Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness matters 😊

At Little Owls, we strongly believe in taking a holistic approach to childcare. A positive sense of emotional wellbeing means children have a strong foundation on  which to build on.

We incorporate this in our everyday activities by talking about our feelings, describing what we see , hear, taste and feel around us and being empathetic towards others.
However, in Adventurers, our pre school children take part in slightly more structured mindfulness activities. It is important that these activities are age appropriate so our practitioners make sure that they are short , fun and repeated so the children know what to expect. They enjoy yoga sessions and other mindful activities.
It is something that can be practised anytime , anywhere…Watching clouds float by, listening to the wind blowing the leaves on a tree and perhaps encouraging deep slow breaths with a hand on the tummy to feel the inhaling and exhaling.
All of this will help our children and us to regulate our emotions, share our feelings and be aware of the wonderful world around us 😊🌻🌲🌳🌼

 

Making brushing teeth fun!

Think of creative ways to make brushing your teeth fun. For example, listening to fun sounds or songs that are two minutes long to help keep yourself and your kids brushing for the full duration of time recommended. Also, having a cool toothbrush designed for kids that features their favourite characters helps brings out the fun in brushing and allows children to bring their favourite cartoon and television friends into the bathroom with them.

  • Create a rewards chart – Children should brush their teeth twice a day, so try keeping track of your child’s brushing on a calendar by the sink with gold stars. If there are two stars at the end of the week, they could get a little treat.
  • Make brushing teeth time family time – At night, get together in the bathroom to brush your teeth for the recommended two minutes. It will encourage your children when they see there parents/carers are doing it too.
  • Don’t make the dentist a scary place – Dentists recommend dental check-ups every six months, which can be scary for many children. So prepare them beforehand. Give them an idea of what to expect; try using picture books or do some role-playing exercises to explain to kids what to expect during a dental visit. After the visit, reward them for good behaviour.
  • Keep a routine – Make it part of your child’s daily routine, so that they can become used to regular brushing.
  • Use tooth brushing games and apps – Brushing apps for smartphones and tablets, like the free Oral-B Disney Magic Timer App, can help children brush by featuring exciting animation and virtual stickers.

Lastly, remember that a healthy diet is important in tooth care for kids. Try to avoid or limit sugary foods and drinks. It’s recommended that they only drink milk and water. If you give them sugary foods, only do so at their regular mealtimes.

Saying affirmations with our young children

Affirmations are repeatedly saying positive declarations to yourself and your experience.

Affirmations can help young children feel confident and encourage a positive self-image. They are also a powerful way of reducing anxiety.

An affirmation like “I can do this” just might help your little one have some confidence when they are struggling to dress themselves, use kind hands or maybe they are having a hard time waiting their turn.

The more your little one says positive affirmations about themselves, the more they will start to believe them. It’s teaching our little ones that when a self-limiting belief arises “I can’t do it!!”, to switch it with a positive thought “I’ll keep trying!”.

This of course takes time with children so young, but that’s where you as the responsible adult needs to model this.

It’s important children learn this at such a young age so that it becomes natural in their later lives. Educating children on numbers, colours etc is important absolutely but at Little Owl’s we believe their positivity and self-love is just as important.

Children will struggle to understand what an affirmation is and how to use them effectively, but you can begin by talking to your little ones about the different thoughts and feelings they have. Although there is no wrong or right way to feel, some of our feelings make us feel better than others.

Some examples you can use with your young children are:

I am a good friend

I am kind

I am special

I am happy

I am strong

I am loved

How to support our children with separation anxiety

Covid 19 has meant missed / inconsistent nursery sessions, no stay and play sessions, hardly any experience of the outside world and adventures with family and friends.

So it’s understandable that when going to nursery or when being left with another responsible adult they are going to be full of anxiety, confusion and frustration.

When starting nursery or after having some time off due to holidays, sickness etc. young children struggle with their emotions because it’s out of their routine so even more so now their emotions are going to be heightened as a lot of our young children have only ever been in the care of their parents/carers and as of recently, immediate family. Most children have never been without their parents until now.

You may drop your child off feeling like the worst parent in the world as they kick and scream your name but you’re actually helping them learn to cope without you, and that’s an important step towards their growing independence. It’s also a sign of how well you have bonded with your child. Don’t be too hard on yourself – separation anxiety is common and it’s normal even more so in these times of covid.

Tips for separation anxiety:

  • Practice short sharp bursts when leaving your child. Due to covid children may require more frequent and shorter settling in sessions i.e., leaving them for 10 minutes one day. 15 the next. It may be tedious to begin with and feel like a long process but they need to understand and realise that every time you are coming back. It’s also good as its not allowing them enough time to get overly distressed if you do leave him when they are upset.
  • If your child is between the ages of 3-5 they will be familiar with certain places you visit together in your local area i.e. the shop down the road. When leaving your child you can talk to them before and when dropping them off about where you are going and that you will be back soon.
  • Talk about what you are going to do when you pick them up so they have something to look forward toe. “when Daddy picks you up we are going to pop to Nanny and Grandad’s house”.
  • Leave something comforting with your child. This could be something of theirs i.e. a blanket, a teddy or something of yours; perhaps a scarf, a cardigan, an item that smells like you.
  • Speak to your child about all of the fun things they will get up to at Nursery. If your child is obsessed with trains, Peppa pig or sand make sure you tell the setting / person caring for your child. They can ensure this is available for them.

Toddler Behaviours that are Normal

 

We have all been there, thinking that our toddlers are crazy and question their normality. Toddlers do some very strange behaviours, some more than others, this is completely normal and usually very common. Doorknob licking and barking like a dog are commonplace. “The vast majority of strange toddler behaviours are short-lived phases,” (Heather Wittenberg, PsyD, psychologist).

Head banging – This behaviour can be worrying to witness, however a lot more common than you may think. The toddler usually is after some attention or uses it to sooth themselves. Unless the child is doing it over socialising with friends, eating or sleeping then this is nothing to worry about and the behaviour can just be ignored or redirected.

Putting crazy things in their mouths – Children use their mouths as tools for exploring the world. They yet quite understand that some things you can eat and some you can’t. Most of the time they will learn themselves, that actually that bit of soil I just put in my mouth didn’t taste vey nice.

Imaginary and Stuffed Friends – Know a toddler who’s so obsessed with their stuffed animals that they line them up perfectly at bedtime, or one who has made up a whole family of imaginary friends? This is a normal reaction to the realization that the world is confusing and difficult to understand. When you embrace your child’s imaginary world, you honour their creativity.

Playing with Their Poop – Then there’s that curious toddler who takes off their nappy to explore the mess they’ve made during naptime. Ick! It’s way more common than people realize, and most of the time it’s just that they’ve discovered an intriguing new plaything.

There you have it, did you recognise some, or did you find out new behaviours you didn’t know existed!

 

 

 

 

Get Rid of ‘That Dummy!’

 

Dummies have some great advantages, they can help sooth young babies, help them to fall asleep and satisfy babies sucking instinct. However, these advantages are great for very young babies, between the ages of 6- 12 months parents should begin to wean their child of all use of dummies.

Why get rid?

  • Dummies may transport bacteria and fungus, which can increase the rate of infections
  • Effects of dummies on baby teeth include overbite, malocclusion, cross bite and open bite
  • Speech is a huge factor, especially for children 18 – 24 months –  When a baby or young child has a dummy in their mouth they are less likely to copy sounds adults make or to attempt to babble and play with sounds themselves. This is important in the development of speech skills.

Top tips on how to wean of the dummy:

  • If the dummy is being used as a sleep cue, then introducing a different sleep cue can help
  • You could restrict your child’s dummy use to certain times only, such as in the car
  • Rewards might work better for an older child – your local children’s centre or health visitor can offer support with this. Some areas even have ’dummy fairies’ at Christmas
  • Try picking a good time to stop using a dummy – when your child is feeling well, things are stable and they’re happy
  • Have a go at hiding the dummy away so your child doesn’t see it

 

 

 

Let’s Get Active!

 

You have more than likely heard about the importance of keeping your 2 and 3 year olds active throughout the day, but how much is enough? Children this age are walking and running, kicking, and throwing. They’re naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of chances for your child to practice and build on these skills.

Physical activity guidelines for toddlers recommend that each day they:

  • get at least 30 minutes of structured (adult-led) physical activity
  • get at least 60 minutes of unstructured (active free play) physical activity
  • not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time except when sleeping

The Benefits of keeping active:

Children who are active at a young age tend to continue this and lead very active adults lives. Keeping physically fit can boost self-esteem, prevent obesity and decrease the risk of serious health conditions/illnesses, such as; high blood pressure or diabetes. Keeping active strengthens children’s bones, muscles, hearts and lungs and improves children’s coordination, balance, posture and flexibility.

Top Tips: 

Staying active can be fun for the whole family. Why not get everyone joining in with some fun games/activities:

  • Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog, or imitate other animals’ movements.
  • Sit facing each other and hold hands. Rock back and forth and sing the song “Row, row, row your boat.”
  • Bend at the waist and touch the ground. Walk your hands forward and inch along like a caterpillar.
  • Sit on the ground and let your child step over your legs, or make a bridge with your body and let your child crawl under.
  • Play follow the leader, “Ring around the rosy,” and other similar games.
  • Listen to music and dance together.

The possibilities are endless, just exploring the garden or park together is great fun, you could even try bug hunting!

Screen Time Tips: 

Babies under the 18 months old should have no screen time at all. Toddlers 18 months to 24 months old can start to enjoy some screen time with a parent or caregiver. By ages 2 and 3, kids should watch no more than 1 hour a day.

But not all screen time is created equal. For example, you and your baby playing an interactive colour or shape game on a tablet or watching high-quality educational programming together is good screen time. Plopping your toddler down in front of the TV to watch your favourite shows with you is an example of bad screen time.

Use screen time as a chance to interact with your child and teach lessons about the world. Don’t let your child spend time alone just staring at a screen.

 

 

 

 

School Readiness

 

Parents and carers are often filled with mixed emotions – some know that their child is probably ready for the next step; some are equally sad that their little one is taking this big step and some are confused about the words ‘school readiness’ which we see and hear everywhere.

What does being “school ready” mean?

School readiness is about been ‘ready to learn’ not knowing how to read and write or count to 10, otherwise what would be the point in going to school? It is about children preparing themselves, been comfortable in their learning environment.

  • Independence – been able to go to the toilet, pull up their trousers and wash their hands
  • Knowing how to sit and listen
  • Be aware of other children – can interact with others appropriately with friendly behaviours
  • Having strong social skills
  • Can cope emotionally with being separated from their parents
  • Have a curiosity about the world and a desire to learn
  • Understand some boundaries
  • Good language skills – to communicate with adults for support or other peers

If the child attends a pre-school or child care setting the professionals will be supporting and encouraging ‘school readiness’ throughout. Parents/careers can also encourage all these skills at home.

PACEY_preparingforschool_guide.pdf  Parents, check out this free guide for some top tips on preparing your little ones for school.

Keeping the Sun Fun!

 

As much as we are all enjoying the recent warm weather it is vital to keep safe in the sun, especially children. It is easy to forget the dangers when there is so much fun to be had. There are many precautions that we can take, here are just a few that may help:

  • Children’s skin is much more sensitive than an adults, extra precautions should be taken
  • suitable clothing should be worn, sunhats, light long sleeve tops
  • Spend time in the shade, between 11am and 3pm is when the sun is at it’s strongest in the UK
  • Apply at least SPF30 sunscreen regularly
  • Ensure sunscreen is applied on the face, neck, backs of hands and ears, or any skin exposed
  • Protect your eyes, where possible wear sunglasses

Swimming/water play:

  • Wear water-resistant sunscreen
  • When in water it can be more difficult to notice if you skin is burning due to the cooling water. Ensure sunscreen is reapplied straight after waterplay, even if it is water-resistant
  • Wear appropriate clothing while in the water, sunhats, swimsuits

Applying sunscreen:

  • Ensure to use at least two teaspoons of cream if you are covering your head, neck and arms. At least two tablespoons if you are covering the entire body. Applying too thin will reduce the protection
  • If you are going out for the day or for a long period of time sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before leaving and then again just before leaving
  • It is suggested that sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours as direct sunlight can dry the cream from the skin
  • Make sure the sunscreen is not past its expiry date. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years

Dealing with sunburn:

  • Sponge sore areas with cool water and apply aftersun cream to sooth
  • Stay out of the sun until the skin is fully recovered
  • Painkillers can be used if necessary, paracetamol or ibuprofen for all potential inflammation

You should take extra care in the sun if you:

  • have pale, white or light brown skin
  • have freckles or red or fair hair
  • tend to burn rather than tan
  • have many moles
  • have skin problems relating to a medical condition
  • are only exposed to intense sun occasionally (for example, while on holiday)
  • are in a hot country where the sun is particularly intense
  • have a family history of skin cancer

(Sunscreen and sun safety – NHS (www.nhs.uk))

 

‘Scribbling’ – The Hidden Meaning

 

Adults see scribbling, but for children it is their masterpiece!

Mark making is a very important phrase of a child’s development. It is a visual way to communicate and interact in a meaningful way with adults in their lives, as well as developing their coordination, creativity and literacy skills.

The phases of scribbling in young children can be categorised:

  1. Random scribbling – this first phrase is the very beginning of children showing interest in holding a pencil making random marks, typically this can be seen as lines in different directions.
  2. Controlled scribbling – this next stage shows the child having much more control over the pencil and will leave marks where they want to on the paper.
  3. Naming of scribbling –  at this stage the child is thinking more into the mark making action. They are beginning to make links with their marks on the paper and the world around them, this could be something that is meaningful to them in their life, a personal experience or object.
  4. Early representational attempts – at this stage, the child’s drawing may start to resemble real-life images, because they have greater muscle control and a greater understanding of the world around them.
  5. Representational stage of scribbling –  in the last and final stage children will draw basic objects, this usually starts with circular shapes. It might be their own personal version, e.g. they may draw five circles together and call it a car.

As adults we should provide opportunities for children to mark make it their own way. This doesn’t always have to be using a pencil and paper. Try sticks in the mud, flour and a paint brush or their finger dipped in paint. The possibilities are endless.