Category

Mental health

The first 1,000 days shape a child’s life

By | baby health, children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Health, Mental health

Children’s experiences during the first 1,000 days lay the foundations for their whole future, a new report has found.

From preconception to age two, every aspect of a child’s world – including their parents’ and carers’ income, housing, neighbourhoods, social relationships, age and ethnic group – is already shaping their adult life.

In her latest report, Croydon’s Director for Public Health Rachel Flowers puts a spotlight on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life to demonstrate the effect early experiences can have. She focuses on how Adverse Childhood Experiences can negatively impact on children as they grow up. Stressful and disruptive childhoods are significantly more likely to lead to health-harming and anti-social behaviours, performing poorly in school or being involved in crime. However, Ms Flowers emphasises that a trusted adult and other factors can help give children the resilience to thrive despite these challenging experiences.

Each of the 6,000 babies born in Croydon each year therefore represents past, present and future health, which is a key reason for a focus on health before pregnancy and the first 1,000 days. A baby’s development in the womb is dependent not just on the mother’s diet during pregnancy, but also on the stored nutrients and fats throughout her lifetime.

In 2015, almost one-fifth of Croydon’s children lived in poverty. This means more than a 1,000 babies born each year in Croydon may be touched by the effects of poverty during their early years. Girls born in more affluent areas of Croydon are expected to live six years more than their peers in other areas and for boys, the difference is over nine years.

Brain development starts just after conception and continues at a rapid pace through the first years of life when our brains grow the fastest. Talking, playing and singing are all simple activities that help make vital connections between brain cells. Stimulating environments and positive relationships with carers are critical in these first two years.

Rachel Flowers said: “These first 1,000 days for a child are fundamentally important because they lay the foundations for the rest of their lives. By prioritising health before pregnancy and increasing our understanding about what being healthy for pregnancy means, we can ensure that parents and communities are in the best possible position to bring Croydon’s children into the world.

A healthy start in life gives each child an equal chance to thrive and grow into an adult who makes a positive contribution to the community. It is well documented that inequalities result in poor health, social, educational and economic outcomes across the whole of the life course and across generations. We all have a role to play in improving their transition from childhood to adolescence and into adult life and breaking cycles of inequalities where they exist.”

Positivity in the family

By | family, Health, Mental health, play, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Sara Dimerman
www.helpmesara.com

Do you want to create a more positive home environment in which your family can connect and continue to grow?

Here are Sara’s five tips:

1. Collaboration is key.
Introduce monthly family meetings. These are most successful when not used to come down on your children for what they’re not doing well enough. Rather, they’re an opportunity to address problem areas that need resolution. So, instead of saying something like “I’d like you to get off your phone so that you can help me more” say something like “I feel like I’m the last man standing in the kitchen after dinner. I’d like to explore a solution to this so that I don’t feel so alone.” When presented in this way, your children will often come up with creative solutions – many that you may not have thought of. The idea is not to impose unilateral rules on the kids but to have them problem-solve with you. It doesn’t mean that they are calling the shots. It means that their voices are being heard, that they are encouraged to speak up and they are more inclined to follow what’s been decided on when they’ve played a role in planning for it.

2. Don’t fan the flames.
If, for example, you’ve recently had an argument with your child about whether or not he can stay out past midnight, try not to have this argument cloud other conversations. After feelings have been validated and you’ve put the argument to rest, put it behind you.

3. Create opportunities to come together as a family with as few distractions as possible.
Sometimes going outside of the house is best, especially if you have a long list of to dos inside. Board game cafes, bowling, ice skating, throwing a ball or frisbee in the park are some ways to connect. Often, as kids get older. they will decline your invitation but if you let them know how much it means to be spending time with them, and if you make the outings as positive as possible, they will likely get into the right frame of mind once they are engaged in the activity with you.

4. Hold onto that thought a little longer.
I know it’s tempting to remind your children to do something like put their dish in the dishwasher after supper (even though you know that it often triggers a negative reaction from them). However, I have found that often, when I say nothing but wait instead to see what they do, they will do exactly what I would have requested. Then make sure to comment on the behaviour you’d love to see
more of – “Thanks for putting your dish in the dishwasher.
It makes my job easier.”

5. Help them see their parents in a positive light.
Whether living together or apart, the way we treat our children’s other parent, and the things we say to or about him or her, sets the tone for how our children will treat and view them too. Even if you’re angry or upset at one another, try not to expose your children to this- no matter their age.

The benefits of ‘bouncing’!

By | children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Health, Mental health, Party, play, Uncategorized

by Springfit Gymnastics and Trampoline Clubs

There are many benefits to participating in trampolining and gymnastics. They are great sports for all ages and fitness levels, and for people who enjoy both individual sports and teamwork. They provide a chance to set your own goals and work at your own pace.

Here are just a few of the reasons to get involved with gymnastics and trampolining in 2019.

Health and fitness
The moves taught are designed on a progressive scale to allow further development to make them harder and more intricate. With each level achieved through suitably planned training, participants are able to improve their joint health, maintain muscular development and improve cardiovascular fitness, making you feel healthier and more alert. Unlike running, trampolining has comparatively low joint impact for an intense exercise routine. It has been proven that trampolining improves your metabolic rate, helping you stay fit and healthy!

Mental health
Both gymnastics and trampolining are extremely beneficial for improving concentration and mental focus. These activities are great for a child’s cognitive development – encouraging them to use their imagination and gain a better understanding of their body and capabilities. The physical activities you perform will also make you feel happier, more positive, and even more self-confident. Endorphins, the positive mood-enhancing natural chemicals released by all exercise are triggered, and in trampolining especially, the sheer fun factor of jumping up and down will make you smile, make you laugh and make you feel really happy. It’s hard to feel blue when you’re bouncing!

Co-ordination and motor skills
Flexibility is a big factor in gymnastics and trampolining. In order to achieve the various positions needed to perform moves, teaching suppleness is of vital importance. Increasing flexibility can also be an effective aid to the reduction
of injury.

Co-ordination can also be improved. David Beckham, NASA trainee astronauts and many other professionals use gymnastics and trampolining to and develop the skills that allow you to undertake a number of items requiring concentration at the same time: bouncing, balancing, maintaining the body’s position, and anticipating the next action in order to learn to perform skilful activities.

Education
Gymnastics provides a unique and valuable social education and experience. It provides an ideal opportunity to learn about teamwork; sportsmanship; fair play and dedication. The time required to master the fundamental skills requires a great amount of patience, dedication, perseverance and planning. Regular gymnastics, therefore, helps people learn to work hard for objectives that can take years to achieve.

One of the most interesting elements of the activities is that the gymnast can experience a variety of effects in practice rather than just in theory. For example, physicists discuss the principle of conservation of angular momentum; the gymnast experiences it.

Conclusion
If you’re still not convinced, I have saved possibly the most persuasive benefit until last. It’s really good fun! Learning how to jump, tumble, flip, swing, and come as close to self-powered flight as is possible is anything but boring. There is always another step to learn; it is possible to learn something new every single class you attend. A regular workout releases endorphins (the happiness chemicals that improve mood) and trampolining could even be an answer to those who want to keep up their fitness but have struggled with joint difficulties.

There are so many diverse and wide-reaching disciplines involved within the sport that make it accessible to all ages and abilities, with benefits at every stage. So what are you waiting for? Join in!

For supporting studies relating to the benefits evidenced here please see www.springfit.org.
Springfit host many classes in the local area which provide the benefits listed above.
If you are keen to get your kids involved in something new, or perhaps try a new sport yourself then get in touch!
We have classes for all ages and abilities!

Helping children make sense of the news

By | children's health, Education, family, Mental health
by Katie Harrison
Early Years educational expert and founder of Picture News

Children are naturally interested in the world around them and what’s going on right now. It can therefore be empowering for children to learn about the world and to realise that they are a big part of it.

What’s going on in the world can provide many real-life learning opportunities for children that they not only find interesting but can also challenge their perceptions of the world around them. Current affairs can also provide many opportunities for developing respect and empathy towards others.

But teachers are stretched, schools are under-resourced and teaching and talking about current affairs is often neglected. Teachers have considerable curriculum pressures and because the news is always changing and developing, they simply do not have time to create their own plans
and resources.

At home, discussing the news might not be a part of everyday conversations. The increased use of technology might mean there are fewer opportunities for having a chat and as a lot of the news can be quite negative, many parents may want to shield and protect their children from it.

Having discussions with children, albeit at times difficult, is important. It’s what helps children to learn, to grow and to understand the world we live in.

Child-friendly news is important because it makes information accessible and encourages children to think critically about events and key issues.

Alongside the stories we hear or read about, another very accessible way for children to learn about the news is through images. Pictures tell a story; they lead to intrigue and provide a context in which we can discuss and learn about what’s happening.

Learning about the news gives children plenty of opportunities to relate and empathise with people in circumstances very different to their own. Thinking about something that’s happening to someone else in the world connects them to a shared humanity.

It’s crucial that we help young people grow up with understanding and they are informed citizens with enquiring minds that question everything.

There are many ways to do this and using pictures is particularly powerful because they naturally stimulate discussion, get children asking ‘big questions’ and encourage further dialogue.

Top tips for talking to children about sensitive news:
• Honesty is the best policy. Tell the truth! Lies will lead to mistrust and confusion. The truth usually comes out in the end anyway!
• Don’t talk too much. Children need time to process information.
• Stay as calm as possible.
• Don’t let the topic become the elephant in the room.
• Provide reassurance and model good self-care by being an emotional role model.
• Understanding a bit about how children perceive the world in each phase of their development helps you deliver information about it in the most age-appropriate way.

Katie Harrison is an Early Years educational expert and founder of Picture News – a new service for schools helping them teach children about the news. Find out more at www.picture-news.co.uk

Now you are a parent should you expect a post-baby drop in relationship satisfaction?

By | Education, family, Mental health, Relationships
by Agnes Munday
Friends Centre

A new baby brings a lot of joy but many couples struggle with adjusting to parenthood. Almost overnight, spontaneity vanishes as the responsibilities of the co-ownership of a demanding small business with one very cranky little customer hits home.

Dozens of studies highlight the drop in happiness and relationship satisfaction following the birth of a child, pointing to a larger decline than found for life events like divorce and unemployment.

Women tend to report more of a post-baby drop in relationship satisfaction than men do, and their satisfaction plummets earlier than men’s. Tiredness, financial strains, never-ending housework, isolation and arguments about child rearing all take a toll and stress levels can sharply increase.

Birth preparation and parenting classes offer little focus on couples’ relationships.
Most of us are unprepared and feel lost as to where to find
help. Despite the gloomy forecast, there is a lot that can be done to strengthen your relationship before or after the arrival of children.

Here are a few examples:
• Regularly list the things you most admire in each other, find way of saying “I love you’” every day and try not to go to sleep without some show of affection.

• Over time, our fondness and admiration for each other can get buried under layers of negativity, hurt feelings, and betrayal. By reviving the positive feelings that still lie deep below, you can strengthen your bond enormously and create a shield that can protect your relationship from being overwhelmed by any negativity that exists between you.

Try to make a stress-reducing conversation part of your daily ritual as a couple.
Take it in turns to discuss for ten minutes each a recent or upcoming stress in each of your lives, such as an upcoming job deadline. While one talks, the other listens with the intent to understand and offer support (not advice) – show genuine interest, maintain eye contact, ask open ended questions, and communicate understanding and solidarity. Swap after ten minutes.

When you are criticised (or feel critisised) by your partner, instead of immediately defending yourself, take a step back and say: What do you need? Aim to help your partner feel validated and understood.

Use non violent communication skills.
When I see/I hear you say that ________, I feel ________, because my need for ________ is/is not met. Would you be willing to ________?

Discuss with your partner:
What makes you feel appreciated?
What do you like best and least in your relationship?
How would it look if things were better as a couple?
What would you, or I be
doing differently?

• An argument about who does the dishes or puts the baby to bed is rarely just about that. It is more likely to be about how much one partner is feeling valued and cared for in the relationship, accepted for who they are, or about ongoing commitment to each other.

• Pay a different kind of attention to your experiences: without judging them as good or bad: Focus on sights, sounds, and smells, as well as to internal bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings.

• Pay attention and respond positively to the majority of your partner’s bids for your attention, affirmation or affection. Couples who do
this are much more likely to
stay together.

• Don’t leave home without a kiss that lasts at least six seconds, the time needed for a reduction in stress hormones.

• Attend a Family Learning Partners to Parents or Parent Present course. Our courses are either free or very affordable (see advert) and have been described as
life changing!

Friends Centre is an independent adult education organisation and charity based in Brighton. We offer courses in Family Learning Arts & Crafts, Health & Happiness and more, at our two main learning centres and a range of community venues.
www.friendscentre.org

Mindfulness matters

By | children's health, Education, Health, Mental health, Relationships
by Claudine Lacroix
The Mindful Me Club

How can mindfulness help you and your family deal with the increasing pressures of modern living.

Time
The clock is ticking, the children aren’t dressed and you find yourself shouting as you are feeling the pressure that you are going to be late for work. How many hours in our day do we run around being driven by the clock? Often it is not until we are on a holiday, perhaps looking at a beautiful sunset or a stunning view that we may allow our minds to stop for a moment of calm, then it may only be a matter of moments before we revert back to being consumed by uncontrollable thoughts and worries of the
past or future. A mind consumed with things we need to do, have done already or think we could have done better, is all too common.

Our children
For our children, it is not uncommon to be stressed as a result of trying to deal with such difficulties as: parents fighting, divorcing or separating, themselves being bullied, undergoing school stress, money worries, a new sibling or fear of the future. For both parent and child, living in this way can cause a lifetime of chronic stress and anxiety that can often lead to many ailments such as insomnia, depression and suppressed immunity.

The body and mind connection
The understanding that stress can induce illness and the impact that our mind has on our health, are certainly not new ideas. It has been recognised for many years in such fields as behavioural medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, hypnotherapy and Chinese medicine that the way that we think and feel, has a significant effect on our physical health. Jon Kabat-Zinn is an American professor of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and recognised for his extensive work using mindfulness with patients to relieve stress, pain, anxiety and illness. His book, ‘The Full Catastrophe’ provides an in-depth background to mindfulness and it’s benefits on the body.

So, you might be asking what is mindfulness and how can it help my family and I?
Mindfulness is an effective, yet simple practice that involves the repetition of basic techniques including conscious breathing, movement and listening. It is done in a self-directed training programme and results in developing greater acceptance and awareness of the present moment. As a result of repeated practice, a sense of calm, self-acceptance and a change of perspective can occur benefiting both mind and body. One learns to step back from worried thoughts and stresses, responding rather than reacting to life’s challenges. Children too, can learn techniques to help them to deal with difficult emotions and negative thought patterns. Through teaching some simple facts about the brain and its connection to these thought patterns the children can feel more in control, develop resilience, self-acceptance and emotional awareness. Children learn that they don’t need to hide or suppress their feelings but can manage and understand them instead. Parents and children can do some of the techniques and mindful activities together, making it part of the family day. The techniques not only include the conscious breathing, listening and moving, mentioned earlier, but also sharing feelings and experiences and talking about them together.

As long as you can breathe and you have the willingness and discipline to practice then that’s all you need. The practice may, at the very least, create a space in your day to relax but it’s also possible, with regular practice, to experience a more constant state of calm that filtrates into all areas of your life and has some noticeable beneficial effects on your health and lifestyle choices. At the very best, you will awaken to the truth and beauty that is available to you in each moment and that could change your life.

Claudine Lacroix is a mother, aromatherapist, English teacher and Mindfulness practitioner having recently studied humanistic counselling at the Gestalt Centre, London. Claudine provides mindfulness classes in local primary schools, private classes outside of school hours and provides one to one sessions with adults, teenagers and children.
Claudine Lacroix runs The Mindful Me Club – to find out more or book a class in Brighton call 07341 565 445 or email themindfulmeclub@gmail.com or visit Facebook page: The Mindful Me Club.

Welcome to teenagehood

By | family, Mental health
by Anne Guillot
Teen Breathe magazine
Illustration by Anieszka Banks

Neither child nor adult, the adolescent years require careful navigation

Children grow quickly. One day you have a smiling baby, the next a moody, unpredictable, almost unknowable child. What’s happened? Was it something you did (or didn’t) do? How did you get this parenting thing so wrong? It could be you’re asking yourself the wrong questions. Perhaps it’s not about you, but it is about them. Have you thought they might be making their grand entrance into teenagehood?

Although it’s never too late to try to understand the world from their perspective, missing or ignoring early signs of adolescence can deepen any distance you might start to feel later on. Preparing yourself, on the other hand, can help to avoid misunderstandings and confrontation. If the early phases of childhood change come rather naturally, completing one milestone at a time, the preteen years (between nine and 12) mark a time of accelerating change and tremendous challenge. As they learn to navigate this precarious passage into adulthood, they instinctively become more sensitive and self-conscious as they endeavour to discover who they really are.

How can you possibly understand them if they don’t even know themselves? Think back to your teenage years. Can you remember the happy times? And what about the difficult situations you had to overcome, the indecision, the embarrassment and the failure? Mostly, can you recall the intense emotions and overwhelming confusion? It wasn’t always easy, but eventually, you made it to the other side. It’s an inevitable part of growing up, so it’s important to let them go – slowly and surely – and allow them the freedom to explore the world by themselves (to some extent). In this way, they’ll develop their personality as they learn from their experiences, misjudgements and mistakes. It can be a lonely and scary journey, so try to be there to accompany them, but as a mentor rather than an enemy.

There will still be times when it seems they’ve closed off from you, especially as you struggle to communicate constructively. Parenting teenagers in the digital age is challenging, but try not to let them withdraw into the online world – or their shell. Be patient and let them know they can always talk calmly and openly to you. If they do open up, make the time to listen – without prejudging them or the situation. Be sympathetic, avoid criticism, and try to bridge the generational differences by showing interest in their life while sharing aspects of your own. Work with not against them. If you stay open-minded and respect their opinions, they’re more likely to trust your judgments and appreciate your advice.

Finding one’s place in the world is difficult for anyone, even more so a teenager struggling with physiological and emotional upheaval. It isn’t their fault either. The teenage brain is culpable; as well as undergoing a significant rewiring and restructuring phase, it is under the influence of new, raging hormones.

Dr Frances Jensen, neuroscientist and author of The Teenage Brain, explains: “Teenagers make much more sense when you understand that the frontal lobes of the brain – the part responsible for judgment, impulse control, mood and emotions – is the last part to fully develop. So the brain just doesn’t know how to regulate itself yet. They’re like Ferraris with weak brakes.”

When you add peer pressure, body-image anxieties, bullying and the more negative aspects of social media to the mix it’s unsurprising that teenagers view the path to independence and confidence as tortuous and never-ending. If you can give them the assurance, encouragement and guidance they need, however, then in a few years’ time, they should be ready to face the world on their own terms.

Teen Breathe is the only wellbeing magazine for teenagers. It’s packed with engaging, informative articles to help them discover who they are as well as tips, ideas and activities designed to inspire and encourage them to aim high and dream big. Available in your local magazine retailer and online.

Find us @teenbreathe or visit
www.teenbreathe.co.uk/abc-magazine
to view your exclusive free sample!

Why teaching kindness is so important

By | Education, family, Mental health

Kindness and empathy are vital qualities to develop in children from a very early age, as they’re key to all of their interactions with others both at home and in other environments. Equipping children with the skills they need to demonstrate empathy and kindness will help them form friendships, work well with others, be more resilient, confident and have high self-esteem.
Former teacher and creator of Education for Social Responsibility learning
resources at PlanBee, Oli Ryan, shares his tips from the classroom on how to teach children the value of kindness.

1. Encourage empathy
A young child can find empathy a challenging emotion as their first instincts are to be egocentric in their early social interactions. However, developing emotional intelligence is crucial if they are to understand why we should be kind. Here are a few ways to encourage early awareness of empathy at home:

Start by simply asking young children to notice the emotions of others and describe them. You can refer to TV characters or others around them to explore a range of emotions. Ask what are they doing, how they may feel, how would they feel in the same situation and what could have been done differently to show kindness. Building up these social cues from an early age will greatly assist in their long-term emotional development.

After infancy, older children tend to be more capable of feeling empathy. An effective strategy which great teachers often use to resolve spats between children at school is to explain how empathy can help children find their own solutions to their problems. Disputes with young children often revolve around whether or not they feel something is ‘fair’. Try not to use this language when dealing with arguments between siblings or friends. Instead, ask them to put themselves in the place of the other person. What would make things better for them? Is it something that they can work out together? Shifting the discussion away from whether something is fair or unfair and focusing on finding acceptable solutions is empowering, but it does take time and consistency.

If you notice your child has done something considerate, make sure they know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed! Take a moment to speak to them personally: ”I noticed you said this, and I just wanted to say how kind and considerate you are – keep it up!”

2. Explore the power of words
We’ve all got upset when we’ve misread a text from a friend or relative, without fully understanding what they might have meant. It’s important to equip children with the skills to express themselves confidently, clearly and most importantly, accurately. We can’t be there all the time to monitor every interaction that our children have, but we can introduce them to language that will help them to express their emotions more effectively:

Role-play in the early years is an important part of a child’s education. Games, like playing shopkeepers or school teachers, gradually teach them how to respond to requests and different needs, whilst expanding their vocabularies for clearer interaction.

Sharing positive words can have a profound effect on the way we feel, but they can be challenging to express. Compliments in particular trigger the reward centres in the brain, and each one is an incredibly simple but effective way to express genuine kindness. In the classroom, teachers play the compliment game: they ask their students to throw a ball around the room and to give a compliment every time they make a throw. Try doing this at home to practise feel-good kindness with all the family.

3. Demonstrate kindness
Equipping children with the skills to go out and demonstrate kindness to others is vital for their confidence and resilience. If they can reach out to someone and be kind to them, they will feel very confident in social situations and group activities.

Here are two simple approaches to adopt:
• Make your children aware of others who might want to engage in play activities, but are unsure. Encouraging your child to include others in play
is a great way to help them build friendships and empathy for others.

• ‘Being the bigger person’ is a powerful strategy for children. Reward children with specific, personal praise when they share something, resolve an argument themselves, or include other children in play. Hopefully, we can all remember what it felt like to receive specific praise about our good behaviour or our maturity when we were young ourselves!

Looking for more information and ideas on how to encourage education for social responsibility at home and in the classroom? Become a PlanBee member to gain access to an extensive range of KS1 and KS2 lesson resources.
www.planbee.com

Marvellous Marvellous massage

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Mental health, Relationships

Parent experience and research show there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage – emotional, physical and social. Here I will focus on three key benefits to learning how to massage your baby.

Bonding and attachment
The ancient art of baby massage incorporates touch, eye contact, verbal communication and the expression of love and respect. This, combined with focused one-to-one time promotes the bond between a parent and their baby.

Baby massage can also help promote sibling bonding in the same way that it promotes the parent/baby bond – through eye contact, nurturing touch and communicating love.

Baby massage is a great way for families experiencing periods of separation to reconnect with their baby. For example, baby massage offers parents working away, or working long hours, the opportunity to reassure their baby of their loving affection and give them time to refocus on home life and relax in their baby’s company.

Relieve and promote
By stimulating their baby’s bodily systems (including circulatory, digestive, lymphatic and respiratory), through baby massage parents can help to ease their baby’s colic, wind, constipation and digestion.

Using touch, parents can also soothe teething pains and growing pains and relieve psychological and muscular tension in their baby.

Babies who are massaged are reported to have improved balance and coordination, plus improved muscle development and tone. This can support movement as they grow.

Baby massage also promotes improved sleep patterns and deeper sleep for your baby, which brings me to the benefits of baby massage for you.

For you The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) classes are for babies from birth to one. Classes are baby-led, which means that it doesn’t matter if class time coincides with nap or meal times. Parents are encouraged to follow their baby’s cues and comfort their baby as needed. All babies are welcome with all of their emotions and ways of expressing them.

It can be nerve wracking leaving the house with a baby; an IAIM baby massage class offers a safe space where everyone is welcome and accepted. It is also a great opportunity for you to get out of the house and meet with other like-minded parents and drink a nice hot cup of tea.

Attending classes with your baby is known to break feelings of isolation that many parents feel when they have a baby. The IAIM baby massage program specifically has been shown to promote recovery from post-natal depression.

When parents massage their baby the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) reduces and the levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) increases in both the parent and the baby. This reaction reduces stress and helps to promote bonding.

The interaction encouraged by baby massage can also help parents better understand their baby’s non-verbal language and feel more confident in responding to their baby’s unique needs.

In learning baby massage, you learn a new skill. A skill you can use long after your course has finished – to soothe growing pains, for example. You will also be shown how to adapt the IAIM massage strokes to suit your growing child.

Longer term, research has shown that infants who receive nurturing touch through baby massage grow up to be healthier, more empathic and happier adults.

As you can see there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

If you would like further information about the benefits of baby massage, or how to find your nearest classes, please contact your local Certified Infant Massage Instructor through the IAIM website.
We are always happy to help!

Cheryl Titherly Certified Infant Massage Instructor with IAIM
Cai Baby Massage caibaby.co.uk @caibabysussex cheryl@caibaby.co.uk

How to handle criticism of your parenting

By | Education, family, Mental health, Relationships

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