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Conversation skills for children

Helping children develop conversation skills Smile, make eye contact and use friendly greetings. Talk with your partner in positive ways, and handle conflict constructively. Use body language and tone of voice to show interest and attention when you talk to others. Learning how to talk with and listen to other people takes time and practice. Some children pick this up quickly, and others might need more practice, prompts, reminders and guidance. For example: Have practice conversations with your child where you take turns asking questions and listening to answers. Use clear and gentle reminders when you need to. Suggest how your child could begin a conversation about someone else’s interests. Suggest or brainstorm what your child can say when they have to meet someone new. Praise children when they’re communicating well. Managing interrupting Let your child know when it’s OK to interrupt immediately. For example, if something dangerous or urgent is happening, they should be allowed to interrupt. Teach your child to put their hand on your arm if they need to say something while you’re talking. Then you can put your other hand on top of theirs to let them know that you’ve understood. When your child gets older and you know they can wait, you can try some or all of these ideas to manage interruptions: Remind your child of your family rule about interrupting. Then continue your conversation until your child says ‘Excuse me’ or uses the nonverbal cue. Praise your child when they say ‘Excuse me’ and wait for you to give them your attention. If you have an important call or activity that really can’t be interrupted, try distracting your child with some special toys or an interesting activity. Dealing with talking back or backchat Respond calmly and remind your child of any family rules you have about speaking politely and treating each other respectfully. If your child keeps being rude, give a consequence for the rudeness. Avoid laughing or giving your child a lot of attention. If you do, you might accidentally reward your child for the backchat.

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Positive relationships for families

Quality time and family relationships Use everyday time together to talk and share a laugh. Have time together when devices are turned off and out of sight. This helps to keep everyone focused on what you’re doing or talking about at the time. Have one-on-one chats with each family member to strengthen individual relationships. Do regular, fun things together as a family. Positive communication and family relationships When your child or partner wants to talk, try to stop what you’re doing and listen with full attention. Give people time to express their points of view or feelings. Be open to talking about difficult things – like mistakes – and all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. Encourage your children with praise. Let everyone in the family know that you love and appreciate them. Teamwork and family relationships Share household chores. Include children in decisions about things like family activities and holidays. Create family rules together that state clearly how your family wants to look after and treat its members. Work together to solve problems. Appreciation for each other and family relationships Take an interest in each other’s lives. For example, make time to go to each other’s sporting events, drama performances, art shows and so on. Include everyone in conversation when you’re talking about the day’s events. Share family stories and memories. Acknowledge each other’s differences, talents and abilities, and use each other’s strengths.

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Self-compassion for children

Self-compassion is being kind to yourself even when things don’t happen the way you expect. It’s being aware of your feelings and treating yourself with the same warmth, care and understanding you’d give to someone you care about. When children learn to treat themselves with self-compassion, they: are happier have more confidence and self-esteem are more likely to try new things or try again when things don’t work out the first time have more resilience, so they can ‘bounce back’ during or after difficult times. Building self-compassion in children: three steps: Step 1 Pause and notice when your child is angry, frustrated or disappointed because things haven’t gone the way they wanted and they’re being hard on themselves. Step 2 Let your child know that it’s OK to find things hard and that everyone makes mistakes. It’s also OK to feel sad, angry, disappointed or frustrated – but it isn’t OK to say mean things about yourself. For example, you could say, ‘I’d be frustrated too if I didn’t score a goal. But that doesn’t make you a loser’. Step 3 Encourage your child to say something kind to themselves. It can help to ask your child what they might say to a friend who made a mistake or who’s going through a tough time. ‘I’ve done my best.’ ‘Everyone finds learning new things hard.’ ‘We all make mistakes sometimes.’ ‘It’s OK that I can’t do this yet. I’ll try again next time.’ ‘I’m a good and lovable person.’

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Helping children calm down

1. Notice and identify the emotion If your child looks like they need help to calm down, stop. Pay attention to what your child’s behaviour is telling you about their feelings before you do or say anything else. You can do this by: looking closely at your child watching their body language listening to what your child is saying. For example, if you ask your child to turn off the TV and have a shower, your child might ignore you, or roll around on the floor and complain loudly. This gives you a clue that your child is feeling angry. 2. Name and connect the emotion what they’re feeling and why how their body reacts to this feeling what words go with the feeling. It also shows your child that you understand how they feel and that this emotion is OK, even if their behaviour isn’t OK. For example, if your child is rolling around on the floor and complaining loudly about turning off the TV, you could say, ‘I can see that you’re feeling angry about turning off the TV’. 3. Pause and say nothing Pausing and saying nothing for a few seconds gives your child time to take in what you’ve just said. It’s hard not to jump in and start talking. You might find it helps to count slowly to five in your head while you wait. This pause might be enough for your child to calm down and move on to something else. Or they might solve the problem for themselves. For example, ‘Could I watch more TV after I’ve had my shower?’ 4. Support your child while they calm down Make sure that they’re safe and you’re safe. Stay calm and close to your child. This shows that you understand and can handle whatever their emotions are. Go back to step 1 – for example, ‘I can see you’re really furious about this’. Wait for the strong emotion to pass. Be patient. It can be very hard for young children to manage strong feelings. It’s important to let your child know that it’s OK to feel strong emotions. When your child is calm, you might need to help your child understand the difference between the emotion and the behaviour. For example, ‘It’s OK to feel frustrated and disappointed. But it wasn’t OK to yell at me and kick the wall’. 5. Address the behaviour or solve the problem suggest other ways to react to strong emotions – for example, ‘If you feel excited, clap your hands or ‘If you feel angry, go into your room and squeeze your pillow hard. Come back when you’re calm’ reassure or comfort your child – for example,  ‘I’m sorry to see you so sad. Let’s have a hug’ suggest some solutions for the problem set some limits – for example, ‘I know you were angry, but hitting is never OK’.

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Tips for different subjects

Language Educators suggest that children spend some time during the June holidays reading a variety of text types, from storybooks to newspapers to even comics. This will help them to improve their writing style while picking up new words and phrases, which are useful in composition and comprehension. When children enjoy what they are reading, their language proficiency naturally improves. It is also a relaxing way to expose the child’s brain to different styles of writing and the various forms of sentence construction. Mathematics Aspire Hub’s Mr Seah says pupils should reduce an over-reliance on calculators by mastering mental sums. This will help them to increase the accuracy of calculation and achieve a higher score in Paper 1, where a calculator cannot be used. When solving word problems, he encourages pupils to unpack the question by highlighting key information before choosing a method to solve the question. The key to success is to practise, it is not about doing lots of past year papers. Instead, the child needs to know which types of questions he or she needs more practice on and focus on them. A shortcut is to look at past worksheets. Look at those questions which he or she got wrong, cover the solutions and redo the questions. Science Using the correct scientific keywords or phrases when crafting the answer to open-ended questions is necessary to be awarded the full marks. But MindChamps’ Mr Lim adds that the child will need to fully understand the concepts behind the topics he or she is studying to determine how best to apply it. One way to do so would be through drawing connections among the different topics as well as trying out different questions. “Once a child can understand and master a concept, the application should come more easily,” he says. Mr Ling suggests the child does targeted practice by going through past exam papers and picking out the mistakes made. To ensure he or she can recall and revise common mistakes, he or she should compile a list of his mistakes and challenging questions. The child can also write down common science answering techniques when answers are given by a teacher for easy revision before the exam.

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How best to revise for the PSLE during the June holidays

SINGAPORE – With just four months to go till the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), it is a good time to consolidate your child’s revision regimen this June holidays. Q: My child did reasonably well in his mid-year exams. What now? A: Doing reasonably well in the mid-year exams is an affirmation of a child’s diligence, effective study habits and keen grasp of examination strategies, says Mr Samuel Seah, co-founder of Aspire Hub Education Group, a tuition school. He suggests that these pupils evaluate their mid-year exam papers and note down skills and concepts they may not have fully understood, so that they can revisit these topics during revision. Q: If my child scored only average grades overall, what are some ways to revise for the subjects? A: Mr Jimmy Ling, director of Grade Solution Learning Centre, says teachers and parents can help if the child did not understand certain concepts well. “If this is not solved, the child will probably make the same mistake again. If it is due to carelessness, then the child needs to pick up the habit of checking his or her work,” he says. Mr Seah says it may be beneficial to have a parent, guardian, teacher or tutor sit down with the child to review the mid-year exam papers together. “This process of reflection helps the child to identify the knowledge gaps that need to be plugged, so that he or she can address these problem areas. This gives him or her a sense of purpose in the revision,” he adds. Q: If my child did badly in a subject, what can he or she do to improve? A: If a child has done badly in mathematics, it is usually due to a weak foundation, says Mr Ling. He suggests that the child use a scaffolding method by trying simple questions from a topic in the multiple-choice questions and short answer sections before moving on to complicated problem sums. If a child has done poorly for science, he or she is probably weak in his understanding of concepts and has poor answering techniques for open-ended questions. Mr Ling recommends that parents test their child by asking him or her to explain the concept after the child has revised each topic. “That way, the child is using the correct scientific keywords which can help improve his or her answering techniques,” he says. When textbook revision is done, the child can practise questions found in topical assessment books or online courses, especially ones that provide questions from basic to higher-order questions.    

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Learning maths

Learning maths doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. Your child has been learning about maths since she was born. And once your child starts school, you still have a big role in helping her continue to build maths and numeracy skills. Here are some ways that you can support your child in learning maths skills at home at all ages: Ask about what maths topics your child is learning at school and talk about how maths can help with everyday activities. Be available to help your child with maths revision. Use objects, words, numbers, pictures, drawings or symbols to help your child understand maths problems. Encourage your child to show you how she worked out a maths problem. Encourage your child to try different ways to solve maths problems, especially when he gets the wrong answer. Maths skills and everyday numeracy Numeracy is the ability to apply maths concepts in all areas of life – and there are endless ways you and your child can do this together.. Here are some examples of questions you could ask your child about different everyday activities: How many oranges did we get in the bag? What’s the volume of the milk carton? How much money do you need for the canteen at school? And here are some examples of everyday activities you can do with your school-age child: In the car: look at number plates or street signs and ask your child to read the numbers, order them from highest to lowest, and add them up or multiply them. On public transport: look at maps, timetables and signs to work out how many minutes between each bus, how many stops to your destination, or how long it will take to get there. At the shops or markets: look at price differences. Guess how many apples you get in a kilogram and then compare this with another fruit. How children learn maths at school Maths today is about understanding numbers, patterns and problem-solving, not just memorising information. Maths education in the primary school years focuses on: counting learning numbers linking numbers with quantity, size and order learning maths language recognising patterns and shapes showing numbers as numerals, groups of objects, dots on dice and so on understanding statistics. In the classroom, your child will learn maths in lots of different ways – through watching the teacher work out maths problems, doing problems, talking about problems, drawing and writing, playing games, and using calculators, computers and other materials.    

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Mindfulness

Our minds are constantly active. You might be watching television – but also thinking about the past, or worrying about something, or wondering what you’re going to have for dinner. Mindfulness is about stilling your active mind. It has been defined in several ways, including: giving your complete attention to the present on a moment-by-moment basis paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. Everyday mindfulness You can use everyday moments to build and practise mindfulness. The more you practise, the more benefit you’ll get. You can also encourage your child to build mindfulness. In many ways, this is just about getting your child to do what she naturally does. Encouraging your child to be in the here and now can give him skills to deal with the stress of study, work and play as he gets older. There are many ways to help your child build and practise mindfulness. For example: Colouring in is a great way to get your child focused on a task. Walking through nature with the family can get your child interested in exploring the beauty of nature. Taking photographs or drawing something interesting or beautiful. Looking after a vegetable patch encourages your child to notice how plants grow. Listening to music and focusing on the instruments or lyrics is a great way for your child to focus on the present without distraction. Mindfulness meditation Mindfulness meditation is a highly focused type of mindfulness. It combines meditation, breathing techniques and paying attention to the present moment to help you notice the way you think, feel and act. You can do mindfulness meditation with an instructor, or you can use a guided mindfulness meditation app or CD. Mindfulness: the evidence There’s clear evidence that practising mindfulness can have health benefits for adults. For example, studies suggest that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can reduce stress and improve other mental health issues. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can help people with depression stay well and stop them from getting depressed again. It can work just as well as an antidepressant. Being ‘present’ and less anxious can boost social skills and academic performance. It can also help people manage emotions.  

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Good mental health for children

Mental health is the way children think and feel about themselves and the world around them. It affects how children cope with life’s challenges and stresses. Relationships and good mental health for children Here are some ideas to promote your child’s mental health and wellbeing through a loving and supportive relationship: Tell your child that you love them, no matter what. You can also show love through your body language and nonverbal communication. Use a positive, constructive and consistent approach to guide your child’s behaviour. Make time every day to talk and listen to your child. Enjoy time with your child doing activities they like. Work on positive ways to solve problems and manage conflict. Encourage your child to connect with others in the community. Emotions and good mental health for children Children experience all sorts of emotions as part of growing up – fear, disappointment, sadness, anxiety, anger, joy, hope and so on. Here are some ways you can help your child learn to manage emotions: Talk about emotions with your child, and encourage them to recognise and label their emotions. You can also let your child know that it’s natural to have all sorts of feelings. Role-model a positive outlook for your child. Support your child when something is bothering them. Help your child learn to manage small worries so they don’t become big problems. You can do this by gently encouraging your child to do things they’re anxious about instead of avoiding scary situations. Behaviour, goals, skills and good mental health for children Here are ways to promote your child’s mental health and wellbeing through a focus on behaviour: Have family rules about behaviour and involve your child in developing rules and consequences. Adjust the rules and consequences as your child grows. Rules and boundaries help children of all ages feel safe and secure. Help your child to set realistic goals for their age and abilities and work towards achieving them. Help your child learn how to solve problems so that they develop the skills to do this for themselves when they’re older. Encourage your child to try new things, take age-appropriate risks, and learn from their mistakes. Good physical health and mental health for children Good physical health is important for mental health. That’s because being active helps your child stay healthy, have more energy, feel confident, manage stress and sleep well. Here are some ways to help your child stay physically fit and well: Offer healthy food and encourage healthy eating habits in your family. Encourage your child to try plenty of different physical activities and sports. Make sure your child gets the sleep they need. Quality sleep will help your child to manage stress and a busy life.

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Resilience in teenagers

Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ during or after difficult times and get back to feeling as good as before. It’s also the ability to adapt to difficult circumstances that you can’t change and keep on thriving. Personal values and attitudes for building resilience Self-respect is a great building block for resilience. Self-respect grows out of setting standards for behaviour. If your child has self-respect, she believes that she matters and should be treated respectfully by others. She’s also more likely to protect herself by avoiding risky behaviour and situations. A strong sense of self-respect will also help your child be less vulnerable to bullies and bullying. Social skills for resilience Social skills are another important building block for resilience. They include skills for making and keeping friends, sorting out conflict, and working well in teams or groups. When your child has good relationships at school and gets involved in community groups, sports teams or arts activities, he has more chances to develop connections and a sense of belonging. Positive thinking habits for resilience Resilience is about being realistic, thinking rationally, looking on the bright side, finding the positives, expecting things to go well and moving forward, even when things seem bad. When your child is upset, you can help him keep things in perspective by focusing on facts and reality. You can also help your child understand that a bad thing in one part of her life doesn’t mean everything is bad. Your child is more likely to feel positive if she can see that difficult times are a part of life, and that things will get better. It’s also good for your child to have simple strategies for turning low moods into better ones. Here are some ideas: Do things you enjoy or that help you relax, like watching a funny TV show or DVD or reading a good book. Spend time with friends or support people. Do something kind for someone else – for example, carrying the grocery shopping in from the car. Look for the positive or funny side of a difficult situation. Do some physical activity, like playing sport or going for a vigorous walk. Go over some good memories by looking through photographs. Skills for getting things done Feeling confident, capable and ready to get things done are big parts of resilience. Important skills in this area are goal-setting, planning, being organised and self-disciplined, being prepared to work hard and being resourceful. You can foster these skills in your child by helping him work out his specific strengths and limitations. Then you can encourage him to set goals that put his strengths into action, and that help him to focus on what he’s good at.

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Positive thinking exercise

  It’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about things that have gone wrong. Although we can all learn from mistakes, it’s not helpful to spend a lot time thinking about negative things. This can lead to worry and stress. Positive thinking exercise Try this exercise to get yourself into the habit of thinking more positively about things that have gone well and why. People who do this positive thinking exercise say they feel happier, less worried and less sad. Each day for the next week, give yourself 10-15 minutes before you go to sleep to write down three things that went well and why. This could be something as simple as ‘My son gave me a nice smile this morning’. Or it might be a major event – for example, ‘I booked our family holiday’. Underneath each thing that went well, write what you did to make it happen. For example, if you put ‘My son gave me a nice smile today’, you could write, ‘I smiled and he smiled back’. It might feel odd to do this at first, but it gets easier with practice. Try to give it a go for a week. Check your notes at the end of the week. Share this exercise with family and friends. You can do this exercise with your children, helping them think about things that have gone well for them. For example, your younger child might have built a Lego creation that he really likes. Your older or teenage child might have finished a tricky assignment or helped out with some extra family chores. Older children and teenagers can try doing this exercise by themselves.  

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Smart shopping: teaching children

Smart shopping is a key part of budgeting and money management. You can help your child learn this skill by: talking with your child about your consumer values and shopping choices being a smart shopping role model when you’re planning your purchases being a smart shopping role model when you’re at the shops. Talking about consumer values and shopping choices As part of your daily life with your child, you can talk about your values and how these influence your shopping choices. You could tell your child why you’re prepared to pay more for something that’s important to you – for example, free-range eggs or softer toilet paper. Or why you prefer to buy the cheapest product – for example, so there’s more money left over for other things the family needs. When you’re talking with your child, you could also talk about how your family budget influences your choices. This can help your child understand why we can’t always have everything we wan Planning purchases: role-modelling tips Planning your purchases can help you resist marketing and advertising pressure, both for everyday shopping and expensive purchases. These tips can help you be a planning role model for your child: Do some research before you shop.  Shop around with your child. Whether you’re looking in catalogues, shopping online or shopping at a shopping centre, this can teach your child to compare prices and value. Talk with your child about how advertising can influence shopping decisions. Make a list of what you’re going to buy before you go shopping, and stick to it.  Set a spending limit. At the shops, buy less so you stick to the limit, or shop around so that you get what you need with the money you have to spend. At the shops: role-modelling tips When you’re at the shops, you can show your child how to keep price, value and budget in mind. These tips can help: If you have a list and a spending limit, stick to them. If your child can read, you could give him the list and he can help you stick to it. And if your child can add up, he could help you keep to your spending limit. Talk with your child about what you’re buying and why.  If you’re not sure, read the label and pause before buying.  Don’t be afraid to say no. This helps your child learn about not giving into pressure from salespeople or special offers. Keep the receipt. Let your child know that it’s OK to take something back if it’s faulty or parts are missing – but you need the receipt to do this. For bigger purchases like electronics or furniture, you might be able to negotiate a good price. Often all you have to do is ask. 

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Internet safety: teenagers

  Teenagers use digital technologies for everyday activities like keeping in touch with friends on social media, relaxing and doing schoolwork. They also go online to look for support for physical or mental health problems, and sometimes to experiment with different ways of expressing themselves. Because they’re online so much without your supervision, teenagers need to be able to identify acceptable and unacceptable online content independently. They also need to know how to behave respectfully online and avoid online risks. Internet safety risks for teenagers Content risks For teenagers, these risks include coming across material that they might find upsetting, disgusting or otherwise uncomfortable, especially if they encounter it accidentally. This material might include: real or simulated violence hate sites terrorist sites harmful user-generated content like sites about drug use, self-harm, suicide or negative body image. Contact risks These risks include coming into contact with adults posing as children online or with strangers who persuade teenagers to meet them in real life, or becoming the victim of online scammers. Conduct risks Conduct risks include behaving in inappropriate or hurtful ways, or being the victim of this kind of behaviour. Examples include: cyberbullying sexting misusing people’s passwords and impersonating people online making unauthorised purchases using other people’s financial details creating content that reveals information about other people having trouble regulating online time, which can develop into problem internet use. Protecting your child from internet safety risks Your child is probably an independent internet user now, but you can help her keep building the skills and knowledge she needs to identify and manage internet safety risks. Here are some basic things you can do to protect your child from internet safety risks: Create a family media plan. It’s best to negotiate your plan with your child. Your plan could cover things like screen-free areas in your house and what online behaviour is OK. Talk with your child about upsetting and inappropriate content.  Stay in touch with what your child is doing online and how much time she’s spending online.  Ask your child to ‘friend’ you on social media.  Encourage and remind your child to explore and use the internet safely. Find out how to make complaints about offensive or illegal online content. Technical internet safety tools like internet filters can actually increase risk for children over 14 years. If children are using filters at this age, they might not be developing the skills they need to avoid disturbing content. They might take risks either accidentally or on purpose when they use the internet in unfiltered environments. Helping your child to identify and manage internet safety risks It’s important to help your teenage child manage internet safety risks for herself. This lets your child build digital resilience, which is the ability to respond positively and deal with risks she comes across online. You can do this by: being a role model for healthy internet use talking with your child about online content and behaviour reminding your child about privacy and personal information teaching your child about online purchases.      

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Bullying: how to spot the signs

  Bullying is when children: tease other children over and over again ignore other children or leave them out of games or activities say mean things or call other children names spread nasty stories about other children hit and push other children take other children’s things. Bullying can happen face to face. It can also happen online – for example, if children send harassing texts or post negative comments about others online. This is cyberbullying. If friends or peers disagree or even argue, or if someone says something mean once, it can be unpleasant and even nasty. But it isn’t bullying. Bullying is mean and hurtful behaviour that happens over and over again. Children should never be left to sort out bullying on their own. They can be seriously hurt by it. It’s important for you to stop bullying quickly, before it damages a child’s confidence.  Spotting signs of bullying Your child might tell you that she’s being bullied. For example, she might say that other children are teasing her, making fun of her, putting her down, laughing at her, calling her names, ignoring her or threatening her. If your child doesn’t say anything but you’re worried, here are some signs to look out for. Physical signs: bruises, cuts and scratches torn clothes missing property poor eating or sleeping bedwetting complaints about headaches or tummy aches. Requests for money or other items The person doing the bullying might be demanding money or things like lunch box treats from your child. School or preschool problems Your child might: not want to go to preschool or school stay close to teachers during breaks start sitting alone have difficulty asking or answering questions in class, or have trouble with schoolwork or homework stop taking part in school activities. Social changes Your child might avoid social events that he used to enjoy, like parties. Or you might notice that he’s: being excluded at lunch and recess losing contact with classmates after school being chosen last for teams and games. Emotional changes Your child might seem unusually anxious, nervous, upset, unhappy, down, teary, angry, withdrawn and secretive. These changes might be more obvious at the end of weekends or holidays, when your child has to go back to school. These signs don’t necessarily mean your child is being bullied. They could be signs of other issues, like depression.  There’s no single way to tell whether your child is being bullied. The way your child reacts to bullying will depend on how bad the bullying is, as well as your child’s personality.  

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Multilingual and bilingual children: benefits and challenges

Raising multilingual or bilingual children is good not only for your children, but also for your family and your community. For children, speaking more than one language is often linked to: better academic results – this is because multilingual or bilingual children can often concentrate better, are better at solving problems, understand language structures better, and are better at multitasking more diverse and interesting career opportunities later in life. Also, if your children grow up speaking more than one language, they might have a better sense of self-worth, identity and belonging. This comes from: feeling good about their heritage feeling confident about communicating and connecting with extended family members and people speaking other languages being able to enjoy music, movies, literature and so on in more than one language. Families: benefits of multilingualism and bilingualism improves communication among your family members enhances emotional bonds makes it easier for you and your children to be part of your culture boosts your family’s sense of cultural identity and belonging. Communities: benefits of multilingualism and bilingualism everyone in the community gets a better appreciation of different languages and cultures children can more easily travel and work in different countries and cultures when they grow up children understand and appreciate different cultures. Possible challenges of raising multilingual and bilingual children Raising multilingual or bilingual children does have its challenges, including handling pressure to speak only English. It can also sometimes mean a lot of work, and it’s a long-term commitment. For example, when you’re raising multilingual or bilingual children, you need to: stick with your heritage language, even when there’s pressure to choose English keep yourself and your children motivated to use your heritage languages help your children understand the benefits of multilingualism and bilingualism make sure your children get lots of chances to hear and use their second and other languages talk to your children’s teachers and get their support for your efforts get support for yourself – for example, by talking to friends and family who are raising multilingual or bilingual children and finding resources in your community, like bilingual playgroups. If you sometimes feel like these challenges are too hard, it might help to think about the benefits of multilingualism – especially the way it can help you and your children develop stronger family bonds. Sharing support, advice and experiences with other parents can also be a big help.

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Playground safety

  The best way to help your child avoid bumps and bruises in playgrounds is to actively supervise your child at play. By staying close to your child, especially when they’re trying something new or complicated, you can help keep playground visits safe and give your child the confidence to develop movement skills. It’s also important to choose activities and equipment that suit your child’s skills and abilities. These guidelines can help when you’re deciding what equipment is best for your child: If your child is under three years, try to stick to playground equipment less than 1 m in height. If your child is aged 3-5 years, try to stick to playground equipment less than 1.5 m in height. If your child is older than five years, try to stick to equipment that is no higher than 2 m off the ground. If you give your child plenty of opportunities to play and practice, they’ll keep developing the skills they need for safely using and enjoying monkey bars, climbing frames, swings and slides.  Safe playground equipment and environments To keep children safe and avoid injury at playgrounds, it’s a good idea to check the safety of the playground equipment and environment: Buckle your child into swings if buckles are available. Your child will be less likely to fall out. Check that the equipment is in good condition and the general environment has no obvious safety hazards, like sharp sticks. Check the temperature of playground equipment like metal slides, poles, barriers and surfaces. Materials like metal, rubber and artificial turf can heat up in the sun and become hot enough to burn. Look for a safe ground surface in your playground. The equipment should be set in a thick layer of material like organic mulch, which will cushion falls. It could also be soft rubber flooring.  Look for a playground that has shadecloth over some or all of the equipment, or at least some shade nearby. Look for a playground with a fence around it. This will help to stop young children from running on to nearby roads. It also makes it much easier if you’re looking after several children at once.  

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Encouraging good behaviour: 15 tips

Children quickly learn how to behave when they get positive, consistent guidance from you. This means giving your child attention when they behave well, rather than just applying consequences when your child does something you don’t like. Tips for good behaviour 1. Be a role model Use your own behaviour to guide your child. Your child watches you to get clues on how to behave – and what you do is often much more important than what you say.  2. Show your child how you feel Telling your child honestly how their behaviour affects you helps your child see their own feelings in yours. And if you start sentences with ‘I’, it gives your child the chance to see things from your perspective.  3. Catch your child being ‘good’ When your child is behaving in a way you like, give your child some positive feedback. For example, ‘Wow, you’re playing so nicely. I really like the way you’re keeping all the blocks on the table’.  4. Get down to your child’s level When you get close to your child, you can tune in to what they might be feeling or thinking. Being close also helps your child focus on what you’re saying about their behaviour.  5. Listen actively To listen actively, you can nod as your child talks, and repeat back what you think your child is feeling. It can help young children cope with tension and big emotions like frustration, which sometimes lead to unwanted behaviour.  6. Keep promises When you follow through on your promises, good or bad, your child learns to trust and respect you. Your child learns that you won’t let them down when you’ve promised something nice, and your child also learns not to try to change your mind when you’ve explained a consequence.  7. Create an environment for good behaviour The environment around your child can influence their behaviour, so you can shape the environment to help your child behave well. This can be as simple as making sure your child’s space has plenty of safe, stimulating things for your child to play with.  8. Choose your battles Before you get involved in anything your child is doing – especially to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ – ask yourself if it really matters. By keeping instructions, requests and negative feedback to a minimum, you create fewer opportunities for conflict and bad feelings.  9. Be firm about whining If you give in when your child is whining for something, you can accidentally train your child to whine more. ‘No’ means ‘no’, not ‘maybe’, so don’t say it unless you mean it. 10. Keep things simple and positive Instructions should be clear, short and appropriate for your child’s age, so your child can understand and remember them. And positive rules are usually better than negative ones, because they guide your child’s behaviour in a positive way.  11. Give children responsibility – and consequences As your child gets older, you can give your child more responsibility for their own behaviour. You can also give your child the chance to experience the natural consequences of that behaviour. 12. Say it once and move on If you tell your child what to do – or what not to do – too often, your child might end up just tuning out. If you want to give your child one last chance to cooperate, remind your child of the consequences for not cooperating.  13. Give your child the chance to succeed Set your child up to behave well, and then praise them for it. For example, give your child some simple chores or things that your child can do to help the family. Praising your child’s behaviour and effort will encourage your child to continue.  14. Prepare for challenging situations There are times when meeting your child’s needs and doing things you need to do will be tricky. If you think about these challenging situations in advance, you can plan around your child’s needs. Give your child a five-minute warning before you need them to change activities. Talk to your child about why you need their cooperation.  15. Maintain a sense of humour It often helps to keep daily life with children light. You can do this by using songs, humour and fun. Humour that has you both laughing is great, but humour at your child’s expense won’t help. Young children are easily hurt by parental ‘teasing’.

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Positive attention and your child

  From birth, children need experiences and relationships that show them they’re valued, capable human beings who bring pleasure to others. Positive attention, reactions and responses from key grown-ups help children build a picture of how valued they are. Your child’s self-image builds up over time with positive, loving messages from you and other important people in your child’s life. A healthy self-image is very important, not only for your child’s relationship with others, but also for your child’s confidence as they learn about the world. Your child’s feelings of security and safety come from responsive interactions with you and other carers. If you smile at your child when they look towards you, or reassure your child when they’re frightened or uncertain, your child will feel safe and secure. This gives your child confidence as they explore their world. How to show positive attention: all ages There are many ways to give your child positive attention. Daily activities like changing a nappy, supervising a bath or walking to school let you connect with your child in meaningful ways. For example, you can give positive attention by cuddling and tickling your toddler while you’re drying them after a bath. Or you can sit with your arm around your child while you watch television together. No matter what your child’s age, there are simple things you can do every day to send the message that your child is special and important. For example: Look at your child and smile. Show interest in what your child is doing – ask your child to tell you about it if they can. Pay attention and listen closely when your child talks to you. Create some special family rituals you can share together. Make time to be with your child, doing things you enjoy together. Praise your child when they try out a new skill or make an effort with something – for example, ‘That’s a really beautiful drawing! Where did you learn to use shading like that?’

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Using routines to manage behaviour

  Routines help family members know who should do what, when, in what order and how often. For example, your children know that they take turns with loading and unloading the dishwasher each day. This can mean less conflict and fewer arguments about these kinds of boring activities. Routines help young children feel safe and secure. They need to feel safe and secure to develop confidence and learn, including learning about appropriate ways to behave. Creating routines Plan routines for demanding times in the family day – for example, before and after work and school.  Add some downtime into your child’s routine. This gives your child time for a sleep or rest, which can help with behaviour. It also gives him time to learn to entertain himself. If you want to put time limits on some activities, like screen use, make this part of the routine.  Link two or more activities together. This can help your child get through boring activities faster. It also works because doing one activity helps you remember to do the other one.  Talk about routines with your child. Even toddlers can understand simple, consistent explanations. Use language or ideas your child can understand to talk about your routine. Getting children to follow routines Put up an illustrated poster of your routine where everyone can see it. Making the poster with your child could be fun and give you the chance to talk about the routine. Involve your child in parts of the routine that she can manage by herself. Find ways to remind your child to follow the routine without your help.  Think about whether parts of the routine can be your child’s responsibility. Your child can learn new skills and help the family by doing household chores.  Watch out for and praise your child when he follows the routine without help.

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Problem-solving with teenagers: steps and tips

Everybody needs to solve problems every day. But we’re not born with the skills we need to do this – we have to develop them. When solving problems, it’s good to be able to: listen and think calmly consider options and respect other people’s opinions and needs find constructive solutions, and sometimes work towards compromises. Problem-solving: six steps When you’re working on a problem with your child, it’s a good idea to do it when everyone is calm and can think clearly – this way, your child will be more likely to want to find a solution. Arrange a time when you won’t be interrupted, and thank your child for joining in to solve the problem. 1. Identify the problem The first step in problem-solving is working out exactly what the problem is. This helps make sure you and your child understand the problem in the same way. Then put it into words that make it solvable. Focus on the issue, not on the emotion or the person. Your child could feel attacked and get defensive, or feel frustrated because she doesn’t know how to fix the problem. 2. Think about why it’s a problem Help your child describe what’s causing the problem and where it’s coming from. Try to listen without arguing or debating – this is your chance to really hear what’s going on with your child. Encourage him to use statements like ‘I need … I want … I feel …’, and try using these phrases yourself. Be open about the reasons for your concerns, and try to keep blame out of this step. 3. Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem Make a list of all the possible ways you could solve the problem. You’re looking for a range of possibilities, both sensible and not so sensible. Try to avoid judging or debating these yet. If your child has trouble coming up with solutions, start her off with some suggestions of your own. You could set the tone by making a crazy suggestion first – funny or extreme solutions can end up sparking more helpful options. Try to come up with at least five possible solutions together. 4. Evaluate the solutions to the problem Look at the solutions in turn, talking about the positives and negatives of each one. Consider the pros before the cons – this way, no-one will feel that their suggestions are being criticised. After making a list of the pros and cons, cross off the options where the negatives clearly outweigh the positives. Now rate each solution from 0 (not good) to 10 (very good). This will help you sort out the most promising solutions. The solution you choose should be one that you can put into practice and that will solve the problem. 5. Put the solution into action Once you’ve agreed on a solution, plan exactly how it will work. Your child might need some role-playing or coaching to feel confident with his solution. For example, if he’s going to try to resolve a fight with a friend, he might find it helpful to practise what he’s going to say with you. 6. Evaluate the outcome of your problem-solving process Once your child has put the plan into action, you need to check how it went and help her to go through the process again if she needs to. Remember that you’ll need to give the solution time to work, and note that not all solutions will work. Sometimes you’ll need to try more than one solution. Part of effective problem-solving is being able to adapt when things don’t go as well as expected. Ask your child the following questions: What has worked well? What hasn’t worked so well? What could you or we do differently to make the solution work more smoothly?  

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