Welcome to Episode 2 of the #UpYourBrave Livestream Panel series. How do you support kids through tricky and changing times? Today I talk to my three guests Celia Hogan, Judith Yeabsley and Anne Cullen, and together we share tips and insights on supporting kids through challenging times.
Celia Hogan from Little Kiwis Nature Play is an educator and advocate for nature play, building resilience and improving mental health and wellbeing through nature. She led a petition to enable full-time nature based kindergartens to start in New Zealand and her personal goal is to see every child spend 3 hours/per day outside in nature.
You can find Celia here: https://littlekiwisnatureplay.com/
In this episode Celia mentions:
- Let kids play, and play outside. It helps us stay emotionally and physically healthy at the same time, and to cope with those feelings that can be quite scary. Nature is naturally calming and helps stabilize our emotional state.
- Letting children lead their own play and take control of aspects of their day can really help reduce anxiety.
- It’s really important, especially for younger children to allow them to have control over what they’re doing in the day because that will reduce their levels of anxiety. If as adults we structure everything, then children feel more out of control, so we need to enable them to choose how they play. That’s why backyard play and loose parts play is a really essential (loose parts play is pieces of anything that can be used in more than one way eg: a stick can be a mixer, a wand, or a fishing rod). So if we have lots of bits and pieces in the backyard kids can create and change things. It’s great for their play, helps them play longer and to also control their play.
- Balance things out. Let kids play at times by themselves, or with you near, they’re still going to need that connection and to know that you’re their safety net. And then there’s the other kind of play where we get involved. Rough & tumble is a really good thing to help through these challenging times – it helps to get rid of pent up energy and also reduces stress hormones. Doing this as a parent and child together is really good because you’re getting that connection and touch at the same time.
- As parents we have to maybe shift our expectations of what to expect from our children in times like these. That’s a little bit about a mindset shift, having a bit of empathy for where they are, because it’s not just us that are feeling that stress.
- If as adults we are in an emotionally calm state, that will help our children also be calm and deal with a challenging situation. So as adults do things to help keep calm and respond to your children’s emotions:
- Try and prioritise outside and nature time
- Take time for 20 deep breaths during the day
- Positive affirmations
- Reduce screen time.
- During these challenging times, break screen time up with going outside to play, not only for children, but also for yourself as well. It might be for morning tea or 20 mins outside in the garden or to have a cup of tea.
Judith Yeabsley from The Confident Eater teaches parents how to get their picky eaters eating. She is the author of Creating Confident Eaters, THE guide for fussy eating, works with individual families to get eating back on track, and also runs webinars and workshops. Judith hosts events for parents in conjunction with other experts and does personal development for organisations who work with children.
You can find Judith here: https://theconfidenteater.com/
In this episode Judith mentions:
- Implement routine: a lot of children who struggle to eat are anxious around food. And with COVID19, there’s a lot of anxiety for parents and for children, so introducing routine/structure is very comforting. So have a defined breakfast/snack/lunch/snack/ dinner routine, so children know this is what’s happening and what’s coming. It’s comforting for them, and it helps them to run their own schedule.
- Comfort: ensuring our child is comfortable can be such a winning proposition. In the context of the mealtime the more relaxed we are the more likely we are to eat. It might be a comfortable chair to sit on or having food that the child really likes. If you have children who are doing home learning, think about what can be done to make them comfortable. Are they comfortable where they sit, what’s their environment like, do they have a sibling that drives them crazy? Do they need their head phones on so they can have some quiet time for themselves?
Anne Cullen from Anne Cullen is a speaker, Advanced Coach with MAP Coaching Institute and parenting specialist, and spokesperson and parent advisor for the Natural Parent Magazine. Her mission is to ensure children grow up feeling safe, secure and understood, and their parents enjoy the journey!
You can find Anne here: https://www.iamannecullen.com/
In this episode Anne mentions:
- Remember to take your child’s perspective. One of the best things we can do is to really take some time to put ourselves to the side a little bit and really focus on our child, and to take your time to focus in a moment. Of course we’re all busy, and sometimes it’s OK to say ‘I see that you’re there, I’ve just got to finish this.’ My child has then seen that I get that they’re there and that they want something, and I’m not just ignoring them, and I’m not necessarily going to stop every single time what I’m doing. And on the other hand, sometimes we need to put aside everything else and just focus on them, really hear them and really take some time to put everything aside.
- If your child is feeling frustrated with homeschooling, help them focus on their strengths. Point out the things they’re doing really well. We all love to be lifted up.
- Model how you want your children to act. Thinking about how you want to be treated is how you want to treat your kids. Think about how you talk to your children, is it different to how you talk to your spouse?
- A lot of the time we can react to things based on our unconscious thoughts and feelings. So be easy and gentle on ourselves. It’s really important. We’re not going to be perfect, and our kids aren’t going to be perfect and that’s what being human is all about. Just recognise that and be compassionate.
Natalie Cutler-Welsh is your host, parenting author at @ifonlytheytoldme, and resilience, visibility & and wellness mentor at Natalie Cutler-Welsh: Go to Girl.
In this episode Nat mentions:
- Remember to love your kids in their love language, especially in these challenging times.
- Balance your green time with your screen time.
- Parent to the personality types. By parenting to the personality type, we treat them equal, but not the same. For example if your child is frustrated with their homeschooling, are they a ‘perfectionist personality type’? Maybe they think they should know the answers, so I’d invite them to pat themselves on the back and go a little bit easier on themselves.
- For both kids and adults, eat healthy food for mental wellbeing. Making sure we stay fuelled is important in challenging times.
This is one of the #UpYourBrave livestream series designed to help raise the state of resilience, health and happiness on a global level.
You can find Nat here: http://nataliecutlerwelsh.com/about/. You can also check out the other videos in the #UpYourBrave series here: http://nataliecutlerwelsh.com/video-series/.
You can also find more recommended tools and resources here.