Category

Mental health

Five basic but often overlooked habits your child should adopt

By | children's health, Education, family, Mental health, play, Playing, Relationships

Children inherit more than just genes from their parents. Your manners, habits and overall view of life tend to influence the person your child will become. It is important to introduce certain habits into your child’s routine from a young age to maximise the chances of them carrying it through into adulthood.

Here, Richard Dwyer from UK Flair Gym shares five basic but often overlooked habits your child should adopt:
1. Making the bed – It has been suggested that making your bed in the morning can improve productivity levels which, in turn, boosts your mood. Not only will your child’s room look tidier, but they will be more likely to achieve their daily goals.

2. Eating breakfast – If your child skips breakfast from an early age, it is likely they will carry this bad trait with them for the rest of their lives. Teach them that eating breakfast helps kick start their metabolism and will energise them for the day – giving them both brain and body power!

3. Daily exercise – Whether you encourage your child to join a sports team or simply go for a bike ride, making sure they exercise for at least thirty minutes a day is a great habit to form. Aside from the physical aspect, daily physical activity will boost mental wellbeing and help make your child look at life more positively.

4. Make new friends – This is a skill that your child will require throughout their entire life. Knowing how to confidently build relationships with new people will not only enhance their social life but also their professional one.

5. Reading – Although weaved into their school life, it is encouraged that children should read at home for leisure. Not only will this make them a more confident communicator, but it will also enhance their writing and comprehension skills which are invaluable in later life. Try incorporating reading into their bedtime routine!

Since his childhood, Richard Dwyer has been passionate about his own fitness. With experience as a stuntman for countless films and TV shows, Richard decided to put his full energy into building gymnastics clubs to allow children (and their parents) to benefit from physical activity. Now, he builds children’s confidence through gymnastics that teach valuable life skills. Richard does this through three separate businesses: www.ukflair.com/ www.gymclassroom.com/ www.kidzimpact.co.uk

Supporting families in the early years

By | children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Health, Mental health
by Dr. Amanda Gummer
www.goodplayguide.com

There is clearly some great work being done, but the issue is that there’s no overarching strategy and a lack of cohesion so the examples of best practice in supporting young families are not replicated and often under-funded.

The arguments in support of providing high quality services and facilities for young families have been well-researched and include economic arguments. The work of Professor James J. Heckman shows how much better for the economy the preventative interventions are in the longer term, and in respect to health – the demand and strain on physical and mental health services is reduced if families are able to engage actively with their community. Not only does this reduce isolation and increase parents’ support networks, but engaging in activities within the community promotes healthy activity levels and encourages general wellbeing in both parents and children. Educational outcomes are also improved when sufficient support is provided in the early years and the longer-term benefits lead to reductions in school exclusions and a positive impact on children’s mental health.

One of the key areas of contention in this area is the split between universal and targeted interventions. Universal provision is available to all families and, when done properly, is sufficient for most families to help them manage and hopefully thrive. Targeted support focuses on supporting particularly vulnerable families who often have multiple challenges. The targeted support can be expensive and vulnerable families may not engage with health visitors and social workers as they are afraid of being judged, and the possibility of having their children taken into care.

The accepted wisdom is that there is no magic money tree and difficult decisions need to be made. I disagree. I believe that by thinking more strategically, and using examples that are already working well – such as the play streets initiative and befriending services, empowering parents who have benefitted from this support to give back once their children are older, we will be able to quickly see the benefits across all of the above areas. It soon becomes a ‘no-brainer’ to fund initiatives that more than pay for themselves in the long run.

It is my firm belief that by taking a play-based approach to supporting families through community play groups, well-designed and maintained play spaces and parent and toddler play clubs, we will go a long way to improving physical and mental health so children will be more active and social, and importantly, parents will not feel so isolated.

Parents and carers can help make their families more playful by giving children a ‘balanced play diet’ – making sure they get plenty of opportunity for active, social, imaginative play (the super-foods of the play diet) and limiting their solitary, sedentary, passive play time – in the same way you would limit their intake of sweets and treats.

Five tips to help balance your child’s play diet:
• Active, social, child-led play is the superfood of the play diet. So try, where you can, to make this a big part of your daily routine.
• Balance inside and outside activity and choose toys that can be used inside to promote active play even when the children can’t go outside.
• Don’t forbid screen time or tech play. Engage with it but don’t use it as a babysitter
• Mix and match playmates – children play differently with different people so involve other family members, older and younger children as well as peers (bearing in mind of course any social distance guidance!)
• Do your research before buying toys, tech or apps for children to make sure they’re going to get maximum benefit from it. Our Good Play Guide has a host of recommended games, all independently reviewed as a great starting point.

The abilities to control the playfulness of your child’s play diet and the different stimuli they interact with is at the core of promoting a healthy family life that ideally connects them with other parents. It is important too that parents consider their own welfare to help them overcome high-stress levels and their own health and wellbeing for their own benefit but also to set any example for their children who will look to them as role models and begin to copy them. A parent-centred approach to family life can help to achieve this by giving parents the ability to meet their own needs, in turn providing their children with a healthy model of adulthood to copy and learn from.

Whilst the latest report from the Royal Commission has done a great deal to re-focus the attention within mass media, it is important that it does not become another talking shop moment and that decisive action is taken in to create an overall strategy to support parents and children in their early years.

Dr. Amanda Gummer – making the world more playful. Amanda has a PhD in Neuropsychology and over 20 years’ experience working with children and families. She is a media friendly, go-to expert on play, toys and child development. She can be regularly seen in the media including BBC News, Sky News and The Daily Mail offering advice on the news stories which matter most to families and issues surrounding child development. Founder of Dr. Gummer’s Good Play Guide (www.goodplayguide.com) home of and The Good App Guide she is dedicated to ensuring every child can develop the skills they need to thrive and
enjoy a happy, healthy childhood.

Should you be talking about mental health with your primary aged child?

By | children's health, Education, family, Health, Mental health
by Helen Spiers
Head of Child and Adolescent Counselling, Mable Therapy

It can be hard to accept when our children are struggling with their mental health. Childhood is often seen as a stress-free time of fun and frolics, but for some children this can be far from true. There are several factors that can contribute to poor mental health. Our relationships, sense of identity and the world around us have a massive impact, so it’s hardly surprising that the events of 2020 have seen some children in emotional crisis. Many children have thrived in the pandemic, relishing the chance to spend more time at home with the family, but for others the disruption and uncertainty has left them anxious and overwhelmed.

Routine and boundaries play a huge part in reducing anxiety, so cancelled activities, school closures and continuously changing government guidelines have done nothing to support young people’s mental wellbeing. At our children’s counselling service we wondered whether the new school year would see referral rates drop. Would the increase in structure and purpose help to combat the tsunami of mental health issues? Sadly not. Since September our referrals have gone up, in both our schools and private service. For those directly impacted by Covid-19 it’s been devastating, but even for those seemingly unaffected, prolonged feelings of fear and dread have led to toxic levels of stress and anxiety. We’ve also noticed an increase in younger referrals, as parents struggle to reassure their children about future uncertainty. So how can we support our children with their mental health, without burdening them with adult worries? What are the signs that our children might be struggling? And how do we support them to develop the resilience to face the new normal?

Stay alert
Spotting mental health issues can be tricky. Many parents come to me feeling helpless, seeking my expertise. I tell them that when it comes to their children, they’re the experts. If instinct is telling you there’s an issue then you’re probably right. Changes in behaviour are a strong indicator, so if your child has become uncharacteristically withdrawn, aggressive or anxious then they may be struggling. If they’ve lost interest in themselves or their relationships, this could also be a sign of a change in their mental health. Whether it’s bullying, anxiety, or stress about school or friendships, identifying that there’s a problem is the first step in supporting them.

Find the positives
When the pandemic first hit, even counsellors struggled. How do we reassure young people, when we don’t know what’s happening ourselves? This was a huge warning sign that we hadn’t dealt with our own anxieties. Dedicate time to exploring your own emotional state and seek support from those around you. Only then can you model the calm reassurance that children need to develop their resilience.

Once we’re in a positive place it’s easier to promote a sense of optimism and self-esteem, which is key to building resilience. We want children to see the world as a safe place where problems are temporary and challenges can be overcome. Give your child space to talk about their worries, but try to steer conversations in a positive way: ‘It’s really sad to think your football might be cancelled again, but we got through it last time so we can do it again.’

To promote children’s resilience, the last few years have seen many schools adopt a ‘growth mindset’ approach to learning. It focuses on modelling positive language. Saying ‘this is hard, but with practice I’ll get there’ will make children more likely to persevere than ‘I’m terrible at this’. Praising persistence over results is a great way parents can help with this. Avoid comparing children to their peers and instead focus on their effort levels and improving their own ‘personal bests’.

Be open
The stigma surrounding mental health is thankfully on the decline, but for some children they’re still learning that difficult emotions are shameful and not to be discussed. I often work with children who have never learnt to recognise or talk about their emotions, and this becomes the biggest part of our work. If children have no outlet to discuss their anger, sadness or fear, then they hold the feelings inside. These internalised feelings will always find a way to come out, whether it’s through disruptive behaviour, tantrums or anxiety.

By modelling that these feelings are okay, we’re letting children know they’re normal. For young people keen to fit in, this will come as a huge relief! If your child does share their feelings with you it’s important to listen carefully without interrupting, respond in a calm, non-judgemental way and don’t dismiss their worries. You don’t need to problem solve. By letting them know you’ve heard them and understood them, you’ll be validating their feelings and reducing their anxiety.

Make real connections
For many parents, screens and social media were a real lifesaver during lockdown. It allowed our children to stay in touch with their friends and acted as childcare when deadlines were looming. Screen-time limits were loosened and monitoring our children’s online activity became even trickier. When they are back at school, it can be hard to get the genie back in the bottle and return to the pre-lockdown rules.

However, we all know the negative impact screens can have. Development, academic results and mental health are all impacted by excessive screen-time and that’s before we consider the content being viewed and the need for ‘likes’ at any cost.

Restricting screen-time can lead to conflict and resentment, but handled correctly it could be the key to improved mental health. Board games, baking or crafts may feel like a big ask at the end of a long day, but they could be the key to an improvement in your child’s wellbeing.

If you’ve tried these strategies and your child still seems low, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seeking support shouldn’t be seen as a last resort; it doesn’t need to be the mental health equivalent of going to A&E. Good mental health is a lifelong pursuit, so it’s more like taking your emotions to the gym.

www.mabletherapy.com

33 is the age when we finally admit that mother did know best!

By | family, Health, Mental health, Relationships

A recent nationwide poll revealed that after years of kicking back against our parents, it is not until the age of 33, that we finally admit they were right about everything. And by the age of 36, most of us agree, we have turned into our parents, with 37 the average age men turn into their dads and the nation’s women claim they start behaving like their mothers by the average age of 35.

The survey also revealed nine in 10 say it was not until they were a parent themselves that they gained true respect and appreciation for their own mum and dad. As many as 82% of the parents polled find themselves saying the very things to their children that were said to them as a child.

And the data unveiled a host of ‘mumisms’, we eventually find ourselves saying, with “carrots will make you see in the dark”, “don’t eat that, you’ll spoil your dinner” and “because I said so”, emerging as top phrases we swore we would never say, but end up saying.“Do you think I’m made of money”, “life isn’t fair” and “you have until the count of three” also featured.

The nationwide survey of 2,000 parents revealed, it is not until the age of 28 that we are mature enough to have our first child. In fact, almost three-quarters (73%) of the nation’s mums and dads claim they had no idea what parenting would entail before embarking on family life. And only 14% said they were fully prepared for the demands of becoming a parent.

The study, by Petits Filous, also found 40% claim they are not as strict with their kids as their own parents were with them, while a further 40% said they feed their children a healthier diet. However, more than a third (36 %) of parents believe they have it much easier than their own mum and dad did, with modern technology helping to make modern child-rearing less challenging. And we do still look up to the older generation, as 76% of those polled said their most valuable parenting advice came from their mums and dads.

A spokesperson for Petits Filous who commissioned the survey said, “This new research shows that truly nothing can prepare you for the reality of being a parent. Although there are plenty of challenges along the way, the poll also reveals that there is nothing any of us would change about having children.Whether it is contending with the kids, battling for snacks all day every day or sorting out the same familiar argument over screen time, being a parent isn’t easy.”

Top ‘mumisms’ we swore we would never say
(but end up saying)
1. Money does not grow on trees (64%)
2. Wash your hands (54%)
3. Because I said so, that is why (53%)
4. Shut that door, were you born in a barn? (47%)
5. Have you brushed your teeth? (47%)
6. Do not eat that, you will spoil your dinner (45%)
7. Do not slam the door (45%)
8. Do you think I am made of money? (42%)
9. Go to your room (38%)
10. Who do you think you are talking to? (37%)
11. What part of no do you not understand? (36%)
12. I am not your slave (34%)
13. I do not care what XXX’s parents let them do (34%)
14. You have to the count of three (33%)
15. Did you flush the loo? (33%)
16. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all (30%)
17. Life is not fair (29%)
18. As long as you live under my roof you will do as I say (28%)
19. When you have children, you will understand (28%)
20. Don’t put your coat on inside or you won’t feel the benefit (27%)
21. Eat your greens (27%)
22. Go and play outside it is a lovely day (27%)
23. You are too close to the screen (27%)
24. Don’t pull that face or the wind will change and you will stay like that (26%)
25. I just want what is best for you (24%)
26. Carrots will make you see in the dark (24%)
27. It will end in tears (24%)
28. Remember your Ps and Qs (18%)
29. The apple does not fall far from the tree (16%)
30. If you do not eat your crusts your hair will not go curly (14%)

Music and babies

Benefits of musical toys for babies and how to make your own

By | dance & Art, fun for children, Mental health, Music and singing, play
by Ellie Mckinsey
www.knowyourinstrument.com

If you recall your childhood years, you may remember that nearly any object – anything at all – can become a toy. A ruler or a rod can suddenly become an enchanted sword or a magic wand, a comb transforms into a guitar, a piece of paper when crumpled enough and tied with string becomes a puppet, even a pet. The possibilities are endless as a child learns to develop creativity and let their imagination soar.

Indeed, the best toys don’t even have to come from a store. A child may leave an expensive stacking toy in favor of crinkly paper, and that’s fine. Anything that sparks imagination, engages the senses and encourages social interaction can be considered a toy. Objects that let children explore new shapes, textures, sounds and colours are great for developing minds and bodies.

Here we’re taking a look at musical toys and what babies can get from playing with them. We’ll also share with you some tips on making your own musical toys for your babies to play with, using stuff you may already have at home. Let’s get started!

Importance of musical toys for your baby
In the first four months of a baby’s life, their emotional, sensory and motor experiences help prepare them for further developmental achievements. At this early stage, babies benefit from sensory toys that involve bright, contrasting colors, textures and pleasant sounds.

Moreover, by four months, babies can already bring their hands together in the middle of their bodies and use their eyes to co-ordinate hand movement. Musical, easy-to-grasp toys such as rattles help build grip and tactile stimulation while stimulating hearing.

By their sixth month, babies can now sit and hold objects with their hands. They start manipulating objects with more controlled movement patterns. At this phase, babies benefit from toys that roll or move and make sounds when touched. This further enhances gross motor skills and sense of hearing, and prepares babies for crawling (watching a baby crawl after a rolling egg shaker is super adorable).

Musical toys that encourage movement also give babies a sense of accomplishment and gratification that would inspire them to create the sounds again and again. It’s like they’re already making their own music! Soon, babies would develop a sense of rhythm, a more refined sense of hearing and more control over their movement.

This mix of motor control and sensory awareness is crucial for your baby’s overall development. The ability to fine-tune movements and notice differences in sounds is important for learning to communicate and later on, play an instrument such as a guitar, piano, viola or the drums.

Tips for making your own musical toys
So, are you ready to get crafty and make your own musical toys? Here are some fantastic ideas to get you started.
• Old or unused pots, pans, large tin cans and plastic bowls are great for beat-making and can be played with or without an object to hit them with (like a wooden spoon).
• Make your own rolling shaker or rattle using empty plastic water bottles. Put small raw pasta shells, marbles or pebbles inside and glue the cap shut.
• Give your baby a tactile and sensory feast by making scrunchy, noisy socks. Remember those socks that have lost their partners? They’re perfect for this project – simply put crinkly wrapping paper in them and close off the ends with a secure and tidy knot. Let your baby scrunch the socks with delight.
• Got an empty tissue box and extra elastic bands lying around? Fashion a string instrument with them!

When making your DIY musical toys, remember to watch out for any potential hazards like small parts, sharp corners or edges, loose strings and toxic materials. Make sure the materials you use are clean and baby-safe. Give your toys a test run before letting your child play with them, and always keep an eye on your baby during playtime. Have fun! –

 

domestic abuse

Have you got questions about domestic abuse?

By | family, Health, Mental health, Relationships, Safety

What is domestic abuse? Does it only happen to women? Who can help? These are some of the questions West Sussex residents are being asked to consider as part of a new campaign to get people talking about domestic abuse.

“Ask us anything” is the campaign launched by West Sussex County Council – it aims to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sends a clear message that this type of abuse won’t be tolerated in West Sussex.

Residents can submit their questions anonymously by email (askusanything@westsussex.gov.uk) or via social media (using the #AskUsAnything) to the County Council’s Community Safety Team. Every question will then be answered by a panel of experts on Facebook and Twitter.

For many living with domestic abuse, COVID-19 has made life immeasurably harder, with increased risk, and reduced opportunities to seek help. Discussions about domestic abuse are always important. Financial pressures, more time with family and increased alcohol consumption means it can be a challenging time for survivors of domestic abuse.

One domestic abuse victim explains the impact of the pandemic on her situation: “Him being home all the time has meant that there has been no break, every single day, he breaks me that bit more. My mental health is at rock bottom. I don’t know how much more I can take.”

Anyone who believes they are experiencing domestic abuse, or is worried about a friend, neighbour or family member should contact West Sussex County Council’s WORTH service by calling 0330 222 8181.

You will speak to a trained adviser who can find out more about your situation and the best way of offering support.

DomesticAbuseServicesCentral@westsussex.gov.uk.

NHS Thank You

Pandemic parenting

By | children's health, Education, family, Health, Mental health, Uncategorized

Psychotherapist offers positive parenting tips

If you are one of the many families struggling with home schooling and feel that you are failing in meeting your children’s needs, you will not be in the minority. Psychotherapist Noel McDermott has over 25 years experience in this field and is keen to reassure families that any struggle in the here and now is OK. It is normal for both parents and children to be experiencing feelings of anxiety at this time. Here he provides simple tips to help support your child’s mental health.

Noel comments: “Talk to your children about how they’re finding the lockdown and home schooling this time round, reassure them it’s okay to ask for help if they feel low. Explain it’s normal and natural but that they don’t have to suffer alone. Monitor for signs they are struggling by watching out for mood, presentation or behaviour changes that last longer than a day or two. Increase family time and family events to be able to lift each other up and observe your kids at work and play.”

Positive parenting tips for both parent and child:
• Get outside. Nature is brilliant at lifting mood and it doesn’t have to be the great outdoors, your local park or even your garden is just as good. In fact, even noticing something simple outside like the trees in the park will elevate your mood!
• Challenge your thinking. Don’t give into those low mood thoughts, tell them they are temporary and will go away, that all feelings have an end by date and theirs is coming soon. Get involved in activities and events even though you might think they are useless and boring at the time; you will soon change your mind!
• Exercise as a family, stay active and get the blood flowing. Getting active for 20 minutes a day regulates your mood, just add some brisk walking into your day, take the kids for a run at lunchtime or do an online exercise class together.
• Sleep, eat and drink well. Children need good, sound sleep to ensure proper body and mind development. A nutritious diet plays an important role in a child’s physical and mental health. Get the basics right and the rest will follow.
• Treat your kids. Have a list of those things your children especially like and treat them when you think they deserve a lift! You also deserve treats – be kind to yourself.

Alternative social interaction
As well as providing education, schools and nurseries provide another even more important function in a child’s development and that is access to complex social group interaction. Children across the country will be missing their friendship circles and for all kids, but especially younger ones, access to play with other children is central to healthy development. Think outside the box and help support your child’s needs, for example:
• Plan movie nights: teleparty www.netflixparty.com is a fun way to have film nights with friends and family who cannot see each other in person.
• Organise virtual playdates: these will help fulfil your
child’s social needs and find positive opportunities. Perhaps they could have a tea party online, do arts and crafts together or simply read a book with their friend?
• Arrange a gaming session for your children with their friends – gaming, especially online, can provide immeasurable benefits to those who are lonely and isolated. It provides safe social contact and a place where skills can be developed. These skills can provide a much-needed boost to self-esteem.
• Online spaces – organise social and groups activities online with both friends and family that stimulate and develop social interaction. Although not as effective as a real-world connection, helping kids organise online groups and activities with their peers and friends can be very beneficial. The online space challenges the child (and the adult) to engage socially and cognitively.

How to spot anxiety in children
Unfortunately, cases of anxiety and distress in children are on the rise now and this is being caused by an almost constant diet of scary stories on the news/Internet, isolation from peers with schools being closed and from picking up on the stresses of family and parents. For many children they will be experiencing more vivid dreams during this time, interrupted sleep, issues around appetite and so-on which are all classic signs of distress.

Younger children and COVID-19 concerns
Little ones might try to protect you from their distress and say they are fine, but it will show up in other ways such as, in their play, which can become preoccupied with the worries; mummies and daddies getting sick and going to hospital, people getting hungry, people fighting and getting angry with each other. Kids might become avoidant when they are upset, not talking, and withdrawing. Behaviour may deteriorate and arguments and fights start. They may ‘regress’ and start to act in a younger manner, depending on age you may see thumb sucking, incontinence, clinging behaviour.

Older children and COVID-19 concerns
In teenagers, distress can often appear as disconnection (I don’t care, I don’t want to talk about it) and through avoidance behaviours. Avoidance and procrastination are both classic signs of anxiety. In older children we are seeing increases in anxiety as reported by parents, this includes relapses in anti-social behaviour, substance misuse and so on.

Psychotherapist Noel McDermott comments: “Parenting in a pandemic is not an easy feat but now more than ever it is vital that parents help children develop and maintain good mental health and emotional wellbeing. You can do this by helping them feel safe, keeping healthy routines, managing their emotions and behaviour and by being positive at home. By being positive ourselves, we promote positivity to our children. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health don’t be afraid to ask your GP for support.”

Vaccination and the end in sight
It’s important to explain that we are on the final straight now, with the vaccination programme well under way. Soon, your kids will be able to see their grandparents as the shielded ones are being vaccinated first. Tell yourself this is positive news as well! The closure of schools, as well as being temporary, is for the last time. We are all looking forward to a big party soon to move on from all this stress.

Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care, and education.
Noel’s company offer at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual.
They have recently launched a range of online therapy resources in order to help clients access help without leaving home –
www.noelmcdermott.net/group-therapy/

book reading

School should be enchanting

By | children's health, Education, environment, Mental health, play, Playing, Relationships

Chris Calvey, Headmaster of Great Walstead School, West Sussex, talks about the balancing act of meeting academic rigor whilst maintaining pupils’ excitement and enthusiasm.

School League tables are now very much a part of our lives and pre-testing for schools is creeping in at an increasingly younger age. Now, take into account the not insignificant amount of money that private schools charge. You can see the rising pressure on both teachers and the Head to ensure that pupils achieve the highest results. The safest way to do this sees the classroom take on a more teacher led approach where pupils are told the information they need to learn, guided in how to answer questions by rehearsing past papers, and even have timetabled lessons on verbal and nonverbal reasoning tests. Such an approach generally ensures that pupils pass their tests but at the cost of genuine enjoyment, pleasure and natural wonderment of school.

I believe there is an alternative way in which children can maintain their love of learning. By understanding there is more to the process of education than just working to pass a test, they are able to develop a set of skills that enables them to tackle challenges without a fear of failure. Inspired by the book ‘Educating Ruby – what our children really need to learn’ written by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas, all the staff at our school explored a variety of definitions for the seven aspects that the book identified as developing confidence and character. We refer to these as our 7Cs – Confidence, Curiosity, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Commitment and Craftsmanship.

Each ‘C’ has an age appropriate definition for the sections of our school and children are rewarded when they demonstrate these attributes. They see Confidence as the ability to tackle difficult tasks and challenges whilst not being afraid to make mistakes. Curiosity is about developing wonder and awe, while Collaboration helps pupils see the benefits of working in a successful team. Communication encourages children to share their ideas and thinking whilst understanding the importance of listening to each other. Creativity is not just for the arts, but is to be developed with problem solving challenges and alternative thinking. Commitment recognises those times when pupils show determination and resilience even if they find tasks challenging. Finally, Craftsmanship celebrates the sheer joy and pride of completing something which has taken time, care and love to produce. By rewarding these skills, every child is able to achieve and none are limited by their cognitive ability. It leads to an “I can” culture rather than a fixed mindset where pupils feel limited by the scores they achieve.

Since focusing on the 7Cs, we have seen children become far more engaged in their own learning process, take responsibility for what they can achieve and, as a result, make impressive levels of academic progress where they not only know things, but genuinely understand them – there is a distinct difference.

Children only get one chance at their schooling, and I believe it is so important that we look to develop the whole person – not just focus on exam results and entry testing. Working in several prep schools, I have seen and promoted many ‘learning profiles’ from school ethos based principles to International Baccalaureate inspired systems. All offer something more than just a ‘teacher led’ approach to learning, but in the 7Cs I have found a set of values and attributes that really inspires the girls and boys in our school, and prepares them for the challenges that lie ahead.

The second closure of schools has arguably made these values yet more important as children have spent hours in front of a computer screen, being taught in a very isolating and unfamiliar environment. Those opportunities for communication and collaboration between each other are significantly diminished, and that lack of human contact makes the whole process of learning yet harder. Incorporating our 7Cs into the pupils’ learning will be a real focus when they are allowed to return, and we will actively promote the development of these skills, continuing to build a real sense of “I can do” within each and every child.

At Great Walstead, children learn happily inside the classroom because they play happily outside the classroom. A game in the woods and a maths lesson are, at this age, equal learning opportunities – we call it Mud p!
www.greatwalstead.co.uk

ostepath and paediatrician

Cranial osteopathy and paediatric osteopathy – what’s the difference?

By | baby health, Health, Mental health
by Sian Eaton
Osteopath and Specialist Paediatric Osteopath

Cranial osteopaths treat children and babies, right? Wrong. Here’s how to tell who’s most suited to treat your little ones.

A cranial osteopath uses very gentle techniques to treat the body but may not have experience treating children. A paediatric osteopath treats babies and children and has completed further study to have a broader skill set to enable them to do this in whichever way is best suited to the individual.

A paediatric osteopath will have undertaken further extensive training and be able to assess and advise on general paediatric health and development. They may use cranial osteopathy techniques for part or all of the appointment and typically, a paediatric osteopath, will also give advice on feeding, sleeping and exercises to do at home. They will also be equipped to refer to other healthcare practitioners if needed.

Confused? Don’t be…

What can a paediatric osteopath help with?
Paediatric osteopaths treat a wide variety of patients from newborns to teenagers.

Newborns can struggle with the effects of birth – even the most medically straightforward birth can leave the baby a little uncomfortable, typically around the head, neck and shoulders. The most common issues are a slightly altered head shape or a struggle to latch on or
find a comfortable position when they are feeding.

Babies can often suffer with digestive issues such as reflux and colic. Their digestive system isn’t fully developed at birth and they can suffer with pain and vomiting.

As they get older and start to move around, parents might notice uneven movement or any developmental issues might become more apparent.

Toddlers: Once little ones get on their feet, issues with limbs might become noticeable such as pain or discomfort in their feet, knees or hips.
Preschoolers: This is the age when speech and language really develops and issues can be detected, often due to glue ear and adenoid problems.
School children: Will often come in with an injury from the playground or their parent/carer may have noticed a change in their movement.
Teenagers: Can suffer with similar issues with their bodies as adults, sore necks after too much school work or an injury from sport. Their musculoskeletal systems haven’t finished growing yet so the way they are treated is important and there are certain conditions that effect them that wouldn’t occur in an adult.

What would an initial appointment involve?
The initial appointment is focused on getting to know the child and giving them a full assessment. This will vary depending on the child’s age.

For the newborns and babies a lot of the discussion will be based around birth and pregnancy and then a thorough examination is performed to check everything from head to toe, paying particular attention to the issue they are coming in with.

For instance with a breastfeeding issue they would be assessed for their latch and possible tongue tie issues, along with their head and neck movement. Or for the reflux/colicky baby, paying specific attention to rule out Cows Milk Protein Allergies or more structural issues such as pyloric stenosis (a narrowing of the opening from the stomach to the first part of the small intestine).

For an older child, time will be spent talking to the child and parent/carer to get to know them, their home life and their childcare or learning environment. The examination is then usually a much more active process that can involve playing with toys or equipment. Once the child has been assessed, there would be a discussion about if treatment is needed and what would then be involved.

Is it safe?
Yes. A paediatric osteopath will take care with your child and the techniques used will be very gentle and subtle. Parents often comment that their child will be more settled and often tired and sleep for longer periods after a treatment.

All osteopaths are registered with The General Osteopathic Council and are fully insured.

Osteopathy is considered an essential service and osteopaths are allowed to continue to work through national lockdowns and through all tiers of local restrictions. We have high levels of cleanliness and PPE use.

Sian Eaton is a Specialist Paediatric Osteopath and qualified in 2004 from the British School of Osteopathy. Sian lives in Sussex and has two small children of her own. Her clinic is in Hove (www.thespacehove.co.uk) for further information and booking or please contact Sian directly on 07788 554409.
www.osteosian.co.uk

The A-Z of fostering

By | family, Fostering and adoption, Mental health

The sons and daughters of foster carers play a vital role in fostering; they contribute hugely towards the success of fostering placements and make a valuable difference to fostered siblings as they settle into their new home.

Isobella, who is 14 years old has been fostering with her younger twin sisters, mum Liz and mum’s partner Caroline for three years. During this time, the family have welcomed two children into their home, the first for nine months and the second for 18 months – both little girls under four years of age.

Isobella remembers how she felt when her first foster sister arrived at their home. “I was very excited to have someone come and live with us because we love little ones and helping other people. When she arrived, it was overwhelming for her and for us but it was a great experience and she settled in well.”

Isobella says the best thing about fostering is “the relationship you build and how strong that is. We have lots of memories that we still talk about, like going on holiday to the Lake District with the first child who was in our care. She hadn’t been on holiday before and she saw snow for the first time! We were sledging down a hill, taking it in turns with her on our laps. It was a whole new experience for her which was lovely to see.”

Isobella and her family like to stay active. They try to get out of the house as much as possible, meeting friends and going for walks. The children in their care have loved being part of the things they love as a family; watching Isobella play netball, cheering at football matches, learning to swim, completing art projects and going to shows are just a few examples.

The support in place for sons and daughters of foster carers includes regular day trips and activities. A team of Brighton & Hove City Council Fostering Support Officers run activities throughout all of the school holidays, for birth children and foster children alike. The trips are a real treat for the children, who get an opportunity to form friendships with children in similar circumstances, and a well-deserved break for foster carers.

Isobella says “We’ve been on lots of activity days and they’ve all been great experiences and good fun. My favourite was a trip to Hove Lagoon to do water sports. We did wakeboarding which was new for me but really good fun.We’ve met lots of other families and they’re familiar faces now when we see them again. Everyone is really friendly and it’s nice sometimes to share the things we’ve been through. There’s one family in particular who we’ve become good friends with, they’re long-term foster carers. We love all of them and we go for walks with them quite often.” She continues “I know there is lots of support available from the fostering team too. I haven’t needed to ask for support yet, but I know it’s there if I need it.”

To convey the experiences, feelings and realities of being a birth child in a foster family, Isobella has put together an A-Z to help other birth children to understand what to expect.

A. I was 10 years old and in my last year of primary school when our first foster sister arrived to live with us. I will never forget her ARRIVAL.
B. It is really important to develop a BOND with the foster child. In my experience this takes time.
C. When you are fostering it is important to learn how to have a CONVERSATION.
D. As a foster family we go on lots of DAYS OUT at the weekends and in the holidays.
E. Fostering needs EMPATHY.
F. Our FAMILY sticks together.
G. It’s hard to say GOODBYE.
H. HUGS are important.
I. Being a foster family is part of my IDENTITY.
J. Sometimes when we are fostering, I feel JEALOUS because my mum can’t spend time with me.
K. Always be KIND.
L. Sometimes it must feel LONELY.
M. We love making MEMORIES as a foster family.
N. Sometimes our house is very NOISY when we are fostering.
O. Fostering means OPENING up your heart and home.
P. Good fostering requires PATIENCE.
Q. It’s important to learn what to do if there is a QUARREL.
R. Sometimes I feel REJECTED but I try not to take it personally.
S. It’s important to be able to say SORRY.
T. When the children we look after have TANTRUMS we tell them it’s OK not to be OK and we still love them.
U. We look after the foster children when they are UNWELL.
V. We look after VULNERABLE children.
W. We enjoy making foster children feel WELCOME.
X. XMAS is a special time to make memories as a foster family
Y. We create all sorts of memories, including YUCKY ones.
Z. The fostering journey is a ZIGZAG but overall we enjoy being a foster family. We are good at it and it suits us.

When asked what her advice to families considering fostering would be, Isobella said “There will be highs and lows. It will be difficult but there will be easier bits too, so it’s up and down like a rollercoaster. When children first arrive its usually difficult but once you push past that it gets better from then onwards.”

If you feel you could make a difference by becoming a fostering family, Brighton & Hove City Council would love to hear from you. To learn more about becoming a Foster Carer e-mail fosteringrecruitment@brightonhove.gov.uk to arrange a call or visit www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk. The team are holding regular virtual information sessions.