Be a mindful role model
The bottom line. Children learn by watching their parents or primary caregivers. You are your child’s first point of reference. Through you, they learn how to behave, respond, talk, socialise and cope with life. How you are as a parent demonstrates to them how to be. Be a mindful role model.
Developing healthy sleep patterns are essential to mental and physical health. While children sleep the growth hormone (HGH) gets busy building healthy body fat, strong bones and muscles. HGH is released by the brain into the bloodstream during sleep and is part of our repair and restoration function. Lack of sleep inhibits the growth hormone and can cause problems over time like obesity, asthma, ear infections and allergies. Insufficient sleep can result in poor concentration, irritability, anger outbursts and short attention spans. Create a happy and secure environment for your child at bedtime. Establish a routine. Believe it or not, children respond well to routine. Get your child ready for bed in good time for sleep, perhaps read a story, talk about their day, and think of things they can to look forward to the next day.
How children play has changed quite a bit over the years with the surge of home computer games. Sedentary lifestyles have led to an increase in isolation, social anxiety, obesity, self-harm, cyberbullying and more. Now I’m not suggesting we put the brakes on technology altogether, but limiting time spent on gaming and encouraging your child to use their imagination, to socialise and to exercise makes sense wouldn’t you agree?
Talk and LISTEN
Children love to chatter. As a mother, I know only too well that the constant chatter can drive you to distraction but setting aside time every day to talk and to actively listen to your child will strengthen the bond between you, It will help them to develop trust, build self-confidence and develop communication skills. Talking and listening intently to what your child has to say paves the way for them to talk openly about their feelings and any issues that may be bubbling away under the surface.
Everyone knows the importance of a healthy diet. Especially in the early years of development. As a working mum with young children, I know that there is often insufficient hours in the day to produce 3 made-from-scratch meals a day. I also know how important it is for children to feel part of their tribe, their peer group and so going to McDonald’s or out for a pizza is a rite of passage but these things should be treats, not food staples. God only know what goes into much of the pre-packed processed foods on our shelves today and so it’s in the best interest of everyone to be mindful (there’s that lovely word again) of the food we buy, the food we prepare and serve and the food we order while eating out.
The food we eat affects brain function. Consider the brain as an expensive car. You would probably think twice about putting cooking oil laden with saturated fat, salt and sugar into the tank because a beautiful car functions best on premium fuel. Eating foods that contain plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from free radicals. Fed this premium fuel means your car’s engine will purr like a kitten (or roar like a tiger!) long into the future.
Quick note: It takes 25-30 minutes to cook chicken nuggets from frozen, yet it takes less than 10 minutes to cook a piece of fish, steam some veg and no time at all the dish up a bowl of fruit. #fastfood
We all know the importance of brushing our teeth and keeping our hair, face and body clean. Kids have to learn how to blow their noses to keep it from running down their face, keep their hands clean, get dressed and undressed and keep their room tidy. These things teach children how to be independent and self-aware, but there is more than meets the eye when it comes to self-care. Self-care is also about well-being, happiness and self-love! Letting our children know that they are loved means they learn to love themselves. Letting them know they are appreciated, valued and important embeds in them a sense of pride and self-confidence.
Allowing children to have a say and an opinion on everything would, of course, be asking for trouble, but allowing your child to express their opinions, validating their opinions and guiding them to make good choices is what I’m referring to here. Validating your child's feelings makes them feel understood without being judged or constantly corrected. Simply acknowledging their feelings and thoughts on a subject encourages openness and self-confidence.
it’s not always possible or convenient to schedule lots of playdates or have family gatherings regularly but encouraging healthy friendships and relationships are vital to your child’s psychological development. Friendships teach children social and emotional skills as well as increase their sense of belonging. Children with a sense of belonging feel supported and valued and more able to cope with issues like divorce, moving home or going to a new school. Through having healthy relationships children will learn empathy and sympathy, how to be recognised and be sensitive to the feelings of others, they learn the rules of conversation and age-appropriate behaviour.
Ahhhh… relaxation… my forte. I work with a great many wonderful children and young people and one of the first things we do in therapy is to learn to relax. Not the flopping out on the sofa with a bag of crisps in front of the tele kind of relaxation but deep, focused, purposeful relaxation. And you don’t have to be a clinical hypnotherapist to teach your child how to relax and the good news is, if you practice the following you’ll benefit too!
If your child is stressed, anxious, grumpy or sad show them how to release the brains natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin, otherwise known as the happy chemical quartet.