experiences as you, at the same time and in the same area, so as well as being an excellent source of information and shared experiences, they may become friends through the whole of your child’s school life and beyond.

Couples often get round to doing things that they have been putting off for a while during pregnancy. Two will soon become three, so make the most of this limited time you now have and go on dates, weekend trips and take time to talk about your hopes and fears about pregnancy and parenting. This is a time when you can become very close, and this time will help bind you together when you have young children and have far less time together.

If all else fails and everything seems wrong, you can blame pregnancy hormones! Indulge yourself, listen to your body and take some time to be spoilt and spoil yourself. You’re pregnant, and with all the highs and lows, you deserve to be pampered and looked after, so make the most of it.

Dealing with our children’s stress

By | children's health, Health, Mental health, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Antonia Beary
Headmistress, Mayfield School

Every other news headline seems to be telling us that our children are stressed and miserable. How can this be when, arguably, there has never been a better time to be alive (at least in the First World)? Our standard of living is higher than ever: what used to be considered luxuries like central heating or television, are now basic necessities. There are many exciting opportunities available for all of us to travel, learn and communicate. But perhaps too much choice is not always a good thing. Perhaps, in working so hard to offer our children the things that we didn’t have, in making things easier for them, we are actually depriving them of more formative experiences.

Now don’t misunderstand me. Undoubtedly there is an ever-increasing range of pressures on young people. Clearly there is pressure to perform in school from an early age and testing is taking an increasingly high profile in a young person’s life. 11+ exams have much to answer for in this respect. They face unrealistically and consistently high expectations of academic achievement, with consequential loss of all sense of perspective. This is exacerbated by relentless, unfiltered exposure to social media and explicit advertising, not to mention – albeit more insidiously – the implicit assumption that any view, and increasingly all choices, are equally valid; resulting in an inevitable undermining or at least confusion over moral values. How can we help them?

Well, don’t expect them to be perfect. Certainly don’t wrap them in cotton wool and try to solve all their problems for them, although conversely don’t entirely cast them off to fend for themselves. Taking responsibility is difficult enough for adults, let alone children, so allowing boys and girls to make potentially life-changing decisions for themselves can be immensely stressful. As parents, our job is to guide and to step in to make those difficult decisions, while teenage brains (let alone their hormones) are in a state of flux. We are able to see the bigger picture. Sometimes we have to be unpopular, but this setting of boundaries is a crucial part of being a parent. While there may be some similarities, the role of parent is far more important than the role of friend.

It’s a difficult line to walk and one that all parents have to accept that they won’t always navigate as effectively as they might hope! Individuals have to make their own mistakes, but they need to be well supported by appropriate pastoral care and firm boundaries. In this respect it is key that schools and parents work together and league tables don’t give you any indication of how well this is done! At our school, we encourage our girls to be independent and to be aspirational, albeit to expect to achieve their goals through hard work. However, managing expectations is important. Mistakes are a vital part of their journey. You can’t always do your best (if you could, it would just become average). Sometimes being just good enough will get you through.

Retaining a sense of perspective is key. A certain amount of stress is normal and, dare I say it, healthy. While undoubtedly the number of individuals coping with mental illness is growing, now that we have a generation which is increasingly confident in talking about mental health issues, the term is being used increasingly loosely. What does “issues with mental health”mean? We are told that most teenage girls are miserable most of the time. That’s certainly not what I see on a daily basis.

We need to realise that not every emotional issue is a threat to mental health. Young people, in particular, get stressed and have periods when they feel low; when they feel overwhelmed by everything from the pressure of school work (yes, A Levels are harder than GCSEs, and rightly so), to the state of the world we live in. Feeling emotional does not mean necessarily that you are struggling with mental health issues – it suggests you are a normal human being in a difficult world. Each individual’s malaise will a take different form. This too is normal: we are not all the same. In fact it’s quite important that children learn how to deal with pressure and manage situations not working out quite as they (or you as parents) might have hoped. What is important is that they develop strategies to cope and do not always feel they have to manage on their own: teachers, family and friends are there to support and help them discern a way through.

This is not to say that individuals don’t suffer serious mental health issues: clinical depression is a serious medical condition which needs to be supported professionally. But we need to have a sense of proportion. There is a difference between bruising your knee and amputation – one is irreparable, but a bruise (much as it may hurt at the time) is part of everyday life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that cuts and bruises cannot be avoided if you are living life to the full and being fully human. We don’t want our young people to be reckless, but we do need them to be able to take risks and even get bored occasionally. Being creative means that they will get things wrong and this can be stressful, but it is not life-threatening. If necessity is the mother of invention, fewer choices and less sense of entitlement might just be the best way to help your children achieve the success they deserve.

Antonia Beary is Headmistress at Mayfield School, a leading Catholic independent boarding and dayschool for girls aged 11 to 18.
She is also currently Chair of CISCand Hon Treasurer of GSA.

Love your feet and who is best qualified to help you

By | children's health, footwear and feet, Health | No Comments
by Kim Jackson M.S.S.F.
Klodhoppers (Hove and Haywards Heath)
in conjunction with Laura West
from the Society of Shoe Fitters

National Shoe Fitting Week is an annual campaign designed to raise awareness about the importance of buying properly fitted footwear, not just for ourselves but, possibly more importantly, for our children.

Independent shoe retailers are more important to the footwear industry and our general health than they are given credit for. Independent retailers in all sectors are the backbone of this country – we were famously described as a ‘nation of shopkeepers’! So why does the public continue to choose the ‘big boys’ over the smaller, more reliable and more flexible independents?

The multiples, chain stores and multi nationals may have more high street presence and higher turnover, with bigger orders and greater brand presence, but they are just as fragile as the smaller businesses. In fact the larger they are, the harder they fall (as we have seen with the demise of Brantano in recent months).

Small independent shops are more versatile and individual, and they can make instant decisions without having to get it triple-checked by head office. If they want to start their sale on a certain date, they can. If they want to offer a certain customer a special discount, they can.

Nowadays the public demands more product information – the independent shop has both the time and knowledge to do this.

There are two primary groups which suffer from ill-fitting footwear, and for whom it is seriously dangerous and irresponsible from a health point of view – children and diabetics.

Few people realise that putting a child in poorly-fitted, or ‘off the peg’ shoes can damage their health in later life. If we walk in a certain way to avoid pain then it wears out other joints and tendons in the body. That is why so many people get problem knee, hip, leg, neck, back and shoulder pain – did you know that severe migraines can be caused by ill-fitting shoes? If joints wear unnaturally then nerves can get trapped causing pain. Later on rheumatism and arthritis may attack these worn joints, causing further pain.

The bones in our feet are hugely delicate in childhood and can be misshapen – rather like a bonsai tree. They continue to grow and ossify (harden) into our teenage years until they stop growing. However, they can continue to change shape throughout our lifetime.

Footwear is not simply a commodity; it is proven that footwear is linked to our well-being. The good independent shoe shop will pass on knowledge so that their staff are correctly trained – not just in professional measuring and fitting methods, but also to be ‘up to speed’ on all their product knowledge. To know how a shoe fits a certain shaped foot, and to know how a specific brand comes up size-wise are two of the main factors for a professional shoe fitter to consider before taking a shoebox out of the stock room!

Only a small proportion of our population have ‘average’ feet – so who will be there to look after the majority of the population’s feet if there are not enough independent shoe shops?

Trained shoe fitters know there is so much to learn about physiology, footwear manufacture and how the different materials used affect the fit.

The 1970s Munro Report warned the government of the time what would happen to our manufacturing base, independent retailers and the all-important link to public health, but it was ignored and sadly has proven to be only a visionary document. Two years ago the S.S.F (Society of Shoe Fitters) reminded MPs of the accuracy of this report in Parliament. It is only recently that they have started to listen.

Greatly assisted by other health-based organisations and charities, the cost to the NHS and the benefits system of ignoring shoe fitting and foot health is now being prioritised.

National Shoe Fitting Week runs from 24th March 2018 but pop into your local independent shoe shop anytime to check your child’s shoes and size!
Kim Jackson M.S.S.F.
(member of the Society of Shoe Fitters and Children’s Foot Health Register)
Klodhoppers Ltd (Hove & Haywards Heath)

Are children being over-protected in the digital age?

By | Education, Health, Mental health | No Comments

Heavy-handed approaches to issues around social media and digital communication such as ‘sexting’, may be damaging to children’s emotional development, according to research on childhood in the digital age, by academics at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and Plymouth University.

 

 

The researchers interviewed children who told them most of their online activities were relatively harmless. The children said they were aware of explicit images being passed around but had rarely been personally involved – however, parents and teachers were often unnecessarily anxious.

Some children described how their parents would monitor their phones and emails, doing regular spot-checks or even receiving copies of all their texts or online messages. In some cases, the youngsters were even tracked using GPS. Teachers, too, would examine the contents of pupils’ phones.

“There is a serious risk that the next generation of our society develops in a way that makes them think they have no right to privacy,” said Dr Leaton-Gray and Professor Phippen in their book ‘Invisibly Blighted: The digital erosion of childhood’.

The researchers argue such heavy-handed approaches can often be counterproductive, and that teenagers who do transgress online are behaving rather like those who, in the past, might have made rude gestures from the back seat of a school coach on the motorway.

Dr Leaton-Gray said: “Something that was a 10 second thing on the school bus now becomes a permanent feature of your life. We need to be a bit more laid back about the fact that it’s happening, and spend more time and energy on educating children about their privacy rights instead. To put it simply, it’s almost always
wrong to pass on images and personal data without permission, and victim blaming is not the answer.”

Punitive approaches can be unnecessary and even damaging. For example, the response to incidents of ‘sexting’ has often been to threaten to involve the police. This contradicts police guidance, which suggests those who send offensive ‘sexts’ rarely pose an ongoing threat, and that prosecution is therefore not usually the best approach. The authors argue that laws, which were designed to protect vulnerable young people from abusive adults, are actually being used against them.

Similarly, schools have often misused the Data Protection Act in defence of decisions not to allow parents to take photographs events such as plays – which are not covered by the Act – while breaching it themselves by using pupil photographs without explicit consent in their own prospectuses and on their own websites.

The authors say that schools need to face the demands of living in a digital world and that we need policy, practice and national coordination, which acknowledge, rather than shies away from, the challenges that arise from growing up in the 21st century.

Invisibly Blighted: The digital erosion of childhood’ by Sandra Leaton-Gray and Andy Phippen is published by UCL IOE Press.

Understanding childhood and separation anxiety as a parent

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by Stacey Turner
author of I’m Going To Nursery

As a professional I have helped many children to overcome separation fears and settle at nursery and during the early years of primary school. It’s much more common than people think, and even in those children who don’t usually suffer; all children have the wobbles at some time! I have undertaken a lot of research and I’ve been through an extreme situation of separation anxiety that was borderline separation anxiety disorder, experiencing first-hand what it is like with my eldest daughter. Having experienced the situation on both sides, as a parent and a teacher, I can offer you the reassurance that we can support our little ones through this difficult time.
I can promise you, it’s not naughty behaviour! Anxiety is an emotion. It’s anxious thoughts creeping in – usually in the expectation that something bad is going to happen – and the anxiety takes over. They manifest in how your child’s body reacts to these anxious thoughts in a fight or flight way. While every child and family are different, the basic patterns of anxious thinking, physical and behavioural symptoms appear in a similar way.

The crux of it is, we want to alleviate and overcome anxiety. It’s not only traumatic for the child, it is for the parent/s and can be for the whole family. It’s like a domino effect that impacts people along a chain, as the family group tries to handle the distress. If we don’t try and overcome anxiety, it can end up having greater effects on children and their families as they get older.

How do we tackle anxiety and stop it becoming all encompassing or a problem in the future?
• By acknowledging this emotion and working to break the thought pattern and/or learning to manage thoughts.
• By offering lots and lots of reassurance and showing our little ones that it’s okay to feel this way, but it doesn’t have to be like this!
• By facing fears and becoming ‘brave’, we teach our children confidence, resilience and to be problem solvers, which is an incredible achievement.

What is separation anxiety?
Anxiety is provoked in a young child by separation, or the threat of separation, from the child’s mother, father, or primary carer. Separation anxiety is often a normal stage of childhood development from approximately eight months (sometimes younger, as was our case for little Molly) to five years, sometimes older. It can reappear at times of change
and stress.

Separation anxiety disorder:
Children with separation anxiety disorder feel constantly worried or fearful about separation. You may be dealing with a child who is constantly refusing to be separated from you, displaying panicked reactions and complaining of physical symptoms that can’t
be soothed.

How do I know if my child has anxiety issues?
Crying, screaming, shouting, throwing a tantrum and clinging to the main carer are healthy and normal reactions and vary in length and intensity between each child. You can ease your child’s separation anxiety by staying patient and consistent, and by gently but firmly setting limits. With the right support, children can usually overcome separation in time. Each child is different and this needs to be taken into consideration.

If your child has separation anxiety they may:
• Be very clingy.
• Retreat to a corner or hide under furniture.
• Have difficulty settling back to a calm state.
• Be reluctant to go to sleep. When a child closes their eyes, you disappear and this can stimulate nightmares, sometimes they are very scary.
• Wetting or soiling the bed.
• Experience lots of toileting accidents.
• Refuse to go to nursery, preschool or school, even if your child likes it there usually and enjoys being with their friends.
• Complain of physical sickness such as a headache or stomach ache just before/at the time of separation.

• Fear something will happen to a loved one.
• Worry that they may be permanently separated from you.
• Have little appetite or pick at and complain about food.

If your child’s separation anxiety seems to appear overnight, there is the possibility it could stem from a traumatic experience and is not separation anxiety. The symptoms may appear the same, but are treated differently.

According to the website
www.mentalhealth.org.uk, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 3.3% of children and young adults in the UK. Other websites indicate this percentage to be higher.

To stop anxiety manifesting, it is important we face and overcome it together.

Stacey Turner, is a mum, teacher and author of ‘I’m Going To Nursery’ and other books in the My Tiny Book series.
For further information go to
www.mytinybook.com.